Holiday Happenings

***Please note, events and activities are subject to change or cancellation. Please call ahead of your arrival.***

Santa’s Mailbox

Sponsored by Educators Credit Union With support from Serving Older Adults, McGovern Park Senior Center & National Association of Letter Carriers – PIONEER Branch 2
November 1 – December 12
Cathedral Square Park
414.220.4700 |
Place a child’s letter to Santa in Santa’s Mailbox. Be sure to include a return address because Santa and his extra special helpers will ensure each child receives a personalized reply. Holiday spirit delivers the letters – no postage required!


Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kickoff Extravaganza

Thu, November 17 | 6:30pm
Pre-show fun starting at 5pm
Pere Marquette Park
414.220.4700 |
Music, dancing, Santa and a thrilling fireworks display combine for the brightest night of the year. Best of all, it’s free – right down to the cookies, cocoa and Jingle Bus rides. Pre-show entertainment begins at 5pm.


Home for the Holidays

Begins Thu, November 17
War Memorial Center
414.273.5533 |
Peer into the lobby windows of the War Memorial Center to behold six Christmas trees representing each branch of military service. Decorated by active and inactive military families, each tree will be covered with cherished keepsakes from members of the military.



Begins Thu, November 17
War Memorial Center
414.273.5533 |
Give support and show appreciation to our Veterans this holiday season by dropping off cards, letters, drawings and other tokens of gratitude in the red mailbox along the Mason Street entrance of the building. Items will be distributed the week of Christmas at the VA Hospital.


Daily Self-Guided Tours of the Pabst Mansion

November 17 – January 8
Pabst Mansion
414.931.0508 |
A holiday tradition the whole family can enjoy! Delight in the wonderment of Christmas at the Pabst Mansion, where no two Christmases are the same. From glitz and glam to train tracks and teddy bears around the tree, each room is decked from tip to mistletoe. (Closed on holidays.)


Jingle Bus Tours

November 18 – December 30
Thu – Sun | 6pm to 9pm
The Avenue 275 W. Wisconsin Avenue
414.220.4700 |
Marvel at downtown’s spectacular sights aboard the convenient Jingle Bus. For $5 per person, visitors can relish in the festive panorama while a narrator shares stories of the jolliest attractions and landmarks. Enjoy free treats while you wait. New this year, tickets must be purchased in advance online.


City of Milwaukee Christmas Tree Lighting

Fri, November 18
Deer District Plaza
Gather with family and friends to see the 109th annual Milwaukee Christmas tree lighting.


FEZtival of Trees

November 19 – 26
Tripoli Shrine
414.933.4700 |
Walk through a wonderland of trees decorated by local businesses and organizations, snap a photo with Santa and enjoy a light show during the week of Thanksgiving. Then, place a bid for a chance to win a fully decorated tree, to take a piece of the holiday spirit home with you.


Holiday Show: Calm & Bright

November 19 – January 3
Mitchell Park Domes
414.257.5600 |
Gather your family in the warm glow of elegance and the timeless beauty of hundreds of velvety poinsettias. Capture photos of lasting memories and reunite in the spirit of the holidays.


Cream City Creatives

Sun, November 20 | 10am to 3pm
Turner Hall Ballroom
This annual holiday market has been bringing Milwaukee to life with creativity since 2014. Shop from dozens of local vendors offering goods that make perfect gifts for family and friends.


Milwaukee Turkey Trot

Thu, November 24 | 9am
Veterans Park
Join the flock during the 8th annual Turkey Trot. It’s your pre-turkey workout. Your body will thank you later!


Pfister Hotel Thanksgiving Bountiful Brunch

Thu, November 24 | 11am to 3pm
The Pfister Hotel
414.273.8222 |
Immerse yourself in the breathtaking atmosphere of the Pfister Grand Ballroom, the perfect destination for your family’s cherished Thanksgiving. There will be much to be thankful for, from appetizers and entrees to side dishes and desserts, plus all the traditional trimmings.


Thanksgiving at ARIA

Thu, November 24 | 1pm to 7pm
Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel
414.270.4422 |
Experience an artisanal American Thanksgiving at ARIA. Enjoy a special prix fixe menu featuring special dishes, as well as traditional Thanksgiving favorites.


Thanksgiving Mason Street Grill

Thu, November 24 | 4pm to 9pm
Mason Street Grill
414.298.3131 |
Enjoy an all-American grill for this quintessential holiday with Mason Street classics like wood-grilled steaks and seafood, plus a special Thanksgiving dish. Private dining rooms are also available for your family gathering, whether it’s six or sixty.


The Pfister’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

Fri, November 25 | 5pm to 6:30pm
The Pfister Hotel
414.273.8222 |
Watch the expressions on young and old alike as Santa officially lights the spectacular lobby tree. Sip warm drinks and nibble on a holiday treat. Non-perishables will be collected for Hunger Task Force.


Twilight Tours

November 25 – January 7
Thu – Sat | 4:30pm to 7:30pm
Pabst Mansion
414.931.0808 |
A self-guided evening tour with twinkling lights, live holiday music, and drinks for purchase, like glühwein and hot pecan whiskey ciders, to give you that warm Christmas glow! (Not available on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.)


Letters to Santa at the Pfister

November 25 – December 18
The Pfister Hotel
414.273.8222 |
Write a letter to Santa and drop it off at The Pfister Hotel North Pole Mailbox. Each child will receive a personalized note from Santa himself, plus all children receive a free cookie from the Pfister front desk when they drop off their letters.


Milwaukee Makers Market

Sat, November 26 | 10am to 4pm
Sun, December 18 | 10am to 4pm
Discovery World
December 9 – 11
Deer District
Support local crafters, artists and creators. Browse dozens of booths featuring clothing, visual art, candles, home goods and so much more. This no-charge-to-enter artisan showcase is the perfect opportunity to shop for co-workers, pets, uncles, aunts and everyone in between.


Small Business Saturday

Sat, November 26 | 10am to 6pm
Historic Third Ward
414.273.1173 |
Explore the unique offerings around the Historic Third Ward as you #shopsmall. Stop into the many independent businesses in the neighborhood to check off goodies on your gift list.


Milwaukee Holiday Traditions

Sat, November 26 | 1pm to 2:30pm
Milwaukee County Historical Society
414.273.8288 |
The first of many speakers to be presented at the Milwaukee County Historical Society in 2022/2023. Take a trip down memory lane with archivist Steve Schaffer as he talks about Milwaukee's Holiday Traditions. Remember the holiday parade, decorated windows Downtown, holiday lights, and other local traditions? Let's reminisce.


Father Christmas Visits the Mansion!

November 27 – December 18
Sun | 3:30pm to 5:30pm
Pabst Mansion
414.931.0808 |
With his lantern, walking stick and red cloak with white trim, a whimsical Father Christmas travels south to visit the Pabst Mansion each Sunday during the holiday season. Create magical memories with holiday treats, letters to Santa, and room after room of enchanting Christmas displays.


Annual BMO Holiday Display

November 28 – January 2
BMO Harris Bank 790 N. Water Street
414.765.7500 |
Celebrate "50 Years of Holiday Magic" with BMO Harris Bank’s fun, colorful window display stretching from Mason to Wells on Water Street.


MIAD Holiday Sale

December 1 – 3
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
888.749.MIAD |
Each year during the first week of December, MIAD students and alumni show off their wares ranging from sculptures, paintings and photographs to jewelry, stickers, greeting cards and more. Shop their affordable offerings and view the on-campus galleries while you visit.


Slice of Ice

December – Mid-March (weather permitting)
Red Arrow Park
414.289.8791 |
A slice of winter fun in the heart of downtown! Bring your own ice skates and skate for free, or rent a pair at the warming house. Call ahead to confirm the season opening.


HoliJOY Market

December 1, 8, 22 & 29 | 5pm to 9pm
December 17 & 18 | 12pm to 6pm
3rd Street Market Hall
Bring all the joy to your family and friends this holiday season. Curated by Tiffany “TiffBlooms” Miller of FlyBlooms and The Bronzeville Collective MKE, shop local with Milwaukee’s best and blooming creative community.


Christmas Around Milwaukee Bakery Tour

Fri – Sun, December 2 – 22
Various Locations
414.255.0534 |
Spend the day sampling Christmas cookies, candies and pastries from Milwaukee’s finest bakeries. Each tour has six to eight stops, so be prepared for a sweet-filled adventure with family and friends. Get added to Santa’s nice list by dressing up in holiday gear to get into the spirit.


Christmas Lights & Desserts Bus Tour

Fri & Sat, December 2 – 23
Downtown Milwaukee
414.255.0534 |
Take in downtown Milwaukee’s dazzling light displays with pit stops for hot cocoa, seasonal snacks and photo ops. Learn about the city’s holiday history with this light-hearted outing led by a singing tour guide.


Christmas in the Ward

Fri, December 2 | 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Catalano Square
414.273.1173 |
Dash into the holiday season with festivities under the Historic Third Ward’s Christmas Tree. This night is packed with live entertainment, photo ops alongside Santa and his reindeer, dazzling fireworks, food trucks and local shopping.


Santa’s Christmas Cavalcade

Sat, December 3 | Departs at 5:15pm
Fri, December 9 | Departs at 5:15pm
Downtown Milwaukee
414.220.4700 |
See Santa and Mrs. Claus on this festive route riding atop a vintage fire truck. Sarah Fierek will also be on board, singing jazzy holiday tunes. On Dec. 9, the Cavalcade will feature Black Santa. The route departs from the Milwaukee Public Market and travels throughout downtown.


Holidays in History

Sat, December 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31 | 11am
Milwaukee Public Museum
414.278.2728 |
Learn how the holiday traditions that were brought by European immigrants to Milwaukee blended together to create our modern celebrations.


Hover Craft: Handmade Holiday Shopping Extravaganza

Sun, December 4 | 12pm to 6pm
Pritzlaff Building
Milwaukee’s creative community comes together for the 13th year of Hover Craft, brimming with one-of-a-kind handiwork. Thousands of shoppers peruse this holiday showcase, so snag your ticket in advance to shop online.


Breakfast with Santa at The Pfister

Sun, December 4
Sat & Sun, December 10 & 11, 17 & 18
The Pfister Hotel
414.273.8222 |
Back by popular demand! Guests have the opportunity to share a jolly breakfast with Santa and his elves in The Pfister’s festive ballroom. Seating is available from 8am to 9:30am and 11:30am to 1:00pm. (On Dec. 10, the second seating time will be 11am to 12:30pm.)


Cocoa with the Clauses

Presented by Madison Medical Affiliates
Sat, December 10 | 11am to 2pm
Cathedral Square Park
414.220.4700 |
Santa and Mrs. Claus return for this annual cocoa klatch. The free outdoor event is a chance for kids to share their wish lists, and for moms and dads to grab keepsake photos. Elves and other holiday characters will also be there! Plus, complimentary cookies and hot cocoa will be provided, thanks to Taste of Home.


Saint Kate Holiday Marketplace

December 10 & 11 | 11am to 4pm
Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel
414.276.8686 |
Experience and enjoy the holiday ambiance of Saint Kate's ARC Theatre and lobby while interacting and connecting with over 100 local artists and vendors. Holiday Marketplace is the ideal place to find perfect gifts for friends and family, all while taking in the sights and sounds of local music and art!


Breakfast with Santa at MECCA

Sun, December 11 | 9am to 2pm
MECCA Sports Bar & Grill
Make it a jolly morning in the Cheer District, including pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, an appearance from Bango, a breakfast buffet featuring build-your-own pancake and omelet stations, and a cookie decorating kit. Reservations and tickets are available online.


Very Merry Milwaukee

Sun, December 11 | 10am to 1pm
Milwaukee County Historical Society
414.273.8288 |
See Billie the Brownie, take your picture with Santa, make an ornament, write a letter to Santa and enjoy a holiday exhibit that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. Cookies, brownies, and hot chocolate will be for sale in Mrs. Claus' kitchen, and you might catch her reading a story or two. Museum admission is complimentary. Photos with Santa are $10 each or 2 for $15. Milwaukee historian John Gurda will be available from 12pm to 1:30pm to sign his recently released book: "Brewtown Tales: More Stories from Milwaukee and Beyond." Books will be available for purchase.


Wisconsin LGBT Chamber’s Holiday Soiree

Wed, December 14 | 4:30pm
GATHER at Deer District
414.678.9275 |
Raise a glass of cheer to the festive season during this swanky holiday party. Enjoy drinks, hors d’oeuvres and a mini maker’s market while you network with locals in the community.


Brunch with Santa at Saint Kate

December 17 & 18 | 8:30am & 11am
Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel
414.276.8686 |
Start a new holiday tradition at Saint Kate's "Brunch with Santa" and create lifelong memories! Guests will have the opportunity to experience a plentiful brunch in Saint Kate's festive ballroom and visit with the jolly man himself. In addition to photos with Santa, every child will receive a special gift and will be able to make crafts and compose a handwritten letter to Santa.

Holiday Hurrah! presented by Dunkin'

December 23 | 4pm  - 6pm 
Slice of Ice at Red Arrow Park 

Join Black Santa Claus and his sleigh full of helpers for one last holiday hurrah before the big night! Plus, see toys come to life, including a ballerina and toy solider. Enjoy ice skating, hot chocolate and donuts, courtesy of Dunkin' located at 622 W. Wisconsin Avenue. Revel in the holiday glow of new twinkling lights in the park, courtesy of MGIC and Saint Kate - The Arts Hotel. Click here to learn more. 

ARIA Christmas Dinner

December 24 & 25 | 2pm to 8pm
Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel
414.270.4422 |
Experience delicious holiday specialties steeped in the culinary tradition of the Midwest. Enjoy festive offerings inspired by all the comforts of a home-cooked feast in addition to our regular menu.


Christmas Celebration Brunch

Sun, December 25 | 11am to 3pm
The Pfister Hotel
414.273.8222 |
A spectacular buffet loved by small and big elves alike.


Mason Street Grill Christmas

Sun, December 25 | 4pm to 9pm
Mason Street Grill
414.298.3131 |
Experience classic American favorites and enjoy delicious Christmas specials, in addition to our regular menu. Private dining rooms are also available for your family gathering, big or small.


Christmas Gift Boxes

Milwaukee Food & City Tours
414.255.0534 |
Give something special from Wisconsin this year. Milwaukee Food & City Tours offers gifts that can be shipped across the country, including gift cards, edible advent calendars, and gift sets filled with spa day essentials or local treats.


Afternoon Tea at The Pfister

Fri – Sun, Now thru May 14
The Pfister Hotel – BLU
414.935.5950 |
Treat your family and friends to a relaxing afternoon experience with an incredible panoramic view of downtown. You’ll feel like royalty, with tea, sandwiches and pastries served on silver platters by a Pfister tea butler. Reservations required.


Light the Hoan

The Daniel M. Hoan Memorial Bridge
Make holiday memories with a brilliant light show. View the dazzling schedule online.