10 Magical Holiday Outings Near Madison

From cavern choir performances to drive-through light shows, the Madison area is rich with holiday traditions, so we’ve picked ten of our favorites to share. As you are planning your schedule, be sure to work in a few of these local holiday events.

1) State Capitol Christmas Tree

Come view the state Christmas tree in the capitol building covered with ornaments made by children around the state. You can get a close look at the decorations and model train on the first floor. Then, climb up the marble stairs to get a bird’s eye view. You might even catch a live performance of “sleigh ride” at the annual tuba concert.

2) Caroling in the Cave at Cave of the Mounds

Only a modest drive from Madison, this beautiful show cave hosts an annual charity event, inviting acapella groups and other performers to sing carols inside the cave. The echoing acoustics of the cave will make for an unforgettable holiday outing. You can purchase tickets here.

3) Cut a Christmas Tree

Pull your tree stand out of the closet and drive out to Summers Christmas Tree FarmSun Valley Christmas Trees, or Capaul’s Christmas Tree Farm with your family. Whether you’re a staunch spruce lover or prefer balsam furs, there are plenty of options to pick from.

4) Olin Park Holiday Fantasy in Lights

Take a walk down memory lane with this classic drive-through light show in downtown Madison.

5) Holiday Glow on Monroe

Watch this Madison holiday parade march down Monroe Street on December 7th. If you’re lucky, you might run into Santa, who will be mingling from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

6) Olbrich Gardens Holiday Express

This local botanical garden decks the halls with evergreens and poinsettias, setting the scene for a big model train display. Walk through the flowers and greenery and take in the miniature bullet and steam trains. Then, walk into the Bolz Conservatory for a blast of jungle air and tropical plants. Here’s a link to the event details on the Olbrich Gardens website.

7) A Christmas Carol at the Overture Center

The Madison Children’s Theater will be performing this holiday classic at the Overture Center from Saturday, December 7th, through Sunday, December 22nd.

8) Cookie Walk at Mount Horeb Public Library

Fulfill your childhood fantasies. MHPL throws a cookie walk every year, filling its atrium with card tables stacked with homemade cookies and candies of all kinds—from gingerbread men to chocolate truffles. Fill a take-out box with whatever you like and buy in bulk. Here’s a link to the cookie walk’s page on the MHPL website.

9) Madison Fair Trade Holiday Festival

This annual festival supports fair trade efforts around the world. Visit this big, sustainable market on the Monona Terrace on December 7th to buy fair trade gifts—from coffee to handmade stuffed animals.

10) Evansville Holiday Craft Fair

On December 7th, visit the 35th annual Evansville craft fair for holiday gifts and fun! Here’s a link to the event page.

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, remember to schedule your next dental appointment.


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