MILWAUKEE -- Downtown Milwaukee is about to get really festive.
The city will be celebrating the holidays with a variety of events Thursday evening.
First up, the lights on the Milwaukee City/County Christmas tree will be switched on. It will be the 102nd tree lighting for the city. New York City is the only other city with a longer running holiday tradition.
The 40-foot Blue Spruce was cut down two weeks ago outside a family-owned business, Gen III Woodworks, on the city's northwest side. It has been decorated with more than 5,000 lights, 90 ornaments and more than 100 red ribbon bows.
The tree lighting ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. at Red Arrow Park, 920 N. Water St.
Celebrations will continue with the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival at Pere Marquette Park, 900 N. Plankinton Ave.
The festival will feature a variety show at 6 p.m., followed by a switch-flipping countdown for the lights downtown and fireworks show at 6:35 p.m.
“It's my favorite time of the year," said Studio Via dancer Natalie Korom, who will be performing. "I love doing this out of every dance performance of the year. It's the best."
There will also be and free jingle bus rides from 6:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. The bus will go past lighted scenes at Cathedral Square Park, Pere Marquette Park and Zeidler Union Square.
The lights and decor are expected to draw thousands from the metro Milwaukee area.
“It's really become a tradition for Milwaukee families," said Katie Eggert with Milwaukee Downtown. "It's our 17th year. The show tonight is really high energy and I just can't wait for people to see it."
With both festivals going on, it will also be an economic boost for the city.
“We know from our local businesses here in Milwaukee that this is a really important time of year for them,” said Beth Weirick with Milwaukee Downtown.
Weirick said while families are in town, they'll likely be doing some holiday shopping or stopping in to warm up at a restaurant.
“Milwaukee has become a regional destination for the holidays and in so many ways, that's so good for all of us,” Weirick said.