A Guide to Exploring Milwaukee’s Holiday Decorations 

The holiday season is here! Which means Milwaukee has transformed into a winter wonderland full of festive decorations. But how can you see them all?! It’s no secret that December is one of our favorite times of the year, so we’ve put together this guide to Milwaukee’s Holiday Lights. 

Whether you’re a Wisconsin native or visiting the city for the first time during the holiday season, Milwaukee’s Holiday Lights promise an enchanting time for everyone. If you’re looking for an easy way to explore the city’s festive side, check out our Christmas Light Tour Milwaukee Style. Tours are a great way to soak up the atmosphere without having to worry about navigating with Google Maps, but immersing yourself in the moment instead! 

Just get in touch if you have any questions about one of our favorite holiday traditions. Or take a look at our blog for even more Christmas Things to Do in Milwaukee (2023).

So keep scrolling to get into the holiday spirit!

Discover Milwaukee’s Holiday Lights and Downtown Delights

Running from now until January 1, you can head to downtown Milwaukee to see around half a million lights twinkling around parks and streets! Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival has eye-catching displays in Cathedral Square, Zeidler Union Square, and Pere Marquette Park. 
Suitable for any age, the array of displays will bring a twinkle to your eye! You can also enjoy chandeliers of lights suspended in Wisconsin Avenue and the Ornament Trail (which we’ll mention later) at the same location, which flows into Water Street.

A group of 3 girls under a large lit Christmas ornament diagram

Stroll Down Candy Cane Lane in Milwaukee

This delightful neighborhood light display is running from now until Dec 25, so bundle yourself up with your family or friends and head down to 95th Street between Oklahoma and Manitoba to visit Candy Cane Lane. This family-friendly spectacle is a heartwarming evening, which fundraises on behalf of the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer).

So if the kids want a taste of the holiday joy that’s soon to come, a trip to Candy Cane Lane will be a great trip for everyone. The houses in this residential neighborhood are decked out to guide a certain visitor when he delivers gifts. Who knows, you may even bump into him when you’re there! 

You can visit Candy Cane Lane’s website for more information, including how to attend safely, where to make donations, and their events calendar. 

Candy Cane lights

Enjoy the Winter Wonders at Boerner Botanical Gardens 

Another drive-through light show for you here, this time with plants! With a million lightbulbs strewn throughout 2,500 trees as over 500 classic Christmas songs ring out, Winter Wonders is more than just a numbers game. Relax and enjoy the light displays from your car that light up Whitnall Park until the end of December. Get your Winter Wonders tickets online and make sure to arrive before 8.45 pm at the latest!

Illuminated, decorated Christmas tree

Have a Festive Brew with Miller Valley Holiday Lites in Milwaukee

The Holiday Lites show is a free, kids-friendly drive-through that runs every 10 minutes in Miller Valley. Showing until December 27, so plan now to be sure to see it! Pull up across the street from the historic Frederick Miller Plank Road Brewery and wait for instructions from the team! The route is along State Street, next to the Miller Inn, and in front of the Plank Road Brewery House.

While you’re heading over, tune in your radio to 91.1 for festive music or browse the gift shop for the seasonal Frederick Miller’s Chocolate Lager — a perfect gift for the unusual beer lover!

Santa Claus drinks beer

Marvel at the Magical Ornament Trail in Milwaukee

Running until January 6, the Ornament Trail features 15 larger-than-life ornaments for you to enjoy! Take selfies and walk amongst these artworks, each of which is created by local and national artists who have a connection to the city. You can discover more about each artist online as well as figure out where each giant bauble is located!

If you want even more Ornament information, download the free activity guide for Milwaukee’s Ornament Trail online, which includes things for kids to do and coupons for businesses downtown.

Close up on red Christmas tree ornament

Embark on the Sparkling Jingle Bus Tour in Milwaukee

If you don’t feel like driving to see the holiday lights, you can always get a $5 40-minute guided tour of downtown with the Jingle Bus! The tour takes in three of downtown’s parks, all of which are aglow with festive lights and displays. Most people pre-book, as the lines get very long and rides sell out. The tour is available in English or Spanish, depending on your group’s needs. 

Family posing with Christmas decorations

Enjoy Milwaukee’s Holiday Markets This Festive Season

Looking for a holiday market to grab some last-minute gifts or browse on an evening? Then you’re in luck! Milwaukee has five-holiday markets ready for you to enjoy:

  • Old World Christmas Market at The Osthoff Resort
  • South Milwaukee Christmas Market
  • Holiday Market at David Barnett Gallery
  • The Village at Enchant Christmas
  • Wauwatosa Holiday Market

For unique presents, seasonal food and drinks, and a warm glow from the market lights, how many of these spots will you tick off while doing your festive shopping?

hand holding Hot wine at the Christmas market

As you can see, Milwaukee’s holiday decorations offer an enchanting array of diverse experiences for residents and visitors alike! Whether you choose to explore downtown’s festive lights, stroll through Candy Cane Lane, or have a glittering experience outside of the ones we’ve listed here, the city provides countless opportunities to create lasting holiday memories. So, bundle up, grab your loved ones, and embark on a magical journey through Milwaukee’s winter wonderland. 

And, if you want to join us on a Christmas Light Tour Milwaukee Style, we’ll be ready to welcome you this holiday season! Or, if you want to extend the festive cheer on a group tour around Milwaukee, just get in touch or browse our range of activities online! Whether you’re looking for fun with friends, family, or colleagues, there is plenty to enjoy on an adventure in Wisconsin. 

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