Where to See Holiday Lights Around Chicago This Season

The magical holiday season is upon us! Here are nine spots where you can savor seasonal light installations.  

Art on theMart

Photo Courtesy of Art on theMART

Art on theMART, in partnership with Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, is continuing its holiday program with The Joffrey Ballet. Showcasing images from the Christmas classic “The Nutcracker” and set to music from Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, the 30-minute program of projections will be shown nightly at 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. and can be viewed for free from the jetty section of the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Dr. between Wells St. and Franklin St.

Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

Enter a captivating world of light, color, and sound on an all-new trail for 2021, designed with safety in mind. The Botanic Garden will have thousands of twinkling lights, including the popular Cathedral of Light, and new colorful delights that will help you make holiday memories. Advanced reservations are highly suggested, as many dates do sell out. Masks may be required, and note that the entire event is outdoors, so dress appropriately. Nov. 12, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022.

Mag Mile Lights Festival & Christmas Tree Lighting

Photo courtesy of BMO Harris Magnificent Lights Festival

Michigan Ave. will shine bright all winter long with illuminated trees lining the Magnificent Mile, and on one special evening on Nov. 20, the Mag Lights Festival will dazzle viewers with parade floats, festive shopping and more.

Returning once again, Grand Marshals Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from Walt Disney World® Resorts in Florida will lead the event-filled day that includes family activities and photos with Santa Claus. The parade of giant helium balloons, marching bands, celebrities and more starts at 5:30 p.m.

Don’t miss the event that kicks off the weekend of events: the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at The Wrigley Building Centennial Plaza.

Amaze Light Festival at Impact Field

Amaze Light Festival

The village of Rosemont will welcome the Amaze Light Festival this holiday season, featuring more than one million holiday lights, a holiday market, train rides, “Polar Peak” tubing, Santa’s Workshop, and more. Tickets required. Nov. 19, 2021 – Jan 2, 2022.

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum Illumination 2015

The ninth year of Illumination promises to be a special one. Embracing the Arboretum’s mission and identity as The Champion of Trees, the exhibition will take guests on a journey that begins with a passage through a tunnel of lights and past favorites such as Symphony Woods, Woodland Wonder and Crystal Promenade, as well as a new, “Human and Nature” display and a visual creation featuring 150 colorful lanterns enhanced by beautiful woodland lighting among the trees. Tickets required. Nov. 20, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022.

Light Up the Lake! at Navy Pier

Head to the Pier to explore a variety of holiday activities including light-sculpture displays with more than 600,000 twinkling lights, an Alpine ice rink, kiddie train rides, Santa’s Village, a holiday beer garden and so much more. Tickets required. Nov. 20, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022.

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo

Photo courtesy of Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo’s annual Holiday Magic, presented by ComEd and Meijer, celebrates its 40th season this year. See the dazzling light displays including a 600-foot-long tunnel featuring thousands of colored lights all synchronized to music; a giant 20-foot-lit orb ideal for Instagram selfies or holiday photos; a 41-foot-tall holiday tree; larger-than-life LED animal sculptures of a bison, a bear, and a giraffe; and 660 LED-lit trees decorated with ornaments.
Select dates through Nov. 26 – Dec. 3.

Kohlights: A Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular

Photo by Charles Cherney Photography

Let the kids take charge this holiday at the Kohl Children’s Museum annual Kohlights Lightacular! An outdoor experience with interactive light installations along the way, the Lightacular will feature a Twinkle Train, Tunnel of Shadows, festive firs, a tiny Tinsel Town, and more. Select dates Nov. 26 – Dec. 31.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

Photo courtesy of Chicago Now

ZooLights, presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ, illuminates the zoo with dazzling lights and dynamic displays. Enjoy creative new lighting designs on the Main Mall and additions to the Enchanted Forest. A new 18-foot holiday tree in the Pepper Family Wildlife Center will certainly add to the cheery atmosphere. This year, the event will offer sensory-friendly visit times. There will be two free members-only nights on Nov. 19 and Dec. 13. The zoo is also offering free public nights Nov. 22, 23, 29, and 30. Dec. 6, 7, 14, 20,21, 27, and 28. Sensory-friendly visit times on Nov. 29 and Dec. 15 from 4-6 p.m. Reservations required.

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Macaire Douglas lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to prevent the illegal abandonment of newborns nationwide. Since its inception in 2000, more than 3,600 newborns have been safely surrendered and adopted into loving homes.

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