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Brighten Your Holiday Season with These Light Shows Around Chicago

Meredith Francis
Trees illuminated at the Morton Arboretum
Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum. Credit: The Morton Arboretum

Lighten up! The holidays are almost here. Many of the Chicago area’s holiday light festivals kick off in mid-November and run through early January. Explore our list below for all the dazzling opportunities that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit.


Friday, November 10 through Sunday, January 7 | Chicago Botanic Garden
The lights are already twinkling at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s popular annual Lightscape event. The event changes a little each year, so there will be new light displays this season. Non-member tickets are $30 for adults and $17 for children.

City of Chicago Christmas Tree

Friday, November 17 through January 7 | Millennium Park, Near Michigan Ave. and Washington St.
The city of Chicago will light up its official city tree in Millennium Park on Friday, November 17 at 6:00 pm, with a pre-show happening the hour before. The tree will be up through the first week of January.


Friday, November 17 through Sunday January 7 | Lincoln Park Zoo
This popular holiday tradition is back at the Lincoln Park Zoo. On Mondays, the event offers free admission. Tickets range from $7 to $10 depending on the day of the week. There is also a sensory-friendly option on Wednesday, December 6.

Sparkle Light Festival

Friday, November 17 through Sunday, December 31 | Impact Field, Rosemont
Rosemont is hosting this holiday festival at Impact Field, which features interactive “villages'' adorned with lights and plenty of other holiday-themed activities, including an ice slide and holiday train. Tickets are $24 for adults and $18 for children.

World of Illumination Arctic Adventure

Friday, November 17 through Sunday, December 31 | Six Flags Great America
This drive-through light show at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee will have a sprawling light display with winter characters. On select nights, there will also be a winter market with holiday snacks and more.  

Willow Hill Lights

Friday, November 17 through Saturday, January 6 | Willow Hill Golf Course, Northbrook
Goodbye sand traps and hello drive-through light show! Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook is another spot for a drive-through light experience. Now returning for its second year, the show has a 2.5 mile route with over one million lights, according to the event. It costs $40 per car.

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

Saturday, November 18| North Michigan Avenue
The Magnificent Mile will light up with one million holiday lights on Saturday, November 18. A parade and fireworks show complete the festivities. Of course, if you want to avoid the crowds and just admire the lights, they will be sparkling all season long.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

Saturday, November 18 through Sunday, January 7 | Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry’s annual holiday tradition returns to celebrate a diverse range of holiday traditions from around the globe, plus a “forest of more than 50 trees” lit up and decorated for the season. The cost of museum entry will give you access to this event.

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

Saturday, November 18 through Saturday, January 6 | The Morton Arboretum
Stroll along a one-mile paved path lined with illuminated trees and festive music. If you buy them ahead of time, tickets for non-members range from $16 to $34.

Light of Christmas

Monday, November 20 through Wednesday, January 3 | Guaranteed Rate Field
This drive-through Christmas show at Guaranteed Rate Field features over one million synchronized lights all from the warmth of your own car. The event allows you to tune into a radio station for accompanying Christmas music, too.

Naper Lights in Downtown Naperville

Thursday, November 23 through Sunday, December 31 | Water Street, Naperville
Enjoy Naperville’s free light display along ​​Water Street, Foyo Plaza, Jaycees Park and the Riverwalk in downtown Naperville.

Aurora Festival of Lights

Friday, November 24 through Monday, December 25 | Phillips Park, Aurora
Aurora is home to another drive-through light show, now in its 17th year. Tune your car’s radio to a closed-circuit station for the holiday tunes that accompany this free show.

Holiday Magic at the Brookfield Zoo

Friday, November 24 through Sunday, December 31 | Brookfield Zoo
The Brookfield Zoo hosts its annual Holiday Magic lights festival, boasting some 2 million twinkle lights amongst the animals. Tickets for nonmembers purchased ahead of time are $20.95 for kids and $29.95 for the grown-ups.

Light Up the Lake

Friday, November 24 through Sunday, December 31 | Navy Pier
This indoor and outdoor holiday experience takes over parts of Navy Pier with lakefront light displays, a skating rink, live music, a holiday market, and more. It’s free to admire the lights, but some of the other activities will cost extra.

Kohlights Holiday Lightacular

Friday, November 24 through Saturday, December 16 | Kohl Children’s Museum, Glenview
This kid-centric light show takes place at the Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview and will allow kiddos to interact with the lights and colors of the holiday season. Tickets are $22 for adults and children older than 12 months.