Holiday Lights

December, 2019

From Nov. 21-Jan. 1, downtown Milwaukee is illuminated by over 500,000 lights and spectacular seasonal animated displays during the city’s 21st Annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival. Experience all the holiday glitz and glamour downtown Brew City has to offer with a number of fun, family-friendly activities.

 “The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival packages everything our city has to offer during the holidays,” says Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21.

 “Whether it’s date night, a family outing, or a girlfriends’ getaway, there’s something for everyone and it’s all amid more than half a million lights.”

 Organized by Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival includes inviting winter scenes in three parks. Visitors can experience Zeidler Union Square’s “Holiday Hearth Powered by We Energies,” “Community Spirit Park” at Cathedral Square Park, and “Polar Park” at Pere Marquette Park.

 “Cocoa with the Clauses,” a heartwarming Lights Festival holiday tradition, is held 11am-2pm, Dec. 14, at Cathedral Square Park. Kids have the opportunity to share their holiday wish list with Santa and Mrs. Claus, while parents snap a complimentary keepsake photo with their own cameras. This beloved annual event also features free face painting, cocoa, and cookies.


 Through Dec. 15, kids can drop off their letters to Santa in a special decorated mailbox located in Cathedral Square Park. Letters (which must include a return address) receive a personalized reply by mail from the North Pole.

 Downtown Milwaukee visitors can hop aboard the Jingle Bus and enjoy a 40-minute tour of the neighborhood’s holiday splendor and iconic landmarks, narrated by Downtown Public Service Ambassadors. Jingle Bus tours begin at The Avenue, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., and run from 6-8:20pm, Thursdays through Sundays, Nov. 22-Dec. 29.

 Rides are $2 per person, cash only. Riders receive free treats while they wait and a chance to see Santa and Mrs. Claus.

 Every year, the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival celebrates a city landmark with a keepsake ornament cast in pewter. This year, the Marcus Performing Arts Center has been chosen as the ornament design. Current and past ornaments can be purchased at the MKE Downtown store,

301 W. Wisconsin Ave., Ste. 300.

 For more information visit

Each season streets and three parks are decorated with chandeliers and larger-than-life animated sculptures. top: Zeidler Union Square, 301 W. Michigan St. top left:  Wisconsin Ave. top right: Cathedral Square Park, 520 E. Wells St. directly above: Pere Marquette Park, 900 N. Plankinton Ave.