WPS Garden of Lights: 20+ Years of Lighting Up the Green Bay Botanical Gardens
2017 marks the 21st year of WPS Garden of Lights at Green Bay Botanical Garden. It started as an idea with Jerry Landwehr, the Executive Director in 1997, and used less than 100,000 lights in the first display. The display has grown to include over a quarter million lights and takes over 4500 total volunteer hours over the year to light up the gardens. Each feature is built by hand by either the staff of the Green Bay Botanical Gardens or NWTC students. WPS provides all of the electricity for the display using renewable energy through WPS’s NatureWise Renewable Energy Program and the light structures use almost exclusively LED lights which consume at least 80% less electricity than traditional incandescent lights and also have a longer life span.
New features are built almost every year. In 2010 an animated five point 18 point star was added to the 45-foot tree. 2012 brought a light replica of the Thome Fountain with 7000 blue and white LED spraying upward. Introduced in 2014, the Under the Pond display was added guests can swim with koi fish and a turtle, and dance in the seaweed where 7000 multicolored LED lights take your family on an underwater adventure. Last year a 15,000 LED light display was added, watch as the rich blue, green, pink, teal, and purple lights change as you take in the Garden’s own Northern Lights. A Field of Flowers has been added this year. Featuring over 1,000 RGB LED lights found only here in Wisconsin and lighting up the hillside with flowers in a variety of colors.
Special Features of WPS Garden of Lights
- Icicle Forest
- Glistening Flowers
- The area’s tallest and brightest tree
- 60 foot walkthrough caterpillar
- Model train exhibit from the G-Gagers Train Club
- Campfire to warm up around
- Holiday gifts to be found in the WPS Trellis Gift Shop
- Natural Christmas tree featuring decorations made by volunteers and staff from plant materials that are grown and collected from the Garden.
Special Events during WPS Garden of Lights
- Photos with Santa: Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before Christmas from 5 – 9 pm.
- Photos are taken by Ambrosius Studio. Photo packages start at $12.50.
- Stories with Mrs Claus: Every Saturday before Christmas from 5pm to 8pm.
- Venture inside to warm up with a story about the North Pole.
- Letters to Santa: Every Saturday before Christmas from 5pm to 8pm.
- Bring your letters to the North Pole Mailbox and meet two of Santa’s elves and receive a free candy cane.
- WPS Candy Cane Lane: Every Sunday from 5pm to 8pm.
- Candy Cane Lane features fun and family-friendly activities including coloring activities, solar bracelets, and some visits from Louie the Lightning Bug.
Things to know before you go!
- WPS Garden of Lights glows on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through the end of December from 5 to 9pm.
- The display is closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.
- Ticket Prices
- Walking Tour Adults (13 & up): $9 Children (3-12): $5 Children (2 & under): Free
- Horse-Drawn Wagon Tour* Adults (13 & up): $14 Children (3-12): $10 Children (2 & under): Free *The Horse-Drawn Wagon Tour includes the Walking Tour.
- The horse-drawn wagon tour begins on the lower mulched portion of the light displays. It is recommended to by 8 pm to allow enough time to experience the upper paved portion of the light displays which is walking. The horse-drawn wagon fits 20 passengers. Children are able to sit on their guardian’s lap. Wagon rides run from 5-8:30 pm. Wagons are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved. On Saturdays there usually is a line to get onto the wagon. We do our best to accommodate all wagon ride guests in a timely and safe manner and appreciate your patience. For night-of wagon updates, please go to the Garden’s Facebook page.
- Buy tickets ahead at Green Bay Botanical Garden’s admission desk in the Fischer Visitor Center and online at www.GBBG.org/WPSGardenofLights AND Select Festival Foods locations including: Green Bay East & West, De Pere, Appleton, Darboy, Suamico, Manitowoc, Menasha, Neenah, Oshkosh, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac.
- Tickets purchased ahead are good for any night that the WPS Garden of Lights runs. No reservations are necessary.
- Or purchase your tickets at the door!
- How long to plan to be at WPS Garden of Lights.
- Spend as much time as your family would like, but typically the walking tour takes about 30-45 minutes and it covers just under a mile of walking paths. The wagon tours last about 10-15 minutes. Plan to arrive at least an hour before closing to have enough time to enjoy the experience.
- Best Time to Visit
- The number of visitors increases on warmer winter nights and on Saturday evenings. Visitation tends to peak between 5:30–7:30 pm. Visitation is lighter on opening weekend, early Friday evenings and Sunday evenings (Green Bay Packers afternoon and evening games). Please remember the Garden is closed December 24 & 25.
- Pet Policy
- No pets are allowed in the Garden. Certified service dogs are allowed with a vest or other identification.
- Weather Policy
- Parking is FREE. Five shuttle buses take guests from NWTC lot F and G to the Garden. Follow the signs on Larsen Road or Country Club Road to the shuttle bus parking. The buses pick up and drop off in the same location at the Garden. Handicap parking is available at the Garden’s main lot by showing your parking permit to the volunteers at the gate; in the event that the parking is full in the main lot, a handicap accessible shuttle bus will run continuously through the night.
- No carry ins of food or beverages are allowed.
- A variety of food and beverages are available in the Winterberry Café including: homemade soup and/or chili, hot dogs, nachos, cookies, popcorn, candy bars, trail mix, chips, gummi bears, hot chocolate, apple cider, coffee, tea, water, soda, beer, wine and shots such as Peppermint Schnapps or Baileys to compliment a hot beverage. Please bring ID for the purchase of alcoholic beverages.
- The paths in the upper Gardens are paved, shoveled and salted and should be accessible to wheelchairs, walkers, strollers and pull-along wagons. The lower mulched path is difficult to navigate and not recommended for wheelchairs and walkers. Horse-drawn wagon rides are typically available on a first come, first served basis. Golf cart rides from the building to the horse-drawn wagons are available for those unable to walk down the mulch where the wagons begin. There are three large steps up into the horse-drawn wagon. Please bring someone to assist you in getting onto the horse-drawn wagon. There are no motorized scooters or wheelchairs available at the Garden. Families walking with small children should bring a large wheeled strollers or pull along wagon.
- Suggestions for those with limited mobility.
- Prearrange a date with the Garden so parking volunteers and staff can help accommodate your group by calling 920.490.9457.
- Purchase your tickets in advance at the Garden, Festival Foods locations or online.
- Choose a Sunday when WPS Garden of Lights experiences less foot traffic.
- There are some steps, inclines, mulch, snow, salt and puddles.
- Photography Tips
- Turn off the flash!
- Shoot at twilight for better exposures
- Steady your camera to avoid blurry photos
- Visit earlier in the evening or on Sunday nights to avoid crowds
- Dress warmly and wear gloves