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HTM: We three holiday festivals

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Revelers gather for the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival. Photo via milwaukeedowntown.com.

Whether you think it’s too soon or just right, the holiday season is fast approaching. By the time we here at Marquee see you again, we’ll have blown through Thanksgiving and will already be in December — the heart of the holiday season.

Because of that — and society’s desire to push the season as early as possible — we figured it was our duty as a good Marquee desk to tell you what sorts of festive events are coming to Milwaukee in the coming weeks. So get ready to ring in that holiday cheer with our picks for the city’s top three holiday celebrations.

Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival

If you’ve been downtown lately, you’ve already seen the telltale signs of Milwaukee’s Holiday Lights Festival — unlit stars hanging over intersections and strings of lights entwined around trees.

But if the darkened lights are giving you the wintery blues, don’t fret: The “grand switch-flipping” is this very night.

The festivities will be preceded by a family fashion show at 5:30 p.m. in Pere Marquette Park, where free hot cocoa, coffee and cookies will be served. The event officially begins at 6 p.m. with the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kick-Off Extravaganza, a holiday variety show featuring everything from R&B singers to the characters of “A Christmas Carol.” The show will last a half hour, at which time the lights will be turned on with no end of dramatic flourishes.

The festival proper will last through Jan. 3, with decorations set up in Pere Marquette Park as well as Cathedral Square Park, Zeidler Union Square and various streets downtown.

Christmas in the Ward

Now in its 22nd year, Christmas in the Ward brings the spirit of the season to the Third Ward.

The two-day event begins Dec. 3 with the official Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m., at Catalano Square on the corner of Broadway and Menomonee streets. The tree lighting itself will take place at 5:30 p.m., preceded by the Milwaukee Police Band and a visit by Santa Claus, and will be followed by a performance by the Trinity Irish Dancers, a fireworks show over the river and various other musical performances.

Saturday is a bit more low-key, featuring more musical entertainment and live reindeer from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., as well as special holiday deals at various stores within the Third Ward. Horse-drawn carriage rides, Christmas tree sales and a cookies and hot cocoa sale will be put on both days.

Brady Street Festivus

If there was any neighborhood suited to hosting a “Festivus for the rest of us” in Milwaukee, it would be Brady Street.

While the official date for Festivus, as established by the hit sitcom “Seinfeld,” is Dec. 23, the Brady Street celebration will be taking place on Dec. 4. As is traditional for Festivus, there will be the customary “airing of grievances,” and patrons will have the opportunity to compete in feats of strength to win the Festivus pole itself.

Like the Third Ward event, Brady Street Festivus comes with a variety of local deals. Art gallery Caggio will be offering holiday specials, and bars such as Nomad World Pub, Jo-Cats Pub and Club Brady have events brewing as well.

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