There are so many great places to celebrate the holiday season in the Madison area. Take your pick of tree lightings and parades happening in neighboring towns. Or head to our shopping districts, 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 kid-friendly events below, and visit throughout the season to enjoy holiday lights and snap some photos. 

Season-Long Celebrations 

Holiday Fantasy in Lights Olin Park

Holiday Fantasy in Lights – Madison

Daily, November 12 – January 1
Load up the family car and head to Olin Park for Holiday Fantasy in Lights. Drive through over 50 light displays featuring snowy winter scenes and favorites like Bucky Badger and the Forward Flamingos. More Details

Rotary in Lights – Waunakee

Daily, November 20 – 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 25 – December 30 (plus bonus dates December 19 – 23 and December 26 – 30)
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

Tree Lightings and Special Events 

A couple poses with the Edgewater Hotel and holiday tree in the backgroundPhoto by Focal Flame Photography

Shine on Madison – Downtown Madison

November 19, 4 – 8 p.m.
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

First Responder Santa Parade and Candy Cane Hunt – Middleton

December 17, 3 – 6 p.m.
Gather 'round for family festivities at Middleton's Lakeview Park, kicking off with a First Responder Parade with Santa and his elves. Games, hot chocolate, and kids’ crafts will be at the park from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., followed by the candy cane hunt after dark — be sure to bring your flashlight! More Details

North Pole Party and Tree Lighting – Hilldale Shopping Center 

November 20, 3 – 6 p.m.
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 25, 2 – 7 p.m.
Santa and Mrs. Claus return to the Edgewater Hotel to kick off the holiday season. Family activities start at 2 p.m., with afternoon entertainment by David Landau and the Central Midwest Ballet Academy and a tree lighting at approximately 6 p.m. More Details

Light the Ice Ceremony – Monona

November 26, 6 – 6:45 p.m.
Monona's RiverRink 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 2 – 4
Christmas in the Grove kicks off December 2 and runs all weekend, with a fantastic light display beginning at Cottage Grove Elementary. On December 3, the festivities continue with breakfast with Santa, holiday shopping, the Under the Tree giveaway and a craft fair. More Details

Wisconsin State Capitol Tree Lighting

December 6, 12 p.m.
Gather inside the Capitol Rotunda for a holiday presentation with remarks from Governor Evers. Learn where in Wisconsin this year's giant tree is from, and see the ornaments created by kids from across Wisconsin. This year’s ornament theme? Wisconsin Waters!

Victorian Holiday Weekend – Stoughton

December 1 – 4
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 2, 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 at 6:30 p.m. More Details

Tree Lighting with Santa – Oregon

December 2, 5:30 – 8 p.m.
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

Downtown Fire & Lights Holiday Parade – Sun Prairie

November 26, 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

December 1, 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 

Reindeer Live – Verona 

December 10, 2 – 5 p.m.
Head to Hometown USA to see Santa’s reindeer live and up-close. Spot Mr. and Mrs. Claus strolling around Sugar Creek Elementary School while enjoying crafts, games and a full lineup of family-friendly performers. More Details

Holiday Lights Tour – Fitchburg

December 17, 6 – 9 p.m.
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 to be included. More Details

Browse the event calendar for more holiday events, festivals and markets. 

2022 Madison Holiday Guide

Everything you need to know to make the holidays in Madison memorable.

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