Nightly November 19th through January 1st
Olin-Turville Park (Just off John Nolen Drive)
There's something about the long, dark nights of winter that makes us want to have a fire in the fireplace and cheerful colored lights all over the house. Now imagine thousands and thousands of those colorful lights as they twinkle and dazzle, forming special holiday shapes in giant sculptures. Picture how you'll see the bright gleam reflected in your children's eyes as they stare in wide-eyed wonder at the thousand of colorful points of lights from the displays. It works for grown up eyes too!
It's called the "Holiday Fantasy in Lights" (http://www.fantasyinlights.com/) and it's all yours for free.
There's no need to get cold - you are able to drive through a glittering wonderland in the comfort and warmth of your own car, truck, or minivan. And you can listen to a description of the show on a special FM radio station. No wonder people come from miles around to enjoy the show again and again.
From November 19th through New Year's each year, cars and minivans begin showing up at Olin-Turville Park near downtown Madison just off the beltline as soon as the winter sky turns dark around 5 p.m. By mid evening the line of cars waiting to see the show can stretch for several blocks. Even in the wee hours of the night, there is a scattering of cars because the show stays on all night long. Just a few years after the show began in 1989 its popularity soared. Buses from Milwaukee and other various places such as Nursing Homes begin to frequent the show as well. You'll often see a limousine cruise through the show. There have even been stories of romantic proposals occurring during a trip to the show.
In 1994, an automatic counting device recorded over 47,000 vehicles passing through the show. In 2007, the device recorded over 100,000 vehicles. Each year more and more people from all across Southern Wisconsin are coming out on cold nights in the comfort of their warm vehicle to enjoy the show.
It began one cold November in 1989 with just 12 displays. The original idea was to take images from children's coloring books and bring them to life in free standing displays. Union Electrical workers built the initial displays back in the 80s. Today it is the same two organizations bring this show to you, NECA and IBEW.
Where does the money go?
This event is free to the public but donations are accepted at the exit.
Not only are you donating to help us keep this Madison Holiday Tradition here and free for all, but also local charities are benefiting from your generosity.
Each year NECA and IBEW give to several local charities on behalf of the event.