The holidays in Wisconsin are filled with warmth and good cheer. Whether it’s taking in a classic performance, getting dazzled by the lights or sipping hot cider at a parade, here’s to finding the moments that make the season so special.
Celebrate in Dickens-esque fashion in Ripon (Fond du Lac County)
Visitors from across the state make the trip to Ripon for the city’s annual Dickens of a Christmas festival, which is happening December 2 and 3 this year. You’ll find the downtown decked out in lights and garland, while carolers and carriage rides bring their own magic to the area.
The festival kicks off Friday evening with a holiday parade and a gingerbread house contest. Activities on Saturday include a tour of homes in Ripon and an enchanted forest to explore. But the highlight of the festival happens Saturday night with the living window display. Downtown businesses decorate their windows and costumed characters inside act out scenes from A Christmas Carol to recreate the feeling of a Victorian Christmas.
When you’re in between activities, settle into the stylish and historic Mapes Hotel. This boutique hotel is right in downtown Ripon, so you won’t miss out on any of the festivities. Rent one of the 11 suites in this hotel, which was built in 1852. You’ll enjoy historic charm and all the luxuries of modern living, including a kitchen and living room with every suite.
Discover a magical scene at a stunning light display in La Crosse (La Crosse County)
The Rotary Lights display in La Crosse is a fabulous way to celebrate the holiday season. For more than a month, Riverside Park along the Mississippi is transformed into a wonderland of lights, activities and good times. Three million lights shine in the park — forming delightful shapes and glowing in a rainbow of colors to make up this grand display.
It opens to visitors on Friday, November 25, and runs through New Year’s Eve. Children can meet Santa and a few of his reindeer every night through December 23. Additionally, free s’mores are available at firepits throughout the park, you can skate on an outdoor rink, and helicopter rides are being offered for an aerial perspective of the display!
Afterward, savor traditional Irish fare at the Dublin Square Irish Pub & Eatery in downtown La Crosse. Warm up with a hearty Irish dish like shepherd’s pie or corned beef. The pub also has a lot of contemporary American bar options like burgers, mac and cheese, and wraps to choose from.
Head to Ashland for a historic parade and shopping (Ashland County)
For more than half a century, the Garland City of the North Christmas Parade in Ashland has been bringing merry and joy to this gorgeous lakeside community. This old-fashioned holiday parade is a beloved tradition for locals and a great way for visitors to experience the community in the off season.
This year’s parade takes place on Saturday, December 3. Find a spot on Main Street to view cleverly decorated floats, marching bands and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus. December 3 is also Customer Appreciation Day in Ashland, so be sure to browse the unique shops and stores downtown to check off your gift list!
If you’re looking to grab a fantastic meal, make a stop at the Chequamegon Grill. You’ll find an atmosphere and menu that appeals to folks seeking a casual dinner as well as those wanting fine dining. The food is prepared with local, high-quality ingredients. Savor dishes made with Lake Superior whitefish or try one of the restaurant’s fresh, inventive salad and burger options.
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