Carly Rubach

TCD’s 2011 Holiday Fun Guide

By - Dec 19th, 2011 04:00 am
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Tis the season of food, fun, family, stress and snowballs. Milwaukee knows how to pack mounds of activities into the fleeting summer months, but this winter looks pretty eventful, too. There’s holiday events aplenty, ice-skating with a cup of hot cocoa (not at the same time) is just around the corner, and holiday lights will brighten the city’s coldest nights. See, winter isn’t so bad!

Peruse our list of the coziest seasonal wonders and forgo hibernation this year. You can sleep after New Year’s.

Holiday Lights and Decor

Red Arrow Park in full holiday swing. The ice rink opens in early December. (Photo: BDJ)

Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival

  • Downtown Milwaukee
  • Through Jan. 1
  • Take in the magic of over 500,000 lights, 360 wreaths, 35 animated sculptures and 17 Moravian stars. This six-week festival includes hundreds of activities (many of them on our list)! (Editor’s note: TCD was there for the kick-off event at Pere Marquette Park. Click here for the photo gallery.)

A Grand Avenue Christmas at the Pabst Mansion

  • The Pabst Mansion, 2000 W. Wisconsin
  • Through Jan. 15
  • The nationally recognized Christmas display at the Pabst mansion will open to the public on Nov. 18. Enjoy a variety of holiday activities in the intricately decorated rooms of the mansion. Check their website for more updates and details.

A toned-down display on Candy Cane Lane. (Photo: BDJ)

Candy Cane Lane

  • 92nd Street to 96th Street between Oklahoma Avenue and Montana Avenue, West Allis
  • Through Dec. 27
  • Over 300 h0mes participate in this Holiday lighting extravaganza. You can walk or drive through the sparkly neighborhoods from 6 – 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 5 – 10 p.m. on weekends. The event is free, but donations are welcome on behalf of the MACC Fund.

M&I Bank Holiday Display

  • M&I Bank, 770 N. Water St.
  • Through Jan. 4
  • M&I Bank’s whimsical Storybook Village display will feature over 50 life-size Steiff stuffed animals. The event is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on weekends.

Holly, Jolly Holidays

  • Mitchell Park Domes, 524 S. Layton Blvd.
  • Through Jan. 1
  • Santas, poinsettias and elves galore! Don’t forget to check out the Domes for their Holly, Jolly Holidays display.

Country Christmas

  • Country Springs Hotel, 2810 Golf Rd., Pewaukee
  •  Through Dec. 31
  • Country Christmas is Wisconsin’s largest holiday lights display with over a million lights that wind along a trail through the woods. This outdoor drive-through lights display is open Sunday-Thursday from 5-9 p.m. and Fridays, Saturdays and Holidays from 5-10 p.m.
MillerCoors “Holiday Lites
  • Miller Brewery Tours Visitor Center, 42nd and State
  • Fridays and Saturdays, through Dec. 23
  • Wtih more than 300,000 LED lights set to a mix of holiday tunes, MillerCoor “Holiday Lites” is one of the largest displays if its kind in the Midwest. Shows run every 20 minutes from 4:40 – 8 p.m.

Breakfast with Santa

Santa and the girls from Trinity Irish Dancers.

Breakfast with Santa at George Watts and Son

  • George Watts and Son, 761 N. Jefferson
  • Saturdays through Dec. 24
  • Enjoy a marvelous breakfast with Santa and a free gift for every child and the historic George Watts and Son tea room.

Winter Activities

The Westown Indoor Market at the Shops of the Grand Avenue

Westown Indoor Market

  • The Shops of Grand Avenue (East End of the First Level), 161 W. Wisconsin Ave.
  • Wednesdays through Dec. 21, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Just because summer is over doesn’t mean that farmers market are closed. Purchase seasonal veggies, local art, prepared dishes and more!

Slice of Ice in Red Arrow Park 

  • Red Arrow Park, 920 N. Water St.
  • December-February
  • Skate the outdoor refrigerated rink with beautiful downtown Milwaukee scenery for free when you bring your own skates (rentals $7/pair). Warm up with a hot chocolate from the nearby Starbucks when you’re done. Magical.

Jingle Bus Holiday Tour

  • Plankington Arcade at the Shops of Grand Avenue, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave.
  • Through Dec. 20
  • For only $1, enjoy a 40-minute narrated tour that hits all the great Milwaukee landmarks and festive decor. Culver’s and Potbelly Sandwich Shop will supply cocoa and cookies until the sweet treats last. The bus tours take place Thursdays through Sundays from 6-9 p.m.

Apple Holler Sleigh Rides

  • Apple Holler, 5006 S. Sylvania Ave., Sturtevant
  • Call for reservations
  • Take advantage of the seasonal splendor of a horse-drawn sleigh. Thirty-minute rides can be reserved for any day of the week and campfires for roasting marshmallows or hotdogs are available for an additional cost.

Milwaukee Carriage Rides

  • Leave from The Pfister, Hyatt and InterContinental Hotels
  • Looking to swoon that special someone? How about a horse-drawn carriage ride about the beautifully lit city. Call for reservations today! Rides leave from The Pfister, Hyatt, and InterContinental hotels and start at 6 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. on weekends. $50 for a half hour, $90 for an hour.

Holiday Events

Just Added! Milwaukee of Christmas Past: Schuster’s & Billie the Brownie

  • Milwaukee County Historical Society, 910 N. Old World Third St.
  • Through Jan. 13
  • Did you know that Billie the Brownie is a Christmas icon in Milwaukee? Go back in time and learn his story, write letters to Santa and listen to vintage Billie the Brownie radio broadcasts.

DeLind Fine Art Gallery: Holiday Show

  • 450 E. Mason St.
  • Through Jan. 8
  • This holiday collection was designed with the season of giving in mind. Perhaps you can pick up a few of your presents at the DeLind gallery this year.

Photo by Maistora (CC lic. applied)

  • The Pabst Theater
  • Through Dec. 26
  • Enjoy one of the most beloved Christmas tales in one of Milwuakee’s most beloved venues as the Milwaukee Rep presents “A Christmas Carol” at the Pabst Theater.
  • Frontier Airlines Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave.
  • Dec. 21 – 31
  • Enjoy over 150,000 sq. ft. of fun and games for all ages including, rides, movies, a life-size snow globe photo opportunity and more.

Winter Jam with Night Storm

  • Frontier Airlines Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave.
  • Dec. 29, 7 – 10 p.m.
  • Music lights and dancing will be a hot hit with the teens. Must have a student ID to attend.
  • Milwaukee Public Museum
  • Through Jan. 1
  • All aboard! Enjoy the classic holiday story at the Humphrey IMAX Dome Theater.

image from last year’s Chanukah Menorah car parade. Photo by Matt Dwyer for ThirdCoast Digest.

  • Harry & Rose Samson Family JCC, 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd.
  • Dec. 19, 4 p.m.
  • Enjoy this free community evening of music, games, magic and more!
  • Ozaukee Skateland, 7084 Sycamore Dr.
  • Dec. 20, 5 p.m.
  • Come out for a Chanukah skating party and dinner with Wisconsin’s only rink-side Menorah lighting.
  • Bayshore Town Center, 5800 N. Bayshore Dr.
  • Dec. 21, 4 p.m.
  • After the Menorah Lighting downtown, follow the car parade to conclude the days festivities with a Menorah Lighting at Bayshore.
  • Grand Avenue Shops, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave.
  • Starts Nov. 19, while supplies last!
  • Spend $50 or more at the Grand Avenue Shops this year and receive a free reusable tote bag. Bring your receipts (must be from same visit) to Guest Services and claim your prize!
Fun for the Kids

Fantastic Forest of Holiday Trees

  • Milwaukee County Zoo, 10001 West Blue Mound Road,
  • Through Jan. 3
  • Hawks Nursery sponsors this year’s child-decorated holiday trees in the Fantastic Forest (a.k.a the U.S. Bank Gathering Place).

Mystery of the Christmas Star at Milwaukee Public Museum

  • Milwaukee Public Museum, 800 W. Wells St.
  • Begins December 6
  • Wise men follow a star in search of a newborn king. This showing at the Daniel M. Soref Planetarium explores possible birth dates of Christ and looks at important astronomical events at this time in history. Fun for all ages!
“Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells”
  • First Stage Children’s Theater
  • Through Dec. 29
  • Ticket information for First Stage can be found here, but for more information on the show, see TCD’s review here.

    gingerbread man

    Photo by Allison Hare (CC Lic. applied)

Christmas Day

Christmas Celebration Brunch at the Pfister

  • The Pfister, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave.
  • Dec. 25, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • No need to go through the trouble of entertaining on Christmas Day. Start off with a complimentary champagne toast followed by a decadent buffet.

A Mason Street Grill Christmas

  • Mason Street Grill, 435 E. Mason St.
  • Dec. 24, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Dec. 25, 1 – 7 p.m.
  • Enjoy Christmas downtown at the Mason Street Grill. No need to do any dishes for the holidays!

    Pere Marquette park in winter. (Photo: BDJ)

Christmas at Kil@wat

  • InterContinental Milwaukee, Kil@wat, Kilbourn and Water St.
  • Dec. 25, 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 3 – 8 p.m.
  • Spend your Christmas with the Kil@wat family!

Christmas at The Café at the Hilton Milwaukee

  • Hilton Milwaukee City Center, The Café, 509 W. Wisconsin Ave.
  • Dec. 25, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Celebrate the holiday with a Christmas brunch.

Holiday Music

The Leonard Bearnstein Orchestra. (Photo: BDJ)

Holiday Choirs at the Pfister

  • The Pfister, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave.
  • Through Dec. 23
  • On select weekdays through the season, The Pfister’s Holiday Singers will perform your favorite carols in the lobby near the marble staircase.
  • Old German Beer Hall
  • Dec. 23
  • Join Sigmund as he performs festive original compositions and well know holiday favorites at the Old German Beer Hall.

Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra

  • The Shops of Grand Avenue, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave.
  • Through Jan. 2
  • Bears in an orchestra? Why not. Leonard Bearstein and his 18-piece bear orchestra play some holiday tunes for your shopping pleasure. Join Leonard as he celebrates his 10th Birthday with a bash on Dec. 14 during the Westown Indoor Market.
TCD has the holidays covered. Be sure to check out TCD’s coverage of the 2011 holidays, which includes video of the City/County Christmas Tree, photos of the Holiday Lights kick-off in Pere Marquette Park, Rosy Ricks and Judith Ann Moriarty‘s recaps of “Junie B.” at First Stage, holiday gift ideas from Carly Rubach’s TCDIY, and much much more throughout the holiday season. 
TCD’s editors will be updating TCD’s 2011 Holiday Fun Guide throughout the Holidays. If there’s something going on in your neighborhood for the holidays, we want to know about it! Let us know in the comments below. Happy Holidays from TCD to all of our readers! 

0 thoughts on “TCD’s 2011 Holiday Fun Guide”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Milwaukee’s West Side is offering up an abundance of unique dining, shopping and entertainment experiences during West Side Holiday Happenings on November 18 from 5-9PM and Saturday, November 19 from 10AM-4PM. Explore Vliet Street from 43rd to 60th Street, North Avenue from 49th to 70th Street, Martin Drive and Lisbon Avenue during this weekend long event. Here you will find locally owned galleries, restaurants, boutiques, bakeries and more, each offering affordable, one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list. Friday night offers a free shuttle service loop on Vliet Street and North Avenue for shoppers. Select businesses will be offering free make-and-take holiday projects on Saturday that are great for children of all ages and make wonderful gifts. You better watch out because Santa Claus will be making his first appearance of the year at select locations on Saturday! Make your holiday list and start your shopping November 18 & 19. You won’t need to check your list twice because you’ll find everything on it during Westside Holiday Happenings!

  2. Anonymous says:

    AWESOME guide. Thank you!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Do you mean Sigmund Snopek (in the guide it says Simon Snopak)?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the catch. Fixed.

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