Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Dive into the magical world of The Nutcracker

The Paine hosts ‘Nutcracker in the Castle’ for its 17th season
Photo Courtesy of Laura Johnson – Visit the Sugar Plum Fairy and check out her whimsical decorations.

If you’re like me, you dreaded leaving your festive, freshly-decked house over Thanksgiving break. Many college students can’t afford a full-size Christmas tree in our dorm rooms or apartments, so we’re stuck with cheap plastic trees from Target and some flimsy Dollar Tree tinsel. While I love our crafty decorations and Charlie Brown-esque trees, it’s time to step out of hibernation and see some real Christmas decorations that not even your mom can compete with.

Photo courtesy of Laura Johnson

Besides, with finals and seasonal depression underway, a break and some Christmas cheer is much needed and deserved. Immersing yourself into the nostalgic story of The Nutcracker might be just the escape you need from finals, and healing your inner child might help with that pesky seasonal depression.

Most importantly, it’s prime cuffing season. With only one week of classes left, it’s now or never to bring that special girl on a date to lock things in before you leave school for almost two months. Don’t ask her out in your depressing dorm room or at Reeve; ask her out under glistening lights and grand chandeliers. That, my friends, is the difference between yes and no.

Truth be told, it doesn’t matter who you bring. Bring friends, family or that special someone; anyone you want to take along for the journey as you’re transported into this winter wonderland and immersed into the magical story of The Nutcracker. 

The Paine Art Center and Gardens exhibit envelopes you in this nostalgic story by allowing you to actually be in the art instead of just looking at it. They have meticulously curated and crafted each room to match the story, almost as if you were Clara. If you’ve been wanting to live out your coquette dream, now’s your chance. There’s even a gift shop for you to get your own beautifully crafted nutcracker. We can’t guarantee he’ll turn into a magical prince, but we can guarantee Christmas joy.

Or, if you were as jealous of Clara as I was when I was little, you can finally go to The Land of Sweets and the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Palace. If seeing all those sweets make you hungry, you can also visit her bakery, The Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cupcake Cafe. 

Cassidy Johnson / Advance-Titan

If you’re more into winter wonderland than candyland, you can also visit the Land of Snow or Godfather Drosselmeyer’s Workshop. Although the entire exhibit is romantic — especially during the candlelight tours — Drosselmeyer’s Workshop is especially romantic if you’re looking for a place to pop the ‘relationship’ question. Or, If you’re single like me, you can instead use this gorgeous room as a photo op for your Hinge profile. 

Whether you’d prefer a guided tour (sorry, they’re already sold out) or the opportunity to explore the castle on your own, The Paine has an incredible homemade storybook of The Nutcracker accompanying each room to be your guide as you walk through the home. Each and every room is decorated and furnished to perfection for historical accuracy and story fidelity so it makes it that much easier to immerse yourself into the fantasy. If you pay close enough attention to the details, you’ll be able to find all 16 mice hidden around the castle (my personal favorite is the one on the toothpaste tube). Every room is also adorned with its own, unique Christmas tree that corresponds with the story and/or the character. The grandest tree in the exhibit, however, is in the ballroom standing at 20 feet and trimmed with over 1,000 ornaments. 

Regardless of who you bring or what you need, there’s something for everyone. There’s the candlelit tours for couples, the scavenger hunt for families, and the unguided tours for you and your friends to freely explore the castle. Even if you go alone, there’s the chance to submerge yourself in nostalgia and maybe heal some of that inner-child with the chance to become Clara for a little bit. You can find more information about times, prices and make a reservation at  Reservations are required for the candlelight tours, and recommended for the self-guided tours.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Advance-Titan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest