Holiday events and things to do this winter

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MADISON, Wis (WMTV) -- Here's a list of some holiday events and things to do this winter here in southern Wisconsin.


1. Henry Vilas Zoo Lights. Thursday through Sundays until December 30th. Open every night of winter break. Closed December 24-25. Santa & Carousel: 5:30 - 9 p.m. nightly. $7 per person (children under 3 are free). Last tickets sold at 8:30 p.m.

2. Olbrich's Holiday Express. Large-scale model trains wind through a holiday scene with hundreds of poinsettias and fresh evergreens. Now through December 24th. 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. daily. $6 for adults. $3 for children ages 3 to 12

3. The Nutcracker by the Madison Ballet. One hundred fifty dancers, live music, a twenty-five foot tree. Ring in the holiday season with this timeless story filled with some of literature’s most treasured characters. At the Overture Center. Tickets $15-65. December 8-26.

4. Gospel Carols Concert Series. A concert of Christmas Carols performed in a Gospel style by singers from Madison & the surrounding communities at the Alliant Energy Center. December 21st. Tickets $15-45.

5. Christmas Tree at the State Capitol. It's a 40-foot balsam fir decorated with gold garland, lights and more than 1,000 handmade ornaments donated by children from the state.

6. Free Holiday Shopping Trolley. Holiday shopping is especially jolly with the Downtown Trolley! The red "Holiday Shopping Trolley" will run up & down State Street and around the Capitol Square from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 pm on Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22.

7. Ice Skating at The Edgewater. Skating arm-in-arm in the crisp air on a rink overlooking Lake Mendota, while the Capitol dome lights the sky in the other direction.

8. Downtown Carolers, Saturdays in December. Performances start at 11 a.m. and at noon at the Madison Children's Museum and at 1 p.m. in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Lobby.

9. Holiday Fantasy in Lights. Drive thru event at Olin Park. Lights are on Dusk till Dawn. Event is free. Donations accepted at the exit.

10. Waffles with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Admission includes a waffle breakfast, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, themed glitter tattoo, and craft projects. December 8th and 15th. $20, 2 and under free. Hosted at Dream House Dream Kitchens.

11. A Christmas Carol at Capitol Theater. Madison’s finest holiday tradition and CTM’s grandest production of the year, A Christmas Carol is an event the whole family can enjoy. Enjoyed by everyone ages 7 and up. December 8-23. Tickers $32-63

12. Shine on Madison is in downtown Madison. You can celebrate the season with shopping, arts, events and lots of lights. It’s the first year for Shine on Madison. There are than 101 events, 7 community light displays, an interactive grove of trees, a winter forest, a live King Street, a giant tree and special decorations from downtown property owners. The event runs now through January 6th.


1. Rotary Gardens Holiday Light Show. December 6-9, 13-16, 20-23, 27-30. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., last ticket sold at 8:30 p.m. $5 per person, ages 2 and older.

2. Want to get a phone call from Santa? Santa will be calling all the good little girls and boys in Janesville on Wednesday, December 13 from 6-8 p.m. Go to to fill out a form. Hand the form in by 4:30 p.m. to the Recreation Division office. (Janesville Residents Only)

3. Holiday Tours at the Lincoln-Tallman House. Take a tour of the Lincoln-Tallman House decked out for the holidays! It's a holiday tradition featuring new decorations each year. In 2018, explore Christmas Around the World, viewing more than 20 trees creatively decorated by businesses and individuals. Learn about the Christmas traditions of countries around the world, including Mexico, Germany and Japan. November 29 - December 29; Thursdays & Fridays 4-7 p.m. (last tour begins at 7 p.m.) and Saturdays 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. (last tour begins at 12 p.m.). Tours begin on the hour and are one hour in length. Tickets are $20.

4. Holiday Art Show. The Janesville Art League's annual Holiday Art exhibit highlights members' work in various media: watercolor, oils, acrylic, pastels, photography, etc. This judged show hangs from mid-November through early January and can be viewed during regular business hours, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday 10a.m.–1 p.m., and before Janesville Performing Arts Center performances.


1. Spring Green Country Christmas. Spanning three weekends November 30 – December 16, this celebration has it all... twinkling lights, winter fireworks, holiday light parade, tree lighting, caroling, and more!

2. House on the Rock Christmas Tours: Transformed for the holiday season, see more than 6,000 collectible Santas of all shapes and sizes. Open Thursdays – Mondays, now through December 31st, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets $13.95-24.95.

3. Winter Art Market: Handmade items by local artists and craftsmen. Now through Dec. 24th at Dennis Alfred Phillips Art to Wear, LLC 159 N Lexington Street

4. Holiday Pie Sale. Now through December 21st. 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Pies $24 each.


1. Christmas at Marsh Haven. Hike, snowshoe, explore, and discover the beauty of winter at the marsh. Inside the nature center you can do a bit of holiday shopping and support local artisans at the holiday nature craft show. Horse-drawn sleigh rides (or wagon rides if no snow), food and beverages, crafts for the kids. December 8-9.
If you know of another holiday event that's happening here in southern Wisconsin, please email