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Top 20 Places in Chicagoland to See Spectacular Holiday Lights in 2018

Looking for great Christmas lights and holiday displays? Here are all the best places to find fabulous light displays and stunning decorations in Chicago as well as all over the metropolitan area. The entire family is sure to enjoy an evening viewing these lavish spectacles and beautiful animated shows.


Aurora’s Festival of Light’s
Friday, the Day after Thanksgiving to the Day after Christmas, 2018

Times: Friday & Saturday 5pm to 10pm; Sundays through Thursdays 5pm to 9 pm
Sponsors: The Rotary Club & City of Aurora
Philips Park
1000 Ray Moses Drive
Aurora, IL 60505
Aurora’s Festival of Lights in Philips Park is one of the biggest and best light displays in the area during the holiday season. This dazzling drive through show—open for a full month—attracts over 20,000 visitors. Also click on this link for Events in Cities and Towns and scroll down to Aurora for details on Santa visits in Phillips Park.

                                               photo courtesy Rotary Club of Aurora

Lehnertz Avenue Christmas Display
Sunday, December 9th, 2018
through Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Time: 5pm - 10:30pm
The homes on Lehnertz Avenue near Garfield Park
between Sheridan and Michels Streets
Aurora, IL 60505
Link to Lehnertz Avenue Facebook page
For almost 70 years the individuals who live on Lehnertz Avenue in Aurora have invited area residents to their neighborhood to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. You’ll find displayed along the street, exhibits that enlighten people to the true meaning of Christmas, along with their masterpiece, a beautiful full-sized Nativity scene. The event kicks off with the blessing of the crib at 6pm on the second Sunday in December. The lights go on at 5pm, the Christmas carols begin at 5:15pm and the music continues until 10:30 that evening. The crèche can be viewed nightly through January 1st, the New Year holiday.


                                   photo courtesy Lehnertz Avenue Christmas Display


Symphony in Lights - Bolingbrook
Sunday, November 10th - through
Monday, December 31st, 2018
                                                                                 Times: 5pm to 9pm                                                                                                      Sponsor: The Promenade                                                                                                Located on Boughton Road just west of I-355                                                      Bolingbrook, IL                                                                                                          Cost: FREE HOLIDAY EVENT                                                                                  The lights go on and the music begins on the hour! This nightly show starts in November and runs until the end of December. The 250,000 LED lights are choreographed to the music of the Trans Siberian Orchestra for the largest commercial holiday light show in the Chicago area.


                                                          photo courtesy Discover DuPage


Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
Saturday, December 1st, 8th,15th, 22nd & Sunday, December 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd & Wed. to Mon., December 26th - 31st, 2018
                              Times: 4pm to 9pm
3300 Golf Road
Brookfield, IL 60513                                                                                                       Brookfield Zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways.
(708) 688-8000
Cost: Holiday Magic free for M embers - Non-members Purchase Tickets Here
You’ll find the largest lights festival in the Chicago area at Brookfield Zoo with over a million twinkling lights, ice carvings, a 41-foot talking tree and much more. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there on weekends. For complete details on activities click on the following link for Brookfield Zoo.

                                              photo courtesy Chicago Zoological Society


Chicago's Christmas Tree in Millennium Park
Friday, November 16th, 2018 through Monday, January 1st, 2019

Place: Millennium Park
Near Michigan Ave. and Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 744-3315
Chicago events calendar
Looking for great Christmas lights in downtown Chicago? Look no further than Millennium Park. That’s where every season, you’ll find the huge, over 50 foot tall tree beautifully decorated with many thousands of colorful lights. For more happenings, click on any of the following links. There you’ll find complete details of Chicago's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony plus other seasonal activities including the always popular Santa House and the world renowned Christkindlmarket at nearby Daly Plaza

                                              photo courtesy City of Chicago

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light                                 at the Museum of Science and Industry
Saturday, November 17th, through Monday, December 31st, 2018

The Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street at Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 684-1414 for a schedule of holiday events
Note, the days listed above are tentative and are subject to change. Check with the museum for an up-to-date holiday schedule.
Cost: Regular museum admission prices apply - for details click on this link.
Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Lights at the Museum of Science and Industry is another long standing tradition in Chicago. Since 1942 Chicagoans and visitors alike have enjoyed fabulous trees from over 50 countries, plus spectacular lights all in the comfort of the museum. The best thing is you don’t have to wait until it gets dark to bring the kids to see this amazing display. For more information go to the Top 10 Christmas Events in Chicagoland and Northern Illinois and scroll down to Chicago until you see Christmas Around the World.

                            photo credit Scott Brownell Museum of Science and Industry

The Magnificent Mile Chicago
Holiday Lights are on display from Saturday, November 17th, 2018 through Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Times: varies - check with the stores or restaurants, etc.
Sponsor: The Magnificent Mile Association
625 North Michigan Avenue
Suite 410
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 642-3826
Stretching from the Chicago River north to Oak Street, the Magnificent Mile is one of the world’s premier streets for entertainment, shopping, restaurants and hotels. The lights are switched on the Saturday before Thanksgiving when over a million lights on trees up and down the Avenue come alive in their holiday magnificence. This is also the date of The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival—Saturday, November 17th, 2018. One of the premier Christmas celebrations in the country, this is one you won’t want to miss. For more information on the Lights Festival see the Top 10 Santa Events, click on this link and scroll down to Chicago.


                                                 photo courtesy Choose Chicago

Lincoln Park Zoo Zoolights
Friday’s, Saturday’s & Sunday’s
beginning Friday, November 23rd, 2018 through December 9th,
and then Nightly from December 14th through January 6th, 2019
(except December 24th & 25th)

Time: 5pm - 9pm
Lincoln Park Zoo
2200 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 742-2000
Note, the days listed above are tentative and are subject to change. Check with the zoo for an up-to-date holiday schedule.                                          Cost: FREE HOLIDAY EVENT
With more than two million lights Lincoln Park Zoo comes exuberantly alive at holiday time in blazing grandeur during ZooLights. Weekend activities include holiday crafts, sweet treats, ice carving, animal exhibits and Santa Claus. For additional information go to Top 10 Santa Events and scroll down to Chicago where you’ll find Santa at Lincoln Park Zoolights.

                                                 Photo Credit: © Lincoln Park Zoo

Roscoe Village Holiday Decorations
From Late November through December, 2018

Time: 4pm - 9pm are the best times to see the holiday lights
Click on this link for information on the holiday decorating contest
Sponsor: Roscoe Village Neighbors 2248 West Belmont Avenue Chicago, IL 60618                                                                                                    Cost: FREE HOLIDAY EVENT
For Christmas lights Chicago’s Roscoe Village is a neighborhood you’ll want to visit. Every year Roscoe Village Neighbors, a non-profit community organization has a holiday decorating contest for both homes and area businesses. On Sunday, December 6th Santa will be at the Roscoe Village Winterfest. Click on this link and scroll down to the Chicago listings for details on Santa's visit.


                                             Photo courtesy Roscoe Village Neighbors

Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier in Chicago
Saturday, December 1st, 2018 through Sunday January 6th, 2019

Times: Check website
Navy Pier
600 E. Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 606011
(312) 595-7437                                                                                                              Note, the days listed above are tentative and are subject to change. Check with Navy Pier for an up-to-date holiday schedule. 
Cost: For details click on this link
The best place to enjoy holiday lights without suffering Chicago’s frigid winter temperatures is inside Navy Pier at Winter WonderFest. This is an event everyone in the family is sure to love. In addition to 170,000 square feet of amazing indoor decorations and thousands of LED lights, plus the fabulous 42 foot high Christmas tree, you’ll find plenty of things to do. Highlights include the indoor skating rink, a vibrant ferris wheel, the mini-golf course, plus the toboggan tunnel, snowglobe live, wintertube and the holiday howdy house. If you’ll be at Navy Pier from December 3rd through the 24th, you will also find Santa and Mrs. Claus at their home at the foot of the giant tree. For times and details, click on this link to the Top Ten Santa Events in Chicagoland and scroll down to Santa at Winter Wonderfest in Chicago.



                                             photos courtesy Choose Chicago


Larsen’s Light Show
Thursday, November 22nd, 2018
through Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Times: Monday through Thursday, 5pm - 10:30pm
Friday through Sunday 5pm to 12:30pm
42W891 Beith Road
Elburn, IL 60119
630-365-0522                                                                                                                  Click on this LINK for an up-to-date holiday schedule & information.
Usually we don’t recommend you drive a long distance to see a single home with holiday lights—Larsen’s Light Show in Elburn is the exception! Words fail us when we try to describe what this mind-boggling, stunning light show has to offer. This hour long extravaganza is not just a light show, it has over 1,000,000 LED lights, 2.400 strobes, lasers, shooting stars, large and small decorated trees, dancing hoops and poles, life sized Nutcrackers and falling icicles—all dancing to holiday music. If this isn’t enough when you come on a Saturday night Santa is there ready to visit with the kids and for pictures with the family. For more information on Santa visits, this link will take you to Events in Cities and Towns. Scroll down to Elburn for details.

Click here for Light-O-Rama & Larsen's Light Show Elburn IL from Brian Larsen on Vimeo.

                                                     Video courtesy Brian Larsen


Wonderland Express Chicago Botanic Garden
Friday, November 24th, 2017 through Sunday, January 7th, 2018

Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Glencoe Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
Cost: Tickets - Adult members $11; non-members $13 Children 3 to12 members $8; non-members $10; 2 & under free Seniors 62 & over members $8; non-members $10.
One of the leading places to celebrate the holidays in Northern Illinois is at the Wonderland Express in the Chicago Botanic Garden. When you arrive at the roadway to the garden you’ll be greeted by a stunning light display. There you’ll find more than 750,000 twinkling lights on the trees as well as shrubs that are shaped like glowing Christmas balls. Upon reaching the Esplande you’ll see the magnificent regal fir tree in all it’s festive brilliance. The Wonderland Express is much more than just holiday lights. Once inside you’ll find the amazing model railroad. For details, click on this link and go to the Top 10 Christmas Events in Chicagoland—then scroll down to Glencoe. You’ll also find Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Botanic Garden on the Meals's with Santa page.  Again, click on the link and scroll down to Glenco.


                                      Photo courtesy Lake County Convention & Visitors Bureau


Illumination - Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum
Friday, November 16th, 2018 through Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Time: 5pm - 9:30pm note: last entry is 8:30pm                                                                             Note, the Arboretum will be closed some days. Check with the Arboretum for an up-to-date holiday schedule.
The Morton Aboretum
4100 IL Route 53
Lisle, IL 60532
Cost: Click on the following link for 2018 ticket prices & information
Over 50 acres of The Morton Aboretum come alive at Christmas time when Illumination magically changes the nature preserve into a wonderland of holiday color, music and entertainment. For holiday lights, no doubt about it, this is one of the area’s best. For other holiday activities at the Aboretum click on this link and scroll down to Lisle to see Breakfast with Santa at The Morton Aboretum.


                                                  Photo courtesy The Morton Aboretum


Holiday Lights in Lilacia Park
Saturday, December 1st
through Monday, December 31st, 2018

Time: 4pm - 9pm
Sponsor: Lombard Park District
150 South Park Avenue
Lombard, IL 60148
The 2018 Christmas season arrives in Lombard with animated light shows and beautifully decorated trees in Lilacia Park starting December 1st, continuing nightly through the month. These beautiful displays are considered some of the best in the area. On weekends, you'll find visits with Santa. Be sure to enjoy the huge gingerbread house and the Gold Medal Express Train in the park. Also click on this link for Events in Cities and Towns and scroll down to Lombard. In addition, the kids will love the Santa House in the Park. You will find morel information on these special activities onthe following pages.

                                                  Photo courtesy Lombard Park District


Annual Holiday Lights at Moosehart
Friday, November 23rd through Monnday, December 31st, 2018

Times: 5pm to 9pm nightly
Moosehart Moosehart Child City & School, Inc.
Entrance 2 miles north of I-88
on IL 31 S. Lincolnway
Moosehart, IL 60539
Cost: $10 per car - includes a visit with Santa on the nights Santa is there.
On the day after Thanksgiving every year they throw the switch and Moosehart is lit up with 1.8 miles of brilliant holiday lights. For many area families, visiting Moosehart at Christmas time has become an annual tradition. Each year you’ll find new and different displays that add to the excitement. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday on two weekends in December—from 5:30pm to 8:30pm—you’ll find Santa Claus at Moosehart waiting to visit with children. For complete Santa details click on this link and scroll down to Moosehart.


                                    Photo courtesy Moosehart Child City & School, Inc.

Mount Prospect

Magical Animated Holiday Light Show at Randhurst Village
Saturday, December 1st,
through Sunday, December 16th, 2018

Time: 6pm - 8pm every half hour.
Randhurst Village
Rand Road and Elmhurst Road
Mount Prospect, IL, 60056                                                                                                                              847-259-0500
The Magical Animated Holiday Light show is truly an amazing exhibition and is one that is sure to have the entire family awestruck. Without a doubt this 3-D projection on the Hampton Hotel which brings everything to life, is one of Chicagoland’s best free holiday events. The half-hour show features images of elves, snow, ice cycles, Christmas decorations and much more all set to the sound of stunning holiday music. Click on the following link to see the short video below.


                                         Video courtesy Randhurst Village


Naper Lights
Friday, November 23rd,
through Monday, December 24th, 2018

For NaperLights Hours click here
Sponsors: Naperville Sunrise Rotary & Naper Settlement                                                     
Naper Settlement
523 South Webster Street
Naperville, IL 60540 630-420-6010
Cost: FREE HOLIDAY EVENT- Sunrise Rotary will accept donations at the entrance.
Naper Lights kicks off on Black Friday and continues through Christmas Eve. You’ll find Naper Settlement decorated with thousands of Christmassy lights and fabulous animated displays which are programed to change colors and really come to life. Music for the light show is broadcast over “SantaFM”, 88.5 on you dial so you can enjoy holiday music while you watch the lights keep time with the music. The Christkindlmarket will also be at Naper Settlement. For information, click on this link.

                                           Photo courtesy Rotary Club of Naperville


Rockford Festival of Lights
Sunday, November 25th through Saturday, December 24th, 2018

Times: 5pm to 10pm on Friday’s, Saturday’s & Sunday’s only
Open all night Christmas Eve                                                                                         Sinnissippi Park
1401 N. 2nd Street
Rockford, IL 61107
815-494-2569                                                                                                             Note, the dates listed above are tentative and are subject to change. Check with the park district for an up-to-date holiday schedule.
Head west to Rockford during the holidays to visit the Festival of Lights. From a small beginning of 15 displays in 1989 this annual exhibition has grown to a stunning light spectacle. During the Christmas season almost 30,000 cars drive through the park to view the impressive light show. In addition, each weekend—through Sunday, December 18th—you’ll find Santa near the Festival of Lights donation box ready to greet the kids from 7pm to 9pm.


                                              Photo courtesy Rockford Park District


Holiday Lights in Rosemont
Friday, November 23rd, through Monday, December 31st, 2018

Time: 4pm - 1am
All Over The Village of Rosemont including:
Westin Park
Rosemont Theatre                                                               
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center                              
Village Hall
River Road Interchanges                                                     
Burgermeister Park
Dunne Park
Rosemont Village Hall
9501 West Devon Avenue
Rosemont, IL 60016 847-825-4404
Rosemont doesn’t just have Holiday Lights, the whole village comes alive with vibrant, displays. Considered some of the best in the Chicago area,these festive illuminations are not to be missed. Also see Santa Arrives in Rosemont—click on this link and scroll down to Rosemont.

                                            Photo courtesy The Village of Rosemont


Festival of Lights & Christmas Trees at Crosley Zoo
Friday, November 23rd through Saturday, December 29th, 2018

Times: 3pm to 9pm nightly
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years Day
Crosley Zoo
1356 North Avenue
Wheaton, IL 60187
Cost: FREE HOLIDAY EVENT admission is free during the festival.
From the day after Thanksgivingthrough the end of December, every afternoon and evening Crosley Zoo becomes a Winter Wonderland when over 20,000 twinkling lights are turned on. In addition to the dazzling light displays, you can purchase Christmas trees which help support the zoo. You’ll find Santa at the zoo before Christmas on Saturdays for photos from 10am until 2pm. For details click on the link and scroll down to Wheaton.                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                   Photo courtesy Crosley Zoo


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