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Wonderland Express at Chicago Botanic Garden
Take a magical trip to a winter wonderland of twinkling lights and holiday beauty at the Chicago Botanic Garden when we kick off the holiday season! Outside, 750,000 lights sparkle and welcome you and your family to the Garden's wonderland. Inside the Regenstein Center, a 10,000-square-foot exhibition of miniature trains winds over bridges, under trestles, past waterfalls, and through more than 80 mini-replicas of Chicago's favorite landmarks. Paul Busse, designer of the Model Railroad Garden, created this amazing exhibition exclusively for the Garden's holiday celebration.
Wonderland Express is one of the Chicago area’s top holiday “must-sees,” and a family-friendly, made-for-memories experience. Bring the smartphones and video cameras, as our holiday exhibition delights children and parents, friends and families. Kids, look for Thomas the Tank Engine! New this year: A focus on landmark history, plus the Maggie Daley Ice Ribbon, Glencoe's Writers' Theater, Chicago "El" trains, and both Spike and Alice the Amorphophallus join Wonderland Express! Join Landmark Illinois' Bonnie McDonald for narrated tours of the history and architecture of Chicago's landmarks. Kids' tours, too!
Winter Wonderland Festival
Enjoy a horse & carriage ride through the Festival of Lights, great food, shopping, pictures with Santa, cookie decorating, hot chocolate, crafts, a present for every child and so much more.
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.
Winter Holiday Hayride
Our annual holiday hayrides will feature the food, fun and traditions from the pioneers of North America. We'll ride on our decorated hay wagon through the streets of Palos Heights singing Christmas carols then return to the Nature Center to enjoy food, crafts and other activities. Registration and payment to be made in person or by mail no later than the Monday before hayride. $8 per person.
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.
Walking Tour of Historic Riverside
The Frederick Law Olmsted Society is pleased to offer great opportunities to learn about our historic landmark village. Discover the winding roads, delightful parks, beautiful landscapes, varied architecture and much more!
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.
Village of Robbins Open Air Market
Year round, each Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday. Thinking of going into business? Let us be your testing ground. Become a vendor or shop til you drop. We have new and used merchandise.
Union County Colorfest
Enjoy the fall color of the Shawnee National Forest and guided home tours. Shop at local orchards, farm markets and art and craft fairs. Sample wine along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, participate in the fun run or biathlon race.
See tractors of all shapes, sizes and ages. Held along with a Farmer's Market in downtown Golconda.
Tour de Shawnee Bike ride
Bicyclists meet at the Olive Branch Community Center at 8 AM. Organized bike routes of 15, 30, 45, 62 and 100 mile rides around scenic Horseshoe Lake and area. Entry fee includes: Event bag, chance for attendance prizes. Early registration includes commemorative t shirt.
The Polar Express at Monticello Railway Museum
Held at Monticello Railway Museum. Read along with the story as the train makes its round-trip journey to the North Pole. Meet Santa and enjoy caroling, hot chocolate, surprises and a treat. And, for those who believe, a special gift for each child. Children are encouraged to wear their pajamas! Nov 14, Nov 20-21, Nov 27-29 & Dec 4-5. Reservations required. Tickets go on sale June 6th.
Thanksgiving Cruises – Odyssey
This Thanksgiving, spend time relaxing out on the water aboard Odyssey Chicago! Celebrate with the entire family as you enjoy a special holiday meal. For reservations, call 888.957.2634 or visit http://www.odysseycruises.com/chicago/cruises/specialty/thanksgiving-day-cruises.
Take a Hike & a Lunch - Starved Rock Canyons
Join us for a guided hike from the Lodge to LaSalle and Tonti Canyons. Participants meet in the hotel main lobby of the Lodge to pick up a lunch and a “Starved Rock” backpack. Hikers will stop for lunch once they reach a Canyon. The tour concludes at the Lodge about 2:00pm. Please dress for the weather and wear appropriate footwear. Hike will be around 4.5 miles round trip. This hike is classified as strenuous. Lunch includes: your choice of turkey, ham or PB&J, bag of chips, homemade granola bar, piece of fruit and a bottle of water. Advanced reservations are required as space is limited. For more information or to book, call 815-220-7386 Saturday hikes will go to LaSalle Canyon. Depart from Lodge and hikers will stop for lunch once they reach LaSalle Canyon. After lunch, the hike continues to Eagle Cliff and Lover’s Leap. The tour concludes at the Lodge around 2:30 pm. Sunday hikes will go to St. Louis Canyon. The hike will depart from the Lodge and go to the top of Starved Rock then hike to Aurora Canyon. After Aurora Canyon, hikers will go to St. Louis Canyon and stop for lunch. After lunch, the hike continues back to the Lodge and ends around 2:30 pm. Saturday & Sundays through November, 11am-2pm. $17 per person.
Sweet Autumn Clematis Festival
See and smell hundreds of feet of walls covered in Autumn Clematis; followed by punch served in Luther Hall. The event runs from 10:00am- 5:00pm.
Super Car Show
Cars and trucks are polished to perfection and fill Fort Massac State Park for a popular summer show. Winners are determined in various classes, including Mayor's choice and Superman's Choice.
Starved Rock Walkers Club
Join the fun on our weekly, guided hikes! Explore Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park, the I & M Canal and a nearby Nature Preserve. Every Thursday morning, year round, the Starved Rock Walkers Club meets in the lobby of the Lodge and departs at 9:00 am. Hikes last between 2 and 3 hours, depending on the destination. The hikes vary each week and over a 4-month period, the group will see the entire park. Make some new friends and learn about wildlife, wildflowers and more. This event is free and open to the public. Please note: We will not hike on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. Time: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm Every Thursday (year round).
Starved Rock Photography Club
Whether you are just beginning in photography, are an advanced amateur or a professional, you are welcome to the Starved Rock Photography Club. Monthly photography walks at Starved Rock State Park’s Lodge with club leader, Jacki Pienta. The Photography Club will meet each month throughout the year for guided walks to planned sites for photography opportunities. Members will informally exchange ideas and tips for quality nature and wildlife photos. We will meet the 4th Saturday of every month at 9am in the back of the Large Parking Lot at Starved Rock Lodge. All meetings will consist of a hike to an area of either Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park or Buffalo Rock. Please be prepared to carpool if necessary. $25.00 annual fee to join which will include a club t-shirt and an annual cookout! Time: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm 4th Saturday of each month. For more information, call 815-220-7386.
St. Patrick's Day Festival
Start the day with the 5K run/walk race at 9 a.m. Watch the parade at 11am, enjoy corned beef & cabbage at the 17th Street Bar and Grill Warehouse. The Irish Kids’ Fest will feature arts and crafts, games and story telling at the Murphysboro Youth Center, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Grab a shillelagh and pour a green beer, or sample local craft beers while listening to the Irish music, and try your hand in the dart tournament or the Leprechaun Classic Bocce Tournament to be held at Riverside Park.
Spring Equinox Sunrise Observance at Reconstructed Woodhenge
Meet at the reconstructed Woodhenge to hear an explanation of the discovery, form end function of this post-circle sun calendar. Arrive by 6:45 a.m.
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.
Shelbyville Festival of Lights
Come to Shelbyville and take a drive through Forest Park as it is lit up for the Holiday season. These lights are put in place each year by volunteers and new lights and themed areas are also added. Candy Cane lane is to honor loved ones. The Historical Chautauqua Building becomes a huge carousel. Come enjoy the Victorian Village, Santa's Shop, the North Pole, Bethlehem, and others.
Santa Cause 5K
The Santa Cause 5K race will be a family friendly event for all ages; a great activity for the whole family to participate in during the holiday season. Join the cause and embrace your inner Santa. For our inaugural event, we are partnering with the Peoria Downtown Development Corporation and bringing the route into the Downtown Warehouse District to show-case major improvements to the area. In addition, all extra proceeds will benefit “Dazzle Downtown,” providing funds for festive lights and decor for the warehouse district.