There is nothing finer than ringing in the holidays on a cold, crisp early-winter afternoon than watching a parade, drinking a hot mug of cocoa, and eating freshly-made Christmas cookies. Jefferson County is full of such opportunities – make sure you mark your calendars and get to one or many of these great holiday festivities coming up in the next few weeks.

Fort Atkinson kicks off the parade season on November 13 with their Holiday Parade on historic Main Street. Held at night, the lights of the parade and nearby shop windows will be a magical introduction to all the joys the upcoming season has to offer.

The day after Thanksgiving – the turkey is a happy memory, your Christmas decorations are emerging from the attic or basement, and it is truly the beginning of the Christmas season. Lake Mills holds their annual Tree Lighting at 6pm in Commons Park with the radio drama “A Christmas Carol” immediately following. Come and watch St. Nick light the holiday tree, and enjoy seasonal refreshments. Another fun opportunity that weekend is the Winter Wonderland and Holiday Parade of Lights in Watertown. The shops will be brimming with decorations and goods for your holiday shopping. Events and activities will be held throughout the event – and don’t miss the Holiday Parade of Lights on Saturday!

The first weekend in December offers so many holiday festivity opportunities it will leave you breathless. (Or maybe that’s the cold air that will take your breath away…). Friday night, December 3, head over to Whitewater for the unforgettable and charming Holiday Parade on Main Street. Or make your way to Lake Mills for magical carriage rides through the historic downtown streets and marvel at the beautiful seasonal decorations in the shop windows and homes. Return to Lake Mills on Saturday for a full day of activities – from a Cookie Walk to craft shows to a visit with Santa at his home-away-from-home in Commons Park. December 4 is also the day to attend many other Jefferson County parades and festivities. Fort Atkinson will host their annual Holiday Open House, offering an old-fashioned Christmas, carolers, hayrides with Santa and holiday treats. Waterloo will be brimming with seasonal fun throughout town, and especially at their Holiday Parade at 4pm. Main Street in Palmyra plays host to the Lioness Christmas Parade at 5pm. Don’t miss the hot chili and beverages! Jefferson is pleased to present their 15th Annual Christmas Parade of Lights, beginning at 5:30pm. When the parade is over – don’t forget to visit Santa at his other home-away-from-home. And rounding out this busy weekend is the Cambridge Country Christmas on both Saturday and Sunday. In Cambridge, you will find JOY – Saint Nickolas, strolling carolers and roasting chestnuts. You’ll find MAGIC – a Live Nativity, shopping with elves, village tree lighting and a singing Christmas tree. You’ll also find BEAUTY – historic store fronts twinkling with white lights, village tours in horse-drawn wagons and seasonal aromas of spiced apples and evergreens.

On December 11, you can spend the day in Waterloo celebrating “A Small Town Christmas!” Festivities will begin at 10am. In Building 29 on North Monroe Street, look for Santa’s Workshop, which will include gingerbread houses and ornament-making workshops for the kids. Don’t forget to get your exercise at the First Annual Cookie Walk. The Mode Theatre and Building 29 will feature local small businesses, bakers, artists, crafters, jewelry makers, and much more at the “Christmas Marketplace.”

Are your calendars marked yet???

Katie Otto is a freelance writer who provides JCTC with some spectacular content and information. She's previously held the role of Secretary for the Jefferson County Tourism Council, has assembled our Monthly Newsletter and was the Executive Director for the Lake Mills Main Street Program, a non-profit community organization that is dedicated to the preservation, growth and vitality of Lake Mills through public events and active community involvement.