Experience Downtown Blog

Holiday Lights Festival Returns!

November 1, 2022 /   Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival

Holiday lights have started to make their return to downtown as we prepare for the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival presented by Johnson Financial Group. More than 500,000 lights will illuminate the streets and parks of downtown from November 17 to January 1.

Join us in celebrating the holiday season downtown at the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival events:


Milwaukee Holiday Lights FestivalMilwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kickoff Extravaganza

Thursday, November 17 | 6:30pm
Pre-show fun starting at 5pm
Pere Marquette Park

Join us in celebrating the start of the festival with the holiday spectacular featuring DJ Shawna, Vertical Essence, Dance Academy of Mexico, cast members from “Black Nativity,” Jenny Thiel, Donna Woodall, Sarah Fierek, and St. Michaels Ukrainian Choir. Free hot cocoa and cookies, sponsored by DoubleTree by Hilton will be available. A firework display will close out the show, then Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit at the end of the show.

After the show, the Jingle Bus will offer free rides to tour the holiday light displays across downtown. Can’t make it to Pere Marquette Park for the Kickoff Extravaganza? WISN 12 will broadcast the event at 6:30, presented by Stein’s Garden & Home.


Milwaukee Holiday Lights FestivalJingle Bus

November 18 – December 30
Thursdays – Sundays | 6 to 9pm. 
Tours depart from the Avenue – 275 W. Wisconsin Avenue

Take in the sights of the winter wonderland scenes of three lights parks downtown on the 40-minute narrated Jingle Bus tour. The parks include “Community Spirit Park” at Cathedral Square Park, “Santa’s Celebration Square powered by We Energies” at Zeidler Union Square and “Christmas Chalet” at Pere Marquette Park.

Tours are only $5 per rider, which can be purchased online. Pre-booking is required for all Jingle Bus riders- click here to book your Jingle Bus ride. Spanish tour options are available. The Jingle Bus will not operate on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.


Milawaukee Holiday Lights FestivalSanta’s Mailbox sponsored by Educators Credit Union
with support from Serving Older Adults, McGovern Park Senior Center and Letter Carriers Union Branch 2

November 1 – December 12 
Cathedral Square Park

Kids can drop their letters in Santa’s Mailbox and receive a personalized letter directly from Santa. No postage is required. Please include a return address so the elves know where to send the reply.


Milwaukee Holiday Lights FestivalSanta’s Christmas Cavalcade

December 3 and December 9 | 5:15pm
 Departs from the Milwaukee Public Market

Catch Santa and Mrs. Claus aboard the Historic Third Ward’s vintage fire truck, along with jazzy holiday tunes sung by Sarah Fierek.


Milwaukee Holiday Lights FestivalCocoa with the Clauses presented by Madison Medical Affiliates

December 10 | 11am to 2 pm
Cathedral Square Park

Catch Santa and Mrs. Claus while they are in town from the North Pole. Kids can share their wish lists and get in photos with Santa, Mrs. Claus, and other holiday characters. Just remember to bring your camera! Complimentary cookies and hot cocoa will be provided sponsored by Taste of Home.

Posted in:  Arts & Culture Posted in:  Dining & Nightlife