Head to Janesville for Holiday Fun

By Maura Keller & Melanie Radzicki McManus | Photo © Nicodemas Nimmo

When the holidays approach, it’s time to take a trip to Janesville and its environs, which offer a wealth of ways to celebrate the season.

In early December, “Elf The Musical” is coming to the Janesville Performing Arts Center, followed by the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “The Nutcracker,” Tchaikovsky’s beloved 1892 ballet. On Dec. 17, John Denver tribute artist Ted Vigil will be performing Denver’s “Rocky Mountain Christmas” at the Edgerton Performing Arts Center. Vigil not only sounds like Denver, but looks like him, too.

If the snow’s been flying, grab your cross-country skis or snowshoes and explore some of the city’s most scenic spots, like the Robert O. Cook Memorial Arboretum or Rockport Park, which has more than six miles of groomed ski trails. Another great option is Riverside Park, which runs along the picturesque Rock River and is open to skiing, snowshoeing and sledding. A section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail lies here, and unwinds another 10-plus miles through town. Check with the Ice Age Trail Alliance to see if a candlelight hike is on the schedule.

Shoppers can search for the perfect holiday gift at places such as Adorn, a boutique offering quality and handmade goods that are unique, stylish, eco-friendly and ethically sourced from both local and fair-trade artisans. Items include fine art, jewelry, accessories, candles, and Wisconsin- and Janesville-themed gifts.

Do-it-yourselfers can learn how to create blown-glass Christmas globes, twisted icicles and glass snowmen at The Glass Garden, which regularly offers classes. Snag the perfect Christmas tree at K&W Greenery, then wander through its heavenly-scented greenhouse. Don’t forget to peruse the items in its spacious boutique. During the holidays you’ll find ornaments, candles, holiday décor and more.


If you love Christmas trees, head to the Rock County Historical Society, where more than 160 are on display Nov. 25-Dec. 30. The campus is home to 30 lighted and decorated trees; stroll or drive through anytime. On selected days, you can take a self-guided tour of the property’s historic Lincoln-Tallman House, filled with more than 130 trees and festive decorations.


More than one million colorful lights transform the Rotary Botanical Gardens into a holiday wonderland every winter. Stroll through the garden paths to see the various themed light displays and animations. The event begins Nov. 25, and runs through the holidays from 4:30 to 9 p.m. on select dates.


This fun family weekend, taking place Dec. 2-4, features a wealth of holiday activities, including a lighted parade, tree-lighting ceremony and fireworks. You’ll also find live theater, kids’ activities and a fun run. Most events are free or low-cost.

Plan your visit at janesvillecvb.com.

Read the rest of our small town holiday features here.

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