MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest
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November 2021  December 2021 January 2022
Fri
24
-
Fri
19

Christkindlmarket

Chicago, IL

This is the most authentic Old World Christmas market, with many German vendors who bring over toys, ornaments and sweets. There's a Children's Lantern Parade, appearances by the Christkind and entertainment most days. In Daley Plaza in the Loop.

Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville

Chicago, IL

This North Side satellite of the Daley Plaza Christkindlmarket features ice-skating, wreath-making, music and Santa's Workshop as well as holiday vendors.

 

 

Mon
27
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Sat
20

Bentleyville Tour of Lights

Duluth, MN

Tour the retro-cool lighted decorations in Bayfront Festival Park, including a tree that dances to music, Dinosaurland and Penguin Park, and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

There's free hot chocolate, cookies, popcorn and marshmallows to roast over fire pits. Bring cash or food to donate to food shelves.

Wed
1
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Fri
26

ZooLights

Chicago, IL

The annual display of 2.5 million lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo is operating at limited capacity again this year and charging $5 per person. Tickets are free on Mondays and Tuesdays. Reserve in advance.

Fri
31
-
Fri
26

Rotary Lights

La Crosse, WI

In Riverside Park, see a holiday display of 3 million lights with music. It opens with a parade, and Santa and reindeer are there every night through Dec. 23, with a live Nativity some nights. There's also an ice rink with free use of skates, and free s'mores at fire pits.

Donations of cash and/or food are requested.

Carriage and helicopters rides also will be available.

Sun
5
-
Thu
2

Christkindlmarket

Des Moines, IA

This Christmas market in Principal Park, on the river confluence downtown, features vendors and food plus many performances by bands, choirs, carolers, fiddlers and dance troupes.

Fri
3

Christmas in the Ward

Milwaukee, WI

Festivities in the rejuvenated Third Ward near downtown start with tree lighting and a performance by Trinity Irish Dancers, followed by  fireworks, carriage rides, carolers, and a cookie sale.

Sinterklaas Eve

Holland, MI

In this Dutch town, St. Nicholas arrives on his white horse, surrounded by his Zwarte Piet helpers.

Join a procession to the Kerstmarkt, then meet Sinterklaas, have treats and listen to carols.

Sat
4
-
Fri
3

Christmas Walk and House Tour

Geneva, IL

In this northwest Illinois town, Santa Lucia arrives in a horse-drawn carriage on Friday and hands out Swedish cookies, then Santa lights the Great Tree and opens his Gingerbread House. There's shopping amid strolling carolers. A tour of five houses is Friday and Saturday.

Holiday Kerstmarkt

Holland, MI

This open-air European Christmas Market at the Eighth Street Market Place includes 18 timber booths offering Dutch imports, folk art, hand-knit apparel and other gifts.

 

Fire & Ice Festival

Brodhead, WI

This town between Monroe and Beloit celebrates with horse-drawn carriage rides, fire rings, ice sculptures, an arts-and-crafts show, luminaries, a lighted parade Friday and frozen T-shirt, gingerbread, decorated-pet and Cindy Lou Who contests. 

Country Christmas

Spring Green, WI

This arty town on the Wisconsin River, home to Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesen as well as House on the Rock, offers a lighted parade on Friday and an artist showcase, craft bazaar, cookie walk and fireworks on Saturday.

Sun
5
-
Fri
3

Prelude to Christmas

Amana, IA

In this formerly communal village in eastern Iowa, visit the decorated Tannenbaum Forest, buy at the craft bazaar, go on a pickle hunt and listen to Santa stories.

Christkindlsmarkt

Excelsior, MN

The open-air market in this Minneapolis suburb on Lake Minnetonka also includes concerts, balloon art, storytelling, reindeer, visits with the Christkind, mugs of warm Glühwein and children's lantern parades at 5 p.m. both Saturdays.

 

Dickens of a Christmas

Ripon, WI

This Victorian-themed festival includes a Tour of Homes Saturday, wagon rides, an Enchanted Forest of decorated trees and a gingerbread-house contest.

A Holiday Parade will be Friday and Living Windows in downtown shops Saturday.

European Christmas Market

St. Paul, MN

This Christkindlmarkt in Union Depot features choirs, dancers, hot mulled wine, holiday beers, European-inspired food and artisan goods.

 

Chris Kringle Market

Ottawa, IL

This town on the Illinois River kicks off its downtown festival with a parade at 6 p.m. Nov. 26, followed by fireworks.

Along with the market booths, there will be carriage rides, holiday movies at the Roxy Theater, crafts, a children's train, Santa's House and Christmas Around the World displays where children can get their passports stamped. 

 

Sat
4

Norwegian Christmas Weekend

Decorah, IA

In the northeast Iowa bluffs, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum will have Scandinavian food, theater, music, folk-art demonstrations, singing around the Jule tree and appearances by Julenisse and Julebukker.

Sinterklaas Parade

Pella, IA

In this Dutch town, the man in the red suit arrives in a wooden ship, wears a bishop's miter and has a Moorish servant as helper. The parade is at 10 a.m. 

Christkindl Festival

Black River Falls, WI

A candlelight procession and tree lighting start this traditional German market fair. There's also Friday fireworks, live reindeer, horse-drawn trolley rides, music and a Christkindl Night of Lights Parade.

Twinkle Party

Stillwater, MN

Festivities include cookies, hot drinks and twinkle lights given to children. There will also be a tree-lighting ceremony and caroling.

Electric Christmas Parade

Lake Geneva, WI

This lighted parade down Broad and Main streets starts at 5 p.m.

Fri
10

Festive Friday Eves

Cedarburg, WI

Five Christmas celebrations, each with a different theme, at Cedar Creek Settlement, a restored 1864 woolen mill in this historic village just north of Milwaukee. Each features live holiday music, crafts, luminaries, wine-tasting and cookies and cider.

Sat
11

Night of the Luminaria

Galena, IL

More than 5,000 candle-lit luminaria line the streets of this historic town and 30 windows become animated.

Frothbite Beer & Bites Festival

La Crosse, WI

This festival inside the La Crosse Center features cheese, sausage and craft beer from more than 40 breweries.

Sun
12
-
Sat
11

Burlington Ice Festival

Burlington, WI

Ice carvers compete in Wehmhoff Square Park in the Wisconsin Ice Carving Competition, with the sculptures lit at dusk. There will also be a Kris Kringle market, choir music, reindeer and horse-drawn wagon rides.

Sun
19
-
Fri
17

Holidazzle

Minneapolis, MN

This free holiday market in Loring Park, on the edge of downtown, is just one weekend this year. In addition to vendors and food, it will feature appearances by Santa and the illuminated Holidazzle Yeti, outdoor yoga, a carousel, Ferris wheel and giant slide and fireworks at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Sun
19
-
Sat
18

Home for the Holidays

Eagle, WI

At this fun event at Old World Wisconsin, a complex of pioneer homesteads next to Kettle Moraine State Forest west of Milwaukee, you'll meet Father Christmas (and possibly Krampus), sip wassail, listen to brass carols and take a horse-drawn wagon ride.

Fri
31
-
Mon
27

Carp Fest

Prairie du Chien, WI

During the last week of the year, the parks department in this Mississippi River town offers lighted sledding, a torchlight ski/hike, a skating party, ice fishing and snow football.

Fri
31

Cherry Ball Drop

Traverse City, MI

In this town on Grand Traverse Bay, there's music from 10:30 p.m., and a large illuminated cherry drops 115 feet at midnight.

New Year's Eve Ball Drop

Ludington, MI

The party in this Lake Michigan beach town includes music, dancing, a beer tent, a lighted ball drop and fireworks.

Pierogi Drop

Whiting, IN

This suburb of Chicago with Polish roots celebrates the new year by dropping a 10-foot illuminated pierogi, or filled dumpling, into a boiling cauldron at midnight. There will also be music and fireworks.

Cheese Drop

Plymouth, WI

At this family-friendly event at the Plymouth Arts Center, there will be live music, cheese-tasting, hot cocoa and a bonfire before an 80-pound lighted wedge of cheese is dropped 100 feet at 10 p.m. It's followed by more music and a champagne toast at midnight.