This time of year, when the winds start howling and snowflakes start to drift ever-so-gently to the ground, it’s perfect for getting together with family, friends, and all the people you hold dear – including your neighbors throughout the community. In the Chippewa Valley, the holidays can be extravagant just as they can be simple. At events all over the Valley leading up to the end of the year, you can experience bright lights, wintery thrills, cheerful songs, and quiet beautiful moments together with your loved ones.
Here’s a taste of the best of what the season has in store:
1. Irvine Park Christmas Village
When: Nov. 28 to Jan. 1
Where: Irvine Park, Chippewa Falls
No list of can’t-miss holiday traditions in the Chippewa Valley is complete without a mention of the Christmas Village in Irvine Park. This year marks the 32st anniversary of the stunning light displays that spread through the whole park. Tens of thousands of twinkling lights envelop the trees, surround the pavilions, and decorate the life-sized Christmas scenes that replicate the Victorian era and the city’s history. Christmas Village is perfect whether you want a slow drive through the park (don’t forget to turn your headlights off), a romantic walk with your partner, or a wintery adventure with the whole family. It’s a wonderful way to brighten up cold months!
2. Santa’s Arrival and Santa’s House
When: Friday, Nov. 29 • 10am
Where: BMO Harris Bank Parking Lot, 411 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls
When: Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturdays, Nov. 30 and Dec. 7, 14, and 21 11am-3pm
Where: Rutledge Charity Building, 404 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls
It is always a surprise to see how Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive in Chippewa Falls each year. On Nov. 29 – the day after Thanksgiving – you can enjoy the anticipation at the BMO Harris Bank parking lot, where all children in attendance will receive a special ornament from Santa himself! Then you can visit with Santa and let him know your Christmas wishes at his house across the street. Santa’s House is open every Saturday after his arrival until Christmas.
3. Let It Glow! and Clearwater Winter Parade
Let It Glow:
When: 5pm on Friday, Dec. 6
Where: Phoenix Park, Eau Claire
Clearwater Winter Parade:
When: 6:30pm on Friday, Dec. 6, 6:30pm
Where: West Grand Avenue and First Avenue, Eau Claire
Downtown Eau Claire will kick off the holiday season with the Sixth Annual Let It Glow! tree lighting ceremony in Phoenix Park. The Let It Glow! festivities begin at 5pm, and will be followed by fireworks from the Grand Avenue footbridge at 6:30pm. Right after that, the Eighth Annual Clearwater Winter Parade starts on the other side of the Chippewa River in the West Grand Avenue business district. The parade (this year’s theme: “Superheroes of the Season”) proceeds down West Grand Avenue and First Avenue (alongside Owen Park). Expect to see at dozens of units in the parade, including floats, bands, and maybe even St. Nick himself!
4. HAYMARKET HOLIDAY
When: 1pm Dec. 7
Where: Haymarket Plaza, Downtown Eau Claire
The holiday fun continues in Eau Claire on Saturday, Dec. 7, for a new take on a longtime downtown event: Haymarket Holiday – previously known as Christmastime in the City – will take place from 1-4pm in Haymarket Plaza in front of the Pablo Center at the Confluence. The recently completed plaza will be the place to see Santa, get a horse-drawn wagon ride, sip some hot cocoa, peruse an artists market, and celebrate the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree. Best of all, the activities are free!
5. Bridge to Wonderland Parade
When: 6pm on Dec. 7
Where: Bridge Street, Downtown Chippewa Falls
The 30th Annual Bridge to Wonderland Parade will be brimming with holiday magic with more than 50 illuminated and musical floats, walking units, and horse-drawn wagons which set Bridge Street ablaze with lights and cheer. This year’s theme is “Christmas Characters,” so keep your eyes peel for elves, snowmen, or maybe even Grinches! The Bridge to Wonderland Parade is a beloved Chippewa Falls tradition where you can even see Santa Claus on one of the parade’s last floats. Afterward, gather around a campfire at Riverfront Park for hot chocolate and s’mores.
6. WinterDaze Event and Parade
When: 4-8pm on Thursday, Dec. 12 4-8pm
Where: Downtown Menomonie
The trifecta of Chippewa Fall Christmas-season parades culminates Dec. 12 with the annual WinterDaze parade and celebration in downtown Menomonie. Between 4-6pm, revelers will have the opportunity to meet Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, ride in a horse-drawn wagon, and sip free Swiss Miss hot chocolate. At 6:30pm the parade begins; this year’s theme is “Hollywood Christmas,” so expect some silver-screen style celebration before the show-stopping fireworks display over Lake Menomin.