Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
Lincoln-Tallman House Holiday Tours
Nov. 7-Dec. 29. Visit the Lincoln-Tallman House while it’s decorated in holiday finery. The tour discusses the Tallman family, Victorian holiday traditions and decorations throughout the house. Lincoln-Tallman House, 440 N. Jackson St., Janesville, (608) 756-4509, rchs.us.
Visitors Center Holiday Gift Expo
Nov. 18-Dec. 30, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Shop for unique local products ranging from books and cards to rugs and mugs. The gifts are produced in Stephenson County or highlight some aspect of local culture and history. Freeport/Stephenson County Visitors Center, 4596 U.S. Highway 20 East, Freeport, (815) 233-1357, stephenson-county-il.org.
“Victorian Mansion” Holiday Gift Show
Nov. 18-19, Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. This holiday arts and crafts show features gifts and holiday decor and benefits the Stephenson County Historical Museum. Also available are local books, pretzel gift items and Rawleigh products. Stephenson County Historical Museum, 1440 S. Carroll Ave., Freeport, (815) 232-8419, stephcohs.org.
Olde Fashioned Christmas Celebration
Nov. 18-19, Fri. 5-8 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The holiday spirit is warm, merry and bright in Evansville. Downtown shops are decked out for the annual storefront decoration contest and shopkeepers stay open late Friday with bargains, refreshments and good cheer. On Saturday at 10 a.m., Santa arrives by local fire truck. Downtown Evansville, Wis., (608) 882-5131, evansvillechamber.org.
Edgebrook Holiday Tree Lighting & Open House
Nov. 18-19, Fri. 5-6:30 p.m., Sat. normal business hours. Get in the holiday spirit by mingling with Santa and enjoying holiday carols on Friday night at Edgebrook’s annual tree lighting event. On Saturday, join the Edgebrook merchants during an open house with in-store events and specials. Edgebrook, 1601 N. Alpine Road, Rockford, edgebrookshops.com.
Cookie Walk and Holiday Bazaar
Nov. 19, 8 a.m.-noon. Discover a wide selection of homemade cookies, candies, gift baskets and books. Proceeds benefit the Friends Forever Humane Society. Eagles Club, 1200 W. Galena Ave., Freeport, (815) 232-6164, friendsforeverhs.org.
Ladies’ Day Out
Nov. 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Enjoy a day of fun, shopping, beautification and relaxation with more than 60 local and home-based business vendors offering the best in accessories, home decor, jewelry, collectibles and more for everyone on your Christmas list. Lena Elementary School, 401 Fremont St., Lena, Ill., (815) 275-3997, stephebnson-county-il.org.
Jingle Jog & Chase the Grinch Sprint
Nov. 19, 1 p.m. Get in the holiday spirit with a 5K jingle run. Participants are encouraged to wear festive clothing. Follow this with a half-mile Grinch Sprint. Leonard Leota Park, 5 Antes Drive, Evansville, Wis., (608) 882-5131, evansvillechamber.org.
Sugar Plum Tea Party
Nov. 19, 1-3 p.m. Make a craft, visit and take pictures with the Sugar Plum Fairy from “The Nutcracker” and view “Nutcracker” rehearsal. Children ages 3 and up can take a creative movement class. Kresgi Hall, Riverfront Museum Park, 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 962-0105, riverfrontmuseumpark.org.
One Stop Christmas Shop
Nov. 19, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Browse through the arts and crafts of more than 70 vendors. Tebala Event Center, 7910 Newburg Road, Rockford, facebook.com/events/263570487317696.
Mistletoe Walk at Luecke Jewelers
Nov. 20, noon-4 p.m. Enjoy holiday music, refreshments and in-store specials. Luecke Jewelers, 10 E. Main St., Freeport, (815) 233-0013, lueckejewelers.com.
Nov. 24, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Feast on a fuss-free Thanksgiving buffet, cozy up with a pumpkin latte or spiked cider, swim some laps at the lodge pool, hike some trails and enjoy the holiday weekend in style. The Lodge at Geneva Ridge, W4240 State Road 50, Lake Geneva, (800) 225-5558, ridgelakegeneva.com.
Festival Foods Turkey Trot
Nov. 24, 8 a.m. Join the annual 5-mile chip-timed run and 2-mile untimed run/walk. Every finisher receives a long-sleeved T-shirt & a personal Festival Foods Upper Crust pie. Dogs and strollers are permitted with restrictions. Fond du Lac High School, 800 Campus Dr., Fond Du Lac, Wis., (920) 273-0490, festivalfoodsturkeytrot.com.
Santa Cruise and Santa Cause
Nov. 24-Dec. 31, Wed.-Sun. daily. Embark on a magical Christmas cruise to Santa’s North Pole and enjoy millions of lights and displays along the way. Activities are available for all ages, as well as a snack bar with alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. Winter Harbor at Gage Marine, 1 Liechty Dr., Williams Bay, Wis., (262) 686-9920, cruiselakegeneva.com.
Holiday Festival of Lights
Nov. 25-Dec. 25, Fri.-Sun. 5-10 p.m. See more than 50 holiday-themed displays at the annual Holiday Festival of Lights and hand-deliver your Christmas wish list directly to Santa. Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. 2nd St., Rockford, rockfordfireandice.com.
Black Friday Breakfast
Nov. 25, 7-9 a.m. Grab coffee and coffee cake during an open house at Heritage Woods. Heritage Woods of Freeport, 1500 S. Forest Road, Freeport, (815) 801-3900, gardant.com/heritagewoodsfreeport.
Grand Lighted Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting
Nov. 25, 5-8 p.m. Bundle up for a night of excitement as Santa makes his grand entry into Downtown Beloit, cheered on by large crowds and a glittering procession of floats from businesses, civic organizations and spirit-filled families. Downtown Beloit, Grand Ave., Beloit, (608) 365-0150, downtownbeloit.com.
Nov 25-26. Modeled after a traditional German Christmas market, Christkindlmarkt features artisans who specialize in scissor cutting, chip carving and woodcarving, as well as European arts and Swiss baked goods. Swiss Samichlaus (the Swiss version of Santa Claus) is rumored to attend. Turner Hall, 1217 17th Ave., Monroe, Wis., (608) 325-3461, turnerhallofmonroe.org.
All Aglow Express
Nov. 26-Dec. 11, Fri.-Sun. 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. & 7 p.m. Ride the Trolley Car 36 as it transforms into the All Aglow Express. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, (815) 987-8863, nicholasconservatory.com.
Stroll on State
Nov. 26, 3-9 p.m. A spectacular holiday event with food, activities and decorations returns to kick off the holiday season. Downtown Rockford along State Street, Rockford, gorockford.com/stroll-on-state.
Sport Management Symposium
Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m. Speakers from the field of sport and recreation management answer questions and share success tips pertaining to careers in sport management. Rockford University, Burpee Center, Regents Hall, 5050 E. State St., Rockford, (815) 226-4100, rockford.edu/artslectures/forum.
Hollyberry Holiday Bazaar
Dec. 2, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. The Holyberry Holiday Bazaar offers crafts, outside vendors and home-baked goods. Enjoy a BBQ sandwich with chips and macaroni salad with coffee or lemonade. Fairhaven Christian Retirement Center, 3470 N. Alpine Road, Rockford, (815) 877-1441, ext. 1330, fairhaven.cc.
Dec. 2, 5-9 p.m. This dazzling evening of celebration features displays of unique gifts and artwork, live music, visits with Santa Claus, holiday treats and festive trolley rides throughout the decorated streets. Downtown Beloit, Beloit, (608) 365-0150, downtownbeloit.com.
A Very Merry Friday Night Frenzy
Dec. 2, 5 p.m. Enjoy vendors, live entertainment and extended business hours. Downtown Durand, Durand, Ill., (815) 979-5031, facebook.com/DurandFNF.
First Fridays in Downtown Rockford
Dec. 2, 5 p.m. Art galleries, shops, music and theater venues work together to stay open late and provide new art, music and goods. Downtown Rockford, (779) 537-5319, facebook.com/FirstFridaysRockford.
Fire & Ice Festival
Dec. 2-3. Friday night brings a lighted parade, horse-drawn carriage rides, extended shopping hours, ice sculpting, carolers, children’s activities at City Hall, a petting zoo, raffles, food stands and fire rings for roasting s’mores. Downtown Brodhead, Wis., (608) 897-8411, cityofbrodheadwi.us.
Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting
Dec. 2, 7 p.m. Kick off the season by lighting more than 100 candles on a freshly cut evergreen tree, watching a lighted holiday parade featuring the arrival of Santa and enjoying informal carol singing. Turner Hall, Monroe, Wis., (608) 325-3461, turnerhallofmonroe.org.
Dec. 3, 9 a.m.-noon. Kick off the holiday season with Community Action’s third annual Gingerbread Extravaganza. Decorate gingerbread houses and cookies to take home, have fun with holiday crafts and activities, sing carols and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. All proceeds support local poverty-fighting programs in Rock and Walworth counties. Eclipse Center, 1 Eclipse Blvd., Beloit, (608) 207-8319, community-action.givezooks.com/events/3rd-annual-gingerbread-extravaganza.
Evergreen Ball Winter Gala
Dec. 3, 6 p.m. Evergreen Ball is Rockford Art Museum’s signature holiday gala. The elegant fundraiser features fine dinging by Chef Paul Sletten of abreo, live music by High Society Orchestra, plus wine auctions. Proceeds benefit Rockford Art Museum. Rockford Art Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 968-2787, rockfordartmuseum.org.
Holiday Light Show inside Rotary Botanical Gardens
Dec. 9-11, 16-23, 26-28. Follow the illuminated garden pathways on an evening stroll through the 20-acre botanical gardens, where the wintery garden paths are brought to life with 370,000 lights, 100 beautifully decorated trees, more than 2,500 luminaries and 500 dangling icicle lights hung from the tallest trees in the Garden. Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville, (608) 752-3885, rotarybotanicalgardens.org.
Mistletoe Stroll Holiday Homes Tour
Dec. 10 & 17, 2-5 p.m. Bed-and-breakfast innkeepers of Galena invite you to tour historic inns all lavishly decorated for Christmas. From traditions of the past to current-day decor, each inn is unique. Various participating inns, Galena, (815) 777-3323, bestofgalena.com.
Night of the Luminaria
Dec. 10, 6-10 p.m. Stroll one of the most beautiful and romantic visions of the year. The streets, steps and sidewalks of Galena are lined with nearly 5,000 candle-lit luminaries. Downtown Galena, (815) 777-2630, galena.org.
Dec. 11, 2-4 p.m. Join a Christmas party for beekeepers, featuring honey tasting, recipe samples, door prizes and bee talk. Jarrett Prairie Center, Byron Forest Preserve, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.
Dec. 26-30, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Discovery Center’s lunchroom transforms into holiday headquarters as hands-on arts and crafts are merged with math and science. Vote for your favorite Christmas cookie, snip a snowflake, create delightful designs and discover hidden shapes. Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Dec. 27, 7 p.m. Celebrating 90 iconic years of providing smiles, sportsmanship and service to millions, The Harlem Globetrotters are a worldwide icon, synonymous with one-of-a-kind family entertainment and great basketball skills. BMO Harris Bank Center, 300 Elm St., (815) 968-5222, thebmoharrisbankcenter.com.
Countdown to Fun!
Dec. 31, 12:30-4:30 p.m. Design a party hat, create a noisemaker and get showered with confetti as you find out where in the world it’s midnight each hour. Ring in the New Year all afternoon with this energetic blend of fun, art, and music from Kantorei, the singing boys of Rockford. Discovery Center Museum, Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.