MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Holiday festivals 2019

November

  • (Nov. 10 – Jan 1)Holiday Fantasy in Lights

    Madison, WI

    The free display in Olin Park is open from dusk to dawn.


  • (Nov. 22 – Jan 1)Lakeside Park Holiday Lights

    Fond du Lac, WI

    This free light show on Lake Winnebago includes animated scenes and trees that dance to 20 minutes of music played on 87.9 FM (you can listen on your car radio).


  • (Nov. 15 – 17)Holiday Folk Fair International

    West Allis, WI

    More than 50 ethnic groups are represented with music, dance, food and crafts. At the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center.


  • (Nov. 22 – 24)Christmas by the Bay

    Sturgeon Bay, WI

    Festivities start with a tree lighting Friday night. A parade is 10 a.m. Saturday, and there's free trolley and wagon rides plus visits with Santa and his reindeer.


  • (Nov. 22 – 23)Fine Arts and Crafts Fair

    Menomonie, WI

    Thirty artisans sell their wares at the Mabel Tainter, an 1890 auditorium with an ornate interior decorated for the holidays. Downtown shops hold holiday open houses.


  • (Nov. 22 – 23)Magnificent Mile Lights Festival & Parade

    Chicago, IL

    There will be music and family activities all day on Michigan Avenue, with a lighted parade from Oak Street to Wacker Drive, where fireworks over the Chicago River will follow.


  • (Nov. 23 – Dec 28)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. Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy popcorn, roasted marshmallows, cookies and hot chocolate. Everything is free, but bring one or more non-perishable food items (and/or cash) to donate.


  • (Nov. 28)Thanksgiving Parade

    Chicago, IL

    It's the 85th anniversary of the parade down State Street in the Loop. It starts at 8 a.m. at State and Congress and moves northward toward Randolph.


  • (Nov. 29 – Dec 1)Christkindlsmarkt

    Excelsior, MN

    In this Minneapolis suburb on Lake Minnetonka, choirs and bands play for shoppers at a traditional German open-air Christmas market.


  • (Nov. 29 – 30)Holly Days

    Egg Harbor, WI

    This Door County village offers horse-drawn wagon rides, a children's elf hunt and mistle dough contest and caroling.


December

  • (Dec. 6)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.


  • (Dec. 6 – 8)Prelude to Christmas

    Amana, IA

    In this formerly communal village in eastern Iowa, visit the decorated Tannenbaum Forest, go on a cookie walk, buy at the craft bazaar, get free admission to the Amana Heritage Museum, visit reindeer and go on the Christmas Haus Tour.


  • (Dec. 6 – 7)Christmas Walk, House Tour & Steeple Walk

    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, and a Steeple Walk of churches is on Sunday.


  • (Dec. 6 – 8)Dickens of a Christmas

    Ripon, WI

    This Victorian-themed festival includes Living Windows in downtown shops Friday evening, a Tour of Homes Saturday, wagon rides, an Enchanted Forest of decorated trees and a gingerbread-house contest.


  • (Dec. 6 – 8)Cambridge Classic Christmas

    Cambridge, WI

    Celebrate the season with hay rides, gingerbread-house building, a fat-tire bike ride and madrigal singers.


  • (Dec. 6 – 8)Julebyen

    Knife River, MN

    This Norwegian Christmas market on Lake Superior, between Duluth and Two Harbors, features indoor and outdoor markets, music, children's activities, skating, Norwegian food and visits from Santa and elves.

    You can take the train from Duluth to Knife River and back for $15, $5 for children 3-12. It leaves the Depot at 9:30 a.m. both days. From Knife River, there's also a train to visit a grumpy troll in Troll Canyon, $10 for adults, free for one child 12 and under, $4 for each additional child.


  • (Dec. 7)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.


  • (Dec. 7)Spirit of Christmas Past

    Green Bay, WI

    At this large complex of frontier buildings, listen to choirs, make orange pomanders, learn 19th-century dances, visit with St. Nick and go on a horse-drawn wagon ride.


  • (Dec. 7 – 8)An Old World Christmas

    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, stroll from historic houses to shops, sample ethnic foods and make old-fashioned crafts.