20 Things To Do At Christmas in Wisconsin + Christmas Towns in Wisconsin
A guide about Things to do during Christmas in Wisconsin with Christmas Markets and Christmas Towns
There’s nothing quite like a white Christmas, with a homey atmosphere and a crackling fire to warm you up after a day of holiday fun and shopping.
If this sounds like something you’d enjoy this Christmas season, then start booking your stay in Wisconsin!
There are plenty of Christmas towns, markets, and unique holiday events around the state, sure to suit everybody’s tastes.
Wisconsin winters are well-known for being quite long, very cold, and extremely snowy, which makes the state the ideal destination for a traditional, Hallmark movie-style Christmas.
In this article, you’ll find lots of ideas for planning your Christmas in Wisconsin, including tips on which towns offer the most festive attractions and suggestions on the best places to stay.
Whether it’s a couples getaway or a family vacation in Wisconsin that you’re after, there are tons of Christmas-themed things to do in Wisconsin in winter!
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Things to do during Christmas in Wisconsin
1. Cut your own Christmas Tree
A beautiful tree is the heart of every home during Christmas time. Give the tree even more significance by cutting it down yourself, as part of a memorable family experience.
Wisconsin offers plenty of tree farms where you can chop down a tree yourself, or pick one and have it cut down for you. Many farms also have special Christmas-themed events, gift shops, and outdoor activities for kids.
Of course, the stock is limited on tree farms and trees are in high demand in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so before heading out to a farm, it’s a good idea to call ahead and make sure it still has trees on offer.
The Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association has a helpful website with a full directory of all tree farms in the state, so you can easily check where to cut your own Christmas tree in Wisconsin.
Where to stay:
Cabin on Lake Waubesa – Staying in a quaint, waterfront cabin will be a perfect way to complete your rustic Christmas experience. This one is located just outside Madison, which offers plenty of additional holiday attractions, and there are seven tree farms within a 20-mile radius.
The cabin sleeps four and features stunning views of the lake from the living room, as well as a fire pit outside. – Check prices here
Staying here will give you feel that you are staying in one of the best winter cabins in Wisconsin.
2. Meet Rudolph the Reindeer
Is there anything more special to add to your Wisconsin Christmas experience than meeting Santa and his reindeer?
Thanks to the Reindeer Games reindeer farm, there are plenty of places in Wisconsin where you can see Santa arrive in a reindeer sleigh and get your picture taken with one of these friendly, gentle animals.
Rudolph and the other reindeer travel around Wisconsin from mid-November to Christmas, visiting malls and winter festivals along the way on weekends.
Check the Reindeer Games public schedule to find out when and where you can see them, or book a private event to make Christmas truly unforgettable!
3. See the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
Every year, the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Holiday Train winds its way across Canada and the U.S., stopping along the way to provide festive entertainment and raise funds and awareness for local charities.
Wisconsin Dells is one of the best places to see the Christmas train, which stops at the Amtrak Depot on La Crosse St. in the early afternoon.
The train itself is decorated with thousands of Christmas lights, making it a truly wonderful sight. A half-hour event takes place upon the train’s arrival, featuring live Christmas music and holiday-themed entertainment.
The event is free to attend, and visitors are encouraged to bring a donation (such as a non-perishable food item or simply cash) which will go towards the local food bank and other charities.
Where to stay:
LeGros Chateau – This family and pet-friendly guest house combine a luxurious, tasteful interior with a rustic vibe. Sleeping eight, it’s a perfect choice for a Christmas holiday for the whole family or a group of friends.
It’s located in Downtown Dells, only a short walk away from the station where the Christmas Train will stop! Restaurants, shops, and other attractions are also well within walking distance. – Check prices here
4. Visit Christmas Mountain Village in Wisconsin Dells
Christmas Mountain Village, Wisconsin, is a large resort offering seasonal outdoor activities and attractions.
It’s close enough to the city that you can easily stay in Downtown Dells – close to restaurants and local attractions, and visit the resort for a day trip.
Head to Christmas Mountain for 16 skiing and snowboarding downhill runs, with on-site equipment rental and many trails suitable for beginners and first-timers.
Winter fun at the resort also includes snow tubing and cross-country skiing, so there’s definitely something to enjoy for the whole family! The perfect winter getaway in Wisconsin.
The event features live music, fun competitions and contests, a fireworks display, and an evening torchlight parade.
Where to stay:
Broadway River Road Retreat – Overlooking the river, this house is located across the street from a boat landing, offering gorgeous views of the water and the woodland on the other side.
Featuring three bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, and game room, the River Road Retreat is only a short walk away from the attractions of Downtown Dells, and a ten-minute drive to Christmas Mountain Village. – Check prices here
5. Visit the best Christmas Stores in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is home to dozens of year-round Christmas stores. What better time to visit them than during the holiday season? Packed with gorgeous ornaments and unique gifts, Christmas stores in Wisconsin are sure to put you in a festive mood!
The top-rated Christmas stores in Northern Wisconsin include The Christmas Chalet in Minocqua, Oneida County, and the Tannenbaum Holiday Shop in Sister Bay, Door County.
You can also find several cool things to do in Northern Wisconsin while visiting these beautiful stores.
In southern Wisconsin, check out Kristmas Kringle in Fond du Lac and the Christmas Barn in Elkhorn, Walworth County.
That being said, just about every county in Wisconsin has its favorite Christmas shop. Wherever you go in the state, you’re sure to find festive shopping opportunities in the winter season!
6. Visit Christmas Markets in Wisconsin
A stroll through a Christmas market in Wisconsin, complete with a bit of holiday shopping and sampling local produce, is a winter must-do for many visitors to the state.
Christkindlmarket in Milwaukee is particularly popular, with countless stalls and stands, arts and crafts workshops, cooking displays, and plenty of other activities for kids and adults alike.
The German Christmas Market in Oconomowoc is another interesting destination, with live polka music and other themed entertainment to liven up an evening of sampling authentic European food and drink and shopping for unique gifts.
The Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart Lake has a similar vibe, with a huge selection of ornaments, gifts, and novelty items from Europe, as well as workshops, wagon rides, and of course, plenty of drinks and snacks.
Where to stay
7. Visit a Christmas Tree Farm
Many Christmas tree farms in Wisconsin provide additional attractions and activities during the Christmas season.
Getting a tree is only a small part of the fun. So even if you aren’t looking to buy one, visiting a farm will be an awesome experience.
For example, the Tannenbaum Acres Tree Farm in Janesville offers hay wagon and bobsled rides, refreshments and delicious local produce, a gift shop, and, best of all, a reindeer petting zoo!
A trip to the farm will make for a great Christmas-themed day out for the entire family, especially if you visit Tannenbaum Acres on Thanksgiving weekend, just in time to meet Santa!
Where to stay:
Comfortable Home with Backyard Oasis – This top-rated, beautiful house in Janesville is only a 20-minute drive away from Tannenbaum Acres and a 5-minute drive from shops and restaurants.
A great place for a family holiday, it sleeps ten and features four bathrooms, a huge, landscaped backyard, a game room, a playground, a 100-inch projection screen, and all necessary amenities. – Check rates here
8. Stay in Christmas Mountain Village
For winter sports enthusiasts who want to combine outdoor fun with a Christmas-themed holiday, Christmas Mountain, Wisconsin Dells is the place to be. There are several things to do in Wisconsin Dells like skiing etc.
With 16 downhill skiing and snowboarding runs, snow tubing, cross-country skiing trails, and an annual Winter Carnival, there’s plenty to see and do.
Thanks to on-site accommodation, you can stay right where the action is but still be close enough to the city to easily reach shops and local attractions. It’s also a great idea when looking for a unique weekend trip in Wisconsin.
Where to stay:
Christmas Mountain Village-2BR/2BA Timbers – This two-bedroom, two-bath timber sleeps six and is located right by all of the resort’s main attractions. The interior is cozy and welcoming, outfitted with everything you’ll need even during longer stays.
In addition to winter sports opportunities, Christmas Mountain Village also offers swimming pools, hot tubs, mini-golf, tennis courts, a gym, and much more! – Check rates here
9. Attend the Santa Cycle Rampage in Milwaukee
How many of us can say we’ve seen 3,000 Santas on bicycles, all at once? Well, by attending Milwaukee’s Santa Cycle Rampage, that’s exactly what you’re in for!
This annual event involves thousands of people signing up and joining together to cycle the streets of Milwaukee in Santa Claus outfits.
As well as getting to see this unusual spectacle, you can also buy merchandise, such as t-shirts and accessories, with proceeds going towards Wisconsin Bike Fed, the largest statewide bicycle organization in the U.S.
Where to stay:
Luxury 3rd Ward Condo – One of the most luxurious Airbnbs in Milwaukee, this condo measures over 1,000 sq ft and accommodates a maximum of six guests, making it a perfect choice for both couples and groups.
It’s located close to Milwaukee’s main attractions, in the famous Third Ward, the artistic hub of the city.
Alongside the spacious, modern interior, the condo also includes a parking space, so you can rest easy knowing you won’t need to search for a parking spot in an unfamiliar city. – Check rates here
10. Marvel at a Holiday Lights Display
Visiting a Wisconsin holiday lights display is one of the best ways to get into the Christmas spirit and create some wonderful, warm memories.
Most towns put up their own illuminated attractions and displays around Christmas time, so if you’re heading to Wisconsin in winter, check around the local area.
Typically, smaller displays are intended for foot traffic, while larger ones feature drive-through alleys.
For the most spectacular illuminated sights in the state, head to Pewaukee in Waukesha County and look for the Ingleside Hotel.
The hotel is home to Wisconsin’s largest drive-through Christmas lights display, with over a million lights along a mile-long trail over 40 acres of woodland!
The Ingleside Hotel also features other holiday-themed attractions, such as wagon rides and a Christmas village.
Where to stay:
Spacious apartment on the lake – Located right on the shore of Pewaukee Lake just outside the village, this apartment is part of a beautiful country house.
Sleeping six, it features two bedrooms, a bathroom, a fully stocked kitchen, and a large backyard.
Situated just off the I-94, the apartment is only a few minutes’ drive away from the holiday lights display and the restaurants and shops in the village. – Check rates here
Visit the Best Christmas Towns in Wisconsin
You’ll never be short on things to do in Milwaukee in winter. From November until the end of December, the city hosts a huge range of Christmas-themed events, in addition to its year-round attractions.
Marvel at the decorations and interactive displays at the Holiday Lights Festival, jump on the East Troy Railroad Train, another Christmas Train in Wisconsin.
Enjoy live entertainment and holiday-themed activities at Bayshore’s Season to Sparkle. You can always enjoy your stay during winter in Milwaukee.
Remember to visit Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, known for its artistic atmosphere. In December, the district is full of pop-up Christmas events, stalls, shops, and live holiday-themed entertainment!
Where to stay:
Penthouse in Downtown Milwaukee – Stay close to the action in this centrally-located apartment, right in Milwaukee’s Downtown. All of the main attractions are well within walking distance, and free parking is offered.
The apartment sleeps four, featuring one bathroom and an additional air mattress, which makes it a perfect choice for couples and small families. – Check rates here
The modern, elegant interior includes a fully equipped kitchen. All these things make it one of the best Airbnbs in Milwaukee.
12. Chippewa Falls
Chippewa Falls in western Wisconsin is an ideal Christmas destination particularly if you’re looking for an atmospheric, traditional holiday away from city crowds.
This small city packs an impressive number of Christmas-themed attractions, such as the Christmas Village in Irvine Park, with a scenic lights display and live entertainment.
You can also take a Christmas wagon ride, join in on the Christmas Carol Singalong, visit Santa’s House, and enjoy the Bridge to Wonderland Parade, featuring dozens of illuminated floats and complimentary drinks!
It’s a must when spending Christmas in Wisconsin.
Where to stay:
Middle Ground – Located in Eau Claire, 12 miles from Chippewa Falls, this four-bedroom house is incredibly cozy, with a “home away from home” feel perfect for winter family holidays.
The house features a large yard (ideal for snowball fights!), a game room, and a fully stocked kitchen. Restaurants and shops in Eau Claire are easily within walking distance. – Check rates here
The historic city of Cedarburg has a long-standing reputation for being one of the best Christmas towns in Wisconsin.
It’s easy to see why – between all the holiday-themed events taking place in November and December, there’s always something to see and do here in the winter!
The Festive Friday Eves series of events is particularly popular. Held on five consecutive Fridays leading up to Christmas, these feature themed events (different theme every Friday) centered around Christmas, including live music, food, and wine sampling, wagon rides, and much more.
The Historic District along Washington Avenue is transformed into a Christmas market in the holiday season, with dozens of shops and stalls with everything from gifts to snacks and hot drinks.
Where to stay:
Festive Holiday Shopping Getaway – This cozy apartment is located right on Washington Avenue in Cedarburg’s Historic District, where plenty of the city’s Christmas shopping and entertainment takes place.
If you visit Cedarburg specifically for holiday shopping and Christmas fun, you can’t get closer to the action than this!
The apartment sleeps six, with two bedrooms and one bath, and features free parking on the premises. – Check rates here
Madison has tons of festive fun on offer during the Christmas season, from the incredible holiday lights display at Olin Park to the annual Holiday Express Train Show at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, featuring a model train display with holiday decorations and a Christmas-themed twist.
For the ultimate Christmas shopping experience, visit the Downtown Madison Holiday Open House, featuring dozens of shops and stalls.
In addition to retail, the Open House provides lots of holiday entertainment, including trolley rides, carol singing, arts and crafts workshops, and other fun family activities.
Performing arts enthusiasts will be glad to hear that the Overture Center for Arts puts on holiday classics (such as The Nutcracker) and themed entertainment events around Christmas time. Christmas in Wisconsin can’t live without this!
Where to stay:
Downtown Apartment in Victorian House – Conveniently located in Downtown Madison, close to shops and all of the holiday attractions the city has to offer, this apartment features two bedrooms, with space for four guests.
The spacious, modern, beautifully decorated apartment is part of an original Victorian-style house, with a garden open to guests. – Check prices here
15. Wisconsin Dells
The city of Wisconsin Dells is known as the Waterpark Capital of the World, with over 20 parks in the area. These offer tons of active, indoor fun to enjoy during Christmas time in Wisconsin.
For outdoor, Christmas-themed activities, head to Christmas Village, Wisconsin Dells (described above), a famous resort offering skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, cross-country skiing, and lots more. This is one of the best places to go skiing in Wisconsin Dells.
While in Wisconsin Dells at Christmas, don’t miss the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Holiday Train, decked out in thousands of lights and with live Christmas-themed entertainment!
Where to stay:
It features a spacious interior with a simple, cozy design, as well as a detached game room and seven TVs to keep entertained during long winter evenings!
The house is conveniently located a few minutes’ walks away from the shops, restaurants, and attractions of Downtown Wisconsin Dells. Staying in Airbnb’s in Wisconsin Dells is a great way to experience the essence of the city. – Check prices here
16. Elkhart Lake
Located in Sheboygan County, Elkhart Lake is home to The Old World Christmas Market, a unique and eclectic seasonal collection of shops and stalls offering gifts and trinkets from Europe.
The Market also features authentic European food and drink, as well as entertainment.
In addition to the Market, there is an annual event in Elkhart Lake called Christmas in the Square.
For one day in late November, the village square is transformed into a holiday wonderland, with live entertainment, a tree lighting ceremony, and wagon rides.
Where to stay:
The Quintessential Suite – Accommodating up to six guests, this apartment is a great choice both for couples on a Christmas getaway and for families looking to have some festive fun together.
The apartment is located in Downtown Elkhart Lake, a short walk away from restaurants and shops as well as the Christmas events in the village.
The interior is very spacious and has a warm, homely atmosphere despite its modern style. – Check rates here
The small city of Ripon in Fond du Lac County hosts an annual Christmas in the Village event, featuring a weekend of Christmas fun in a picturesque setting, lavishly decorated for the holidays.
Christmas in the Village includes holiday music, plenty of shopping opportunities, authentic local food and drink, and perhaps most exciting of all, the chance to see live reindeer!
Ripon is also home to another holiday celebration: Dickens of a Christmas.
Taking place in Ripon’s historic downtown, this event will transport you into the Victorian era, with carolers, old-timey shops, themed activities and contests, and a Living Windows display.
Where to stay:
Hip APT in Historic Downtown Ripon – With two bedrooms accommodating four guests, this modern, cozy apartment is an excellent choice for both couples and small families looking to enjoy the Christmas season in Ripon.
Alongside the tasteful decor, the apartment benefits from its location. It’s situated in the scenic historic downtown area of the city, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and breweries just a 15-minute walk away. – Check rates here
During the Christmas period, Hudson quite literally lights up. The amount of decorations in the city is truly a sight to behold.
Whether you enjoy walking through Christmas lights displays or prefer a drive, Hudson’s got you covered with stunning displays in Lakefront Park.
To marvel at more Christmas decorations, visit Hudson’s window decorating contest.
Where to stay:
Location, Comfort, Amenities – Bring the whole family or your friends to this rental home near Hudson’s Downtown. With two large bedrooms, this property can accommodate six guests.
The luscious interior is outfitted with everything you could need during your Christmas-themed visit to Wisconsin.
Christmas shopping opportunities, restaurants, bars, and cafes in Downtown Hudson are only a 15-minute walk (or 3-minute drive) from the house. – Check rates here
19. Lake Geneva
There are always plenty of things to do in Lake Geneva, one of the most popular resort towns in Wisconsin, and Christmas is certainly no different! This place offers some of the best luxury resorts in Wisconsin.
Hop on the Christmas-themed cruise of the lake, decked out with dozens of lights and decorations and featuring fun activities for kids and plenty of refreshments.
Marvel at the holiday lights displays and illuminated decorations all over town, and get a visit from Santa and his reindeer!
Lake Geneva is home to the annual Electric Christmas Parade, including dozens of illuminated floats with a different holiday-related theme each year.
Each resort also holds its own events, and there are always Christmas-themed shows to catch at the local theatres.
Please make also sure to check out the Christmas Decoration of the Grand Geneva Hotel. which is one of the best things to do in Lake Geneva.
Where to stay:
This beautiful, spacious bungalow sleeps twelve, so even the largest family is sure to be happy with the accommodation! The house features four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a complete set of amenities.
The house is close to both the lake (just as scenic in the winter as it is during warmer seasons) and to Downtown Lake Geneva with its countless Christmas attractions and activities. – Check rates here
The small village of Stockholm in Pepin County, Wisconsin, was founded in the nineteenth century by settlers from Sweden, which is why it shares its name with that country’s capital.
However, the name is not the only Swedish thing about Stockholm, Wisconsin. Winter celebrations also have something to do with the Old Continent.
Stockholm’s residents celebrate Christmas for a full month, in accordance with the Swedish tradition, arguably making the location the most unique Christmas town in Wisconsin.
These celebrations really are something special. The entire village comes together to create an all-encompassing Christmas atmosphere.
Visitors can enjoy the decorations, wagon rides, unique shopping opportunities, meet St. Lucia, and take part in the Winter Solstice fire celebration!
Where to stay:
Guesthouse in Stockholm – Whether you’re considering a romantic Christmas couples getaway or a family holiday, this guesthouse will meet your expectations.
The location is just as beautiful as the house itself, with stunning views of the Mississippi River bluffs and Lake Pepin.
The guesthouse is only a short walk away from the village, with its month-long Christmas fun! – Check rates here
A short FAQ about Christmas in Wisconsin
Where to see Christmas lights in Wisconsin?
If you want to see Christmas lights in Wisconsin you must visit places like Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival, Milwaukee, Country Christmas, Pewaukee, WPS Garden Of Lights, Green Bay etc.
How long is Christmas break in Wisconsin?
Christmas break in Wisconsin is 10 days long for kids and 2 days as per federal holidays for office workers.
What are Christmas things to do in Wisconsin Dells?
Some of the best Christmas things to do in Wisconsin Dells are Christmas shopping, see Christmas lights and Christmas decorations, enjoy holiday music, authentic local food and drink, and see live reindeer!