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Best Christmas Light Displays, Shows & Drive-Thrus in Chicago & Suburbs 2021

Best Christmas Light Displays, Shows & Drive-Thrus in Chicago & Suburbs 2021

It’s that time of year again to celebrate Christmas in Chicago! Are you wondering where the best Christmas light displays, shows & drive-thrus are in Chicago? I’ve got you covered with all the magical Chicago Christmas Lights throughout the city and suburbs.

There is a wide variety of places to see lights near you from Museums to Zoo Lights, drive-through lights, local neighborhoods, Chicago Botanical Gardens, Morton Arboretum, Navy Pier, and Six Flags. Plus the Let it Shine Light Show. All are fun ways to celebrate the holidays with your family.

Get inspired by this newly updated Christmas Light Displays in Chicago list for 2021 and make some fun Holiday memories together. 

I will continually be updating this article throughout the Holiday season so you have the latest details.

Most recently updated on 11/29/2021.

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Best Chicago Christmas Lights Displays, Shows & Drive Throughs in 2021

Your Guide to the best Chicago Christmas Light Displays for 2021. Learn where to find drive thru light displays, Zoo Lights, Museum Holiday lights, cool local neighborhood lights and more. Plus a free printable Lights Scavenger Hunt to entertain the kids. Check it out and plan which holiday light displays to visit this year with your family.

Our guide to the best Christmas light displays in Chicago & the Suburbs is organized by walkable light displays (museums, gardens, Navy Pier & Six Flags), Zoo Lights, Drive-thru light displays, and neighborhood light displays.

There is a mix of light displays & shows in the city and suburbs so you can find a few near you and enjoy the holidays exploring Chicago’s unique Christmas lights.

Add to the fun this year by exploring all the Christmas light displays with a free printable Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt for kids.

It will keep your kids engaged while you drive or walk through the holiday light displays. 

Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape

Beautiful Christmas Tree at Chicago Botanical Gardens Holiday Light Show Lightscape.

You probably have visited the Chicago Botanic Gardens in the summer but have you seen all the beautiful holiday lights in the wintertime? It’s not to be missed!

For the third year in a row, they are bringing back their popular Lightscape Event an after-dark illuminated trail. When you enter the gardens, your eyes will be filled with twinkling lights throughout the garden paths.

Wonder the Illuminated trail & tunnels at the Chicago Botanical Gardens Lightscape Christmas Light Displays Event.

Visitors will walk through a mile-long lighted path surrounded by a choir of singing trees, hanging ribbons of lights, lighted tunnels, Marshmellow stations, and more. 

There is an additional fee to enter the Lightscape exhibit. If you buy your tickets in advance you save $2 a ticket. Prices are different depending on the day you choose to attend and you will be given an entry time for the event.

New for 2021 – This year for a higher price they have added a Flex Ticket option so that you can come in anytime between 4:30 & 9 pm. It is more expensive but does include the parking fee.

Every year this event sells out so I would highly suggest you purchase your ticket in advance. Find ticket information here 

Event Runs from November 12th, 2021 – January 2, 2022

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Morton Arboretum – Illumination Tree Lights 

This year Morton Arboretum Illumination Tree lights have returned to being a walking experience, unlike last year when it was made into a drive-through experience.

You will be able to explore over 50 acres of beautiful color, lights, and sounds throughout the trees and paths. There is a one-mile paved walking path filled with festive music and light displays to walk.

Along the path, guests can warm up by the fire and roast marshmallows for s’mores or stop at the concession tent for a snack or drink.

Your kids will be in awe as you walk through this winter wonderland.

New for 2021 – This year they’ve added a new Human+Nature display and 150 colorful lanterns.

IlliumiBrew is back to let visitors sample seasonal beers & ciders while exploring the Illumination trail. This event is only for adults age 21 and older. This is only a two-day special event on November 18th & 19th. Get details here.

This event also sells out quickly like Botanical Gardens so make sure to purchase your ticket in advance.

To find ticket information and learn more visit Morton Arboretum

Event Runs November 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022

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Six Flags Holiday in the Park Lights

Christmas Merry Go Round at Six Flags Holiday in the Park Light Displays and show in Chicago.
Six Flags Holiday in the Park

Six Flags Great America Holiday in the Park Lights has also returned this year to a walk-through event plus their continuing their drive-thru lights event. This is great news because now some of the rides will be open during the event and you can choose to walk or drive.

Guests can stroll through the park admiring more than 3 million dazzling lights and holiday displays. Families can also enjoy holiday entertainment, shows, and visits with Santa Claus.

Stop at the bonfires to warm up and roast some marshmallows for s’mores too.

We’ve gone to this event before without doing any rides and had a great time just walking around and admiring the lights.

So don’t feel the only reason to come is like in the summer when you ride the roller coasters. Plus there are only a few rides that will actually be open to ride and more for the younger kids.

Bonus if you have a membership or season pass to Six Flags the event is included in your pass.

Find more details and ticket prices on the walk-thru event visit Six Flags Holiday in the Park Lights

Walk Thru Event Runs Weekends November 26, 2021- December 3, 2021 (with select weekdays)

The Drive-thru experience has guests driving through the park to see views of more than 3 million lights, listen to seasonal music, and see Characters.

This would be a great option if the weather is really cold or you don’t want to walk around the park.

You must have reservations for the drive-thru experience and can not just show up.

Find more details and ticket prices for the drive-thru at Six Flags Holiday Lights Drive-Thru.

Drive-thru Event Runs Weekends December 3, 2021- January 9, 2022 (with select dates)

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Museum of Science & Industry 

Amazing Christmas Trees at the Museum of Science & Industry's Christmas Around the World Show & Holiday Lights Displays.
Museum of Science & Industry

The museums are back open this year which means Christmas Around the World is back at Museums of Science and Industry.

Every year the Museum of Science and Industry hosts its annual Christmas Around the World Display and Holidays of Light. Over 50 beautiful trees are on display representing different countries throughout the world.

Learn about the history and culture of different countries by exploring how they decorate their holiday trees. Your kids will love seeing all the different types of ornaments and big beautiful displays. On weekends you can enjoy live performances too. 

There is no additional fee for this event other than your entrance ticket to the museum. However, you will need to purchase your tickets in advance as they have reserved time-entry into the museum.

The museum is also still observing a reduced daily capacity so make sure not to wait too long to book your tickets. I am sure weekend times will fill up fast.

Family members over the age of 2 will need to wear a mask and stay socially distanced. Find more details about restrictions at Science & Industry.

Learn more about the Christmas Around the World Event.

Tip: Learn more tips for your visit in our Museum of Science and Industry Review.

Event Runs November 17th, 2021 – January 3, 2022

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Navy Pier Light Up the Lake

The holidays are back this year at Navy Pier. The new event called Light Up the Lake replaces the Winter WonderFest. They are dubbing it the biggest indoor light garden with huge light sculpture displays to walk through.

Visitors will also enjoy an indoor ice rink, kiddie train rides, authentic holiday Beer garden, and Santa’s Merry Main Street & Market. Plus the always exciting visits from Santa.

Tip: Ticket prices are cheaper on Mondays for kids and adults.

Find more details and ticket prices at Light Up the Lake

Event Runs November 26th, 2021 – January 2, 2022

Zoo Lights – Christmas Light Displays

What could be more fun than Christmas Lights and Zoo Animals! Both Chicago Zoos offer great Holiday Light Events for your family. 

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights 

Cool Christmas Light Displays & Show at the Zoo Lights event at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
Lincoln Park Zoo Lights Event Light Show

Zoo Lights is celebrating its 27th year at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The entire zoo will be aglow with 2.5 million lights and hundreds of holiday displays.

Kids will love finding all the lite up animal figures and the cool light show set to music. Strolling through the light displays and seeing the animals playing at night what could be more fun?

As you walk around you’ll find festive holiday snacks, snowy spirits, and s’mores pop-up holiday bars.

New in 2021 – A new Holiday light experience on the Main lawns and South Lawn, the opening of the new Pepper Family Wild Life Center, and two sensory-friendly nights.

The Zoo will continue with a limited capacity this year so you need to reserve tickets in advance. Tickets on Monday and Tuesday nights are free but tickets on Wednesday -Sunday are $5.

Tickets will go on sale in mid-October and you can find information here.

Make sure to dress warmly as many indoor buildings will not be open but you will be able to see some animals outside. However, I would mainly go to see the lights not the animals as many go inside when it’s cold. 

Check out more family tips for the Lincoln Park Zoo or visit here to purchase tickets. 

Event Runs – November 19th 2021 – January 2, 2022, from 4-10pm

Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic 

Chicago Holiday Light Displays at the Brookfield Zoo's Holiday Magic event.
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic

Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic is Chicagoland’s largest and longest-running light festival. This is the 40th year for Holiday Magic featuring over 1 million twinkling lights, a 41-foot talking tree, ice carvers, an ice skating rink, carolers, and much more.

Make sure to check the schedule when you get there to see all the different events happening that night. We have found this to be a great holiday tradition for our kids and I think yours will love it too. 

Entrance to the event is included in your entrance fee. If you are a member it is free. Advanced tickets will be required for this event in 2021.

The event runs from 3-9 pm but I would highly suggest you get there earlier by at least 1:30 pm because there is a huge traffic jam to get into the zoo for the lights every year.

To find more information & purchase tickets visit Brookfield Zoo

Tip: Get more of my Brookfield Zoo Guide for Families tips and be ready for a fun adventure. 

Event runs in 2021- Friday through Sunday, November 26-28, Wednesday through Sunday, December 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, Sunday through Friday, December 26-31

Drive Thru Christmas Light Displays

Why get out and walk around in the cold when you could view the holiday lights from the warmth of your car?

Plus it’s the perfect way to watch holiday lights and social distance. Here are a few great options for drive-through Christmas light displays.

Don’t forget Six Flags also has a drive-thru light display this year which we went over in the Six Flag section above.

Let It Shine Light Show

The Let it Shine Light Show started in 2020 as Northshore’s largest and newest Drive-thru Christmas light show. They invited me to attend last year and my whole family loved it! This year the show is back and has expanded to 3 different locations.

Let it Shine Light Show is a fun Holiday Light show in Chicago Suburbs. A beautiful drive through Christmas show coordinated to holiday music.

Guests will drive through over 1 million lights with dazzling archways, sparkling candy canes, glowing snowmen, huge trees, singing Santas, and more.

The lights are set to holiday music you listen to on your car radio as you drive through the display.

Let It Shine is a fun drive through Holiday Light show in the Chicago Suburbs

They charge per vehicle, not individuals in your car and there is an optional fast pass to use on busy weekends.

You need to purchase tickets ahead of time at the Let It Shine website. 

Prices Per Cars -$29.99 Weekdays, $39.99 Weekends & Holidays, Optional Fast Pass $20.

Locations & Times for Let It Shine

Fox Valley Mall – 195 Fox Valley Center Dr., Aurora IL

Event Runs November 12, 2021 – January 9, 2022 / 4:30-11:00pm

Northbrook Court – 1515 Lake Cook Rd., Northbrook IL

Event Runs November 5, 2021 – January 9, 2022 / 4:30-11:00pm

Wintrust Field – 1999 S. Springinsguth Rd., Schaumburg IL

Event Runs November 12, 2021 – January 9, 2022 / 4:30-11:00pm

Santa’s Rock N Lights Drive-Thru Light Show 

Huge Dinosaur Christmas Light Displays at the Santa's Rock N Lights Drive Thru in the Chicagoland area.

Located in Grayslake, IL at the Lake County fairgrounds you will find a fun drive through Santa’s Rock N Lights.

Drive through this amazing Holiday light display which is almost a mile long. This year they have added almost double the lights.

Drive Thru Christmas Lights Tunnel at Santa's Rock N Lights Show

While driving through you will find nearly 1,000 programable elements, 700ft of tunnels, and over 100,000 programable lights dancing to music. Watch the display all through the warmth of your car and hear the holiday music on your radio.

It’s a great family outing on a cold winter night.

Pricing is per car for up to 6 people. The price changes based on the day of the week. Find more about pricing here.

Event Runs – November 19th – January  2, 2022

Aurora Festival of Lights

This fun drive though light display is FREE which is pretty awesome. Returning for its 15th year this display runs more than a mile long through unique Christmas light displays.

As you drive along you’ll see Santa’s Toy factory, reindeer, holiday trains, huge snowflakes, old man winter, and more amazing lights. So pack some hot chocolate and cookies for the ride and enjoy a free night out with the kids.

You’ll find the drive-through in Phillips Park, South Smith Street & 5th Ave, Aurora, IL 60505. Make sure you enter the event South on Smith BLVD and 5th Ave.

In 2020 they had over 50,000 cars visit the event which lead to longer waits to get in. This year you need to make a reserved time but it is still free. Here’s the Festival of Lights link to get tickets once their available.

The Rotary Club of Aurora sponsors this event along with the City of Aurora and does accept donations to benefit local charities. Here is the link if you’d like to donate to this fun event and help others during the Christmas season.

Event Runs Friday, Nov 26, 2021, through Dec 26, 2021. Sunday through Saturday 5-9 pm

Neighborhood Christmas Lights Displays

Lights on Magnolia 

Christmas Light Displays on homes in Rolling Meadows Neighborhood in Chicago Suburbs.

A cool neighborhood in Rolling Meadows, IL has worked together to create a synchronize Christmas Light Display on their homes. It’s hard to show how cool the show is in pictures but you’ll love it.

When you enter this neighborhood, you will see a sign for the radio station playing their synchronized music. It should be 98.3 FM. Sit in your car and listen to holiday music while watching the fun light show.

Christmas Light Displays & Show in a Neighborhood in Chicago called Lights on Magnolia.

There are tons of details on each house that keeps the kids interested and excited. You can even get out and walk on the sidewalks to get a better view. 

There is no charge to view this light show but they do ask for a donation of non-perishable food which will go to All Saints Food Pantry. There are boxes set up to leave your donation.

It’s free entertainment for the family plus you can feel good about helping a local food pantry.  

As this is in a residential neighborhood please make sure to not block anyone’s driveway. 

Here is a link to their website Lights on Magnolia 

Event Starts November 26, 2021, and runs nightly through the season from 4:30-Midnight

Sauganash Holiday Lights 

Christmas Light Displays to drive thru in the Sauganash Neighborhood of Chicago.

This Northwest side neighborhood of Chicago has been a popular destination to see neighborhood Christmas light since the ’60s. You will find 6 blocks of homes uniquely decorated for Christmas and Hanukkah.

It gets pretty busy and on weekend nights. You may even find traffic jams as cars slowly drive through looking at the beautiful lights. Load up on some cookies and hot chocolate and take the kids on a fun drive through this historic neighborhood.  

Neighborhood Christmas Light Displays in the Sauganash area of Chicago

When using GPS put in the corner of Leroy and Albion in Chicago. It’s off Devon just west of the Edens Expressway.

Dates – There are no specific dates for these light displays as they are all on individual homes. Just drive over and check it out all through December.

Storozhuk Family Light Show

The Storozhuk Family Light show is put on by a local family who wanted to bring some cheer to the neighbors during covid. They decorate their house and have their light show synchronized to holiday music.

It can get pretty crowded to watch on weekends so you may want to park and walk over to get a better view. Often the kids will break out into a dance party on the driveway while watching the show.

They just ask that you make sure not to block their neighbor’s driveways. Turn your radio to 88.7 FM so you can listen to the music in your car when you get close.

Visit their Facebook page to get any updates on the light show.

Event Runs December 4, 2021 – December 31, 2021 Nightly from 5:30-9:30

Address: 860 Woodhollow Lane, Buffalo Grove, IL

Car Game -Lights Scavenger Hunt & Would You Rather

As you drive through Christmas Light displays keep the kids entertained on your drive with fun free printable Christmas Games. Your whole family will love playing these games.

Free Printable Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt lists Kids, Teens & Families will love to play. Enjoy this fun holiday party scavenger hunt game while exploring your neighborhood light displays. Teens will like the selfie challenge to finding the holiday items. Plus it keeps younger kids engaged while walking your local holiday displays or driving around town. It's the easiest holiday game ever!

Get the kids excited about looking for holiday items in the light displays with a free printable Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt.

Free Printable Would You Rather Christmas Edition for Kids. Families will love these hilarious questions to ask at holiday parties, school parties, or family events. Just download the Christmas questions and print them out. It's that easy!

Read off this hilarious game of Would You Rather Christmas to keep your whole family laughing while waiting in line in your car. Don’t worry all are kid-friendly questions.

Grab your FREE printable and bring it with you on your next holiday adventure.

Continue the fun all Holiday season with more Free Printable Christmas Games for families. Fun games for Holiday parties and family dinners too!

Best Free Printable Christmas Games for kids at Christmas Parties, school parties and family game nights. Enjoy playing party games like Christmas Trivia, Bingo, Pictionary, Charades, Scavenger Hunts and Holiday Would You Rather. Just print out the games and your ready to play!

Make Planning Christmas Easier with the Ultimate Christmas Planner. Created for busy people you’ll get organized with 44 pages of Christmas checklists, meal planner, party planner, holiday budget, gift lists, printable family games, monthly, weekly & daily calendars & more.

It’s the Ultimate Parenting hack for the Holidays!

Plan a Stress-free Christmas with the Ultimate Christmas Planner for 2021. Use this 44 page printable to get your organized and ready for the holidays this year. Download and print this planner to use year after year to plan the holidays. You'll find Calendars, To Do lists, Gift lists, Meal planner, party planner, Black Friday & Cyber Monday tracker and more. Everything a busy parent needs to be ready for the Christmas season in one printable bundle.

Are you ready now to celebrate Christmas in Chicago? I hope your family can find a few great places to view Chicago Christmas Lights Displays this year.

Our family has enjoyed spending Christmas in Chicago visiting all of these beautiful light displays and I am sure your family will love them too! 

Do you know any other great Christmas Light Displays in Chicago? Please share with us in the comments so we can all visit or let us know how you liked visiting the ones on this list. I love to hear from my readers. 

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!! 

Find More Fun Holiday Ideas

Visit our Holiday Page to Get more Fun Family Ideas this season.

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Fun Family Activities in Chicago

Find more ways to enjoy family time in Chicago with these can’t miss Chicago Attractions. 

  1. 7 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Chicago with Kids
  2. Ultimate Guide to Chicago with Kids
  3. Best Museums in Chicago for Kids
  4. 10 Fun Family Weekend Getaways from Chicago

Want more great Chicago articles, family travel, kids’ activities, holiday ideas, and quick family meals? Become part of the Happy Mom Hacks Community with our weekly newsletter and be up to date on everything new.

Bonus you’ll get our FREE printable Would You Rather Questions Christmas Edition and enjoy a fun holiday game with your kids. 

Funny Would You Rather Christmas Questions for your next holiday party or classroom party. A fun party game the whole family will enjoy playing together this Christmas.

With the stress of the holidays do you need a laugh every day? Join my Happy Mom Hacks Facebook pageTwitter, and Instagram for daily parenting jokes to make you smile.  

Don’t Forget to Pin This!

Christmas in Chicago -Things to Do in the winter with kids. What could be a better holiday outing then seeing all the Holiday Lights Displays In Chicago. This is the Ultimate list of the best light displays for families. #christmasinchicago, #holidaylights, #thingstodochicago
10 Things to Do in Chicago for the Christmas. Christmas in Chicago is the best! There are beautiufl holiday light displays for families all over the city. Use this Guide to Christmas Light Display in Chicago to find displays kids will love! #holidaylights, #christmasinchicago, #christmaslightdisplays

 

Free Printable Family Travel Checklist with everything you need to pack for family vacation. Be prepared to travel with kids with this handy printable checklist.

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7 Fun things to do in Chicago with kids you won't want to miss. Explore an amazing playground and zoo in the summer. Ice skate in Millennium Park in the winter. Don't forget the great Museums and aquariums too. So many awesome Chicago Attractions your family will love for a weekend getaway or stay-cation!! #chicagoattractions, #familyvacation, #traveltips
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Tips to know before you go to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry with kids, Find out what to see, things to do, where to eat, where to park, free days and more. Use these tips to have a fun family day. #familyvacation, #chicago, #scienceandindustry, #chicagomuseum, #traveltips


   

What to know before you go to Chicago Field Museum of Natural History. Things to Do with the kids and tips on exhibitions, where to eat, where to park and more. Read this and be ready for a fun Family day at the Museum. #familytravel, #familyvacation, #traveltips, #Chicago, #fieldmuseum
Free Things to do at Lincoln Park Zoo Chicago. This Illinois Zoo offers tons of animals to view and is easy to navigate. Bonus the zoo is free! Your kids will love the Christmas holidays lights event and Halloween event too. #Lincolnparkzoo, #chicagoattractions


Tim

Wednesday 15th of December 2021

The Jahn Christmas musical lights display in Buffalo Grove features over 10,000 synchronized lights that dance to the music! All the details are available at https://www.jahnchristmas.com

happymomhacks

Thursday 16th of December 2021

This sounds really fun we will check it out!

Katie Peterson

Monday 2nd of November 2020

Let It Shine | Drive Thru Light Show opens Nov. 15

North Shore’s largest drive-thru world of lights launches at Northbrook Court. Guests are invited to stay in their cars and immerse themselves in a wonderland of light displays that are synchronized to holiday classics. There’s no denying the holiday cheer as you cruise past dazzling archways, sparkling candy canes, glowing snowmen and more illuminated installations.

Flo

Sunday 8th of December 2019

My family and I are going to see the lights at Brookfield Zoo next weekend. Can’t wait!

happymomhacks

Sunday 8th of December 2019

We went again last night and it was great. You'll love the lights at Brookfield Zoo. Have fun!