Holiday Lights Festival kicks off 20 seasons of lights and sights on Nov. 15

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Downtown Milwaukee will be set aglow during the 20th annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival.

It will take place from November 15 until January 1.

The six-week celebration begins on Thursday, November 15 with a kick-off ceremony at 6:30 p.m. in Pere Marquette Park at 900 N. Plankinton.

The event will feature musical numbers, holiday treats, fireworks, and a visit by Santa Claus. Free cookies, hot cocoa and Jingle Bus rides, presented by Meijer and powered by Coach USA, will be made available to guests in attendance. Pre-show entertainment will start at 5:30 p.m.

After the Nov. 15 kick-off, 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.

Tour highlights include the chandeliers suspended above Wisconsin Avenue, plus “Community Spirit Park” at Cathedral Square Park, “Candy Cane Cove” at Pere Marquette Park and “Santa’s Lighted Lodge” at Zeidler Union Square.

Riders can hop aboard at 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.

Throughout the season, 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 with support from Edvest, 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.

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