Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Get ready for Winter Wonders at Boerner Botanical Gardens

A long road at night in winter lined with trees that are lit up with various colors.
Winter Wonders

The Milwaukee area gives you plenty of ways to light up your holiday season, including more than a few that never require you to actually experience the outdoors. One of the biggest annual attractions is Winter Wonders, the drive-through display at Boerner Botanical Gardens that starts next Thursday, Nov. 24, and wraps up on New Year’s Eve.

Produced by EgoTech, the experience comprises more than 1 million LED lights covering 500+ trees and a variety of holiday-themed displays, including a handful of new ones for 2023. The route through the area surrounding the Boerner Botanical Arboretum and Whitnall Park stretches 1.4 miles, with vehicles routinely waiting in a line not quite that long to navigate the experience.

To make that queue as manageable as possible, there are several things you need to know prior to getting behind the wheel and heading to Boerner. First of all, the wait gets shorter as you get closer to closing time. A risky strategy perhaps, but with the daily schedule running from 5 to 9 p.m., organizers noted that the line starts to dwindle after 8 p.m. (closer to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday).

An outdoor holiday display with several illuminated spheres arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree.
Winter Wonders

After you determine your schedule, there’s the small matter of tickets. The most important thing to note is you absolutely should buy tickets online. The primary reason there’s a box office on-site is to resolve issues and answer questions. So go to the ticketing website (or Festival Foods to skip the convenience fee) and choose the vehicle that applies to your situation. For most, that’ll be the $35 option. There’s also a $75 season pass you can use for up to four visits.

If you’re really not interested in waiting, there’s also a limited supply of “Skip The Line” tickets available each night for $45. Purchasing those gets you entry via a special gate between 4:30 and 5 p.m. so you can be one of the first vehicles through the light show.

The show is certainly the biggest part of the experience, but there are a few more accessories that go along with your ticket. For one, you can sign up your little one to receive a personalized letter from Santa just before Christmas. More tangibly, every vehicle through the gates at Winter Wonders gets a Holiday Gift Bag with items and coupons from sponsors. You can find details on some of those items in the weekend-by-weekend breakdown below, as well as more information about Winter Wonders on the event webpage.

  • Nov. 24-26, B93.3 Opening Weekend: Free cocoa bomb treats and special gifts for the first 93 cars Nov 24-25, and more.
  • Dec. 1-3, WE Energies Laser Weekend: Special laser light effects throughout the drive.
  • Dec. 8-10, Trustone Bank Candlelight Weekend: Intimate holiday candlelight concerts in the historic Garden House at Boerner Botanical Gardens, featuring the music of “Elvis & Lisa Marie,” along with free snacks and Sprecher Root Beer. Children can enjoy a magic show and crafts while parents are at the candlelight concert.
  • Dec. 15-17, Gruber Law Sing Along Weekend: Special Gruber Law gift for each car, along with special sing-a-long music lyrics.
  • Dec. 22-24, Wimmer Santa Weekend: Free s’mores, popcorn, Santa photo and gifts.
  • Dec. 29-31, Cliff Bars Final Weekend: Free Cliff bars for everyone and gifts for each carload.