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Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Kick off the holiday season and create your special memories on The Magnificent Mile in 2014! The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, the nation’s largest evening holiday celebration, jump starts the holiday season on Saturday, November 22 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.
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.
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!
Chicago Flower & Garden Show
There's even more color, fragrance and roll-up-your-sleeves, good ideas at the next Chicago Flower & Garden Show presented by Mariano's, March 14-22, 2015 at Chicago’s Navy Pier, the No. 1 tourist destination in Illinois. More than 20 feature gardens from top designers bring visitors the first joys of spring and exciting ways to "Do Green. Do Good." The Marketplace's 100 exhibitors is a shopper's paradise; the Kids Activity Garden is so much fun, kids don't realize how much they're learning about greening our world. Garden Gourmet features top chefs with cooking demos. Experts present seminars on the best tricks and tips of gardening; Tablescapes show the most gorgeous, dreamy decor for indoor or outdoor dining, and the "Art of Floral,” features interpretive floral designs. For more information and tickets, including group tour rates, visit www.chicagoflower.com/
Touchstone Energy Balloon Fest
Come and enjoy watching as these balloons are filled and then take off for various areas. Friday night is a launch from Dam West Recreation Area (9th St), Saturday morning, they will launch from various locations and try to hit their targets as they float through the air . There will be a Balloon glow and basket burn at the Shelby County Airport Saturday night with food and entertainment. You can meet the pilots on Friday evening. Sunday morning will be another opportunity to watch. These colorful balloons will be launched daily (weather permitting) and you can watch as they fly and do tasks around the Lake Shelbyville area.
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 mid-February.
Bald Eagle Trolley Tours
Be mesmerized by the beautiful bald eagles at Starved Rock. 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. Tour options: 9:00am w/tour first & 11:00am w/lunch first, $25 Includes Lunch/Adults; Children under 10/$5 less. January & February Mon, Wed, Sat & Sunday Monday: Tour begins with lunch at 11am Wednesday: Tours begins with lunch at 11am Saturday: 1st tour begins at 9am, ending with lunch 2nd tour begins with lunch at 11am (Please note: There are no tours on January 24th) Sunday: Tour begins with brunch at 11am (Please note: There are no tours on January 25th).
Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America
The 7,500-square-foot “Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America” exhibition at the Chicago Botanic Garden features trains running on 1,600 feet of track, for train and garden enthusiasts to enjoy the delightful sights and sounds of the miniature trains traversing high and low through tunnels, across bridges and around buildings.
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
City of St. Charles RiverFest
Unique among Chicagoland festivals, Riverfest features the annual ancient sport of dragon boat racing, a 40-ton Fantasy Sand Sculpture, water ski shows, carnival, petting zoo, and an assortment of events and entertainment for all ages.
CITY: St. Charles
Long Grove's Annual Apple Festival
The distinctive Long Grove shops and restaurants help celebrate the Apple Festival with unique seasonal gifts and foods, including cider donuts, caramel apples and the Long Grove Apple Haus’ famous brown bag apple pie. Live toe-tapping music, carriage rides, hayrides and children’s activities round out the fest.
CITY: Long Grove
Cobden Peach Festival
Celebrate the local peach harvest, sponsored by the Cobden Lions Club. Join us for fresh peaches from local orchards, carnival rides and games, crowning of ‘Miss Peach Queen’, homemade food and peach cobbler & pie with a 5K run/walk and parade on Saturday. Free admission.
Boo! at the Zoo
Halloween fun awaits families at Brookfield Zoo’s annual Boo! at the Zoo celebration. The popular daytime event, presented by Fisher-Price, features a Costume Parade, Costume Showcase, professional pumpkin-carving demonstrations, not-so-scary games and activities, special animal Zoo Chats, and haunted hayrides. For more information, visit www.CZS.org or call (708) 688-8000.
Bandy's Pumpkin Patch
This fun Fall destination features mazes, inflatable games, face painting for the little ones, and hayrides. Grab a snack from the concession stand (try the sweet rock candy) before heading home with the perfect pumpkin. (open Oct. 1-30, 9am-6pm)
CITY: Johnston City
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.
Scarecrow Daze Festival
During the Annual Scarecrow Daze Festival, the entire city of Shelbyville is decorated with scarecrows. With a different theme every year, entrants decorate their homes and businesses to the theme. There is also a large parade on Saturday, kids' games, a beer tent, music, a quilt show, and plenty of food and crafts, in downtown Shelbyville. Held in conjunction with Touchstone Energy Balloon Fest.
Windsor Harvest Picnic
Come and enjoy this family-friendly festival which is in its 118th year. Entertainment comes to you in gospel, country and rock, with entertainers from as far away as Australia.. Fountain City Amusements provides a carnival atmosphere with plenty of food as well as the Ice Cream Social. There is also a 5K run/walk, a pedal tractor pull, parade, and a raffle drawing. This year for one show only is Country Legend Marty Stuart.
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.
Swedish Days Festival
This “granddaddy” of Illinois festivals features a host of family-friendly activities with live musical entertainment, a carnival, rosemaling show, pet parade, kids’ day fun, grand parade, the state’s largest music competition, multi-ethnic food plus great shopping in our historic downtown. Geneva’s train station is located just blocks from the festivities.
Murphysboro Apple Festival
The Murphysboro Apple Festival is the oldest and largest, alcohol-free festival in Southern Illinois. Over 45,000 people attend the festival each year. During the five days of the Apple Festival, there are numerous activities drawing large crowds such as evening stage shows, carnival/concessions, Queen Contest, Prince and Princess Contest, contests from apple pie eating to apple core throwing, firefighters' water fights, marching band competition, car shows, Appletime 5K Walk/Run and much more. In addition, the festival's Grand Parade is one of the largest parade in Southern Illinois. The parade features an average of about 160 total units, 25 of those marching bands, and a variety of groups and organizations.
Bald Eagle Bus Tour
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.
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.
Paddock Hills Equestrian Center
Imagine a golden ball of Midwestern sun breaking on the horizon. As the night dew still clings to the vines and the grass in the pastures, a farm comes to life with the sights and sounds of morning. Hot coffee steeps in the pot. Hard-working farm-hands begin the daily chores. Horses whinny as the cool rush of morning air fills their lungs. The gently rolling hills are aglow with another new day. This is the beauty of horses and the magic of a vineyard. Paddock Hills Equestrian Center is located with Prairie Orchard Farm vineyard in the majestic countryside of Union, IL, and is minutes from the I-90 expressway, but miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city and suburbs. Whether, attending one of our many horse shows, riding lessons, clinics, or programs, we are sure that your time with us will be well spent.
German Valley Days
This 41st annual hometown festival offers a Car Show, 5KRun/Walk, Parade, Stage Entertainment,Contests, Lil Miss and Mister Pageant, Punt, Pass and Kick Contest, Kiddie Tractor Pull, Pork Chop Barbecue, Pancake Breakfast, Water Fights, Fireworks, Concession and more! Friday: 5 pm - 10 pm; Saturday: 6 am - 10 pm; Sunday: 11 am - 4 pm.
CITY: German Valley