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Friday News Drop: An avalanche of holiday happenings

A close-up of an oversized light switch in the "on" position next to a large Christmas tree with colorful lights and shiny ornaments.

Milwaukee’s a big city with a lot going on. Catch up before spending your weekend either purposely or accidentally ignoring the news.

Milwaukee lights its tree tonight

The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival technically started last night. But the big event happens this evening in the Deer District, when Mayor Cavalier Johnson flips the switch to illuminate the city’s Christmas tree.

The run-up to tonight’s festivities started 17 days ago, when 93-year-old former Milwaukee firefighter Erwin Boehme donated the 31-foot-tall Colorado Blue Spruce he planted himself almost 40 years ago. The Department of Public Works Forestry Services Division collected the towering conifer and transported it to the Deer District, which is now of course the Cheer District — at least for one night.

Things will get both merry and bright when the lighting begins at 6 p.m., but the event as a whole runs from 5-7 p.m. so they can fit in plenty of entertainment. The special guests include Santa and Rudolph, DJ Shawna, as well as the casts of A Christmas Carol from the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and The Nutcracker from the Milwaukee Ballet.

Mitchell Park Domes holiday show opens Saturday

If you’re looking for a more serene activity, the Mitchell Park Domes has you covered with its holiday show that gently gets underway this Saturday at 9 a.m. The “Calm and Bright” holiday floral show includes almost a thousand poinsettias and a Christmas tree sporting vintage ornaments, which you can see through the end of the show’s run Jan. 1.

The Domes will also dial things up a bit next Friday, Nov. 25, with its first light show of the season. Following the initial display, the light show moves to Thursdays, when the Domes push back their usual closing time to 8 p.m. (but you need to be in the door by 7 p.m.).

You can visit the event webpage for more information on admission fees and some lovely pictures of the poinsettias.

'Holidays on the Hop' returns Nov. 26

The city’s free streetcar isn’t about to miss out on all the festiveness and will, in fact, add a little more to the third season of “Holidays on the Hop.”

The new twist this year is live music right on board every Saturday from 3-5 p.m. JL Russel and his Smoothwalk Jazz Trio will do the honors Nov. 26 and Dec. 10, Milwaukee Choristers on Dec. 3, and Sarah Fierek on Dec. 17. On top of the auditory ambiance, riders will also get free holiday cookies provided by Pick ‘n’ Save.

Beyond the on-board entertainment, the event will also include decorated streetcar stations you can see starting today and a holiday wrap for the streetcar itself. Get all the information about the event right here.

Private chalets are back at South Shore Terrace

Outdoor dining that’s actually sort of indoors became a very big thing during the pandemic, and it appears to be sticking around for the long haul. Prime example: the private chalets at South Shore Terrace, which will open Nov. 25 but are available to reserve right now.

Last year, the terrace booked more than 1,000 reservations for the heated chalets, which they say accommodate between two and six people. But if you want to fly solo, I’m sure they’d be happy to have you. 

For $80, you get a 90-minute experience that includes $40 in food and drinks. More information and the reservation system is available on the South Shore Terrace website.