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Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Kick off the holiday season and create your special memories on The Magnificent Mile in 2013! The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, the nation’s largest evening holiday celebration, jump starts the holiday season on Saturday, November 23 with a full day of family friendly activities, concerts by top musical artists and the best holiday shopping. The day’s excitement culminates with a grand evening parade down Michigan Avenue marshaled by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, illuminating one million lights on 200 trees. The parade concludes with a grand finale fireworks show over the Chicago River.
The Christkindlmarket is a four-week, open-air market modeled after the famous Nuremberg Christmas market dating back to 1545. The market offers shopping opportunities and serves as a winter wonderland meeting place for family and friends. Plus, enjoy German delicacies like brats, goulash and potato pancakes while you’re there.
Eagle Watching in Alton
Illinois boasts the largest concentration of wintering American bald eagles in the continental U.S., and the Alton area is a great place to see them. Mingle with a live eagle at the National Great Rivers Museum. Get a bird’s-eye view from eight stories high as majestic eagles soar along the Mississippi River at the adjacent Melvin Price Locks & Dam. Or drive along on an exciting eagle-watching expedition with a nature expert at Pere Marquette State Park during Bald Eagle Days, held from late December through early March.
East Peoria Festival of Lights & Folepi's Winter Wonderland
Light up your night at the East Peoria Festival of Lights (FOLEPI)! The annual Festival of Lights is a one-of-a-kind holiday spectacular. With more than two million lights in the festival, the beauty will be sure to mesmerize you and your family.
CITY: East Peoria
Eagle Watching at Starved Rock State Park
You don’t have to travel north to see these majestic birds of prey. Thousands of eagles migrate south from Canada during the winter and Illinois is one of the homes of the greatest population of wintering bald eagles. The Starved Rock Lodge in Utica offers a “Bald Eagle Trolley Tour” in January and February on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Viewing birds from the Veranda at the Starved Rock Lodge is good as well. Dress warmly though. This great viewing spot is right outside the doors of the Great Room. If you’d like some exercise, take a hike on one of the trails at the Starved Rock State Park. One trail begins right at the Veranda. For a birds eye view, hike to the top of the Rock. Another popular event is "Eagle Watch Weekend" with activites both at the Starved Rock Lodge and the Illinois Waterway Visitors Center.
Lincoln Park ZooLights
Enter a winter wonderland illuminated by the laughter of children and more than one million lights at Lincoln Park Zoo’s annual ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Charter One. This holiday classic has become one of the Windy City’s must-see seasonal events. Watch live ice carving then escape Jack Frost with an exotic trip past crocodiles, pygmy hippos and meerkats at the Regenstein African Journey. Animal exhibits stay open late as guests roam taking in the lights, music and taking photos with Santa. Prepare holiday crafts and enjoy the zoo’s incredible animals immersed in an atmosphere unlike any other.
Christmas Around the World & Holidays of Light
Christmas Around the World began in 1942 as a United Nations Day salute to American allies during the war, is now in its 69th year. The exhibit features more than 60 dazzling trees and displays that are decorated by members of Chicago's ethnic communities to reflect holiday customs from around the world. Holidays of Light showcases various global holidays that celebrate light or enlightenment such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali. Festivities include ethnic dancing and singing, storytellers, and school choir performances.
Bald Eagle Trolley Tours
In January and February ride the trolley from Starved Rock Lodge to the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center for bald eagle viewing and an educational program. Includes lunch during the week and brunch on Sunday in the Main Dining Room.
Holiday Lights Train
The Holiday Light Train is Pete's biggest event of the year. The park is decorated for the Holidays. See over 250,000 lights in various displays. Giant toy soldiers, candy canes, cascading snow flakes, flying reindeer, and swans swimming, just to name a few of Pete's displays!
Way of Lights
This unique celebration of Christmas features a drive through light display, tree and wreath displays, an interactive children's village, camel rides and an indoor laser show. With over one million lights, this event celebrates Christmas in all it's glory.
Enjoy the lights of the season in beautiful Peterson Park with more than 50 magnificent light displays, many of which are animated. Definitely a site to see! Drive through at your leisure starting at 5pm. Over 15,000 visitors each year see this great display of holiday lights. Admission is free, donations accepted.
Bald Eagle Watching in the Cache River Wetlands
The Cache River Wetlands offers great opportunities for eagle watching, as well as spotting other birds. The Cache River Wetland Center provides resource and identification materials to help you spot eagles and other birds in the area and along the rivers. They will provide maps and directions to the viewing station for the nest just off Illinois Route 37 off Perks road and south of the visitor's center.
Weihnachten (Christmas) at the Vineyard!
Take some time this winter to visit White Oak Vineyards, Inc. for Weihnachten (Christmas) at the Vineyard event! The vineyard currently features Seyval Blanc, Frontenac, Foch, Traminette, Cayuga White, Steuben, Chardonel, St. Croix, Marquette and Johannisberg Riesling grapes on eight acres. A log home on the property has been remodeled into the winery and tasting room with a comfortable, warm and inviting atmosphere perfect for gatherings with family and friends. The wrap around porch offers lovely views of the vineyards, new pond and surrounding countryside.
Winter Horseback Riding
With all the foliage gone from the trees, winter offers some great views of bluffs and rock formations in the Shawnee National Forest area. Enjoy the beautiful countryside, with no bugs in the cooler weather. Due to milder winters, several Southern Illinois stables offer year round riding, with, or without guide service. Honeybee Stables, 618 638-8059 www.honeybeetables.com, Lake Glendale Stables, 618-949-3737 www.lakeglendalestables.com, Trail of Tears Lodge & Resort, 618-833-8697, www.trailoftears.com
Warrenville Holly Days
Holly Days, sponsored by the Warrenville Park District is the City's annual holiday celebration that marks Santa's official entry into Warrenville. Guests can enjoy a warm bonfire, raffles, free horse and carriage rides, hot cider and cookies, and, of course, a visit with Santa. Local Park District and school dance troops, singers, and bands entertain attendees during the event. It is at this event that Warrenville officially turns on its holiday lights creating an array of colors for passersby along Route 56 to see. Holly Days, primarily for Warrenville residents, gives the community an opportunity to come together and kick off the holiday season.
Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
December 18th & 19th December 26th - 31st January 1st 4-9pm Start a new family tradition at Chicagoland's largest light festival featuring over 120 animated light displays and million twinkling lights. Come celebrate the holiday season with family and friends during Brookfield Zoos 29th annual Holiday Magic. Enjoy live entertainment, amazing animals, model trains and a train ride, special Dolphin Show, Sing to the Animals and professional ice carvers. Call or visit website for more info.
Ellwood Elegance Tours
Start your holiday season by taking a guided tour of the decorated Ellwood House mansion. Local businesses, decorators, college groups, and clubs help to present the home in a new, elegant way each year. This is the place to get ideas for your own decorating or view what times were like while the Ellwood's inhabited the opulent home. Special holiday tours begin on Saturday, November 16 and continue through December 5. Closed Mondays and Thanksgiving weekend. Please book your holiday tour in advance by calling (815)756-4609. On December 6th – 8th the Ellwood House Museum presents the 3-day Holiday Open House. Tour guides will be stationed in twelve locations throughout the festive four floors of the mansion to share information about the architecture and the Ellwood family. Holiday Open House Hours: Friday, December 6, 7 – 9 p.m. Saturday, December 7, 1 – 5 p.m. Sunday, December 8, 1 – 5 p.m. ?Tickets $10.00 for adults and $3.00 for children.??
2013 Bald Eagle Bus Tours
Guided, four-hour tours of bald eagle, wintering communities. View and learn about the bald eagle's habits, life history, preservation efforts and threats to its future. Reservations required. Bus departs from Stoney Creek Inn.
Begin your holiday celebration escaping from the chaos of the season and experiencing the enchantment of Christmas at the "Christmas Wonderland" holiday light display. The "Grandpa Gang" has been at it again transforming Rock Springs Park in Alton, Illinois into a Winter Wonderland. Visitors can drive through the park to view more than 2 million lights, cascading waterfalls of lights, lighted trees and displays, and visit Santa Claus in the Enchanted Forest. Christmas Wonderland 2009 will be open from November 27th through December 27th. The suggested donation is $7 for cars and small vans or $1 per person for vehicles holding more than 10 people. Carriage rides will be available with advanced reservations by calling Greatting Horse Farm at 618-458-6986. For more information about Christmas Wonderland, call 1-866-465-7890.
Grafton Holiday Riverwalk
Celebrate the start of the holiday season in Grafton. Stop in the various businesses along Main Street and near the riverfront for special promotions, discounts, refreshments and entertainment. The Jerseyville High School choir will be caroling throughout the town. Visitors will also be able to tour the various B&Bs and guest houses in town, a perfect opportunity to check out the accommodations and purchase a gift certificate as a gift. The festivities will conclude with a Show Choir performance at the Grove Memorial Park Gazebo as we light up the town!
Alton-Audubon Eagle Festival
Join us for the kick-off of the eagle watching season. Activities include: live eagle meet & greet, preview of events at the Eagle Watching Hot Spots, kid's activities, crafts and eagle viewing walks. Learn about eagle watching - how to spot eagles, where to look and what brings the eagles here each winter. Then, head across the river to Downtown Alton for ice sculpting on the streets.
See the Lights. Feel the Magic. Start a new family tradition at Chicagoland's largest holiday lights festival featuring over one million twinkling lights, animated light displays and a laser light show!Many of our indoor exhibits will be open for viewing favorite animals, including our newest, Great Bear Wilderness. Plus, there is a special dolphin show each evening at 6:30 p.m. In addition, the zoo restaurants and food stands will be open with full menus and holiday treats, and gift shops will have hundreds of unique items for those hard-to-shop-for loved ones.Enjoy a full schedule of nightly music and entertainment in the Pavilions. Outside enjoy nightly ice carving and an amazing magic show. Then step inside the Holly Jolly Theater and enjoy performances by local choirs and many more holiday themed performances. 4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m Regular parking and admission fees apply. Saturdays & Sundays: Nov. 30 - Dec. 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21- 22 Thursday through Tuesday: Dec. 26-31
Gallery of Trees
Throughout the Kankakee County Museum, Christmas trees are decorated by community organizations. Yearly, a special theme is added for your enjoyment. Come in and view the different arrangements and vote for that special tree.
Bald Eagle Days Environmental Fair
Don't miss the Bald Eagle Days Environmental Fair and Wildlife Art Show at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island, Illinois. The show is heralded as the largest event in the Midwest dedicated to the United States' national symbol of freedom. The three-day event includes live eagle, hawk, owl and vulture flying demonstrations along with educational programs and over 200 fun and informative exhibits.
CITY: Rock Island
A Day in Eagle Country
The limestone bluffs and woodlands that line the Mississippi River Valley offer the American bald eagle an ideal winter roosting site. We invite you to come view the magnificent birds in their natural habitat. Take a day long adventure of eagle and wildlife spotting with Bluff City Tours. The tour includes: transportation by motorcoach or trolley, professional tour guide, continental breakfast and lunch at Pere Marquette. All tours depart from and return to the Upper Level Parking Lot at Alton Square Mall off Homer Adams Parkway in Alton. These tours are scheduled on Wednesdays & Saturdays in January & February.
Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier
Everyone’s favorite winter extravaganza returns to Navy Pier – Winter WonderFest presented by Bank of America! ‘Tis the season to have too much fun inside a 170,000 square foot festive holiday playground. Entertainment for the entire family includes indoor ice skating, rides, attractions, an indoor Ferris wheel and so much more. Bring your family for fun and excitement at the 12th annual Winter WonderFest by Bank of America at Navy Pier!
Du Quoin Annual Holiday Lights Fair
Starting the day after Thanksgiving and continuing through the month of December. Come experience Du Quoin Tourism’s transformation of the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds into a magical place with lights and decorations. The event features a 1 1/2-mile drive through over $250,000 worth of lighted displays as well as decorated trees, entertainment, food, crafts and visits with Santa in the Expo Hall. The light trail opens nightly from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m., and the Expo Hall will be open on the second and third weekends in December from 5:30 — 9:30 p.m. The Expo Hall features Santa’s train ride and Santa’s Workshop.
CITY: Du Quoin
Holiday Lights at Bunker Hill
Historic buildings at Kennekuk County Park's "Bunker Hill Historic Area" will be lit for the occasion and decorated for the holidays. Continuing throughout the holiday season, the holiday lights will be displayed weekends from 5-8 p.m.
Avenue of Lights
Avenue of Lights is a two-mile holiday display of animated lights at Moorman/Wavering Park in Quincy. It runs from Thanksgiving until New Years, nightly from 6-9:30pm. A staple attraction of Quincy during the holiday season.
Southern Illinois Boat & Fishing Show
A weekend long event sponsored by the Youth Outdoor Education Foundation and the Williamson County Tourism Bureau. The show features boats, trailers, trucks, ATVs, fishing tackle, live entertainment and more. Admission and parking is free. Great fun for all ages.
Belvidere Holiday Walk
Travel back in time for a glimpse of holidays in seasons past. Luminaries will light the way to our log cabins where pioneer families will be celebrating. They might even be serving holiday goodies! Stop by and share your holiday wishes with a Civil War era Santa. Enjoy freshly popped corn along the way and come inside the Nature Center to listen to the sound of music. Held on the Festival Grounds in Spencer Conservation Area.
Victorian Christmas on the Woodstock Square
Not to be missed is Woodstock's Victorian Christmas celebration that begins each Thanksgiving weekend. The Square glows with thousands of miniature lights illuminating the buildings and trees for the annual Festival of Lights. Carolers stroll the streets and visitors can take horse-drawn carriage rides around the Square. Friday November 29, 2013, 7:00pm. Lighting of the Square Sunday December 1, 2013, 2:00pm. Holiday Parade. Every Friday and Saturday November 29, 2013-December 21, 2013 Carriage Rides around the Square.
Olde Tyme Christmas and Living History
Decorations and period music accompany reenactments of what 18th century life was like at Fort Massac. The park staff and local historical re-enactors will welcome guests to the visitors' center and museum, which will be festively decorated with items based on 17th and 18th century designs. Hot spiced tea will warm visitors as they sample cookies baked in the authentic period bake oven.
Masters of the Sky
Witness the "Masters of the Sky" birds of prey demonstration. Come see eagles, falcons, owls and other birds of prey at this educational and informational program presented by the World Bird Sanctuary. Show times at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Admission fee: $5 for Adults; $3 for children 12 and under; 3 and under are free. Only 10 tickets per person. Also, there will be a free eagle display at noon and 2 p.m. for 30 minutes in the gallery on Feb. 16 - 18. For more information, call the National Great Rivers Museum at (877) 462-6979.
Eagle Meet and Greet
Come see live eagle demonstrations every Saturday in January at the Alton Visitor Center. See a live bald eagle up close and personal! Ask and learn about their species and habitats. Then, grab your official All Around Alton Eagle Watcher's Guide as you journey out along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway to see eagles in their natural habitat. Free! For more information, call 1-800-ALTON-IL or go to www.VisitAlton.com.
Luminary Night On Stephenson and Lincoln Streets
Enjoy the beauty of the soft light of luminaries and the architecture of these historic homes as you stroll this lovely residential neighborhood. Also, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies. Stephenson Street and Lincoln Boulevard from West Street to Park Boulevard.
The Nutcracker at the Egyptian Theater
The Beth Fowler Dance Company will present its Annual production of "The Nutcracker". Many area families have made this magical production a part of their holiday tradition every year. With the beautiful dancing, costumes and stage sets, this favorite holiday classic will tell a story that will make everyone feel like a child at Christmas.
Bird Parks Lights Spectacular
Drive through Bird Park's winter wonderland of colorful lights and spectacular displays made up of approx. 40,000 lights. After the tour stop to enjoy a computer controlled light show, choreographed to music. Event is from Fri.-Sun. every week-end, thru the 22nd of Dec.
The Nutcracker at The Joffrey Ballet
Don’t miss the glorious Chicago holiday tradition of the Nutcracker! A grand production with Tchaikovsky’s glorious score played live by a full orchestra, this is sure to be an evening of pure enchantment.
Danville Symphony Orchestra Presents "An Italian Christmas"
Blending the lines between popular and classical music, the three members of the vocal group Poperazzi have performed in everything from opera houses to Las Vegas. Ring in the Christmas spirit with this performance of favorite melodies with an Italian accent this year. Selections include "William the Angel," "Adeste Fidelis," "Funiculi Finicula," "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve," "Libiamo," "Silent Night" and many more.
Home for the Holidays--American Big Band
All time Christmas favorites from Bing to Buble’. Featuring eight glorious, colorful singers and dancers, lush stage settings and a 12-piece big band, this fully-staged, beautifully choreographed holiday spectacular brings Christmas to life. Get in the holiday mood a little early and watch the performance from 7:30-10p.m.
The Nutcracker presented by the Champaign Urbana Ballet
Tchaikovsky’s dreamy score swirls amid a land of enchanted toys, a princely hero, a confectionery fairy, and fanciful figures. This is the magical story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince who are led through an enchanted dream by Clara’s godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer. From the exciting battle of mice and soldiers to the magnificent scenes of snow and sweets, the talented dancers of Champaign Urbana Ballet perform this timeless piece directed by Deanna Doty, accompanied by Sinfonia da Camera and a 40-piece orchestra under the direction of Ian Hobson.
Winneshiek Playhouse Presents: "Lend Me A Tenor"
It's 1934, and the world's greatest tenor, Tito Merelli, has come to Cleveland, Ohio, to save its Grand Opera Company by singing Otello. When he is unexpectedly incapacitated, Max, the Opera Director's meek assistant, is given the daunting task of finding a last-minute replacement. Chaos ensues - including a scheming soprano, a tenor-struck ingenue, a jealous wife and the Cleveland Police department. May 9,10 and 15-17. 7:30 pm. $15.
Winneshiek Players Present: "Rabbit Hole"
Becca and Howie Corbett have everything a family could want, until a life-shattering accident turns their world upside down and leaves the couple drifting perilously apart. Rabbit Hole charts their bittersweet search for comfort in the darkest of places and for a path that will lead them back into the light of day. Contains adult themes and language. $15. March 1, 6-7, 2014.
Galesburg Historical Society Annual Chocolate Festival
Annual festival featuring homemade and commercially made chocolate treats. It's an endless buffet of tortes, cakes, pies, cookies, candies, beverages and much more. A chocolate lover's dream. Being held on the third floor of The Galesburg Antiques Mall. Event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. $8 per person.
Orpheum Snow Globe
Spend an enchanted time in a winter wonderland where the tradition of merry-making continues featuring indoor sledding, snowman making, snow ball throwing, ice fishing with prizes, and more!
Holiday LEGO Train Show
Cantigny Park’s popular LEGO® Train Show is a holiday tradition for many families. The show transforms the entire Cantigny Visitors Center into a virtual wonderland for LEGO® fans. Le Jardin, the Visitor Center’s restaurant and banquet room, is home to the primary LEGO® diorama where creative new elements are added each year. Secondary displays and a free craft activity occupy the building’s main gallery area and meeting room.
Knox College International Fair
This event is always the last weekend in January. It features food, arts, crafts & entertainment from around the world, presented by Knox College students and visiting performers. Knox College is a top Liberal Arts College in Galesburg, Illinois.
The annual Christkindl Market will be held December 7th & 8th in downtown Quincy's Washington Park. Visitors can shop in heated tents featuring booths from local merchants, authentic German food and drink, activities for youth, visits with Santa and much more!
Fighting Illini Basketball
Join Coach John Groce and his Fighting Illini as they take on their Big Ten opponents. Cheer on the Orange & Blue as they compete for a Big Ten title and chance at the NCAA Championships!
5th Annual Ottawa's Ice Odyssey and Holiday Bazaar
Make this spectacular Ottawa festival a new holiday tradition for you and yours! Experience the amazing art of ice sculpting as you stroll the downtown streets with your family! Watch first hand, as artists carve ordinary blocks of ice into whimsical holiday visions! Enjoy 9-holes of Miniature golf, visit with the Christmas Characters and horse-drawn carriage rides. Also, be sure to stop by our Holiday Bazaar and browse the Holiday Farmers Market. Visit the website for more information free. 8:00am - 4:00pm
Breakfast with Santa & the Reindeer
Miller Park Zoo's annual holiday breakfast will feature not only Santa Claus, but also Santa's special reindeer friends! Your family can learn about reindeer, visit with Santa & pose for pictures, and enjoy breakfast.
Annual Norge Ski Jump Tournament
Fun for the whole family. Great food and beverages. Ski Jumpers from around the world will be competing. Tournament starts at noon both days. Shuttle Bus (Sunday Only)-Picks up at Dominick's (Route 22 & 14) and the Fox River Grove Train Station. U.S. Cup & International 5 Hills Ski Jumping Winter Tournament. Junior National Qualifier--Junior Ski Jumpers compete on the big hill (Saturday) for a spot representing the Central Division for the Championship in Anchorage, Alaska in March. USA Ski Team Jumpers will compete on Saturday for U.S. Cup Points, Cash and National Rankings in their 6th stop on the National Tour which wraps up in March in Park City, Utah. International Ski Jumping Teams will compete head to head with U.S. Jumpers, both days for number 3 of 5 Competitions in the Midwest's Five-Hills Tournament. Pre-Sale Buttons available 2 weeks before the Tournament: $10 at local merchants $11 Will-Call online at www.norgeskiclub.com $15 at the gate on Tournament days
CITY: Fox River Grove
Volo Bog's WinterFest
Looking for a great combination of indoor and outdoor fun in mid January? WinterFest is a long-standing event at Volo Bog featuring live music and storytelling, photo contest awards, and winter-theme and other crafts indoors, while outdoors winter bog hikes, and snow permitting - snow sculpting contests and cross-country skiing, may be enjoyed throughout the afternoon. There will also be cookies, hot cocoa & coffee for sale by the Friends of Volo Bog. Visit the website for a complete agenda. Donations accepted.
Savanna Museum & Cultural Center Festival of Trees
It's a Wonderful Life as sponsors from Savanna and surroundings communities show their Holiday spirit. Fifty lighted Christmas are delightfully decorated by local businesses, organizations and individuals in a competition for the Best Tree.
Home for the Holidays
Catch the old fashioned holiday spirit in Downtown Oak Park! Celebrate the season with free horse-drawn sleigh rides and a visit from Santa. Free cocoa & cookies too! The event will be from 11am-3pm.
CITY: Oak Park
SIU Saluki Men's Basketball Season
Since the early 1940s the SIU Saluki Basketball Team has been a staple in the NCAA. The "Dawgs" are no stranger to the Final Four and bring the same enthusiasm shown on the court right into the crowd. Don't miss a game of one of the most loved teams in Midwest.
Northern Illinois Farm Show
Indoor farm show, featuring products and services available to manage successful farm operations from more than 200 companies.
Let's Wine About Winter!
Have a great time in downtown Libertyville. It is a store-to-store wine tasting event, strolling throughout downtown historic Libertyville with different refreshments in each store. There will also be artists in some of the stores. Purchase a wine glass at a distribution site. Then spend a leisurely afternoon browsing the shops of downtown Libertyville while sampling wines offered by participating merchants.
Festival of Arts and Crafts - November
All crafts are handmade in the U.S.A. including furniture, photography, stained glass, holiday, everyday home decor items, jewelry, doll clothes, much more.
CITY: St. Charles