We told you it was coming … but beginning today, Santa Camp has arrived. And it’s everything you’d expect… and so much more.
Through Dec. 31, the bar at 131 N. Jackson St. – formerly known as Campsite 131 – has taken on a glistening, gleaming new identity as Santa Camp. And it comes complete with lights, decorations and a menu of festive holiday drinks.
"The whole premise was to immerse guests in all things holiday – from the music and the lights to the cocktails," says director of operations Adriana Ramirez. "Pair that with the camaraderie we offer people at Camp, and it’s the perfect way to celebrate."
Take a peek
It's time to put away your inner Grinch. After all, when you take a step inside Santa Camp and it might be nearly impossible to keep your lips from curling into a joyful smile.
The formerly rustic-chic space has been utterly transformed into a colorful, sparkling winter wonderland, thanks to a collaboration with Christmas decorator extraordinaire, Bill Johnston.
You'll find walls of glistening stars, festive snowmen and holiday trees decorated with ornaments and thousands upon thousands of LED lights.
There are glittersome gifts, wreaths galore and even a cadre of spunky life-sized Santa Clauses who will dance and sing at your command (just press the button at the base of their stands).
And yes, there are even a couple of leg lamps.
There are also rustic Campsite touches like holiday plaid pillows, golden lit squirrels, elf-wearing animals and (of course) a family of welcoming holiday bears.
You'll even find shimmering holiday glamp-worthy campers (and pride-filled unicorns) integrated into the garland over the bar.
Speaking of the bar, there you'll find a special holiday-inspired cocktail menu featuring 16 festively-named cocktails including the Naughtier Spice, a warming tipple made from spiced apple cider spiked with your choice of Jack Daniels Apple, Tito’s vodka or Tullamore Dew; the Little Jerk featuring cinnamon candy infused Tullamore Dew shot; and The Grinch, a holiday take on the grasshopper with creme de menthe, creme de cacao and ice cream.
And every single one is approved by Santa himself, who you might just find navigating the ether, complete with his crew of magical reindeer.
"As a kid growing up, I’ve always wanted a Clark Griswald house," says Campsite 131 co-owner Paul Hackbarth. "And I’ve always loved the over the top, mind blowing transformations. Here at Campsite 131, we really wanted to take things to a whole new level… and I think we did."
We can't help but agree.
More #CampyHolidays fun
Nov. 22-Dec. 8: Toys for Tots
Spread the joy! Bring a fantastic unwrapped toy to Santa Camp for donation to Toys for Tots.
Nov. 29-Dec. 21: Lights Contest
Try your hand at guessing the number of lights that are inside Santa Camp for a chance to win a $1,000 prize pack including a cooler filled with alcohol to stock your holiday bar, swag from White Claw and Titos, a Camp gift card and an Amazon gift card to finish your holiday shopping. Guesses can be submitted via the ballot box at Campsite 131 or online at campyholidays.com. The winner will be announced on air at 95.7 BIG FM the day following the contest.
Dec. 7: Camp Christmas Crawl
Take a ride on the Caroling Camp Christmas Caravan (a camp shuttle decked out for the holidays)! This holiday-filled venture begins at Camp Bar Third Ward and takes you on a festive tour to Camp Shorewood, Camp Tosa and back to the Third Ward with special drinks at every stop, a holiday scavenger hunt and a special appearance by Santa himself ... possibly even a naughty version. Christmas Crawls take place at noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 each and available online at campyholidays.com.
Dec. 8-14: Ugly Sweater Week
Wear your finest monstrosity of an ugly sweater, check in to Campsite 131 and post a photo of yourself on social media with the tag #campyholidays for a chance to win a festive Camp prize pack.
Dec. 16-21: Santa Week
Head to Campsite 131 dressed in your best Santa garb. Check inand post a photo of yourself on social media with the tag #campyholidays for a chance to win a festive Camp prize pack.
Campsite 131 is open Wednesday and Thursday from 3 to midnight, Friday 3 p.m. to bar close and Saturday and Sunday from noon to bar close. Extended hours may take effect during Santa Camp. Follow Campsite 131 on Facebook and Instagram for updates and announcements.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.