As the weather grows colder and the days get shorter, it can be easy not to want to leave the house. But a wide range of holiday festivities in the Appleton area offer chances to gather with friends and neighbors and enjoy the season.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many events have protocols in place to help mitigate the spread, including encouraging or requiring guests to wear masks.
The following are just some of the bigger holiday events in the Fox Cities:
Fox Cities Festival of Lights: Friday to Sunday, Nov. 26 to Dec. 26, 5 to 9 p.m.,
Darboy Community Park, N9334 Noe Road, Appleton
The Fox Cities Festival of Lights is a family friendly walk-through light display.
Hours are weather-dependent, so if a cancelation needs to be made, check the “Fox Cities Festival of Lights” on Facebook.
Most of the displays are in the wooded area on trails, so boots are suggested. Pets are not allowed in the park. Parking is available at Sunrise Elementary School with handicap parking in the lot by the park shelter.
Small Business Saturday: Saturday, Nov. 27, all day, downtown Appleton
Holiday shoppers will have a chance to save and win prizes when visiting Appleton businesses. According to Appleton Downtown, Inc., shoppers that download and print out a Shop Appleton First Passport can get it stamped at participating businesses in downtown Appleton during Small Business Saturday. After five stamps, shoppers will be able to hand in their passport for a chance to win prizes.
Christmas at the Pond: Sunday, Nov. 28, 5:45-7 p.m., Memorial Park, 218 E. Kimberly Avenue, Kimberly
Kimberly’s annual Christmas at the Pond returns Nov. 28 for its 18th year.
The lighting ceremony will kick off at 5:45 p.m. with a magic routine by Monty and Danny Dane from Monty’s Secret Theater, followed by Christmas carols from the Kimberly High School Chamber Choir at 6 p.m. Afterwards, Santa Claus will make an appearance on the Kimberly Fire Department Christmas Fire Truck, offering photo opportunities and time to visit with kids. Other community organizations will offer games, music, treats during the event.
On a Positive Note Chorus holiday concert: Thursday, Dec. 2, 1 p.m., Grand Meridian, 2621 N. Oneida St., Appleton
Sponsored by the Fox Valley Memory Project, this concert is features On a Positive Note Chorus, a choir of people living with dementia and their care partners. The performance will be held at the Grand Meridian banquet venue and is free to the public. Masks are required for all attendees.
Gather Round the Christmas Trees: Thursday, Dec. 2, 6-8 p.m., downtown Menasha
Menasha’s Gather Round the Christmas Trees community tree lighting and decorating event will be held at Curtis Reed Plaza/Main Street.
The event will begin at 6 p.m. with performances from local school bands and choirs, with the tree lighting taking place at 7:15 p.m. The event will include sleigh rides, live reindeer, free hot chocolate, apple cider and popcorn, and more.
Christmas Stars 2021: Thursday, Dec. 2 through Sunday, December 12, Xavier High School, 1600 W. Prospect Ave., Appleton
It’s a Broadway-style, holiday-themed extravaganza featuring singers, dancers and actors of all ages. Shows are 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets are available at www.christmasstars.org or by calling 920-733-8840.
A Very Neenah Christmas: Friday, Dec. 3, 6-8 p.m., downtown Neenah
A Very Neenah Christmas includes Santa Claus, live reindeer, live mannequin windows, a handbell choir, ice skating, an ice sculpture garden, arts and crafts, marshmallow roasting, a tree lighting, the Rudolph Run and more.
Registration for the Rudolph Run is $6 and includes light-up antlers for participants to wear as they run or walk down Wisconsin Avenue.
More information about the activities and locations can be found online.
Appleton Boychoir Tales and Carols of Christmas: Saturday, Dec. 4, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 325 E. Franklin St., Appleton
The Appleton Boychoir, with the Copper Street Brass and guest organist Katherine Handford, ring in the Christmas season with traditional carols and new, poignant settings of the Christmas story.
More information and tickets are available at www.appletonboychoir.com.
Christmas Down by the River: Sleigh into the Holidays: Saturday, Dec. 4, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., RiverHeath Community, 161 South Riverheath Way #2000, Appleton
The RiverHeath Community, comprised of the RiverHeath apartment complex and surrounding businesses, is hosting a holiday celebration.
During Christmas Down by the River: Sleigh into the Holidays, guests will have the chance to take free carriage rides (with a suggested $2 donation, going to a local organization), take part in a cookie walk where they can enjoy complimentary treats at businesses along the river, take pictures with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus and take part in special sales and deals at participating businesses, according to event details on Facebook.
The Makaroff Youth Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”: Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5, Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, 400 W College Ave, Appleton
Presented by the Makaroff Youth Ballet, with the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and the Fox Valley Symphony, “The Nutcracker” will be on stage Saturday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m.
“The Nutcracker” tells the story of Clara and her nutcracker doll, a gift from her godfather, that comes to life on Christmas Eve. The ballet, with a score by Tchaikovsky, has become famous and a traditional part of the holiday season all over the world.
In addition to dancers from the Makaroff Youth Ballet, this production of the famous ballet features live music from the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Lawrence Community Girl Choir.
Tickets can be purchased online at the PAC website. The PAC requires all guests to wear masks.
32nd Annual Electric City Christmas Parade: Tuesday, Dec. 7, 6 p.m., Kaukauna
Presented by City of Kaukauna Recreation Department, this year’s theme is “A Super Hero Christmas!”
The parade starts at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Depot Street. The parade will proceed down Wisconsin Avenue, turns right on State 55, then right on Third Street, ending at Reaume Avenue.
A sensory-sensitive area will start at the intersection of State 55 and Third street until the end of the parade route. Attendees who are sensitive to the loud sounds of the parade at full volume can go to this section of the route.
Santa will ride on a Kaukauna Fire Truck in the parade and afterward will be available in the Community Room in the SPaR Building, 207 Reaume Ave. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served.
For more information, visit cityofkaukauna.com/recreation/christmas-parade.
Victorian Christmas at Hearthstone: Select dates, Hearthstone Historic House Museum, 625 W. Prospect Ave., Appleton
Hearthstone Historic House Museum invites guests to step back in time and experience a home decked with Victorian-era ornate Christmas decorations.
The museum is offering two tours: Victorian Christmas: The Holly and the Ivy, which will be in the evenings Fridays and Saturdays Nov. 27 to Dec. 18, as well as Thursdays Dec. 23 and Dec. 30; and Victorian Christmas Traditions: How the Victorians Created the Holiday as it is Celebrated Today, which takes place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. during select Fridays and Saturdays in December.
For both events, tickets are $15 for each adult and $5 for each child attending with an adult and can be purchased online at the museum’s website.
The museum strongly encourages all guests to wear masks during each of the tours.
Holiday Hayride: Friday, Dec. 10, 5-8 p.m., 640 Keyes St., Menasha
The Menasha Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a Holiday Hayride, offering guests a chance to relax on a hayride while viewing decorations throughout Menasha.
Tickets are $2 per person, with no fee for children ages 2 and younger, and are available until Dec. 9 at Menasha Parks and Recreation Department Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Holiday Gift and Craft Show: Saturday, Dec. 11, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Fox Cities Exhibition Center, 355 W. Lawrence St., Appleton
For those looking to purchase handmade gifts and support small businesses this holiday season, the Fox Cities Exhibition Center will be filled with vendors for the Holiday Gift and Craft Show.
Tickets are $5, and entry for children 12 and under with an adult is free. Tickets are available online at Eventbrite or at the gate.
Holiday Art Market: Saturday, Dec. 18, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Appleton Beer Factory, 603 W. College Ave., Appleton
Hosted by the Appleton Beer Factory and Artful Endeavors, the Holiday Art Market will provide a chance to support local artists and those 21 and older to enjoy some day drinking.
Contact Kelli Arseneau at (920) 213-3721 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @ArseneauKelli.