By Maura Keller | Photography by La Photo
From the moment you enter Janesville and Milton during the holiday season, you’ll notice the streets, businesses and public spaces are aglow with lights and décor. With the abundance of scenic outdoor beauty, it is reminiscent of classic Norman Rockwell images, where small- town charm is palpable. It’s an opportunity to enjoy the holidays with your family and friends in a cozy and welcoming small- town atmosphere that is filled with the spirit of the holidays and plenty of fun things to do, including outdoor activities, tours, shopping and dining — plus, more than 60 holiday-related events are held during the season.
Located less than one hour from Madison, Janesville’s affordability and convenient location make it an ideal spot to visit this holiday season. Art lovers will celebrate Janesville thanks, in part, to its extensive outdoor public art collection featuring 21 large-scale murals. Visitors can take a selfie scavenger hunt to locate the art.
In addition, outdoor aficionados can enjoy the winter trails gracing Janesville and Milton. The trails are ideal for walking, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. In Milton, ice fishing on Storr’s Lake, Clear Lake and Lake Koshkonong is also very popular.
When the chilly air has you longing for a bit of warmth, head over to the Milton House Museum for a tour. This is the last stop on the Underground Railroad in Wisconsin that can still be toured. And each holiday season, the Milton House Museum offers a performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” This rendition invites the audience to become a part of the performance as they move with the production company through the historic Milton House campus for different scenes within the play. This year’s performances will take placeDec.3at7p.m.,Dec.4at7p.m.and Dec.5at5p.m.
Holiday visitors can also enjoy the Holiday Light Show at Rotary Botanical Gardens where guests can walk through more than one million lights and family- friendly fun. Show dates are Nov. 23, 26-28 and Dec. 2-5, 9-12, 16-23 and 26-30.
Another favorite attraction is Janesville’s Jolly Jingle in downtown Janesville. From Dec. 3-5, this three-day event offers a fun family getaway, featuring a wide variety of activities for all ages, including ice skating, live reindeer, a lighted parade, live theater, a holiday market, fireworks, a tree lighting, family entertainment, kids’ activities and more.
Need some Christmas tree inspiration? Check out the trees within the Lincoln- Tallman House dressed in their festive best over the holidays. With dozens of trees inside and even more outside — each sponsored by a business or nonprofit — this open house format allows guests to view everything at their own pace. Plan an afternoon or evening strolling through the house while enjoying cider and cookies. Of course, no visit to the Janesville/ Milton areas would be complete without holiday shopping at the boutiques and vintage stores. Both communities offer lots of opportunities to cross items off your gift list.
“A CHRISTMAS CAROL”
Dec.3, 7 p.m., Dec.4, 7 p.m. & Dec.5, 5 p.m.
Located in Milton, the historic Milton House will be showcasing an interactive showing of “A Christmas Carol,” whereby the audience moves with the production company through the Milton House campus as the play unfolds.
HOLIDAY LIGHT SHOW
Nov. 23, 26-28 & Dec. 2-5, 9-12, 16-23, & 26-30
Over 1 million holiday lights surround visitors at Janesville’s Rotary Botanical Gardens.
JANESVILLE’S JOLLY JINGLE
This fun, family weekend in Janesville is filled with activities for visitors of all ages, including a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, a holiday market, live reindeer, a lighted parade and a wealth of other entertainment options.