By Brittany Fetterly, Marketing & Communications Intern
With the holiday season ramping up, it may be hard to find the time to do anything other than wear fuzzy socks, eat sugar cookies and watch Hallmark movies. Going outside doesn’t seem too enticing for a lot of us as it gets colder, but what if it meant seeing a spectacular light show and giving back to your community? That’s where WPS Garden of Lights comes into the picture. It’s almost time for our biggest fundraiser of the year and here are 5 things you should know before you glow!
Get Everything You Need Online
Unsure about what days we’re open for WPS Garden of Lights or when the light show starts? Concerned about trail conditions, accessible options or what indoor activities are available? Our website has all this information and much more! You can buy tickets ahead of time, find parking lot and shuttle maps, sign up to volunteer and see all the activities we offer every night. We also recommend following us on Facebook for immediate event updates or closures, in the case of severe winter weather or larger-than-normal crows.
Other things you should know:
- The light show kicks off on Friday, November 29 at 5 pm. We’re open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays from 5–9 pm and December 26–December 30 from 5-9 pm. Last entry is at 8:30 pm for walking the light show and at 6:30 pm for wagon rides.
- November 29–December 1
- December 5-8
- December 12-15
- December 19-22
- Thursday, December 26–Monday, December 30
- Closed November 28, December 24 & 25
- Buy early and save! Buy ahead of time online, at the Garden or at Festival Foods. At the door, tickets are $2 more.
- Come on Thursdays and Sundays. We added Thursday nights this year and Sundays tend to be less busy later in the evening or during a Green Bay Packers game.
- Family Night has been expanded to three separate nights. Join us on Thursdays, December 5, 12 or 19 for Family Night. Children 12 and under in the same household receive free admission with one paid adult ticket. There will be a free craft, free Face Painting by Lori, letters to Santa and more!
- Horse-drawn wagon rides. Wagon rides are now only available from 5-7 pm each event night. This year, we’re providing more wagons so we recommend arriving by 6:30 pm to give yourself enough time to walk down to the pickup area by the concession building in the Schneider Family Grand Garden. Golf cart rides down to and from the pickup area are available for those who need assistance to reach the concession building. Wagon ride tickets, which automatically include the walking portion of the light show, can be bought ahead of time online or at Festival Foods.
- Wheelchair Golf Cart Ride. New this year on Thursdays December 5, 12, 19 and 26 from 5-8:30 pm. Advance Reservations Required, Limited Availability! Guests in a wheelchair and up to four members of their family can receive an accessible golf cart ride around the .4 miles of the lower gardens and mulched pathways. The golf cart can only accommodate one wheelchair and up to four guests at a time. Learn more on our accessibility web page. Please call 920.491.3691 ext. 103 no later than 24 hours in advance to confirm your reservation.
Watch the Weather
Will it be dry, wet and rainy, cold and snowing, windy and freezing or sunny and warm? With winter in Wisconsin, we could experience all of these in December, which is why it’s important to check the weather before you venture out to the Garden. WPS Garden of Lights is a one-of-a-kind outdoor, nature-inspired light show. Although you can warm up with a cup of hot chocolate indoors, we recommend dressing for the outdoors – winter coats, winter boots, hats, scarves, you name it. Also, keep in mind that if you think the weather is nice, hundreds of others will think so, too. Warmer weather = more people at the Garden.
Plenty of Things to Do Inside
Of course the shining glory of WPS Garden of Lights are the nature-inspired light displays in the Garden itself, but there’s lots to do indoors in our Fischer Visitor Center. You can get your photo taken with Santa and on Saturdays, ask Mrs. Claus about the North Pole or grab a candy cane from an elf! You can check out the timeless G-Gagers Train Club’s model train exhibit each night, too.
Remember to find our two natural holiday trees which are completely decorated in natural plants and flowers found right here in the Garden, or stop in at the WPS Trellis Gift Shop for holiday gifts, home décor, locally handcrafted art and unique gardening items. Want specific examples of what’s in our Gift Shop this year? Keep your eyes open for our upcoming blog on top Gift Shop holiday finds.
Stunning Selfie Spots
During WPS Garden of Lights, dazzling holiday lights mixed in with snowy scenes make for a beautiful backdrop whether you’re looking to take a quick family photo or post something on Instagram.
Of course the caterpillar is one of our most popular spots but it can quickly get crowded and congested with families and friends are snapping photos. We recommend being considerate of other visitors and staying to the left when taking pictures so everyone can walk through the caterpillar tunnel safely and comfortably. We also suggest these gorgeous alternatives:
- 50-foot tree
- Icicle Forest
- Butterflies in Motion
Also, remember to check out our various selfie stations outside:
- Santa’s Big Red Chair
- Butterfly Wings
Volunteer and Spread Holiday Cheer
WPS Garden of Lights is our biggest fundraiser of the year as we are a 100% community-supported nonprofit. By coming to this event, you’re supporting your community and helping us continue to connect people with plants throughout the year in exhibits, education programs and more. A huge part of this glowing success is our volunteers! We truly wouldn’t be able to put this show on year after year without the more than 300 volunteers that fill around 1,000 shifts.
Looking for an easy way to give back this year? You can join our volunteer team and volunteer for a shift or two during our light show. Shifts are two hours and volunteers receive a coupon for a free beverage or snack. Plus, they can enjoy the lights the night of their shift for free!
Interested in WPS Garden of Lights updates throughout the season? Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter or keep an eye on our event updates web page. You can also find more information on our frequently asked questions web page.
We look forward to seeing you at this year’s WPS Garden of Lights!