WPS Garden of Lights: 20+ Years of Lighting Up the Green Bay Botanical Gardens

Christmas Lights in Green Bay
Photos Courtesy of Green Bay Botanical Gardens & Amenson Studio

While the flowers hibernate, this intimate walk through the Garden gives you the chance to create extra special memories with your friends and family that you’ll cherish for years to come. After seeing the outdoor sights like our enchanted icicle forest, our veggie tails garden patch or our fan favorite 60-foot walk-through caterpillar, head on inside the Fischer Visitor Center to warm up with some hot coca and other snacks. Additional activities inside include our natural holiday trees, photos with Santa, letters to Santa, meet and greet with Mrs. Claus and her elves, a model train exhibit by the G-Gagers, a trip to the WPS Trellis Gift Shop and more!

Remember to explore our newest light display, Butterflies in Motion, and enjoy a butterfly experience in a way you never have before. Be amazed by more than 20,000 dazzling LED lights in the shapes of animated butterflies, chrysalises and caterpillars all while inside our blissfully lit up butterfly house!

To make your experience more enjoyable and reduce your wait in line, here are 2019 updates:

  • We’re open on Thursday nights!
  • Buy early and save! Purchase your tickets in advance at the Garden during normal business hours, Festival Foods or online.
  • Additional horse-drawn wagons have been added to the start of the event. Wagon rides are now only available from 5 – 7 pm.
Garden of lights green bay

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.
Photos Courtesy of Green Bay Botanical Gardens & Amenson Studio

Special Events during WPS Garden of Lights

  • Family Nights: Thursdays, December 5, 12 & 19, 2019 from 5 – 9 pm
    • Children 12 & under FREE with one paid adult.
    • Meet and greet with Mrs. Claus, letters to Santa, face painting, and visit with Santa for photos from 5 – 9 pm.
  • Photos with Santa: Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before Christmas from 5 – 9 pm.
    • Photos are taken by Ambrosius Studio. Photo packages start at $12.50.
  • G-Gagers Train Club Display: A garden scale holiday model train exhibit every night.
  • Face Painting: Free on Family Nights and December 26-30 from 5 – 9 pm.
  • Letters to Santa with Mrs. Claus: Every Saturday before Christmas from 5:30 – 8 pm.
    • Meet Mrs. Claus! Bring along or write a letter to Santa to place in his mailbox, then visit with two of Santa’s elves and receive a free candy cane.
Garden of Lights Green Bay
Photos Courtesy of Green Bay Botanical Gardens & Amenson Studio

Things to know before you go!

WPS Garden of Lights glows on Thursday through Sunday starting November 29, 2019 and continuing through December 22, 2019 and continuing December 26-30, 2019 from 5 to 9 pm.

The display is closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.

How much is admission?

  • Walking Tour Adults (13 & up): $10 Children (3-12): $5 Children (2 & under): Free
    • Tickets purchased at the door are $2 more.
  • Horse-Drawn Wagon Tour* Adults (13 & up): $15 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 – 7 pm. Wagons are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved. On Saturdays, there is 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. Wagon rides may end earlier on nights with a higher number of guests.
  • Buy tickets ahead at Green Bay Botanical Garden’s admission desk in the Fischer Visitor Center and online at www.GBBG.org/lights 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.
Christmas Lights in Green Bay

How long should we 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 are from 5 – 7 pm (arrive by 6:30 pm) and last about 10-15 minutes. Plan to arrive at least an hour before closing to have enough time to enjoy the experience.

When is the 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, Thursday evenings, early Friday evenings and Sunday evenings (Green Bay Packers afternoon and evening games). Please remember the Garden is closed November 28 and December 24 & 25, 2019.

Other Useful Info

  • Pet Policy
    • Service animals are welcome, but please leave pets and Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) at home.
  • Weather Policy
    • WPS Garden of Lights closes for extreme inclement weather. Notices will be posted to their website, Facebook page, and local news and radio stations. The Garden is open if it is simply snowing.
  • Parking 
    • 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. Accessible 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, there will be one accessible shuttle bus will run continuously each night.
  • No carry-ins of food or beverages are allowed.
    • A variety of food and beverages are available in the Winterberry Café and Concessions Building including: 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.
  • Accessibility
    • 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 stroller 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 Thursday 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 Thursday nights to avoid crowds
    • Dress warmly and wear gloves

Garden of Lights








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62 thoughts on “WPS Garden of Lights: 20+ Years of Lighting Up the Green Bay Botanical Gardens”

  1. Avatar

    On Christmas eve night my 4 kids exchange and open gifts that they purchased for each other. Then we all watch a Christmas movie together and make shakes. When the movie is done they make up a plate of cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. They do a camp out together in one of their bedrooms for the night and track Santa

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    Every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving we go and cut down our tree as a family. We decorate the tree over the period of a week or so and break about a dozen ornaments each year in the process. The kids love hanging up wall and window clings, but that means we usually have to take the halloween ones down or put the Christmas ones next to those. The kids get a count down calendar and St. Nick comes on the 6th. We take different routes home at night to see all different lights. Christmas cookie decorating lasts about 8 minutes with kids, but they are great tasters. A lot of family, Christmas movies and snuggling by the fire for our family.

  3. Avatar
    Christina everman

    Every year we decorate a gingerbread house, we always take a drive around town to see lights and our favorite is we have a professional Christmas picture taken every year for the past 17 years, I love to see how our family grew and changes over the years. Even the 2 years my husband was in Iraq his deployments fell where we were able to get pictures done!

  4. Avatar

    One of our Holiday traditions is that Daddy and Little man are the ones who get to go out and pick out the perfect Christmas tree. It’s a men only thing. 🙂 Mom gets to be suprised by the first gift of the season! (And make hot chocolate and cookies for when they get home all cold, lol). They always do a beautiful job at picking the perfect tree whether it be tall or small, thin or thick!! Then we all put on our favorite decorations together.

  5. Avatar

    Our favorite is the cousin sleepover at my husband’s aunts house. He has 5 aunts and an uncle and then and all their kids get together and have a “sleepover” and then get the next day play games and enjoy a nice dinner together.

  6. Avatar

    We start the holiday season with a Xmas Breakfast from our Elf and Joy tells us to get our tree. Then we enjoy lights, hot chocolate, making cookies and being a family.

  7. Avatar

    Our house first tradition of all is to put up Christmas tree & nativity , then decorate the house, I always buy pannetone for me and Ginger & honey houses for my kid, watch the old classic movies for kids ( I try to record all of them for my son he can watch them as many times he pleases) and the list can go on with so many things to do.

  8. Avatar

    When I was little my parents would load us up in the van on Christmas Eve to drive around and see the lights.
    I have continued this tradition with my family- but we’ve added to it. When we get home we drink cocoa with a scoop of ice cream in it and read the Christmas story from our Bible.

  9. Avatar

    Christmas eve church, then driving around to look at Christmas lights & home to open presents…
    Time with family & friends by the fire!

  10. Avatar

    One of my favorite Christmas traditions is making cookies together. My Mom, Sister & Cousin all come over with their kiddos. We spend the day baking together and making memories. The kids love frosting and adding sprinkles to the sugar cookies.

  11. Avatar

    My grandmother passed away when my father was only 10 years old. We celebrate Christmas on her birthday, by getting all 9 of her children, 20+ of thier children, and 25+ of our children together for an amazing Christmas Eve. She may be gone but 40+ years later we still celebrate with her!

  12. Avatar

    We love to celebrate the season by making cookies and giving them to our friends and neighbors. We also like to do some random acts of kindness, listen to Christmas tunes every chance we get, look at all the lights and have family movie nights throughout December.

  13. Avatar

    I like to do some of the traditional things we did in the UK when I was growing up. One of those is Christmas crackers – not a food! They are tubes that you pull with a family member. Out pops a toy, a bad joke and a paper crown. You wear the crown during dinner. You can get them at HomeGoods or World Market. I need to get some for this year.

  14. Avatar

    We try to watch all our favorite Christmas shows, especially the classics! Bake together and see the lights. It’s all about family time for us!

  15. Avatar

    The weekend after Thanksgiving is when we decorate the inside and outside of the house for Christmas. Lights, tree, and a St Nick’s village. We start watching all sorts of Christmas movies on the weekends and driving around to look at Holiday lights. About 2cweeks before Christmas we bake lots and lots of yummy treats

  16. Avatar

    We watch lots of Christmas movies starting in November and always take a weekend in December to bake lots of Christmas goodies 🙂

  17. Avatar

    Our family cuts down a tree the day after Thanksgiving and decorates it while listening to classic Christmas music. On Christmas Eve we have a traditional Filipino dinner and on New Years Eve we have all of my husband’s family favorites: seven layer bean dip and cheese ball with crackers. As you can see food is a large part of our holiday traditions. =) On Christmas Eve we always read the story of Christ’s birth. We love to take drives to see beautiful Christmas lights too.

  18. Avatar

    Our NEW Christmas family tradition will be donating our time as a whole family to local emergency shelters or Red Cross that have families that have been displaced by a fire. We had a house fire on Saturday December 3rd of this year and are currently displaced family of 5 and 1 dog. We lost everything inside. We received so much from our community that we vow to give back every year on the anniversary of our fire.

  19. Avatar

    We pick names as a family and then all shop at the same store and try to avoid each other! Throw in a Santa visit and dinner out and it makes a great family night. Kids love it!!

  20. Avatar

    We drive to Oshkosh to visit their Celebration of Lights, but would love to start a new tradition or alternate the display of lights, by including in the GB Botanical Garden lights too!

  21. Avatar

    Every year we drive around and look at lights together, decorating cookies is a MUST, but most of all spending lots of quality time together during the kids time off is my most favorite time?

  22. Avatar

    We love to drive around and look at lights on Christmas Eve…specifically the little neighborhood in Neenah that lines their street in paper bag luminaries. So magical!

  23. Avatar

    The Saturday before Christmas, my family gets together to make Christmas cookies and candies. There are 7 adults and 4 kids (age 7 and under) and we work the whole day. Lots of work, but also lots of fun!

  24. Avatar

    We always go to grandma and grandpa’s house for brunch on Christmas Day. Since we have our first little one for Christmas this year, we decided now is the time to start new traditions too, so we put up our tree the Saturday after Thanksging and we all got new Christmas jammies for Christmas Eve!

  25. Avatar

    Our family has holiday traditions that we continue from when I was a child & some that my husband and I started together when we got married. When I was a kid my mom made lots of cookie and treats. I have two sisters and we always helped my mom with the baking before Christmas. Now my sisters and I continue that tradition, every year. We are all married and two of us have children and we now include them all. We get together and have a day full of baking and decorating! We have a blast! Another tradition is my parents have always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with our family (growing up we had to go to 2 grandparents house and great grandparents house on Christmas Day so Santa came on Christmas Eve to our home.) To this day we all still go to my parents house,with our families now, and spend the entire day together celebrating Christmas! We still use finding the pickle hidden on the tree to start our gift opening, which my mom’s parents also did (another long passed on tradition).
    My husband and I started our own traditions. My favorite is going to cut down our own tree from a tree farm. Love it!! We also put up a separate tree (6 foot artificial tree) with all of our ornaments from when we were growing up. My parents always called it our Hallmark Tree, as we got a new Hallmark ornament every year that we picked out. My husband and I now take our kids to the Hallmark store and let them pick out any ornament every year. So on this tree we have my husbands, mine, my son and daughters ornaments, most of which are all Hallmark. It’s so beautiful! The favorite are the ones that light up, sing or move!! So fun!

  26. Avatar

    We make fudge, chocolate covered pretzels, peppermint bark and Christmas cookie sandwiches, yummm!!! The kids leave treats out for Santa on Christmas Eve. We celebrate Christmas in our pj’s unless we venture out to the movie theatre. 😉

  27. Avatar

    We love going to look at Christmas lights, going to visit Santa and do fun Christmas activities. It’s our favorite time of the year and since it only comes around once we try to do all we can to make it special.

  28. Avatar

    Getting ice cream, blasting the heat in the van and driving around looking at lights. We do this when my husband has his December drill weekend, I try to do something extra fun every drill weekend. My kids also love decorating the ginger bread house every year.

  29. Avatar

    We started a book countdown a few years ago. On Dec 1 I have 24 books wrapped, and each night we open a new book. Once we’ve read all the books it’s time for Christmas! My kiddos love picking their book each night.

  30. Avatar

    Growing up , my parents always took us kids driving around at night after dinner to look at all the xmas lights. I hope to continue that with my daughter. We have never been to the garden of lights and would love to start our tradition there. Thanks for the opportunity.

  31. Avatar

    Baking holiday cookies with the kids helping out. Attending WisconSibs Santa Celebration, a fantastic annual event for kids with disabilities and their families.

  32. Avatar

    We put boxes together that are given during an accident, fire or emergency. A little stuffed animal, toy, treat, activity…helps during the hard time.

    We make popcorn balls and peanut brittle. Just like I did with my Grandam…passing on the memory and fun I had with her as a little girl.

  33. Avatar

    We try to do one new holiday display each year like the lights at menominee park or the north pole. The botanical gardens could be this year’s new thing!

  34. Avatar

    Our favorite holiday tradition is attending Christmas Eve service as a family. Nothing makes it seem more like Christmas than celebrating Jesus’ birth by singing beautiful carols together and hearing about WHY we celebrate the season. We also started the Christmas book countdown a few years ago and the kids really enjoy unwrapping a new Christmas book to read each night before bed. And of course, we’d love a visit to see the lights at garden 🙂

  35. Avatar

    Every Christmas my family gets together and instead of ham or whatever fancy Christmas meal most people eat, we make pizza. We burn pizza really. It’s not Christmas until the smoke alarms are going off. It’s my favorite holiday eating pizza and seeing all my loved ones. I can’t wait!

  36. Avatar

    We love hiding a plastic pickle on the tree Christmas Eve. Whoever finds it gets a special gift.
    We also love driving around during December and seeing the fun light displays at homes.

  37. Avatar

    My favorite tradition: we pick a date in advance when ALL our family can get together, names were drawn earlier in the year and gifts are exchanged on our chosen day along with lots of good food and games. Lots of fun for everyone.

  38. Avatar

    We love cutting down our Christmas tree and adding ornaments that the kids pick out each year. It usually gives us a story to share about each one!

  39. Avatar

    We love driving around to see holiday light displays, making cookies together, decorating our tree and church on Christmas Eve!

  40. Avatar

    Breakfast with Santa, family tree decorating, Christmas eve service and lavish Christmas dinner at the sister in laws

  41. Avatar

    Our favorite family Christmas tradition is going up to Whispering Pines to get our tree. We take a ride on the wagon, pick out a tree, and visit Santa. We have been doing it for 13 years now which is 8 years before kids and 5 years after kids.

  42. Avatar

    We LOVE Christmas! But our favorite tradition is the Davis Family Polar Express. We surprise the kids with a “ticket” on their pillow one night when they go to get Jammie’s on. Then we pile in to the car with hot chocolate & blankets. We drive all over the valley to check out the awesome lights (your guides are helpful ;). It’s a great way to get everyone in to the spirit and go on a little adventure.

  43. Avatar

    We get together with each extended family. Since our daughter is 2 we are starting our own traditions. Last year we started cutting our own tree. We decorate the tree together and let her help. Hoping to start more traditions for our little family.

  44. Avatar

    Christmas Eve we like to do family potluck, gag gifts, board games and watch christmas movies. Christmas morning we open gifts from youngest to oldest so that everyone can see what each other received!

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