This time of the year is very bittersweet. It’s cold, it’s dark, and it feels like we aren’t going to see the sun again for another five months. On the other hand, the undeniable seasonal joy with the holidays approaching is enough to get us off the couch and in search of the most eye-catching part of the season: holiday lights! There’s something magical about gawking at a well lit tree or a festively decorated building, and it’s something that we’re so excited to capture again this year. From the middle of the city out to the suburbs, Chicagoans know how to do holiday lights, and we’ve rounded up the absolute best places to check out holiday lights this season!
4100 IL-53, Lisle, IL 6053
Located in Lisle, the Morton Arboretum is a quick trip up I-88 to see some spectacular holiday lights. This year, Morton Arboretum’s Illumination returns with dazzling colors, light shows, and seasonal decorations that are sure to “WOW” the whole family! New to Illumination this year is Electric Illumination, an adults only light show backdropped by progressive dance music. You can get your tickets to Illumination from the end of November through January 7th!
2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
A beloved stop in Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo is another amazing place to check out some awe-inspiring holiday lights. From November 19th through January 1st, a trip to the LP Zoo will include dazzling lights and incredible animals. The cost to visit Zoo Lights is $5 Tuesday to Sunday, and free on Mondays. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy the best of the season and the best place to check out some wild animals!
There is no better spot to enjoy holiday lights in Chicago than the Mag Mile. Each year, our beloved street turns into a magical kingdom of light and color. Even if you missed the live parade a few weeks ago, there’s nothing stopping you from admiring the lights when your schedule allows. Hop onto the ice ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, or go admire our shiny tree right next to the Cloud Gate. It’s a Chicago tradition!
A new addition to Chicago’s holiday lights scene, Amaze Light Festival is here to impress. Food, drinks, plus a real polar express — do I need to say more? Amaze Light Festival is unlike any other experience in Tinley Park, bringing to you extravagant holiday lights, larger-than-life decor to exceptional food and beverage options. Themed holiday menus, custom premium cocktails, rich hot cocoa and delectable treats will keep guests stuffed.
9850 Balmoral Ave, Rosemont, IL 60018
Rosemont is always buzzing with activity. From bars to entertainment, there’s plenty of fun things around to stay busy. This winter, enjoy the best of Rosemont as they bring back the Sparkle Light Festival. Wander through the illuminated theme villages, take a ride on the holiday train, or slide down the 2-story ice slide, Sparkle Light Festival brings fun for everyone.
120 Water St, Naperville, IL 60540
If you’re from Chicagoland, you know about Naperville. This lively suburb is bringing back their signature light display – NaperLights. From Thanksgiving to New Years, visitors can enjoy stunning arrangements and music as you stroll the streets of town. Photos with Santa are also available on Friday and Saturday nights, next to the Great Tree.
1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL 60022
The Chicago Botanic Garden is beautiful no matter what time of year, but it certainly gets elevated around the holidays. Now through January 8th, the Botanic Garden is putting on their annual Lightscape. Walk the path with hundreds of thousands of different lights, attractions, and artworks. Even though it’s outside, the magic of Lightscape is sure to keep you warm this holiday season.
1999 Springinsguth Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60193
At the Wintrust Stadium in Schaumburg you’ll find Shine Lightshow. This drive through spectacular gives families the opportunity to stay warm in their cars but enjoy a gleaming light display. With over 1 million LED lights, this holiday display is sure to amaze and keep you smiling the whole way through.
1356 N Gary Ave, Wheaton, IL 60187
The Cosley Zoo is a staple of the suburbs. As a year-round free zoo for kids, this light display mixes cute animals and cool lights. The Festival of Lights runs from November 25th to December 30th, so there’s plenty of time to plan your visit and help your kids learn about tons of different animals that are local to us in Illinois!
1350 Willow Rd Lot H, Northbrook, IL 60062
Most of the year, Willow Hill Golf Course is home to men and women trying to hone their skills. During the holiday season, you can find one of the best drive-through light shows in the Chicagoland area. With a 1.6 mile route, visits will be full of beaming scenes and holiday cheer. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance, because this popular display is sure to sell out quickly.