Updated for 2021. The holiday season of 2021 has arrived as people are preparing for the holidays to be more open than they were last year. The pandemic is not over, but the availability of vaccines and the opening of more businesses has given us more of a sense of normalcy. Many families that did not get together last year will once again be gathering to spend the holidays together for the first time in two years.
One thing that never changes about the holiday season is the impressive array of Christmas light displays that can be found throughout the Chicago area. There are several displays in the suburbs and the city itself where holiday lights are up through the new year. You and your family can take in these displays on foot or from your vehicle if you still want to maintain a safe distance.
When people think of Christmas trees and other holiday decorations, holly trees and pines are typically the first that come to mind. The dark green leaves and bright red drupes of holly trees are found on wreaths and other decorations while pine trees are commonly used as Christmas trees. However, the holiday light displays found throughout the Chicago area do not limit themselves to just these types of trees. Trees of all types are lit up this time of year with bright, colorful holiday lights to celebrate the season. All throughout Chicagoland, residents can view impressive light displays in cities, parks, and even in their own neighborhoods.
Taking in Christmas tree light displays is a favorite holiday season past time for many. Some events may charge a fee to enter but there are also plenty of opportunities to see Christmas tree lights without spending a dime. In this guide, we will highlight the best places where you can see Christmas tree light displays throughout the city of Chicago and the suburbs. Visiting these impressive light displays is a safe family activity for this holiday season.
If you want to make sure your trees receive the proper care that they need to survive the winter, call our experts at Hendricksen Tree Care. We provide complete tree services including tree trimming to get your trees prepared for the winter.
Aurora’s Festival of Lights
The first holiday light display is the Aurora Festival of Lights that takes place in Philips Park in Aurora, IL. The Aurora Festival of Lights is a giant display sprawled out through the entire park that includes lights shaped like reindeer, elves, and stockings as well as lights on the trees. This display is free to attend, and it is open from the day after Thanksgiving to the day after Christmas from 5 pm to 9 pm every day of the week.
Lehnertz Avenue Christmas Display
The Lehnertz Avenue Christmas Display is a neighborhood display that is also in Aurora, IL. Each year, the residents of Lehnertz Avenue put out lights and displays that depict the birth of Jesus Christ as well as lit up Peanuts characters. Visitors drive through the neighborhood to take in the lights and displays that illuminate the entire street. The drive down Lehnertz Ave concludes at a life-size, brightly lit up Nativity scene. This display is free to attend, and people can visit from 5 pm to 10:30 pm from December 12 through January 7. The hours are 5 pm to midnight on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Symphony of Lights in Bolingbrook
The Symphony of Lights display in Bolingbrook, IL is a nightly light show in the Promenade which is a large open-air shopping center just west of I-355. This display includes 250,000 LED lights that are set to the music of the Trans Siberian Orchestra which starts on the hour between 5 pm and 9 pm. The buildings in the Promenade are decorated with lights and there is a large Christmas tree and other decorations in the space between the buildings. It is free to attend this display and it runs from mid-November through December 31.
Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo is a big holiday light display spread out across the entire zoo. This display includes ice sculptures, a 41-foot talking Christmas tree, and more than a million lights. Visitors can see the light display at the Brookfield Zoo every Wednesday through Sunday December 1-5, 8-12, and 15-19, and Sunday through Friday December 26-31. It is free for members to attend, but non-members must buy tickets.
Christmas Tree in Millennium Park
Each year, a 50-foot-tall Christmas tree is decorated with several thousand Christmas lights in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. This tall tree really stands out against the Chicago skyline as its backdrop and it is right around the corner from other popular holiday activities such as the Christkindlmarket that happens in Daly Plaza. Visitors can see the Christmas tree from mid-November until January 9 and there is no cost to walk through Millennium Park.
Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at the Museum of Science and Industry
Open again for 2021! The Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light displays are annual displays at the Museum of Science and Industry that have been a tradition since 1942. The main Christmas tree of this display is four stories tall and there are more than 50 smaller Christmas trees and displays that surround the main tree. Each tree is decorated to represent holiday traditions from other cultures and countries. Visitors can see these displays in the museum from mid-November through January 3 and the price is included in the museum entrance fee.
The Magnificent Mile
Each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the Magnificent Mile transforms into a mile-long holiday light display that consists of Christmas trees and more than a million lights. Visitors can walk up and down the Mag Mile, taking in the festive light display while visiting the famous shops and restaurants. While shopping on the Magnificent Mile can cost you, it is free to walk the strip and view the holiday light displays.
Lincoln Park Zoo Zoolights
For the past 25 years, the Lincoln Park Zoo has put on the Zoolights festival featuring holiday light displays throughout the zoo. This event features around 2.5 million lights and other holiday festivities such as holiday crafts and Santa Claus. Zoolights runs from 4 pm to 10 pm November 19 through January 2, but is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Tickets are $5 and admission is free on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier
The Winter WonderFest is an impressive indoor Christmas light display at Navy Pier. Visitors can enjoy the 42-foot-tall Christmas tree along with thousands of lights in the 170,000 square foot indoor space protected from the harsh winter weather. In addition to the Christmas tree and light displays, Winter WinderFest includes an indoor skating rink, ferris wheel, live snow globe, and other attractions. This festival runs from November 27 through December 24 and those visiting must buy tickets for the event.
Illumination – Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum covers more than 50 acres in Lisle, IL and during the Christmas season, the trees of the arboretum are lit up for its Illumination festival. This a different kind of Christmas light display as the trees themselves are not decorated with holiday lights. Rather, interactive lighting effects are used to illuminate the trees as visitors walk down the path. The lights highlight the beauty of the trees and holiday music accentuates the display. This event runs from November 20 through January 2 and visitors must buy a ticket to attend.
AMAZE Light Festival at Impact Field
The AMAZE Light Festival is a new holiday light display in 2021 that is happening at Impact Field in Rosemont, IL. This large, immersive display features over one million holiday lights in seven themed-based illuminated worlds with timed light shows every 30 minutes. This display runs from November 19 through January 2 and visitors can buy tickets for 3-hour blocks of time.
Winter Tree Care Services from Hendricksen Tree Care Throughout Chicagoland
If you love to see Christmas light displays with your family, check out the events listed above to see the most impressive tree displays that the Chicago area has to offer. There are several light displays that happen in some of the most popular areas in Chicago and many of these events are totally free to visit. Regardless of which combination of events you choose to attend, you will be treated to some of the most impressive Christmas tree lights and light displays throughout the Chicago area.
It is important to remember that your trees may be in need of maintenance before the winter weather fully sets in. Certain fertilizer treatments and winter tree pruning can help your trees better survive the harsh Chicago winter season. Make sure you call our professional arborists at Hendricksen Tree Care to give your trees a final inspection and the care they need to survive the cold weather and grow back strong in the spring.