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20+ BEST Places to See Christmas Holiday Lights in Chicago & Suburbs (2021)

Looking for where to see holiday and Christmas lights in and near Chicago in 2021? There are many places in Chicago and the suburbs to see Christmas and holiday lights. (And if you are looking for more festive things to do for the holidays, here are the best things to do in Chicago during Christmas).

There are also drive-thru holiday light shows for families and others that want to see holiday lights from the safety of their vehicle.

NOTE: Some holiday light shows require advance online reservations. Tickets are available and sell quickly for the most popular dates and times.

Christmas and Holiday Lights in Chicago

Below are the best places to see holiday lights in Chicago.

City of Chicago Christmas Tree

City of Chicago Christmas Tree

Chicago’s “official” Christmas tree, the 108th Annual City of Chicago Christmas Tree is a 51-foot Blue Spruce. All-virtual in 2020, this year’s Tree Lighting Ceremony will be in-person. The 2021 event has been expanded and reimagined to provide more space and opportunities for guests to participate — including multiple viewing locations with screens and concessions across Millennium Park and a main stage on the Great Lawn with the traditional Tree Lighting Ceremony followed by fireworks and a special concert headlined by singer-songwriter Brian McKnight.

When: The Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Friday, November 19, 2021 starting at 6pm (with the actual lighting at approximately 6:30pm). You can find more information and a detailed schedule of events here. You can see the Christmas Tree at Millennium Park from November 19, 2021 — January 9, 2022 from 8am to 9pm daily.

Where: Millennium Park near the intersection of Michigan Avenue & Washington Street.

Cost: FREE.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Tickets for ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ are now live! Head to the #linkinbio to reserve your spot.

A post shared by Lincoln Park Zoo (@lincolnparkzoo) on

ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ at Lincoln Park Zoo is a cheerful, family-friendly holiday event in the heart of the city. Zoolights features hundreds of luminous LED displays and seasonal experiences, all under the glow of millions of lights.

When: 4–10 p.m. on select dates from November 19, 2021–January 2, 2022. Reservations are required.

Where: Lincoln Park Zoo, 2400 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL

Cost: Monday and Tuesday nights are free and Wednesday-Sunday tickets are $5.

Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier

If the temperature outside is too cold, you can enjoy holiday lights indoors at Navy Pier. Light Up the Lake is Chicago’s newest holiday experience. Their light garden is the area’s largest indoor light show, comprising more than 600,000 twinkling lights, featuring large-scale light-sculpture displays with holiday and toy box themes, including a giant teddy bear, a deer soaring 25-foot high, a 60-foot light tunnel and a 40-foot tree.

In addition to the holiday lights there is also an Alpine ice rink, authentic holiday beer garden, kiddie train rides, Santa’s Merry Main Street and gift market and other family-friendly and date-night activities.

Where: Festival Hall at Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

When: November 26, 2021 through January 2, 2022.

Cost: Prices vary depending on day. Tickets start at $15, and include a free ride on the iconic Centennial Wheel, offering views of the city all decked out for the holidays.

Christmas and Holiday Lights Near Chicago

Here are the best places to see Christmas and holiday lights in the suburbs of Chicago.

Illuminated Light Trail at Lightscape

Sparkling tunnel of light at Lightscape Chicago Botanic Garden
Lightscape is an after-dark, illuminated trail with thousands of twinkling lights at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Tickets are on sale and the best dates and times sell quickly!!

When:  November 12, 2021 – January 2, 2022 (select dates).

Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022 (24 miles north of downtown Chicago)

Cost: Price varies depending on date. Tickets for adults start at $24 and tickets for kids 3-12 start at $12. Children under 3 are free. See https://www.chicagobotanic.org/lightscape for prices and to purchase tickets.

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum is a one-of-a-kind, interactive spectacle of color, light, and sound that has been delighting audiences since 2013. Explore 50 acres of the Arboretum’s majestic trees during this one-of-a-kind spectacle of color, light, and sound. You will be awed and delighted to see returning favorites and surprising new sights, including a special Human+Nature display and an experience featuring 150 colorful lanterns. Journey along a one-mile, paved walking path amid festive music and lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter. Along the route, warm up by a crackling fire and roast marshmallows for s’mores, or stop in one of the concession tents for a snack and beverage. Illumination will highlight the many gifts of trees: natural beauty, increased feelings of peace and calm, homes for wildlife, and the air we breathe. Tickets are on sale -advance purchase is recommended as many nights will sell out.

When: November 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022 (select days)

Where: Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL 60532 (28 miles west of downtown Chicago)

Cost: Tickets range between $7-$19 for members, $13-$24 for guests. See their website for more information and to purchase tickets in advance.

Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic

Now in their 40th year, Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic is Chicagoland’s largest and longest-running lights festival featuring over a million twinkling LED lights.

Where: Brookfield Zoo, North Gate Main Entrance: 8400 31st Street (1st Avenue and 31st Street), Brookfield, IL 60513; South Gate Main Entrance: 3300 Golf Rd, Brookfield, IL 60513 (14 miles west of downtown Chicago)

When: 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. on Friday through Sunday, November 26-28, Wednesday through Sunday, December 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, Sunday through Friday, December 26-31, 2021. 

Cost: Prices vary. Visit CZS.org/Tickets for more information and to purchase tickets in advance.

Amaze Light Festival at Impact Field

Amaze Light Festival at Impact Field will light up the holidays with millions of animated lights dancing to holiday music and holiday fun.
Stroll through seven worlds of immersive displays with millions of twinkling lights and festive music. Take a journey through golden lit paths from the North Pole to the Whimsical Forest, with stops at a magical fountain, and royal castle while meeting arctic friends along the way. n addition to the lights, there are fun family friendly activities including the Arctic Express (a free ride on a train car) as well as tubing. Tickets are on sale online.

When: November 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022 (select days)

Where: Impact Field, 9850 Balmoral Avenue, Rosemont, Illinois 60018 (16 miles northwest of downtown Chicago)

Cost: General admission tickets are $23 for adults and $18 for kids ages 2-12. You can also purchase VIP or Platinum tickets or reserve suites for a large group. Extra fee of $20 for unlimited tubing.

Kohlights: A Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular

Kohlights: A Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular is the Chicago area’s newest outdoor interactive holiday lights display at the Kohl Children’s Museum that is especially aimed at younger children. It’s more than just a walk through -using glow stick learning wands, children can control and change the lights, so it’s a different lightacular experience every time. The complete trail will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. 

When: Nov 26 – 28, Dec 3 – 5, 10 – 12, 17 – 23, and 26 – 31, 2021.

Cost: Tickets required, $20 per person for all attendees over 12 months of age.

Where: 2100 Patriot Boulevard, Glenview, IL 60026 (22 miles northwest from downtown Chicago)

Winter Lights at Central Park – Oak Brook Park District

Winter Lights at Central Park is a free 1/2 mile walk through the beautifully lit Central Park. The walking path will be a one-way, looped circle with dancing trees, inspirational signs, colorful rainbow arches, cascading snowflakes, and musical hearts and various photo opportunities throughout the scenic walk. Path will be closed during inclement weather. Dogs are allowed on a leash.

When: November 25, 2021 – January 9, 2021, every evening from 4:30-9:30 PM.

Where: Central Park, 1510 Forest Gate Rd, Oak Brook, IL 60523 (20 miles west of downtown Chicago).

Cost: FREE.

Naper Lights

Naper Lights is a free light display presented by the Rotary Club of Naperville Sunrise featuring 150,000 lights and a growing collection of giant lighted holiday figures including skating polar bears, penguins sliding on an igloo, skaters, snow men, carolers, gifts, baubles, and dancing trees. While they last, the popular holographic viewing glasses will be available for kids from Rotary volunteers on weekends. Fridays and Saturday evenings (weather permitting) grab a holiday photo with Santa alongside the Great Tree. Enjoy music from Bach to Rock on the evenings of December 10th, 11th, 17th, and 18th.

Lights on Water Street trees and the Foyo plaza will be synced to music with an enhanced sound system which will project music across the DuPage River, making a drive-through experience for those wishing to stay in their cars as they enjoy Downtown Naperville.

When: 4 PM – 10 PM from Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

Where: Downtown Naperville, along Water Street and overlooking the south side of the Riverwalk (31 miles west of downtown Chicago). Visitors can access the display from the Webster Street covered bridge, Main Street and Webster Street.

Cost: FREE (donations are accepted).

Holiday Lights in Lilicia Park

Holiday Lights in Lilicia Park is Lombard Park District’s annual holiday lights display in Lilacia Park. Charming holiday displays illuminate the park during the evening with magical light shows, tree decorations, a gingerbread house and more. On select times during the weekend, families can enjoy free visits with Santa, a magical elf hunt and other events.

When: December 4, 2021 – January 2, 2021, every evening from 4:30 – 10:00 pm.

Where: Lilacia Park, 150 S Park Ave, Lombard, IL 60148 (23 miles west of downtown Chicago).

Cost: FREE. New this year, visitors are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for donation.

Aurora Festival of Lights

Aurora Festival of Lights is a drive through of more than one mile of spectacular lighted displays and one of the largest free outdoor drive-through holiday light displays in Northern Illinois. In its 15th year, they have new displays every year.

When: November 26 – December 27, 2021. Free tickets will be available soon.

Where: Phillips Park – Enter South on Smith BLVD, 500 Tomcat Ln, Aurora, IL 60505 (42 miles west of downtown Chicago)

Cost: Free (but the Rotary Club of Aurora accepts donations that benefit local charities).

Holiday in the Park Lights Six Flags Great America

Holiday in the Park Lights is back this year. Stroll through the park and enjoy twinkling lights, spectacular shows, snacks, and holiday shopping. Six Flags also offers a separate drive thru-experience for those that want to see lights from their car (see below). Reservations are required. Tickets are available for purchase online.

Where: 1 Great America Pkwy, Gurnee, IL 60031 (44 miles north of downtown Chicago)

When: Select dates from November 26, 2021 – December 30, 2021. Hours vary.

Cost: Tickets start as low as $24.99 per person.

Drive-Thru Holiday Light Shows Near Chicago

There are also several drive-thru light shows in the Chicago area happening this year.

Six Flags Holiday in the Park Lights Drive-Thru Experience

Enjoy Holiday In The Park Lights from the comfort of your car with the Drive-Thru Experience. See millions of twinkling lights from the comfort of your car with favorite seasonal tunes and special holiday characters to see along the way. Reservations are required. Tickets are available for purchase online.

Where: 1 Great America Pkwy, Gurnee, IL 60031 (44 miles north of downtown Chicago)

When: Select dates from December 3, 2021 – January 9, 2022. Hours vary.

Cost: Tickets start as low as $17.99 per person.

Let It Shine Drive Thru Holiday Light Show

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Let It Shine is a drive-thru Christmas light show experience that is returning for its second year. Guests are invited to safely stay in their cars and immerse themselves into a wonderland of light displays, all synchronized to fun holiday classics. This year they have expanded to three (3) locations: Northbrook Court, Aurora and Schaumburg. Each location has its own unique festive experience, music playlist and immersive light displays.  Tickets are available for purchase for a specific location, date & time and can be purchased online only. 

Where:  3 locations: 1) Northbrook Court, 1515 Lake Cook Road, Northbrook, IL 60062; 2) Fox Valley Mall, 195 Fox Valley Center Dr, Aurora, IL 60504 and 3) Wintrust Field, 1999 S Springinsguth Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60193

When: November 12, 2021 – January 9, 2022 (Northbrook only); November 12, 2021 – January 9, 2022 (other 2 locations).

Hours: 4:30 to 11:00 pm nightly

Cost:  $29.99 on weekdays; $39.99 on the weekends and holidays per car. Can add “fast pass” option to bypass the line for $20. See their website for more information and to purchase tickets in advance.

Willow Hill’s Winter Magic

Willow Hill’s Winter Magic drive-thru holiday lights show is a brand new holiday experience presented by Willow Hill Golf Course. This family holiday event features over one million lights adorning displays of characters (like snowmen and penguins), 50 beautifully lit Christmas trees, drive through light tunnels, and more. Proceeds benefit Erika’s Lighthouse, a not-for-profit dedicated to educating and raising awareness about adolescent depression, encouraging good mental health and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Where: 1350 Willow Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062 (23 miles from downtown Chicago) Entrance is on Willow Rd near 43 (in between I-94 and I-294).

When: November 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022 (closed during inclement weather)

Hours: Open daily from 4:30pm – 10:30pm. Tickets are available by one-hour increment time slots.

Cost:  $50 per standard vehicle. No Buses or Limos – or RV’s or trailers. Tickets are ONLY available for advance purchase online.

Santa’s Rock N Lights

Santa’s Rock N Lights presented by Jewel-Osco and 102.3 XLC is an animated drive-thru light show in its fourth year at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake. Experience hundreds-of-thousands of lights dancing to music and themed worlds of light including larger than life 3D polar bears, larger than life 3D dinosaurs and over 700 feet of tunnels.

Where: Lake County Fair Grounds (Enter in from Midlothian Road Entrance), 1060 E Peterson Rd, Grayslake, IL 60030 (45 miles northwest of downtown Chicago)

When: November 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022.

Hours: Sunday to Thursday 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM; Friday and Saturday 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM. Hours vary see the website for more information and to purchase tickets in advance.

Cost: Prices vary from $19.99 to $34.99 for one vehicle with up to 6 people.

Goebbert’s Christmas Light Show

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Goebbert’s Farm has partnered with Epic Light Shows to create a drive through light display, set to music and featuring over 1 million lights.

Where: 42W813 Reinking Road, Pingree Grove, Illinois 60140 (one mile North of Route 72 and two miles South of I90 on Route 47) (50 miles northwest from Chicago)

When: November 25, 2021 to January 9, 2022.

Hours: Monday-Thursday 5pm-10pm and Friday-Sunday 5pm-11pm. Timed tickets are now on sale online.

Cost: $20 -$25 per car depending on day.

Larsen’s Light Show

Larsen’s Light Show is a free light show in the western suburbs. No reservations are required but if you go during a busy time there can be a long wait.

Where: 42W891 Beith Rd, Campton Hills, IL 60119 (55 miles west from Chicago). All traffic must enter from Anderson road from route 38 or route 64.

When: November 25, 2021 to January 1, 2022. Monday-Thursday: 5-9:30pm and Friday-Sunday: 5-10:00pm

Cost: FREE (donations are accepted).

Holiday Lights at Mooseheart

The 12th Annual Holiday Lights display at Mooseheart has a lighted route that is approximately 1.8 miles with more than 80 lighted displays to view.

Where: Mooseheart Child City & School, Inc., Mooseheart, IL 60539 (42 miles west of downtown Chicago).

When: 5-9 pm nightly from November 26 through December 31, 2021

Cost: Free but they suggest a $20 donation to the school.

What are your favorite holiday light shows and displays in the Chicago area?

savvyglobetrotter

2 Comments

  1. Would love to check some of these out. I saw the ZooLights a few years ago but would love to see one of the drive through light shows this year.

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