Wisconsin is chock full of charming small towns that are great to visit any time of year. But there’s just something magical about an old school Main Street all dressed up in its holiday finest. These small towns go all out, dressing windows, hanging lights and generally looking too good to be true. With picture-perfect displays, amazing volunteer actors and some gorgeous architecture, these quaint spots look like they could be the back drop for a romantic holiday movie. Check out these Wisconsin towns that go all out for Christmas and make the holidays even brighter!
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This small town near the Illinois border transforms into a Dickensian dream. Their official Victorian Christmas celebration takes place on Friday, December 7, but the town is dressed up all season. It's the perfect place to stroll Main Street and do some small business shopping.
This spot way up north hosts their "A Lure of Lights" celebration from Black Friday through the New Year. The town lights up every night and there are all kinds of events, from a hot chocolate crawl to weekly s'mores pits. The stores all participate and it's a fabulous way to get in the holiday spirit.
The Jolly Jingle celebration is November 30 through December 2 and features live reindeer, a lighted parade, ice skating and more. There's also the stunning light show at the Rotary Botanical Gardens.
4. West Bend
This picture doesn't even look like it can be real life, but this is what the holidays look like in West Bend, Known as Enchantment in the Park, you'll find these lights in Regner Park from November 25 through December 31. On Friday and Saturday nights, there are $5 horse and carriage rides. There's also live entertainment every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
There might not be another town in Wisconsin that goes as hard for its festivals as Cedarburg does. Lots of places focus on just one, but these folks have festivals every season and that means they're pros at this. A town with more than 100 historical buildings, Cedarburg looks particularly beautiful all dressed and lit for Christmas. The quaint main drag is walkable and features tons of lovely shops to check out. You'll feel a million miles away from the city instead of just 20 miles north.
These folks take their Swiss roots seriously and do up one of the most enchanting, beautiful and unique Christmas experiences you've ever seen. Their celebrations go for the four weekends after thanksgiving and you'll find St. Lucia celebrating the solstice. You'll also find the "Jultomte" and his goat, the "Julbock." Scandinavians believe gnomes bring protection to hearth and home year round and "Jultomten" is the winter version. It's a truly magical and fabulous picture-perfect experience.
7. Elkhart Lake
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A gorgeous and walkable little lake resort town all on its own, Elkhart Lake ups the charm for Christmas and goes all out. The biggest draw is the German Christmas market at Osthoff Resort that feels like the ones found in Europe, but takes place under a tent so you can survive more than a few minutes of winter in Wisconsin. The market runs from November 30 to December 9 this year.
The Cambridge Country Christmas is on the weekend of November 30 this year, though this town holds oodles of holiday fun all season long. During the celebration you'll find shopping, free horse-drawn hayrides, visits and photos with Santa, a Fat Tire Ride, Elf Shelf Kids Activities and Shopping, Caroling, Cookies, Strolling Madrigal Singers, magical Holiday Lights Display at Lake Ripley Park , traditional tree lighting ceremony and more.
9. Blue Mounds
Though you might not have ever thought of it, Cave of the Mounds is a fabulous spot to celebrate Christmas. What better than a place that's temperature regulated to be much more pleasant than outside? The first weekend in December, you can come and enjoy performances from a variety of different groups and marvel as the sounds of the season echo through the caves as they host Caroling in the Caves and every Sunday, there are sing-a-long caroling cave tours. There are four cave tours on December 8 that include pictures with Santa inside the cave, singing, instrument playing and more. It's a totally awesome family cave holiday experience.
The Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh has pretty much the most over-the-top, amazing, jaw-dropping Nutcracker experience you can ever fathom. Their Nutcracker in the Castle event take place in the Tudor Revival Estate that was built in the 1920s but never actually lived in. It takes place in rooms throughout the home, with live music and performances, 20 elaborately decorated rooms, and more than 70 gorgeous Christmas trees. More than your usual passive Nutcracker-watching experience, this experience transports you directly into the story and fills you with the spirit and magic of Christmas.
Old World Wisconsin is one of the state's most fabulous attractions. The Wisconsin Historical Society has created one of the best outdoor museums in the country and it's not less magical in winter. When you visit for Christmas, you get to check out the Yuletide Village and hear live holiday music, take your photo with Victorian Santa, and climb onto a horse-drawn ride bedecked with jingle bells. There are plenty of sweet treats to sample from the busy working kitchens and you can warm up with hot cider. This year it takes place the first three weekends of December.