There are so many great places to celebrate the holiday season in Madison. Take your pick of tree lightings and parades happening in neighboring towns. Or head out for some holiday shopping, seasonal adventures at the Henry Vilas Zoo or even the Wisconsin State Capitol to get your festive fill. You’ll discover charming neighborhoods, cozy restaurants and sweet boutiques along the way.
Find some of our most festive, family-friendly holiday events below. Visit our events calendar to find all the upcoming things going on in Madison.
Holiday Fantasy in Lights – Madison
Daily, November 11 – December 31
Load up the family car and head to Olin Park for Holiday Fantasy in Lights. Drive through more than 50 light displays featuring snowy winter scenes and favorites like Bucky Badger and the Forward Flamingos. More Details
Rotary in Lights – Waunakee
Daily, November 19 – December 31
Each winter, Waunakee's Village Park transforms into a winter wonderland of light-lined streets and holiday displays with synchronized music. Enjoy the lights either on foot or from your car. More Details
Henry Vilas Zoo Lights – Madison
Fridays to Sundays, November 24 – December 17; Open daily December 18 – 30 (closed December 24 and 25)
While the animals sleep, experience the Henry Vilas Zoo after hours, under the glow of nearly one million lights. Individual tickets and four-packs are available in advance with select entry times. More Details
Lake Ripley Park Holiday Lights – Cambridge
Daily, November 30 – January 1
Get into the holiday spirit with a light display in Cambridge's Lake Ripley Park. Pack a thermos of hot cocoa and drive through nearly a half mile of holiday lights and displays. More Details
Light in the Cave – Cave of the Mounds
Daily beginning December 1
This season, as the weather gets colder outside, warm up below ground in the 50-degree cave. This opportunity to see the cave filled with lights will be available on every cave tour all month long in December. More Details
Tree Lightings and Special Events
Wisconsin State Capitol Tree Lighting
Gather inside the Capitol rotunda for a holiday presentation with remarks from Governor Tony Evers. Learn where in Wisconsin this year's giant tree is from, and see the ornaments created by kids from across Wisconsin. You can visit the lit Capitol tree all season long during regular Capitol visiting hours.
Shine on Madison – Downtown Madison
During the November Night Market, downtown Madison will shine bright. Enjoy live music and shop a variety of market vendors and downtown stores. Then gather together near the Wisconsin State Capitol as all the holiday lights turn on simultaneously at 6:08 p.m. More Details
North Pole Party and Tree Lighting – Hilldale Shopping Center
Stop by Hilldale Shopping Center for a day of festive fun, followed by a tree lighting at 6 p.m. There will be a visit from Santa and his reindeer, kids’ crafts, cookie samples, and a preview of Black Friday shopping deals. More Details
Edgewater Hotel Tree Lighting – Downtown Madison
November 24, 4 – 10 p.m.
This free family-friendly tradition is hosted at one of Madison's most iconic and historic hotels. Gather around for food, drink and holiday cheer. While you're there, don't forget to check out the outdoor ice rink! More Details
Light the Green – Middleton
November 25, 5 – 7 p.m.
Watch downtown Middleton sparkle as Stone Horse Green becomes aglow with holiday cheer. Santa himself will arrive via firetruck at 5 p.m., the tree will be lit at 5:30 p.m. and carolers will start a group sing-a-long at 6:30 p.m. More Details
Downtown Fire & Lights Holiday Parade – Sun Prairie
November 25, 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Fire trucks dress in their holiday best as they lead the parade to a tree-lighting celebration with Santa. More Details
Holiday Tree Lighting – New Glarus
November 30, 6:30 p.m.
Welcome the season of delights in downtown New Glarus. The first of their daily Adventsfenster windows will be revealed, followed by a tree lighting. Visit the Depot for treats and enjoy festive music from the holiday alphorns. More Details
Light the Ice Ceremony – Monona
Monona's River Rink transforms into a winter wonderland with 10,000 lights strung on a 20-foot-tall tree. Join for the tree lighting, plus light displays, hot chocolate and ice skating. More Details
Christmas in the Grove – Cottage Grove
December 1 – 3
Christmas in the Grove dazzles with a fantastic light display beginning at Cottage Grove Elementary. The festivities continue with breakfast with Santa, holiday shopping, the Under the Tree giveaway and a craft fair. More Details
Victorian Holiday Weekend – Stoughton
Stoughton’s weekend-long holiday celebration is overflowing with old-world charm. The annual lighting of the Love Light Tree kicks off a weekend of music, artisanal shopping, local food and more. More Details
Light the Night with Santa – Waunakee
December 1, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Join Santa and his elves in Waunakee for Rotary Lights at Village Park, as well as boutiques open for shopping, hot apple cider and a parade heading down Main Street. More Details
Tree Lighting with Santa – Oregon
See Santa ride into town on a fire truck to light Oregon's holiday tree. Afterward, head to the local fire station for a chili dinner and ornament giveaway from Santa. More Details
Candy Cane Hunt – Middleton
December 8, 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Gather 'round for family festivities at Middleton's Lakeview Park, featuring lots of peppermint, joy and, of course, Santa Claus himself. More Details
Hometown Holidays Express – Verona
December 6 – 7, 4 – 8 p.m.
Embark on an enchanting adventure aboard a holiday trolley, enjoy cookies with Santa and stroll through a glittering outdoor holiday light trail at Seven Acre Dairy. More Details
Holiday Lights Tour – Fitchburg
December 15 – 17
Fitchburg’s Holiday Lights Tour returns with animated sculptures, interactive displays, lights and holiday décor. A Google map with locations will be released closer to the event. Want to participate? Submit your Fitchburg address to email@example.com to be included. New this year – enjoy holiday activities and deals throughout the area all weekend long at the Yuletide Jubilee. Find great deals on unique gifts, grab a bite or pint from local restaurants and enjoy some festive activities for all ages. More Details