Rotary Gardens' Holiday Light Show has already set a record attendance this year thanks to an extended schedule and mild December weather. The show remains open nightly through Dec. 31.

Anthony Wahl


Rotary Botanical Gardens has already set an attendance record for its Holiday Light Show, and the holiday spectacle still has a few days remaining.

The show has already welcomed more than 44,000 people, surpassing 2015’s high of 35,000. This year’s show also featured record attendance for a single night when it drew nearly 6,400 people Dec. 16, Executive Director Becky Kronberg said.

Being open for extra days and a balmy winter—this recent cold spell notwithstanding—led to the crowd increase, she said.

This was the first time the light show opened Thanksgiving weekend. In its first 21 years, the show typically opened in the second week of December.

Kicking off the Holiday Light Show in November capitalized on the festive mood of Thanksgiving and sparked excitement. The two-day opening drew about 6,000 visitors, Kronberg said.

“Having additional options, additional nights available for people to attend has helped, but more than anything the weather has helped,” she said.

That comment seems odd amid a string of days with single-digit temperatures, but temperatures had been relatively comfortable before the recent cold snap.

The festival attracts guests from as far away as Chicago and Milwaukee. It’s a self-guided walking tour among decorative displays of 425,000 total lights, and concessions are also available, Kronberg said.

The Holiday Light Show runs through Sunday, Dec. 31. Tickets are sold from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., and lights go out at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.

Kronberg said the show “shattered” this year’s goal of 30,000 people. She hopes more people come in the final days because this is Rotary Gardens’ biggest fundraiser of the year, she said.

“We rely on fundraisers and donor support and sponsorship support to sustain the gardens throughout the year,” Kronberg said. “We love to share the magic of these lights with so many people and brighten everyone’s spirit during this holiday season.”

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