Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival begins Nov. 16 with kickoff extravaganza

Kickoff ceremony to feature fireworks, Santa, and performances from local entertainers

MILWAUKEE (November 2, 2023) – Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 will transform the city into a brilliant holiday spectacle during the 25th annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival presented by Johnson Financial Group. The six-week celebration kicks off on Thursday, Nov. 16 with an extravagant ceremony at 6:30 p.m. in Pere Marquette Park, 900 N. Plankinton Ave. Live music, dance acts, holiday treats, fireworks, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus make up the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kickoff Extravaganza, a festive jumpstart to the city’s holiday season running through Jan. 1, 2024.

The brilliant night of performances includes University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee a cappella group Public Hearing, DJ LoLo, Donna Woodall, Jenny Thiel, Kinsella Irish Dance, Christopher’s Project, and Nate Ramos & Friends. Guests in attendance will receive free cocoa and cookies and can take part in free Jingle Bus rides, powered by Coach USA. The evening will wrap up with a remarkable fireworks show. All the pre-show fun kicks off at 5:30 p.m., starting with Kid Boogie Down.

After the Nov. 16 kickoff, residents and visitors can continue to view the light displays, coordinated by Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21. Three downtown parks will be transformed into winter wonderland scenes – “Community Spirit Park” at Cathedral Square Park, sponsored by Madison Medical Affiliates; “¡Felices Fiestas!” at Pere Marquette Park and “Santa’s Celebration Square powered by We Energies” at Zeidler Union Square. Street decorations will also adorn three downtown thoroughfares, including Wisconsin Avenue, which will feature an 18-block stretch of silver and gold chandeliers suspended above each intersection. New this year, Wisconsin Avenue will also host an Ornament Trail. The new installation features 15 larger-than-life ornaments, each designed and painted by a different artist.

Visitors can see all these sights aboard the Jingle Bus, a 40-minute narrated tour that offers a no-fuss way of viewing all downtown Milwaukee has to offer during the holiday season. For more information on the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival, visit

The 2023 Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival is sponsored by Johnson Financial Group, We Energies Foundation, Ideal Property Management, Madison Medical Affiliates, VISIT Milwaukee, Taste of Home, The Avenue, 3rd Street Market Hall, Coach USA, WaterStone Bank, Courtyard Milwaukee Downtown, Interstate Parking, Educators Credit Union, Serving Older Adults, National Association of Letter Carriers – Pioneer Branch 2, DoubleTree by Hilton, MGIC, Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel, WISN 12, 95.7 WRIT, City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County Parks and Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21.

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