Looking to get in the holiday mood a week before Thanksgiving? Then you’re in luck: the 23rd annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival is set to kick off Thursday, November 18.

From November 18 through January 1, 2022, three downtown parks will be decorated with thousands of lights and dozens of animated displays: Cathedral Square Park (“Community Spirit Park”), Pere Marquette Park (“HiBEARnation Station”), and Zeidler Union Square (“Home is Where the Hearth is powered by We Energies”). Three downtown streets—including 18 blocks of Wisconsin Avenue—will be lit up, too.

As for tomorrow’s kickoff, you can watch a special broadcast on WISN 12 at 6:30 p.m. The broadcast will feature “a sampling of downtown’s holiday shows and an all-new finale to signal the start of the holiday season in Milwaukee.” The kickoff will be televised only; there is no in-person event.

You can find more info HERE. Here’s a full press release, preceded by our 2020 kid-guided tour of Cathedral Square’s “Community Spirit Park”:

Downtown Milwaukee’s holiday lights go bright Thursday
Over 500,000 will shine for the six-week Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival

MILWAUKEE (November 15, 2021) – Milwaukee’s downtown will illuminate the city with more than 500,000 lights and dozens of animated displays during the 23rd annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival presented by Johnson Financial Group, Nov. 18 – Jan. 1. The celebration will kick off on Thursday, Nov. 18 with a holiday broadcast on WISN 12 at 6:30 p.m., which will feature a sampling of downtown’s holiday shows and an all-new finale to signal the start of the holiday season in Milwaukee.

The annual display of lights, coordinated by Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, will transform three downtown parks into winter wonderland scenes – “Community Spirit Park” at Cathedral Square Park, “HiBEARnation Station” at Pere Marquette Park and “Home is Where the Hearth is powered by We Energies” at Zeidler Union Square – as well as illuminate three downtown thoroughfares, including an 18-block stretch of lights along Wisconsin Avenue.

Festival-goers can experience the lights by car, on foot or by jumping on The Hop streetcar. A Jingle Bus podcast, available in English and Spanish, will highlight must-see scenes and acclimate visitors with nearby attractions. The free, self-guided audio tour will be available beginning Nov. 18 on the iHeartRadio app or anywhere where podcasts are hosted by searching “MKE Jingle Bus Tour.”

On select Friday and Saturday nights in December (Dec. 3 – 18), families can swing through the Jingle Joy drive-thru at Zeidler Union Square for a snack. Featuring gourmet treats from local businesses that are handpicked by Milwaukee Food & City Tours, Jingle Joy bags are $15 and can be pre-ordered at www.milwaukeefoodtours.com or purchased day of, while supplies last. The Jingle Joy drive-thru will operate from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Cash and credit will be accepted.

“Community Spirit Park” at Cathedral Square Park will continue the tradition of hosting a direct connection to the North Pole. Santa’s Mailbox presented by Educators Credit Union, Serving Older Adults and National Association of Letter Carriers Pioneer Branch 2, returns Nov. 18 – Dec. 12. As part of the magic of the season, children who drop their letters into Santa’s Mailbox will receive a personalized reply in the mail, provided they include a return address. Best of all, no postage is required.

Ideal Property Management will return to Pere Marquette Park with a pop-up tree lot. Guests can choose from a wide selection of fresh Wisconsin trees, handmade wreaths and Christmas décor from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Nov. 23 – Dec. 24. Also returning to the tree lot is an ice carving demonstration on Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a live reindeer visit on Dec. 12 from 1:15 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.

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