There’s plenty to see and do in the city of Milwaukee during the holidays. But don’t forget about the ‘burbs. Our neighbors to the north, south and west can throw a great Christmas party, too.
Cedar Creek Settlement pulls out the stops for Christmas, hosting Festive Friday Eves during November and December. With themes like "Santa's Workshop," "A Taste of Christmas" and "Frantic Friday Eve" there's something for everyone in the Settlement's antique stores, boutiques and restaurants.
Go down Washington Avenue and visit the Washington House Inn’s 100-year-old Feather Tree Exhibit or the nearby Stagecoach Inn’s Antique Santa Exhibit. The General Store Museum and Historic Kuhefuss House Museum are also open for several weekends in December and present themed holiday events. There is also an impressive line-up of performances at the Cedarburg Cultural Center and the Cedarburg Performing Arts Center. The beautifully-restored Rivoli Theater hosts a Holiday Film Festival Dec. 14–23, giving families the options of viewing their favorite Christmas movies like "Miracle of 34th Street," "Elf," and "It’s a Wonderful Life" in a classic theater setting.
Visit cedarburgchristmas.com for more information.
The Christmas Carnival of Lights is a mile-long display of 1.3 million lights on over 500 trees at the Jellystone Campground, 8425 State Road 38 in Caledonia. Owned and operated by the Isaacson family, this holiday extravaganza is now in its fourth year. The family spends five weeks custom-making every display in this light show. See Santa’s Workshop, a 3,700-square-foot building covered in 31,000 lights synchronized to music. Enjoy a 200-foot light tunnel that plays Christmas songs, the sight of gingerbread houses, a deep blue sea with dolphins and a 50-foot serpent and an all-white winter wonderland.
The best part? You can stay in the warmth of your car! And it benefits a good cause: one dollar from every car is donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin. Go on Monday for reduced $13 admission, $5 of which will be donated to Make-A-Wish. Bring the kids to see Santa on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in Santa's Workshop.
It may be chilly, but some would say that nature in Wisconsin is at its best during the winter months. Enjoy family-oriented programs at the Schlitz-Audubon Nature Center, 111 E. Brown Deer Road. On Dec. 11, "Starry Nights of Winter" will take you on a tour of the winter night sky. Bring the kids on Dec. 6 for "Hand-in-Hand: Winter" to learn about the outdoors during this season.
The Winter Farmer’s Market is the perfect opportunity to patronize local farmers during the cold months, and there is usually a great array of crafts, potential stocking-stuffers and live music. Located at the First Congregational Church at 131 N. Webster St., it runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday.
Visit the Town Hall on Dec. 5 at 645 N. Janacek Road and bring the kids, because Santa Claus is comin’ to town. Starting at 6:30 p.m., there will be Christmas carols courtesy of Hillcrest Elementary School, cookies, hot chocolate and of course the big guy himself – Santa – along with Mrs. Claus.
The Sunset Playhouse, 800 Elm Grove Road, is performing the beloved "A Christmas Story" this season. The play runs Nov. 29–Dec. 23.
It’s Christmas time in the city! The Silver Bells event, run by the Waukesha Downtown Business Association, has a merry line-up of activities every weekend in December. Bundle up and go on a carriage ride with the family. Participate in the Santa Run on Dec. 9 benefiting the Salvation Army. You can even go Christmas caroling.
Colleen Jurkiewicz is a Milwaukee native with a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she loves having a job where she learns something new about the Cream City every day. Her previous incarnations have included stints as a waitress, a barista, a writing tutor, a medical transcriptionist, a freelance journalist, and now this lovely gig at the best online magazine in Milwaukee.