Holiday Light Shows and Festivals

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

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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.

Chicago and Beyond

Let It Shine Light Show | Now through Jan. 9, 2022: Following your holiday shopping at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, treat yourself to an animated show with one million LED lights at the Let It Shine Show, all from the comfort of your car!

Lightscape, Chicago Botanic Garden | Now through Jan. 2, 2022: 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 | Now through Jan. 2, 2022: Trek through a free, family-friendly winter wonderland alongside animals and Chicago’s skyline at Lincoln Park’s beloved ZooLights event.

Chriskindlmarket Chicago | Now through Dec. 24: Celebrate the holidays like a Chicagoan at the Second City’s 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!

Santa Rock N Lights | Now through Jan. 2, 2022: 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 | Now through Dec. 19: 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 | Now through Jan. 2, 2022: 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 | Now through Jan. 2, 2022: 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!

Big Timber Brilliance | Now through Jan 2: Take the perfect family holiday photo or share your latest Instagram pic amid 10 light displays at Elgin’s Big Timber Brilliance’s winter trail walk.

Six Flags Holiday in the Park | Now through Jan. 9, 2022: 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 | Now through Jan. 9, 2022: 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 | Now through Jan. 6, 2022: 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.

Light UP McHenry County | Now through Dec. 20: Explore twinkling lights amidst 30 festively fabulous homes in McHenry County, then check back in on December 21 for the winner of the second annual Light UP Holiday Lights Contest.

Christmas Trolley Tour of Light at Starved Rock Lodge | Now through Dec. 19: 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.

Great Rivers Country

Wonderlights Christmas at World Wide Technology Raceway Now through Jan. 9, 2022: 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.

Winter Nights Winter LightsNow through Jan. 1, 2022: Make merry with nearly 200,000 glowing lights at the Quad City Botanical Center's annual Winter Nights Winter Lights display. You’ll also find an indoor Sun Garden to briefly escape the cold, an outdoor Children’s Garden, hot cocoa and tasty treats.

Way of Lights Christmas Lights | Now through Dec. 31: 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 | Now through Jan. 2, 2022: 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 37th year.

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

Belleville Christkindlmarkt | Now through Dec. 23: 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 | Now through Jan. 1, 2022: 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. 

 

Land of Lincoln 

Shelbyville Festival of Lights | Now through Jan. 1, 2022: 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 | Now through Dec. 31: Hear the sounds of Christmas accompanied by glimmering holiday lights, a simple way to celebrate the holiday season.

Wonderland in Lights | Now through Jan. 2, 2022: 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.

Winterland Holiday Zoo Lights | Now through Dec. 30: 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 | Now through Dec. 31: Check out Christmas Lights Wonderland in Greenville for an extensive Christmas lightbox collection and special events on the weekends.

Old Capitol Holiday Walks | Now through Dec. 22: Spread holiday cheer by basking in the unique shops Downtown Springfield has to offer, which are ripe this time of year ripe for shopping and dining.

Trails to Adventure

Du Quoin Holiday Lights Fair | Now through Dec. 30: Witness the magic of millions of twinkling lights by driving through the transformed Du Quoin’s State Fairgrounds for its 22nd annual holiday lights festival.

Christmas Lights in Carlyle Park | Now through Jan 9, 2022: 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.

Festival of Trees | Now through Dec. 31: Dive deep into the Christmas spirit with glistening holiday lights and trees at Mt. Carmel’s third annual Festival of Trees.

Christmas in Carterville | Dec. 17: Stroll down to Christmas in Carterville — where the downtown streets are closed — for an ideal night of holiday activities like carriage rides, letters to Santa, ornament making, CandyLand trails, and carolers.

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