Milwaukee's Christmas celebration officially begins this Thursday with the lighting of of the city and county's 102nd Christmas Tree.
It will be ceremoniously illuminated Thursday, Nov. 19 in Red Arrow Park. The event begins at 5 pm with music from local choirs, ensembles and theater groups. Mayor Tom Barrett, and County Executive Chris Abele will then light the tree at 5:28 pm.
Afterwards, you can head to Pere Marquette Park for The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kick-Off. The event will feature a switch-flipping ceremony, holiday music, warm holiday treats, a visit from Santa, and fireworks to end the evening.
Performers in the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kick-Off Extravaganza include country singer, Nora Collins; Anita’s Dance Center; Chandelier Circus; DJ Shawna; Milwaukee’s “So You Think You Can Dance” contestant, Christopher Gilbert; dancer and singer, Nastassja Bates; Studio VIA; and, the show’s guest of honor, Santa Claus.
The show will begin at 6 p.m., but the official switch-flipping will take place at approximately 6:35 p.m. This will simultaneously light the holiday décor in Pere Marquette Park, Cathedral Square Park and Zeidler Union Square, as well as downtown’s street-level decorations.
The kick-off celebration will conclude with fireworks synchronized to holiday music and free Jingle Bus rides presented by Meijer operating from Pere Marquette Park, taking guests past all the newly lit scenes. Brightly captivating scenes will include chandeliers suspended above Wisconsin Avenue, plus “Holiday Palace Park” at Pere Marquette Park, “Community Spirit Park” at Cathedral Square Park and “Toy Chest Park” at Zeidler Union Square.
After opening night, Jingle Bus rides presented by Meijer will operate from 6 p.m. to 8:20 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays, November 19 – December 27. The 40-minute tour is narrated by Milwaukee Downtown’s Public Service Ambassadors. Rides are normally $1 per person and depart from The Shops of Grand Avenue – Center Court, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. Find out more at Milwaukee downtown's website.