By: Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Temperatures are continuing to drop, and now that Thanksgiving has passed, it's officially time to start preparing for winter fun.
And what better way to get into the holiday and winter spirit than bundling up and heading outside for a festival, parade or community celebration?
Here's a roundup of some central Wisconsin holiday and winter events to check out in 2017 and into 2018:
1. Wausau holiday parade, Dec. 1, downtown Wausau
Watch as a parade full of twinkling lights and winter magic makes its way through Wausau. The route will start at Marathon Park at 6:30 p.m. and will make its way to downtown at about 7 p.m. The floats will be announced by emcees at The 400 Block. Afterward, stick around for the tree lighting and a warming party at the Grand Theater, with a chance to visit with Santa.
For more information, visit www.wausauevents.org.
2. Nekoosa Area Hometown Christmas, Dec. 2, Nekoosa
Kick your weekend off with a breakfast with Santa at 8:30 a.m., then continue on for a day full of holiday fun. Check out the craft show, pick up a few new books at the library book sale and take a ride on a tractor-pulled wagon. The day will end at 6:30 p.m., with fireworks lighting up the night sky.
For more information, visit www.wisconsinrapidschamber.com.
3. Mosinee Christmas festival and parade, Dec. 2, Mosinee
Lori Hull of Mosinee looks over some of the baked goods at Mosinee's Christmas Festival held in the Mosinee High School Creske Center. (Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
The day kicks off with a family festival at the Mosinee High School, 1000 High St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., which will feature a pancake breakfast and photos with Santa. At 5:45 p.m., head downtown for the parade and annual tree lighting.
For more information, visit www.mosineechamber.org.
4. Downtown Iola Christmas parade, Dec. 2, Iola
Watch as Santa makes his way through downtown Iola, preceeded by a long line of colorful, bright holiday floats. The parade will begin at 10 a.m., starting at the Iola-Scandanavia High School, and ending at the Iola Historical Society.
For more information, visit www.ischamber.com.
5. Christmas in the Parks, Dec. 2, Stratford
Roast marshmellows, ride in a horse-drawn wagon and help your little ones write letters to Santa at Klemme Reserve, 600 E. North St., and Klemme Park, 350 N. Third Ave., in Stratford. From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., both parks will be full of Christmas time fun.
6. Christmas in the Center, Dec. 2, Pittsville
Harper Abel, left, and Connor Black, right, were named Christmas Princess and Prince during the second Christmas in the Center: A Pittsville Community Celebration in 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of Michelle Abel)
Join in the community celebration as the holiday season kicks off in Pittsville. Throughout the town, there will be craft sales, soup sales and local entertainment, starting at 10 a.m. and running until 8 p.m.
For more information, visit the Christmas in the Center Facebook page.
7. Abbotsford annual Christmas parade, Dec. 2, Abbotsford
Watch as holiday floats light up downtown Abbotsford in a celebration of the kick off of the Christmas season. Clowns will take to the streets at 7 p.m., and the parade will begin at 7:30 p.m. and end around 9 p.m.
For more information, visit www.abbycolbyareachamber.chambermaster.com.
8. Rudolph Country Christmas, Dec. 9, Rudolph
A display along Main Street welcomes people into downtown Rudolph on Dec. 10, 2016 as part of Rudolph Country Christmas. (Photo: Nathan Vine/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wi)
Get into the Christmas spirit in Rudolph with activities, reindeer games and more. It will be a whole day of fun, kicking off at 9 a.m. with a breakfast with St. Nick, and ending with a light parade and fireworks at 5:15 p.m.
For more information, visit www.rudolphcountrychristmas.org.
9. Winter brew fest, Jan. 26, Wausau
Wausau's winter brew fest will bring more than 100 different brews to the city. (Photo: Eddie Hernandez Photography, Eddie Hernandez Photography, Get)
Warm up by tasting brews from Wisconsin and across the country. Sip on beer samples and snack on a potato bar at the Wausau Elks Lodge, 414 Scott St., all while listening to live music. Attendees must be at least 21 years of age. Tickets are $25 until Jan. 1, $30 until Jan. 25 and $40 at the door, if any tickets remain.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.wausauevents.org.
10. Downtown Winter Fest, Jan. 27, Wausau
Play in the snow on The 400 Block in downtown Wausau, while enjoying a day out in the community. A snow slide, ice carvings, ice skating and many more winter activities will bring warmth to the cold January weather, along with a mac and cheese cook-off to warm your belly. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, visit www.wausauevents.org.
11. Iola Winter Carnival, Feb. 2 through 4, Iola
Celebrate the coldest months of winter with warm festivities throughout the weekend. At 6 p.m. Friday, watch fat bikes race through the snow and ice at the Iola Winter Sports Club on County Rd MM. On Saturday, watch ice sculptors work their magic, enter your children in the ice fishing competition and eat a tasty lutefisk dinner. On Sunday, watch as ski jumpers take to the air at noon.
For more information, visit the Iola Winter Carnival Facebook page.
12. Winter Fest and sled dog races, Feb. 24 and 25, Wausau
Watch as teams of sled dogs race their way through Willow Springs Garden, all while enjoying warm concessions with friends and family. The Winter Fest is free and open to the public, and will offer activities for attendees of all ages. The festival will start at 10 a.m. Saturday and run through 7 p.m. On Sunday, the hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A salmon dinner will be offered Saturday night for an additional charge.
For more information, visit www.willowspringsgarden.net.