Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
RBG: Holiday Light Show
Through Dec. 28, 4:30-9 p.m. Fri-Sun. Annual attraction featuring: 330,000 lights, 90 specialty displays, animated displays, Santa visits, live reindeer, local musicians, large-scale model train display with over 200 feet of track, activities, holiday shopping, more. $5/$3 ages 3-15. Rotary Botanical Gardens (RBG), 1455 Palmer Dr., Janesville, (608) 752-3885, rotarybotanicalgardens.org.
Rockford Festival of Lights
Through Dec. 28, Fri.-Sun. 5-10 p.m. Drive through Sinnissippi Park to view more than 50 spectacular lighted holiday displays created by local businesses and groups. Free/donation box at end. Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. 2nd St., Rockford, (815) 494-2569, rockfordfireandice.com.
Christmas in the Country
Through Dec. 31, events daily. A celebration of lights, music, theater, cuisine and merriment begins with the illumination of a million-and-a-half lights across the resort’s 1,300 acres of rolling countryside. Music, gingerbread houses, theater, more. Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, Wis., (800) 558-3417, grandgeneva.com.
All Aglow Holiday Display
Through Jan. 6, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Festive holiday light and floral displays, live holiday music, and family fun activities. Included with admission. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, (815) 987-8858, nicholasconservatory.com.
Christmas Carol Dinners
Dec. 19, Jan. 2 & 9, 6 p.m. A magical evening includes spectacular views, a five-course traditional English dinner, a festive atmosphere and a chorus of Goldmoor carolers singing traditional songs of the season. $69 per person; reservations required. Tax & gratuity not included. Goldmoor Inn & Dining, 9001 W. Sand Hill Road, Galena, Ill., goldmoor.com.
Kishwaukee Christmas Bird Count
Dec. 20. Southern Winnebago and northern Ogle counties. To participate call Barbara Williams, (779) 537-3352.
A Dark Winter’s Night New Moon Hike
Dec. 22, 5:30 p.m. On the longest night of the year, hike or snowshoe or ski (if conditions allow, BYO equipment) along the boardwalk and trails. Return to a campfire to roast marshmallows. $5/members free. Beckman Mill County Park, 8606 S. County Road H, Beloit, Wis., (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
Dec. 26-30, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Deck the halls with boughs of jolly as we merge hands-on arts and crafts with amazing math. Vote for your favorite cookie, fashion a snowflake, construct a kaleidoscope, find the hidden shapes. Incl. with museum admission. Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Hike the Vines
Dec. 27, noon & 2 p.m. A self-paced snowshoe hike through the Galena Cellars vineyard, followed with a wine tasting. $45 per person includes snowshoe rental, wine tasting and shuttle to and from the vineyard. $25 if you BYO snowshoes. Advance reservations req. Fever River Outfitters, 525 S. Main St., Galena, (815) 776-9425, feverriveroutfitters.com.
Group Snowshoe Hike
Dec. 27-Jan. 31, Sat. 10 a.m. An invigorating, 1-1.5-hour hike through the woods. Moves at a slow/beginner pace, but open for all fitness levels to go at their own pace. Routes will vary week by week. $39 includes snowshoe rental. Advance reservations req. Meet at 9:45 a.m. Fever River Outfitters, Galena, feverriveroutfitters.com.
Dec. 27, 7 p.m. With an 87-year legacy, the team entertains with hilarious hijinks and amazing basketball skills. BMO Harris Bank Center, 300 Elm St., Rockford, (815) 968-5222, thebmoharrisbankcenter.com.
Kids Day Out
Dec. 30, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Hiking, hot chocolate, marshmallows, games and art activities. Grades 1-5. Free, registration req. by Dec. 26. Severson Dells Nature Center, 8502 Montague Road, Winnebago, Ill., (815) 335-2915.
New Year Around the World
Dec. 31, 1 p.m. Each hour, participants welcome the New Year as it occurs around the globe. Make traditional New Year crafts, see displays of items from other countries. Included in the price of admission. Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 965-3433, burpee.org.
Cherry Valley Time Trial Cycling Race
Jan. 1, 8:30 a.m. American Bicycle Racing sanctioned event. One rider at a time, spaced by 1 minute intervals on an 18-mile course with marshals on every turn. $25. Info/Registration: ambikerace.com. Event: Deer Run Forest Preserve, 5691 River Road, Cherry Valley.
Galena Twilight Snowshoe Hike
Jan. 2-23, Fri. 4:30 p.m. Small group goes on a leisurely 1.25-hour snowshoe hike. Routes change each week. Reservations required. $40 Adult/$25 kids, includes snowshoe rental. Nordic Center, Eagle Ridge Resort, 444 Eagle Ridge Dr., Galena. Info/Registration: Fever River Outfitters, Galena, (815) 776-9425.
Park Farm Snowshoe Hike & Wine Tasting
Jan. 3-4, 2 p.m. Hike through woodsy trails followed by wine and wood-fired pizza appetizers. Reservations req. $48 incl. snowshoe rental. Fever River Outfitters, Galena, feverriveroutfitters.com. Park Farm Winery, 15159 Thielen Road, Bankston, Iowa.
Sleigh Ride & Snowshoe Hike at Dusk
Jan. 3, 10, 17, 31, 4 p.m. a 20-minute sleigh ride through the rural fields to the snowshoe hike trail, a 30-minute moonlight hike, then a sleigh ride back. $55 adult/$30 child. Free cocoa. Fever River Outfitters, 525 S. Main St., Galena, (815) 776-9425, feverriveroutfitters.com.
Full Moon Hike
Jan. 5, 5:30 p.m. The moon should just be rising. Maybe some of the local wildlife will be about. $5/members free. Beckman Mill County Park, Beloit, weltycenter.org.
Winter Beer Tasting
Jan. 7, 6-8:30 p.m. Sampling mostly Winter and Christmas beers, which will include our vintage holiday table. $10. Artale Wine Co., 6876 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, (815) 877-9463, artalewineco.com.
Galena Classic Sasquatch Shuffle 2K/5K
Jan. 10, 8 a.m. Come kick off the New Year with this first annual snowshoe race. The learning curve is zero. Strap ’em on and run or walk. Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, South Course, 10 Clubhouse Dr., Galena, (815) 777-4960, feverriveroutfitters.com.
Sled Dog Demos
Jan. 11, Feb. 1, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Free Spirit Siberian Rescue gives sled dog demos just southeast of the Starved Rock Visitor Center and a seminar inside. Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock State Park, IL Rts. 178 & 71, Utica, Ill., (800) 868-7625, starvedrocklodge.com.
Annual Snow Sculpting Competition
Jan. 14-18, daily to 11 p.m. Nearly 30 teams from around the state shape 5-ton blocks of snow into works of art, for a chance to compete in the 2016 U.S. National contest. Sinnissippi Park, Rockford, ilsnowsculpting.com.
Jan. 16, 30, 12:30-3 p.m. All ages and levels welcome. Skis and instructions for beginners. Hot chocolate waiting upon return. Dependent on snow. $2 per/$5 family of four. Jarrett Center, Byron Forest Preserve, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.
Bald Eagle Watch
Jan. 17, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Live eagle programs, children’s activities, vendors and exhibitors, spotting scopes at Lock and Dam 11. Grand River Center, 500 Bell St., Dubuque, Iowa, audubondubuque.org.
Jan. 17, 31, Feb. 7, 14, 1-4 p.m. All ages and levels welcome. Skis and instructions for beginners included. Hot chocolate waiting upon return. Dependent on snow conditions. Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.
Bald Eagle Days
Jan. 24-25, 8 a.m.-noon, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. View eagles with powerful scopes along the Mississippi River in the morning; educational programs at Cassville High School. Riverside Park Observatory, 100 W. Amelia St., Cassville, Wis., (608) 725-5855, cassville.org.
Jan. 24-25, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Live raptor demonstrations, actor portrayal of John James Audubon, Native American dancers, exhibits, trolley rides to Illinois Waterway Visitor Center to view eagles and more. Starved Rock Lodge, Utica, starvedrocklodge.com.
Jan. 28, Feb. 11, 18, 9-11:30 a.m. All ages/levels welcome. Skis, beginner instructions. Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.
Jan. 31, Feb. 6, 5-8:30 p.m. Skis and instructions included. Hot chocolate in the Observatory follows, and an opportunity to look through the telescope. Dependent on snow conditions. Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.
Winterfest/U. S. Nationals Snow Sculpting
Jan. 28-Feb. 7, events daily. Music, magic, refreshments, activities, helicopter rides, shopping, dining, awards for the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition. Riviera Park, Lake Geneva, Wis., (262) 248-4416, usnationals.org.
Jan. 30-31, Fri. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 2 & 7:30 p.m. Twelve-feet-tall, 10,000-lb. machines, racing and ripping up a custom-designed track full of obstacles to soar over or smash through. BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford, thebmoharrisbankcenter.com.
Wander at the Wetland
Feb. 3, 4-7:30 p.m. Hike, snowshoe or ski the trail set with hundreds of luminaries under the full moon. Guided tours available. Bonfires along the way. Snacks inside greenhouse lodge. All ages, family-friendly. Nygren Wetland Preserve, 3190 W. Rockton Road, Rockton, Ill., (815) 964-6666, naturalland.org.
Jabali African Acrobats
Feb. 8, 1 & 4 p.m. Direct from Mombassa, Kenya, these phenomenal acrobats combine the artistry of fast-paced movement, music, dance and incredible acrobatic elegance in a full-stage theatrical cirque extravaganza. Nordlof Center, 118 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 965-7606, rockfordpubliclibrary.org.
Galena Mardi Gras Weekend
Feb. 13-14, Fri. pub crawl 6 p.m., Sat. parade 5:30 p.m., masquerade ball 7-11 p.m. Crawl starts at DeSoto House Hotel; parade downtown Main Street; masquerade ball at Galena Brewing Co., 227 N. Main St. Info: (815) 776-9200, visitgalena.org.
Sky Circus On Ice
Feb. 13-16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Gigantic kites anchored into Delavan Lake, airborne performances by professional teams from across U.S. and Canada. Ice & Snow Sculpting at Lake Lawn and downtown Delavan. Lake Lawn Resort 2400 E. Geneva St., Delavan, Wis., (262) 728-7950, lakelawnresort.com.
Candlelit Snowshoe Hike & Soup Supper
Feb. 14, 5:30-8 p.m. Enjoy a romantic night exploring the park by candlelight. Rock County Parks will have their snowshoes available, so bring your own or borrow a pair. Warm up at the bonfire with a bowl of homemade soup. Free, donations accepted. Beckman Mill, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
Valentine’s Day Ski/Snowshoe/Hike
Feb. 14, 6-8 p.m. Trail guides, luminaries, hot chocolate, bonfire. BYO cross-country skis or rent snowshoes on site for $10. Hononegah Forest Preserve, 80 Hononegah Road, Rockton, (815) 877-6100, winnebagoforest.org.
Winter Night Hike
Feb. 20, 7-8 p.m. Experience the uniqueness of the woods in winter. We’ll make owl calls and seek evidence of other animals, talk about night vision, and take part in activities that will teach you about what goes on during a winter night. Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.
44th Rockford Boat, Vacation & Fishing Show
Feb. 20-22, Fri. 3-8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Boats, charters, guides, lodging, fishing tackle — you’ll find it here. Seminars from experienced anglers and guides. $7/ $10 weekend/under 12 free. Indoor Sports Center (ISC), 8800 East Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, Ill., (815) 997-1744, landroproductions.com.
Galena Bridal Fair
Feb. 21, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Area businesses that specialize in weddings all in one location. The first 100 brides registered receive a goodie-filled tote. Brides who register online receive free admission. $5. Galena Convention Center, 900 Galena Square Dr., Galena, (815) 947-2878, galenabridalfair.com.
Feb. 21, 6-8 p.m. Winter is the perfect time to look for owls. Begins inside, to learn about species common to our region and dissect owl pellets, followed by a hike to look for owls. Dress for weather. $7. Big Hill Park Cabin, Afton & Big Hill Roads, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
Galena Goes ’50s
Feb. 27-28, Fri. 6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. Fri. meet & greet at Galena Brewing Co., 227 N. Main St.; Sat. register for dance workshops 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sat. Sock Hop 7 p.m., $10, Turner Hall, 115 S. Bench St. Info/registration: galenaswingdance.com .
35th Annual Rockford Home Show
Feb. 27-March 1, Fri. 3-8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The ideal place to shop for new products, services, ideas, concepts and expertise on interior and exterior design. Free seminars, fun entertainment for the kids. ISC, Loves Park, landroproductions.com.