The start of the holiday season isn’t marked by Halloween candy on sale, parking dibs, or even snow. It is the Christmas and holiday lights that make take the season feel magical. From simple twinkling string lights to dazzling LED displays, the holidays just aren’t complete without a light show. While you’re out enjoying all the fun winter activities Chicago has to offer, we recommend traveling to the following destinations to view beautiful Christmas and holiday lights!
1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL 60022
WHEN: Nov. 12-Jan. 2
Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape is back for its third season to dazzle visitors with its after-dark, illuminated trail. If you are looking for the best places to view Christmas lighting and decorations near Chicago, the 1.25-mile immersive trail is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, especially on a walk. Chicago Botanic Garden teamed up with local and international artists to create magical displays along the entire path to bring you into another world.
Complete with “singing” trees, a twinkling Winter Cathedral, glowing red poppies, and more new features, Lightscape has many enchanting delights. Get tickets early—the popular event sells out quickly!
WHEN: Dec. 1 – Dec. 5
Create memories at this year’s Amaze Light Festival in Rosemont, IL! As one of the largest holiday lighting events in the country, the Amaze Light Festival is filled with spectacular themed light shows, festive music, and so much more.
If you’re planning to go, check out the Amaze Light Festival Package brought to you by the Rose Hotel. The package includes two adult and two child tickets to the light show, along with two light-up holiday toys to commemorate the light fun back in the room or at home, along with breakfast for two adults and two children, and overnight parking for one vehicle. The package is available now beginning at $185.
The Amaze Light Festival Package is available now to book for the upcoming holiday season. For more information or to book this special offering, please visit the hotel’s website.
2200 N Cannon Dr, Chicago, IL 60614
WHEN: Nov. 19-Jan. 2
ZooLights is a must-see Chicago tradition for visitors of all ages. It’s the biggest Christmas and holiday light show right here in the city, featuring hundreds of dynamic LED displays and strung-up lights shaped like animals, trees, and more, transforming Lincoln Park Zoo into a twinkling winter wonderland.
Visitors can also enjoy concerts, an enchanted forest, a light maze, visits with Santa, and a holiday pop-up bar. There will also be Sensory Friendly ZooLights experiences on Nov. 30 and Dec. 16 from 4-6 p.m. Blinking or moving lights will be static or turned off and there will be no music.
Reserve your tickets now—Mondays and Tuesdays are free!
600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Did you say ice skating and holiday lights? Yes, we sure did! This year, Navy Pier is bringing Christmas and holiday lights to its amazing ice rink and will be lighting the entire lake up! If you’re not there to skate, simply walk around and you’ll be transformed into a Christmas wonderland. You can also ride the Ferris wheel and get a stunning bird’s eye’s view over the endless lights around the lake!
4100 IL-53, Lisle, IL 60532
The ninth annual Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum is back as a walking experience this year. Visitors will walk through 50 acres of the Arboretum, exploring new and returning Christmas and holiday lighting displays along the 1-mile trail.
Festive music from around the world will also add to the experience. As a magical spectacle of color, light, and sound, Illumination highlights the beauty of trees in the winter.
New sights include a special lighting display featuring artist Daniel Popper’s Human+Nature Hallow sculpture and an experience featuring 150 colorful lanterns. Illumination will also have festive treats and drinks to enjoy along the route while you cozy up by crackling fires. Some dates have already sold out—plan early and get your tickets!
5th Ave & Smith Blvd, Aurora, IL 60505
If you are looking for locations to see Christmas and holiday lights near Chicago, hop in the car and take a drive through more than one mile of dazzling holiday light displays at Phillips Park. The Aurora Festival of Lights is one of the largest free outdoor light shows you can enjoy in the warmth and comfort of your car. This year, the festival enters its 15th season of bringing holiday cheer to all ages.
This local tradition is a partnership between the Rotary Club of Aurora and the City of Aurora. The festival welcomes a new Helicopter Display and also seasonal favorites like Santa’s Toy Factory, elves and reindeer, holiday trains, gigantic snowflakes, and more.
Featured Image Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo