Behind the Pabst Mansion’s Spectacular Christmas Decorations

You know it’s Christmastime in Milwaukee when the Pabst Mansion is lit up red and green.

Photo by Paul Oemig

The historic mansion has been elaborately decorated for the holidays since it opened as a museum in 1978. While last year’s festivities were canceled due to COVID-19, it reopened in April and is once again getting the full Christmas treatment. It takes 30 staff and volunteers putting in 250 hours of work, not counting planning, to fully deck these halls, and over 35 artificial trees are brought up from the mansion’s basement storage to furnish the rooms.

“No two Christmases at the Pabst Mansion are the same,” says Jocelyn Slocum, the curator of collections. Every year, the staff plans a new vision for the mansion’s 23 decorated areas, a process that can start as early as June. Each room is given a unique theme. This year, one room is based on the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, where a Pabst beer won its famous “blue ribbon.” Another is military-themed, celebrating the historic holiday homecomings that American troops enjoyed during deployment.

Christmas season at the Pabst Mansion begins on Nov. 17 with an opening night celebration to unveil this year’s decorations. As in years past, the mansion will offer the popular Twilight Tours, which show off the glowing decorations in the evening.

For more information about the Pabst Mansion’s holiday schedule, visit


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s November issue.

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