Michael Holloway
Entertainment at a Distance

Take the Polar Plunge!

Plus, if you prefer to stay dry, there's a kite and ice festival, a virtual show by the Florentine Opera and the winter farmers market continues.

By - Dec 31st, 2020 11:31 am
2018 Polar Plunge. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

2018 Polar Plunge. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Each week, Urban Milwaukee is curating a list of events that are taking the necessary safety precautions provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This week, ring in the New Year with a Milwaukee tradition: The Polar Plunge! If jumping into a freezing-cold lake isn’t up your alley, check out the Cool Fool Kite & Ice Festival, which will see eye-catching kites take flight while expert sculptors craft icy works of art. It’s also that time of the year where we find out which artists and restaurants were most loved by Shepherd Express readers with the annual Best of Milwaukee awards ceremony pivoting to a digital format this year.

December 31 – January 1: Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival

The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival is celebrating its 22nd year with a socially distanced six-week-long event. Three Milwaukee parks and the Wisconsin Avenue Chandeliers, will be transformed with holiday lights. Cathedral Square Park will become the “Community Spirit Park” featuring Santa’s Mailbox presented by Educators Credit Union, where families can drop off their letters to Santa. If you drop it off before December 13th,  you’ll receive a personalized response in return. Pere Marquette Park will become “Tinsel Town Express,” where families can explore the North Pole’s “delivery depot” and pick up a holiday tree from the festive tree lot. And finally, take a photo in Santa’s chair at the “Polar Plaza powered by We Energies.”

January 1: Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market

There may be snow on the ground, but there are still farmers markets to enjoy, such as the Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market. The market, which is celebrating its 12th season, takes place on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Greenhouse Annex at the Mitchell Park Domes (524 S. Layton Blvd.) until March 27th. The market will feature 30 vendors offering fresh local produce, baked goods, cheeses, handmade soaps and more. COVID-19 safety precautions and guidelines will be enforced, including a mandatory mask policy and restrictions on eating and drinking in the market.

January 1: Cool Fool Kite & Ice Festival 

Start the new year off with the Cool Fool Kite & Ice Festival, a collaboration event between the Kite Society of Wisconsin & Illinois and Gift of Wings. The free event is celebrating its 34th year and will see an assortment of eye-catching kites gliding through the sky as well as hot food and free hot chocolate and coffee. A professional ice-carving group called The Quiet Ice Carvers will also be in attendance crafting ice sculptures. The event will begin at 11 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. and will take place at Veteran’s Park.

January 1: Polar Plunge 2021

The Polar Plunge, a Milwaukee tradition where participants plunge themselves into the freezing-cold water of Lake Michigan, continues in 2021. The event will take place on Bradford Beach (2400 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.) and Milwaukee firefighters and paramedics will be on site in case of emergencies. It is suggested that those participating bring loose, dry clothing to put on afterwards and enter the lake slowly. The event will officially kickoff at noon.

January 2 – May 20: Florentine Opera Presents Shakespeare 

Florentine Opera is celebrating music inspired by Shakespeare with performances of classics from Britten, Gounod, Verdi, Finiz and more. The hour-and-a-half long program will take place in a secret room in a Milwaukee landmark home with ties to England and bootlegging. Historian John Eastberg will make an appearance to provide some historical background. The performance is digital only and can be purchased for $25 by following this link.

January 5: Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee 2020

The Shepherd Express is once again celebrating its annual “Best of Milwaukee” reader’s choice awards, this time in a digital format. Winners will be announced in over 100 categories, ranging from local music to restaurants and much more. The event will kickoff at 7 p.m. Registration is free and can be accessed via this link.

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