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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!
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.
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.
Chicago Flower & Garden Show
The Chicago Flower & Garden Show brings springtime to winter with its 20 lush gardens, beautiful and fragrant flowers, trees and other plants allowing “newbie” gardeners and experts alike to experience the latest the industry has to offer. Top garden builders create fresh designs, while nationally-known presenters teach visitors how to get that professional garden look. It's all happening at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, presented by Mariano's, Mar. 12-20, 2016 at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Be among the first to see new plant varieties for 2016 and experience the newly-redesigned Navy Pier. Enjoy art, free kids activities, wine tastings, cooking demos from noted chefs, and a shopper's paradise of garden gadgets, jewelry, and more. Special rates available for groups. www.chicagoflower.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chicago Pride Fest
Get ready for a flamboyant, fun party in Boystown! Show your pride while enjoying an eclectic lineup of crafts, food and entertainment from some of Chicago's finest LGBT performers.
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.
Historic Trolley Tour
Take a great adventure every June through December! Board a trolley outside of the Great Hall area of the Lodge. Enjoy a historic trolley ride with stops at the Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center where you will see a short video of the area. You will also travel to the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center where you will see Starved Rock from across the river and watch as the river traffic lock through the locks. You will also travel through the village of Utica and hear about the Illinois and Michigan Canal. While aboard, the driver will narrate the history and legends of the area. For tickets and information please call 815-220-7386. $12 Adults, $10 Seniors, $8 Child 10 and under. 2014 Dates: JUNE – OCTOBER- Tuesday – 3:00pm, Thursday – 3:00pm, Saturday – 3:00pm, Sunday – 12:00pm & 1:30pm. November & December- Saturday - 12:00pm & 1:30pm, Sunday - 12:00pm & 1:30pm.
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.
Cave-In-Rock Frontier Day
Cave-In-Rock Frontier Festival is held on the banks of the beautiful Ohio River. The festival, which commemorates the extensive and colorful history connected to Cave-In-Rock and the surrounding community, is an entertaining and fun filled community event. First held in the 1960’s, the celebration includes a parade, carnival, various entertainment held in the Old Opry House, food and craft vendors. A Little Miss and Mister Frontier Days and Frontier Queen pageant is a highlight as well as various other activities. Come join the festivities for a weekend of fun and entertainment.
CITY:Cave In Rock
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.
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.
Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum
Declared a "must-see destination" by the Chicago Tribune, Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum returns this November with more lights, sights and sounds that will transform a Chicago-area wintertime walk in the woods into a colorful, inspiring experience like no other. Brand new experiences in 2015 include dazzling lighting effects on Meadow Lake, and Ornament Hill, where a series of glowing orbs create a glittering vista. Visitors can also take in new effects — sing to the trees to activate LED lights that rain down from the trees like shiny strands of tinsel and watch as lights dance, synchronized to updated music from the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Blessing of the Bikes
Thousands of motorcyclists travel to Bald Knob Mountain, Southern Illinois’ highest point and the site of the Bald Knob Cross of Peace located just outside of Alto Pass, about 10 miles south of Murphysboro on IL-127.
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.
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.
Chicago Botanic Garden- Weekend Family Classes
Together, adults and children can explore cool things about how plants connect to science, art, history, and culture. Each program includes a variety of hands-on activities and projects, as well as opportunities to bring the Garden home. Programs run from November through April on Saturdays.
88th Annual Lake County Fair
Come out and enjoy 5 days of fun at the 88th Annual Lake County Fair. Events at the fair include live entertainment, food vendors, carnival rides and games, live animals, motor crossing, banana derby, demolition derby, flower show, expo hall and so much more. Please visit the website for updated information.