You've heard holiday songs on the radio and at the mall, but give them a fresh listen in an unusual natural environment. Caroling at the Cave offers Christmas music performed underground by area choral groups at Cave of the Mounds, outside of Mount Horeb. The earth offers outstanding acoustics, but only limited seating. All proceeds benefit the performing organizations. Show times are Saturday, Dec. 8, at 2 and 3 pm, and Sunday, Dec. 9, at 4 and 5 pm. More info: 608-437-3038 or www.caveofthemounds.com.
Focus on something besides the upcoming holidays with a pair of family-oriented events at the UW-Madison Arboretum. "Remembering Laura Ingalls Wilder - Long Winters on the Prairie," at 1 pm on Dec. 1, takes participants hiking back in time. Naturalists in period costumes will lead pioneer games, too. A "Winter Birds" Family Walk, from 1 to 2:30 pm, Dec. 9, gives visitors an opportunity to observe hawks, robins, chickadees, cardinals, crows, bluebirds, blue jays, wild turkeys and woodpeckers. "But wildlife makes its own decisions about whether or not to be seen," says guide coordinator Kathy Miner. "So we make no guarantees." More info: 263-7888.
A holiday with purpose
Olbrich Botanical Gardens celebrates Kwanzaa, the holiday that honors African American heritage, from 1 to 3 pm on Dec. 29. There will be drumming, dancing and singing performances from local artists, focusing on on the seven principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, faith, creativity and purpose. Free, but seating is limited. More info: 246-4550; www.olbrich.org.
Ring in the new
It's been 17 years since Madison's alcohol-free family-friendly New Year's Eve party debuted with horse-drawn hay-wagon rides and downtown fireworks. "We were wondering if anybody was even going to come," says U.S. Bank spokeswoman Lisa Clark about those early days; however, the attendance at U.S. Bank Eve's multiple locations has hovered between 12,000 and 18,000 for the past several years. One wristband lets partygoers into activities at any one of seven locations around Madison between 6 and 10 pm. Hay-wagon rides and fireworks are highlights, with plenty of other activities at U.S. Bank Plaza, Monona Terrace, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, the UW Space Place, Madison Children's Museum, Henry Vilas Zoo and the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Wristbands can be purchased from any U.S. Bank location in Madison, and family passes are available. Full schedule at www.usbankeve.usbank.com or call 877-7517 for more info.
- Compiled by Michael Popke