Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
Holiday Tours at Lincoln-Tallman House
Through Dec. 29, Thu.-Fri. 4-7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-noon, tours on the hour. Res. req. Christmas Around the World features more than 20 trees; learn about Christmas traditions of countries including Mexico, Germany and Japan; evening tours lit only by the trees and gas chandeliers. Lincoln-Tallman House, 440 N. Jackson St., Janesville, (608) 756-4509, rchs.us/sites/lincoln-tallman-house.
Holiday Light Show
Through Dec. 30, Thu.-Sat. 4:30-8:30 p.m. A magical family event, featuring more than 500,000 twinkling lights, 2,300 luminaria, 100 decorated evergreens and lit archways, displays and lots more. Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Dr., Janesville, (608) 752-3885, rotarybotanicalgardens.org.
Festival of Lights
Through Dec. 31, Sat.-Sun. 6-10 p.m.; Dec. 24-25, open 24 hours. From 7-9 p.m., Santa greets visitors driving through the park to enjoy more than 50 displays. Mail your letters to the North Pole in a special red mailbox. Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. 2nd St., Rockford, (815) 494-2569, fireandice.com.
Festival of Trees
Through Jan. 3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tour the many trees decorated by local business and nonprofit organizations; vote for your favorite. Midwest Museum of Natural History, 425 W. State St., Sycamore, Ill., (815) 895-9777, mmnh.org.
All Aglow Holiday Display
Now through Dec. 23, Tue.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Dec. 26-Jan. 6, Wed.-Fri. 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Closed Dec. 24-25 & Dec. 31-Jan.1. The Conservatory is decorated inside and out, with sparkling lights and beautiful floral displays. Sinnissippi Station model garden train display Dec. 1-Feb. 3. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, (815) 987-8858, rockfordparkdistrict.org/ncg.
Frosty Fridays/Family Fun Days
Through April, Fri. 8-10 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 1-3 p.m. Enjoy indoor ice skating with family and friends; discounted packages available. Carlson Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Road, Loves Park, Ill., (815) 969-4069, rockfordparkdistrict.org.
Christmas Lights Trolley Tour
Dec. 14-23, 6-8 p.m. Hop aboard an enclosed trolley to enjoy light displays in the LaSalle, Peru, Oglesby and Utica, Ill., area. Bring a blanket for extra warmth. Res. req. at (815) 220-7386. Departs from Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock State Park, Ill. Rts. 178 & 71, Utica, Ill., (800) 868-7625, starvedrocklodge.com.
The Generals Christmas Ball
Dec. 15, 7 p.m. Galena Generals tell the stories of the nine Civil War generals from Galena, Ill., who fought in the Civil War and helped shape the country and the world. Dinner and dancing. Period dress welcome. DeSoto House Hotel, 230 S. Main St., Galena, Ill., (815) 777-0090, desotohouse.com.
Dec. 18, 3:30-5 p.m. Did you know that the cold is good for you and that it’s important to get outside even when it’s cold? Learn about cold-weather hiking and how to get outside more often this winter. Welty Environmental Center, 1201 Big Hill Court, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
Christmas at the Armory
Dec. 21-23, 6-8:30 p.m. Families enjoy Christmas songs, a buffet and a visit by the bearded man in red. Janesville Armory, 10 S. High St., Janesville, (608) 741-7400, janesvillearmory.com.
Dec. 26-30, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Use real tools to turn recycled materials into bird feeders, toys, decorations and whatever you imagine; then take your finished projects home. Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Countdown to Fun!
Dec. 31, noon-4 p.m. Design a party hat, create a noise maker and get showered with confetti. Ring in the New Year with a STEAM-Y blend of science, technology, engineering, art, math and fun. Discovery Center Museum, Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Old Year’s Night Celebration
Dec. 31, 1-5 p.m. dance; buffet 5 p.m.-close. Usher out the old year with the Zweifel Brothers, snacks, a glass of champagne, party favors and a midnight balloon drop. Turner Hall of Monroe, 1217 17th Ave., Monroe, Wis., (608) 325-3461, turnerhallofmonroe.com.
RAM: Family Art Fun Friday
Jan. 4, 10 a.m.-noon. Enjoy an art activity and create a masterpiece of your own that you can take home. Rockford Art Museum (RAM), 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 968-2787, rockfordartmuseum.org.
Jan. 4, 5 p.m.-midnight. Enjoy art, music, food and shopping in downtown Rockford when galleries, shops, music and theater venues stay open late. Visit website for complete schedule. Downtown Rockford, (779) 537-5319, firstfridaysrockford.com.
RAM: Beginner Drawing
Jan. 5, 10 a.m.-noon. Learn the basics from RAM artist-in-residence Beth Wemmer. Includes supplies. RAM, Rockford, (815) 968-2787, rockfordartmuseum.org.
Mornings at the Hoard Museum
Jan. 7, 8:30-10:30 a.m. The museum opens early to allow younger kids to experience it at their own pace. Held the first Monday of the month through May, this program includes special activities for Pre-K children. Hoard Historical Museum, 401 Whitewater Ave., Fort Atkinson, Wis., (920) 563-7769, hoardmuseum.org.
‘Grey Gardens’ Movie
Jan. 14, 6 p.m. The documentary explores the eccentric lives of Edith and Edie Bouvier Beale, “high society drop outs” and reclusive relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, as the mother-daughter pair thrive in their dilapidated, decaying mansion in East Hampton, New York. RAM, Rockford, (815) 968-2787, rockfordartmuseum.org.
Snow Sculpting Competition
Jan. 16-19, sunrise-10:30 p.m. Teams from around the state as well as local high schools compete to represent Illinois in the 2020 U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition. Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. 2nd St., Rockford, (815) 987-8800, ilsnowsculpting.com.
Jan. 19-21, see website for times and locations. Lots of family activities including horse-drawn sleigh rides, movies, ice skating, sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoe instructions and hiking, bingo, volleyball and euchre tournaments, log-rolling demonstration, scavenger hunt and birding activities. Welty Environmental Center, 1201 Big Hill Court, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, beloitrecreation.com/winterfest.
Galena Whiskey Weekend
Jan. 26, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Sip some of the 175 whiskey offerings and enjoy hors d’oeuvres. Turner Hall, 105 S. Bench St., Galena, Ill., (815) 777-9129, turnerhall.com.
Jan. 26, 3 p.m. In this Disney movie, Anna sets off on an epic journey to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter. Dress up as your favorite character and sing along to the on-screen lyrics. Young Auditorium, UW-Whitewater, 930 W. Main St., Whitewater, Wis., (262) 472-2222, uww.edu.
Lake Geneva Winterfest
Jan. 26-Feb. 3. During the two-week festival, watch 15 teams of sculptors and artists create works of art out of huge snow blocks in the national snow sculpting competition, enjoy live music, food, a human dog sled race, live magic and illusion show, helicopter rides, tours of Maxwell Mansion, a chili cook-off and the Cocoa Crawl in downtown Lake Geneva. Various locations in Lake Geneva, visitlakegeneva.com/winterfest.
Rockton Yeti Fest
Jan. 31-Feb. 3, daily. Watch snow sculpting and vote for your favorite, help make a giant community snow fort, hunt yetis; enjoy ice skating, a chili lunch, pub crawl and a sled dog mushing demonstration. Downtown Rockton and Settlers Park, 200 Hawick St., Rockton, Ill., (815) 624-7600.
Feb. 1, 5 p.m.-midnight. Enjoy art, music, food and shopping in downtown Rockford when galleries, shops, music and theater venues stay open late. Visit website for complete schedule. Downtown Rockford, (779) 537-5319, firstfridaysrockford.com.
Abominable Snow Race
Feb. 2, all day. Follow a 4-6 mile course that includes 20 or more obstacles at the Mountain Top ski hill. Kids 4-11 can take on the “lil-yeti” course with scaled-down obstacles. After the race, head into the lodge for fun, food and music. Devil’s Head Resort, S6330 Bluff Road, Merrimac, Wis., (608) 493-2204, abominablesnowrace.com.
Feb. 2, 7-9:30 p.m. Featuring music, hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and a silent auction. Midwest Museum of Natural History, Chapel in the Pines, 15165 Quigley Road, Sycamore, (815) 895-9777, mmnh.org.
Feeding Birds: Winter into Spring
Feb. 9, 10-11 a.m. What are the best food choices for birds that visit your feeders? Is it OK to feed them in spring and summer? What are the best ways to maintain feeders? Stacey Bivens, U of I Extension Master Naturalist, has the answers. Reg. online. Klehm Arboretum, 2715 S. Main St., Rockford, (815) 965-8146, klehm.org.
Pop a Cork Wine Workshop
Feb. 10, 4:30-7 p.m. Treat your Valentine to a night of cooking and wine; taste your way through, then learn how to use their flavors to enhance cooking and pair with meals. Kitchen Incubator of NW IL, 1741 Industrial Dr., Sterling, Ill., (815) 626-2665, kitchenincofnwil.org.
In Full Bloom Orchid Displays
Feb. 12-March 15, Tue.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. It may be the depth of winter, but the conservatory is full of hundreds of colorful orchids displayed in the warm, tropical exhibition area. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, Rockford, (815) 987-8858, rockfordparkdistrict.org/ncg.
Sky Circus on Ice
Feb. 15-17, see website for details. This three-day event promises family fun with a blizzard run, snow slide, expert ice and snow sculptors, hands-on snow carving and kite-making workshops, kite flying lessons, and gigantic kite displays over Delavan Lake; evening entertainment. Lake Lawn Resort, 2400 E. Geneva St., Delavan, Wis., (262) 728-7950, lakelawnresort.com.
Rockford Home Show
Feb. 22-24, Fri. 3-7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Discover the newest products for your home, as well as ideas for remodeling, decorating and interior and exterior design. Featured are demonstrations, balloon-twisting lessons, a children’s gardening project and an animal show. Mercyhealth Indoor Sports Center, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, Ill., (815) 871-7469, showtimeproduction.net.
March 1, 5 p.m.-midnight. Enjoy art, music, food and shopping in downtown Rockford when galleries, shops, music and theater venues stay open late. Visit website for complete schedule. Downtown Rockford, (779) 537-5319, firstfridaysrockford.com.
Species Spotlight: Vertebrates
March 2, 9 a.m.-noon. Learn about bats, bluebirds, frogs and toads, and find out if you’d like to become a Citizen Scientist critters. Reg. online. Forest Preserve Headquarters, 5500 Northrock Dr. Rockford, (815) 335-2915, seversondells.com.
March 3-4, see website for details. In its 20th year, Paleofest offers paleontology speakers, family workshops and activities. Learn how scientists determine the bite force of Tyrannosaurus Rex and what it ate, then create a Tyrannosaur tooth display. Meet Pearl, Burpee’s newest dinosaur, and dig into evidence of how dinosaurs hatched. Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 965-3433, burpee.org.
Badger Explorations: Diggin’ Archaeology
March 9, 10:30 a.m.-noon. Children grades 2-5 explore how archaeologists piece together the past to learn how people lived hundreds and thousands of years ago. Each workshop includes a tour or scavenger hunt, a hands-on group project and a craft project. Reg. online. Wisconsin Historical Museum, 30 N. Carroll St., Madison, Wis., (608) 264-6555, wisconsinhistory.org.