MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Holiday festivals 2020


  • (Nov. 7 – Jan 3)Holiday Fantasy in Lights

    Madison, WI

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

  • (Nov. 19 – Jan 1)Holiday Lights Festival

    Milwaukee, WI

    The season-long lights festival includes more than 500,000 lights throughout downtown's parks and streets.


  • (Nov. 20)Christmas by the Bay

    Sturgeon Bay, WI

    There's a car parade at 6:15 p.m., led by Santa.

  • (Nov. 20 – 22)Virtual Holiday Folk Fair International

    West Allis, WI

    More than 50 ethnic groups present music, dance, food and crafts from around the world. At the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center.

    This year, it will be online.

  • (Nov. 21 – Dec 31)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. 

    In 2020, it's a drive-through. Admission is $10 per car, and children 10 and younger receive a free Bentleyville stocking cap and cookies from a window-side Santa and Mrs. Claus.

  • (Nov. 21 – Jan 3)ZooLights

    Chicago, IL

    The annual display of 2.5 million lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo is operating at 25 percent capacity this year and charging $5 per person. Tickets are available for timed slots between 4 and 9 p.m.; on Nov. 24 and Dec. 9, 17, 21 and 29, tickets are free (available at 4 p.m. the previous Sunday).

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

    Chicago, IL

    This year, there's no live parade, but a celebration will be televised from 6 to 7 p.m. on ABC.

    Usually, there are music and family activities on Michigan Avenue, with a  lighted parade from Oak Street to Wacker Drive, followed by fireworks over the Chicago River.

  • (Nov. 26 – 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. 27)Holiday Stroll

    Red Wing, MN

    This Mississippi River town offers a window-display scavenger hunt, a drive-through Santa and sales.

  • (Nov. 27)Parade of Lights

    New Ulm, MN

    The holiday parade downtown will be drive-through and from 6 to 7 p.m.

  • (Nov. 28)Holiday Homecoming & Electric Parade

    St. Charles, IL

    There's Lighting of the Lights will be virtual on Friday.

    On Saturday, there will be a kickoff to the Holiday Tree Trail and a window-decorating contest. 


  • (Dec. 4 – 6)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.

  • (Dec. 11 – 12)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.


  • (Dec. 12)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.

  • (Dec. 18)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.

  • (Dec. 31)Cherry Ball Drop

    Traverse City, MI

    In this town on Grand Traverse Bay, there's music from 9 p.m., a visit from the Coast Guard and a large illuminated cherry dropping 115 feet at midnight.