May 26, 2023

After a year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pabst Mansion, 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave., will once again be decked out in its holiday finest for Christmas at the Pabst Mansion, kicking off with an opening reception Nov. 17.

The historic mansion built by beer baron Captain Frederick Pabst and his wife Maria in 1892 will be trimmed out in its usual elegant decorations, including dozens of Christmas trees. But this year’s holiday home tour will include some new interactive elements — playing into the German gemütlichkeit spirit, like the Pabsts would have.

“We definitely know that they enjoyed having people in their home in the entertaining aspect, so this is a way to continue in that culture through having people enjoy it, not just telling them about it,” McCully said, noting the Pabsts had 3,000 bottles of wine in the house.

On Sunday afternoons, Father Christmas will greet children outside, and live music from German tunes to Christmas carols played on the Pabst grand piano will greet people inside.

RELATED:New Pabst Mansion tours include happy hour with a PBR, kid-friendly tour, Father Christmas

Self-guided Twilight Tours will be held two nights every week this year instead of the usual one, with Glühwein (hot mulled wine) available for purchase and more live music. There will be other Christmas treats and beverages available during daytime tours, too.

The Milwaukee County Historical Society is also partnering with a local photographer to offer 20-minute photo sessions at both the Pabst Mansion (Nov. 14) and the Historical Society (Nov. 20). Portions of the proceeds go back to helping preserve the sites.

The new interactive elements are part of the nonprofit’s new initiative to reach more people in different ways, which has resulted in seven new tours since the mansion re-opened to visitors in mid-April.

New tours like the autumn Illuminating the Dark Tour — an after-hour, dimly-lit tour that included a look at the seldom-seen basement of the mansion — sold out multiple times.

Christmas at the Pabst has always been popular, and McCully expects it to be even more so this year.

“I think there’s pent-up demand because of the fact that we didn’t do this last year and when you come every year and you really miss that, I think people are like, I’m not missing it this year, I’m going to be there,” she said, noting that they’ve been getting calls about it since September.

Tickets are on sale now for Christmas at the Pabst, which kicks off with an opening reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 that will include music on the grand piano, champagne and holiday treats.

Self-guided tours are available 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday (last entry at 3:15) and 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday through Jan. 7 (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and day, New Year’s Eve and day). Tickets are $18 for adults; $16 for students, seniors and military; $11 for children (ages 6-17); and free for children 5 and under and members.

Self-guided Twilight Tours are available 4:45-7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26 through Dec. 18. Tickets are $23 for adults; $21 for students, seniors and military; $16 for children; and $5 for members.

Tickets will be for timed entry and are limited; advance purchase is recommended at

For more information, call (414) 931-0808 or see

Contact Chelsey Lewis at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @chelseylew and @TravelMJS and Facebook at Journal Sentinel Travel.

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