Milwaukee Downtown, BID 21
Press Release

Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival gives visitors “watts” of reasons to “glow” downtown

Six-week festival to bundle lighting displays and holiday happenings, Nov. 15 – Jan. 1

By - Oct 25th, 2018 04:20 pm

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (October 25, 2018) – Milwaukee’s downtown will beam brightly Nov. 15 – Jan. 1 as more than 500,000 lights and dozens of animated displays are set aglow for the 20th Annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival.

The annual display of lights is coordinated by Milwaukee Downtown, Business Improvement District #21 and includes themed installations in three parks—“Community Spirit” at Cathedral Square Park, “Candy Cane Cove” at Pere Marquette Park and “Santa’s Lighted Lodge” at Zeidler Union Square—as well as street decorations along three downtown thoroughfares, including an 18-block stretch of lights along Wisconsin Avenue.

The Festival will officially begin on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. during the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kick-Off Extravaganza in Pere Marquette Park, 900 N. Plankinton Ave. The show features live music, dance acts, thrilling feats and a visit from Santa Claus. A fireworks ceremony will then top off the night. Free cookies, hot cocoa and Jingle Bus rides presented by Meijer and powered by Coach USA will be made available to the thousands of guests in attendance. Pre-show entertainment will start at 5:30 p.m.

Throughout the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival, families can view all the decorated sights aboard the Jingle Bus presented by Meijer. The 40-minute tour, narrated by Milwaukee Downtown’s Public Service Ambassadors, is a no-fuss way to see the magic of downtown. Tours will depart from the Plankinton Clover Apartments, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., from 6 p.m. to 8:20 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays, until Dec. 30. Rides are just $2 per person, cash only, and parking is available in the attached structure for $3. Please note the Jingle Bus will not operate on Thanksgiving.

The Festival also bundles downtown Milwaukee’s expansive list of holiday offerings, including concerts, shows, exhibitions, sporting events and other merry measures, including Santa’s Mailbox, Nov. 15 – Dec. 9, and Cocoa with the Clauses, Saturday, Dec. 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., both in Cathedral Square Park. Children who place a letter in Santa’s Mailbox presented by UNISON will receive a personalized reply by mail, provided they supply a return address. Five Milwaukee County-owned and funded senior centers, managed by UNISON, will assist in the delivery.

For more information on the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival or to request a free, comprehensive guide, call 414.220.4700 or visit

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