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The Ultimate Holiday Light Shows & Festivals Guide

Find glimmering winter wonderlands in every corner of Illinois this winter season

Dec 16, 2020 Activities

Light tunnel

This holiday season will be filled with festive cheer, as various communities across Illinois are closing out the year with illuminating installations. Below is a roundup of some of the state’s top events in every region.

People looking at the light displays at lincoln park zoo
Lincoln Park Zoolights

Chicago & Beyond

Lightscape, Chicago Botanic Garden | Open Now through Jan. 7, 2024: Enter a world of enchanting light, color and sound at Chicago Botanic Garden’s yearly Lightscape event, featuring favorites like the Cathedral of Light.

Lincoln Park ZooLights | Open Nov. 17, 2023 through Jan. 7, 2024: Trek through a free, family-friendly winter wonderland alongside animals and Chicago’s skyline at Lincoln Park’s beloved ZooLights event.

Chriskindlmarket Chicago | Open Nov. 17 through Dec. 24, 2023: Celebrate the holidays like a Chicagoan at the quintessential outdoor market, amid aromas of roasted nuts, fresh pretzels, bratwurst, hot spiced wine, and hot cocoa. Enjoy the sound of music and the glimmer of sparkling Christmas ornaments — surrounded by stunning downtown Chicago views!

Chriskindlmarket Aurora | Open Nov. 17 through Dec. 24, 2023The German-style outdoor market has become so popular that it expanded to several locations in Illinois including Aurora. The unique shopping experience, cheerful live entertainment, and original food and beverages like the imported mulled wine from Germany, called Glühwein, make the Christkindlmarket a preferred and popular destination. 

Chriskindlmarket Wrigleyville | Open Nov. 17 through Dec. 24, 2023: Expanding into Wrigleyville, visitors and fans of the market can shop from more than 40 vendors at the Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville at Gallagher Way while sipping hot chocolates and soaking in the festive merriment of the season. 

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light | Open Nov. 18, 2023 through Jan. 7, 2024: The Museum of Science and Industry hosts this beloved annual celebration, which features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. 

Santa Rock N Lights | Open Nov. 17 through Dec. 31, 2023: With over 700 feet of dancing light tunnels, Santa Rock N Lights in Grayslake lets you encounter towering polar bears, dinosaurs and more within a glimmering wonderworld.

Vintage Holidays in Long Grove | Open Nov. 17 through Dec. 23, 2023: Sleigh rides, seasonal lights, and Santa create a full nostalgic holiday experience at Vintage Holidays in Long Grove.

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum | Open Nov. 18, 2023 through Jan. 6, 2024: For a one-mile experience unlike anything else, surround yourself with trees coming to life during a magical evening filled with changing light designs and special effects.

Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier | Open Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, 2023: Briefly escape the cold at Navy Pier’s Light Up the Lake event, featuring over 600,000 lights, an Alpine ice rink, beer garden, train rides for the kiddos, Santa, a gift market, and so much more!

Six Flags Holiday in the Park | Open Nov. 23 through Dec. 31, 2023: Deck the halls with over 2.5 million gleaming holiday lights and themed entertainment for open-air viewing at Six Flags Holiday in the Park in Gurnee.

Nicholas Conservatory All Aglow | Open Nov. 25, 2023 through Jan. 7, 2024: Positioned near the banks of the Rock River in Rockford, Nicholas Conservatory’s vibrant holiday lights display will mesmerize you and your loved ones with light-wrapped trees and shrubs, glowing stars, gumbo candy canes and various surprises to discover.

Festival of Lights, Christmas Around the World | Open Nov. 18, 2023 through Jan. 7, 2024: Imagine traveling across the globe as you see over 30 exhibits depicting Christmas decorations and holiday traditions from a myriad of countries at the Lansing Historical Museum.

Christmas Trolley Tour of Light at Starved Rock Lodge | Open Dec. 10 through Dec. 21, 2023: In the days leading up to Christmas, sit back, relax and let Starved Rock Lodge’s staff drive as holiday lights enthrall you and your loved ones.

A row of light up christmas soldiers
Wonderlights Christmas

Great Rivers Country

Wonderlights Christmas at World Wide Technology Raceway Open Nov. 17 through Dec. 31, 2023: For a night of holiday fun the whole family can enjoy, head over to the Wonderlights Christmas show for holiday lights accompanied by classic and modern Christmas songs.

Way of Lights Christmas Lights | Open Nov. 17 through Dec. 31, 2023: Located in Belleville, visitors will rejoice over this spectacular 1.5-mile lights display that shares the story of Christmas. Beyond the lights, enjoy a petting zoo, Christmas tree room, wreath displays, and camel rides.

East Peoria Festival of Lights Winter Wonderland | Open Nov. 24, 2023  through Jan. 1, 2024: For a charming evening of festive light displays, floats and arches — all paired with holiday music as you drive — trek on over to East Peoria’s Festival of Lights Winter Wonderland to experience its 39th year.

Christmas Wonderland | Open Nov. 24 through Dec. 27, 2023: Over four million dazzling lights cover Rock Spring Park in Alton, giving you the perfect way to kick off your holiday celebrations.

Belleville Christkindlmarkt | Open Nov. 24 through Dec. 23, 2023: Along with traditional German fare at this market, do some holiday shopping for those on your “nice list” with unique hand-crafted gifts from around the world.

Quincy Festival of Lights | Open Nov. 23 through Dec. 31, 2023: Featuring nearly two miles of exuberant holiday light installations, Quincy’s Festival of Lights will surely buoy your spirits and maybe even become a family tradition. 

Light display of a christmas elf/santa at Wonderland in Lights in effingham
Wonderland in Lights

Land of Lincoln 

Shelbyville Festival of Lights | Open Nov. 17 through Dec. 31, 2023: Drive through a seasonally decorated Forest Park in Shelbyville for twinkling lights displays, which are painted and taped to match the light’s colors for an out-of-this-world holiday light extravaganza.

Olney Christmas Lights Display | Open Nov. 18 through Dec. 30, 2023: Hear the sounds of Christmas accompanied by glimmering holiday lights, a simple way to celebrate the holiday season.

Wonderland in Lights | Open Nov. 23, 2023 through Jan. 1, 2024: Get into the holiday spirit at Wonderland in Lights. Along with the free display, every Saturday Santa visits to bring presents to the children in attendance. You can always continue the fun in downtown Effingham and see the larger-than-life ornaments on the Effingham County Courthouse Museum lawn, including a 34-foot, dazzling Christmas Tree.

Holiday Zoo Lights | Open Nov. 24 through Dec. 23, 2023: Take a bundled family walk through the annual Winterland Holiday Zoo Lights in Springfield, where you can take in luminous displays and revel alongside the animals — plus enjoy treats, from hot cocoa with marshmallows to s’mores.

Christmas Lights Wonderland | Open Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, 2023: Check out Christmas Lights Wonderland in Greenville for an extensive Christmas lightbox collection and special events on the weekends.

Old Capitol Holiday Walks | Open Nov. 25 through Dec. 23: Spread holiday cheer by basking in the unique shops Downtown Springfield has to offer, which are ripe this time of year for shopping and dining.

reindeer and other festive light displays
Du Quoin Holiday Lights Fair

Trails to Adventure

Du Quoin Holiday Lights Fair | Open Nov. 23 through Dec. 30, 2023: Witness the magic of millions of twinkling lights by driving through the transformed Du Quoin’s State Fairgrounds for its 23rd annual holiday lights festival.

Christmas Lights in Carlyle Park | Open Nov. 23, 2023 through Jan. 7, 2024: The holidays have officially arrived, and there’s no better way to welcome the good tidings than driving through this display of Christmas splendor in Caryle’s City Park.

Lighted Christmas Parade Dec. 2, 2023: Stroll down to Christmas in Carterville — where the downtown streets are closed — for an ideal night of holiday activities like parade floats, Christmas lights, carriage rides, letters to Santa, ornament making, CandyLand trails, and carolers.

WonderLight Christmas Lights Spectacular | Open Nov. 17. through Dec. 31, 2023WonderLight’s Christmas is returning to the greater St. Louis area for the 2023 season! Come see over 1 million LED lights synchronized to traditional and newer, rocking Christmas music played through your own car stereo. 

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