Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival returns Nov. 19 through Jan. 1

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The 22nd annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival, featuring more than  500,000 lights and dozens of animated displays, will shine brightly this holiday season beginning Nov. 19 through Jan. 1. This year will be a “snowcially-distanced” celebration.

According to a news release, the annual display of lights, coordinated by Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, will transform three downtown parks into winter wonderland scenes – “Community Spirit Park” at Cathedral Square Park, “Tinsel Town Express” at Pere Marquette Park and “Polar Plaza powered by We Energies” at Zeidler Union Square – as well as illuminate three downtown thoroughfares, including an 18-block stretch of lights along Wisconsin Avenue.

The much-anticipated Kickoff Extravaganza variety show in Pere Marquette Park will be postponed this year; however, the festival will continue to start off with a bang. In lieu of an in-person event, WISN 12 will broadcast performances to get the community into the holiday spirit on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m., and feature an all-new finale that Milwaukee will be talking about.

In another break with tradition, the festival’s Jingle Bus service will also look slightly differently. Pivoting from a warming house and motor coach tour, guests can experience this year’s lighting displays through a virtual or self-guided audio tour of downtown’s most brilliant scenes. The interactive map and audio tour can be accessed at beginning in mid-November.

Among the new attractions for motorists and pedestrians will be window displays designed by Retailworks Inc. Featuring the likenesses of 25+ well-known Milwaukeeans, the four decorated storefronts can be found at 324 E. Wisconsin Ave., 205 E. Wisconsin Ave., 400 E. Wisconsin Ave. and 733-737 N. Milwaukee St. beginning in early November.

Another new highlight of the fest will be grab-and-go gift boxes curated by Milwaukee Food & City Tours. In a new partnership with Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, Milwaukee Food & City Tours will make Jingle Joy Boxes available for purchase in a socially-distanced drive-through at Zeidler Union Square from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays, Dec. 3 – 19. Jingle Joy Boxes will be $15/each and feature goodies from local businesses.

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