The good news is the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival is a go.

More than 500,000 lights and animated displays will illuminate the night downtown from Nov. 19 through Jan. 1.

The sad news is that the annual kickoff, an extravaganza opening-night variety show —traditionally held in Pere Marquette Park — is postponed. Organizers are calling this year’s festival a “snowcially distanced” celebration.

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Instead, WISN-TV (Channel 12) will broadcast performances to get the community into the holiday spirit starting at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 19.

The annual display of lights will transform three downtown parks: Cathedral Square Park will become Community Spirit Park; Pere Marquette Park becomes the Tinsel Town Express; and Zeidler Union Square becomes the Polar Plaza powered by We Energies.

There will be no Jingle Bus this year because of COVID-19 precautions. Guests will be able to experience displays with a virtual or self-guided audio tour. The interactive map and audio tour can be accessed at beginning in mid-November.

Motorists and pedestrians should look for window displays featuring the likenesses of more than 25 well-known Milwaukeeans along Wisconsin Avenue.

Cathedral Square Park will remain a direct connection to the North Pole from Nov. 2 through Dec. 6. Children who drop their letters into Santa’s Mailbox will receive a personalized reply in the mail.

New this year” Residents can purchase grab-and-go gift boxes curated by Milwaukee Food & City Tours in a socially distanced drive-through at Zeidler Union Square from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday starting Dec. 3 through 19. Boxes are $15 each.

Contact Kathy at (414) 224-2974 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter or Instagram at @katflanigan.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival will go on this year, but the opening ceremony will be on TV

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