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The Main Gallery and foyer during Nutcracker in the Castle, with life-size Nutcrackers, Christmas trees, and a room decorated in the background.Eric Reischl

Nutcracker in the Castle

November 17, 2023 – January 8, 2024

The beloved Nutcracker fairytale returns to the Paine “castle” with a mesmerizing array of sights, sounds, and surprises! This holiday season guests are invited to explore the settings of the story on self-guided tours, guided tours, and candlelight tours. Along the way, each elaborately decorated room of the historic Paine mansion reveals a new chapter of the story!

From the opening party scene with a giant Christmas tree to the Land of Sweets and beyond, follow the adventure of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. As part of your journey, guests are invited to visit the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cupcake Café for a scrumptious treat!

Kids Free Days at the Nutcracker

Children enjoy free admission to self-guided tours with a paid adult admission

November 17-22, 2023
10:00 AM–8:00 PM 

Reservations required
Reservations available October 10

Children ages 17 and under enjoy free admission to self-guided tours of Nutcracker in the Castle on select days and times with a paid adult admission, courtesy of Verve, a Credit Union. Verve will also collect donations to Toys for Tots under the giant Christmas tree. 

$16 Adult
Free for Paine Members

Limit of five (5) free children per one adult admission. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cupcake Café hours:
Nov. 17 | 5:00–7:30 PM
Nov. 18 | 11:00 AM–7:30 PM
Nov. 19 | 12:30–7:30 PM
Nov. 22 | 5:00–7:30 PM

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Self-guided tours

Featuring 20 decorated settings and 70 Christmas trees in the historic Paine mansion

November 24, 2023–January 8, 2024
Monday–Saturday | 10:00 AM–4:00 PM*

Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day:
10:00 AM–4:00 PM

Reservations recommended
Reservations available October 10

On self-guided tours, journey through more than 20 rooms and spaces elaborately decorated as the fantastic scenes of the Nutcracker story. On the first floor, each setting features a large storybook with illustrations that reveal a portion of the fairy tale. On the second floor, the rooms portray the home and lifestyle of the Stahlbaum family, as well as the workshop of Godfather Drosselmeyer and a wide variety of finely crafted wooden Nutcrackers. Throughout both floors, more than 60 mischievous mice are hidden within the settings.

$16 Adult
$12 Youth (ages 5–17)
Free for Members
Free for ages 4 and under

*Self-guided tours are not available on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day.

Verve, A Credit Union members receive 2-for-1 admission to self-guided tours. Proof of membership required.

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Candlelight tours

Featuring the decorated settings illuminated by Christmas trees in the evening

November 24, 2023–January 5, 2024
Sundays | 5:00–8:00 PM*
Wednesdays & Fridays | 4:30–8:00 PM*

Additional holiday candlelight tours:
Dec. 23 & 30 | 4:30–8:00 PM

Reservations required
Reservations available October 10

Candlelight tours offer guests an especially entrancing way to take a self-guided tour of the Nutcracker display in the evening. The lights of the “castle” are dimmed and the settings are illuminated by the glow of more than 70 Christmas trees. As guests enter, they are handed electric candles to carry as they wander through the glowing rooms.

$16 Adult
$12 Youth (ages 5–17)
Free  for Members
Free for ages 4 and under

*Candlelight tours are not available Nov. 26, Dec. 22, Christmas Eve, or New Year’s Eve.

Verve, A Credit Union members receive 2-for-1 admission to candlelight tours. Proof of membership required.

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Guided tours

Featuring live musical, acting, and dance performances

November 25, 2023–January 7, 2024 
Saturdays | 5:00–8:00 PM*
Sundays | 12:00–3:30 PM*

Additional holiday guided tours:
Dec. 21–22 | 5:00–8:00 PM
Dec. 26–28 | 5:00–8:00 PM

Reservations required
Reservations available October 10

A guided tour of Nutcracker in the Castle brings the characters and scenes of the fairy tale to life. The tour begins with a festive party in the “Ballroom” and live performances by a string quartet. Guests enjoy punch and cookies while Godfather Drosselmeyer tells the story of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince.

Afterwards, he leads guests through the elaborately decorated rooms of the mansion. The story culminates in the “Lands of Afar” where youth and professional dancers perform selections from the Nutcracker ballet. Some performances feature Guests then tour the second-floor rooms, which are fancifully decorated as Clara’s family home and Drosselmeyer’s workshop.

$30 Adult
$25 Youth (ages 5–17)

$24 Member Adult
$20 Member Youth (ages 5–17)

Free for ages 4 and under

Tours begin every 30 minutes and last about an hour.

*Guided tours are not available on Nov. 18-19, Dec. 23, Christmas Eve, Dec. 30, or New Year’s Eve.

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Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cupcake Café

Located in the Conservatory at the back of the Paine property

November 17, 2023–January 7, 2024 
Wednesdays & Fridays | 5:00–7:30 PM
Saturdays | 11:00 AM–7:30 PM
Sundays | 12:30–3:30 PM

Additional holiday hours
Dec. 21 | 5:00–7:30 PM
Dec. 26–29 | 11:00 AM–7:30 PM

No reservations necessary

Visit the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cupcake Café for a scrumptious treat before or after tours of Nutcracker in the Castle! With the Sugar Plum Fairy herself as hostess, the café serves cupcakes and hot cocoa in a fairyland setting within the Paine’s Conservatory.

Cupcakes are made by Tamara’s the Cake Guru.

$8 includes cupcake and hot cocoa, milk, or coffee. Gluten-free option available.

Please note the hours of the café, and coordinate visits before or after Nutcracker tours.

Closed on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

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Enter the fantasy of Nutcracker in the Castle

Lead Sponsor

the logo for Verve, a Credit Union

Guided tours feature dance performances by Valley Academy for the Arts, a premier, not-for-profit dance organization in the greater Fox Valley region. Proceeds from Nutcracker in the Castle help to support Valley Academy programs and student dance education. Aspiring young dancers are invited to come and experience a free ballet class. Please call (920) 279-1578 or email

Frequently Asked Questions

Planning a visit to the Paine for Nutcracker in the Castle has many facets to consider. Let us make it easy for you! Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions below, or contact the Paine at (920) 235-6903 ext. 30 or

What’s the main difference between the types of tours?

Guided tours feature live performances. Self-guided tours do not feature live performances. Candlelight tours are self-guided tours in the evening.

Do I need a reservation?

Reservations are required for guided tours and Kids Free Days. Reservations are recommended for self-guided tours and candlelight tours. Reservations are not necessary for the Cupcake Café.

Are you open for walk-ins on Sundays?

The Paine is open for candlelight tours from 5:00–8:00 PM on select Sundays, during which walk-ins will be admitted as capacity allows; reservations are recommended. The Paine is open for guided tours only on Sunday afternoons, and reservations are required.

What will I do on a Self-guided Tour?

On self-guided tours, you will walk through more than 20 elaborately decorated settings with more than 70 Christmas trees. Oversized books depict the story along the tour. A “Mouse Hunt” is also offered for children with 60 mice figurines to find. You may tour the rooms at your leisure, which usually takes about 1 hour.

What will I do on a Guided Tour?

Guided tours begin with a party featuring live musicians and serving punch and cookies. Then an actor greets the guests and introduces the Nutcracker story. The actor leads a brief tour through the first floor of the mansion, which ends with a 10 minute youth ballet performance. Guests are then invited to tour the second floor of the mansion on their own. A Guided Tour lasts about 1 hour. Please arrive 10 minutes early for Guided Tours.

When is the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cupcake Café open?

The Cupcake Café is open on most Friday evenings, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings, as well as special hours during the holiday week. Please note the café hours and coordinate visits before or after Nutcracker tours accordingly.

May I bring a stroller?

The Paine encourages visitors with small children to use umbrella strollers, which are available at the entrance. Large strollers are not allowed.

May I take photos when I visit?

Yes, photography is allowed during all tours and within the Cupcake Café. Please do not use a flash and be considerate of other visitors and your surroundings.

Is the event wheelchair-accessible?

All tours and the Cupcake Café are wheelchair accessible. The mansion has an elevator for the second floor, however, a portion of the second floor is not wheelchair accessible. Please note that large wheelchairs may not fit through some doorways. The Paine has wheelchairs available that fit through all doorways. Wheelchairs are available at the Mansion’s reception desk, and the Mansion and Conservatory are wheelchair-accessible.

Does the Paine close in winter weather?

The Paine remains open and all tours continue during winter weather conditions. The Paine only closes during the most extreme weather conditions and does not follow school or other closings. In the event of severe weather near the time of a tour, please call (920) 235-6903 or visit the Paine’s website or Facebook page to learn about the status of tours. Reservations for guided tours will not be refunded due to weather, except in the unlikely event that a tour is cancelled.

Where do I park when I visit?

The Paine is located at 1410 Algoma Boulevard in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Visitors may park in the parking lot on Algoma Boulevard located next to the Paine Mansion, which offers accessible parking spaces and a drop-off area near the entrance gate. Visitors may also park along the street on Algoma Boulevard, Congress Avenue, and Elmwood Avenue. Additional parking is available in the Paine’s ancillary lot on Elmwood Avenue.

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Become a Member Now!

Reservations for self-guided tours and candlelight tours of Nutcracker in the Castle are free for Members! Members also receive early access to reservations for guided tours, discounted reservations for guided tours, discounts on Gift Shop purchases, and more benefits that last an entire year.