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Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival hits the 'on' switch Nov. 16

Fireworks explode near a city skyline and above a park with illuminated holiday decorations scattered throughout.
Milwaukee Downtown BID #21

Every year, the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival plugs in and soaks downtown in twinkle bulbs and other seasonal ephemera. For enthusiasts, it’s a must-see makeover encompassing one of the city’s major streets and a triumvirate of parks. As a non-enthusiast, however, I always hope for a little zhuzh-ing up to separate things from the prior year.

It seems Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 has, indeed, come through with something new for the 2023 festival (its 25th season) in the form of an ornament trail that will run along Wisconsin Avenue. These are no run-of-the-mill tree accessories, though. Rather, 15 different artists will deliver 15 oversized ornaments for your Instagramming pleasure as you stroll along the thoroughfare.

In addition to the gargantuan garnishment, the hallmarks of Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festivals past will return in the form of lights above Wisconsin Avenue and throughout three downtown parks: Zeidler Union Square, Cathedral Square Park and Pere Marquette Park. The last member of that trio will host a kickoff party that starts at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 16 with live music and other entertainment, plus fireworks and an official switch-flipping ceremony at 6:30 p.m.

If you can’t make it downtown for the initial event, you can still check out the lights and very large ornaments through Jan. 1. Downtown BID #21 promises more details coming soon to the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival event page.