It’s that time of year again to celebrate Christmas in Chicago! Are you wondering what there is to do at Christmas time in Chicago? I’ve got you covered with all the magical Christmas Light Displays throughout the city and suburbs.
There is a wide variety of places to see lights from Museums to Zoo Lights, drive-thru displays, local neighborhoods, Chicago Botanical Gardens, and Morton Arboretum. All are fun ways to celebrate the holidays with your family.
Get inspired by this newly updated Christmas Lights in Chicago list for 2020 and make some fun Holiday memories together.
**Things are changing fast with social distancing rules or possible shutdowns so keep checking back for updates. Currently, Indoor Museums are temporarily closed.
Just added – Six Flags Holiday in the Park will Open and added a Drive-Thru Light Show this year only – Find out more below
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Christmas in Chicago 2020 – Best Holiday Light Displays
Chicago Botanic Garden’s 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 second year in a row, they are bringing back their popular Lightscape Event. When you enter the gardens, your eyes will be filled with twinkling lights throughout the garden paths.
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.
Changes for 2020 –This year the event has been updated for Covid-19 with mask requirements, one-way trails, social distancing, and other adjustments. You can not use bathrooms indoors but they did set up porta-potties.
The cafe is closed but there are two outdoor stations to grab hot chocolate & cookies which need to be eaten at the stations. Visitors can not walk around with food or drinks. You can learn more about the requirements at Botanical Gardens.
There is an additional fee to enter the Lightscape exhibit. If you buy your tickets in advance you save $2 a ticket. Last year this event sold out so I would highly suggest you purchase your ticket in advance. Find ticket information here.
Event Runs from November 13th, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Be Ready for Christmas in 2020 – 24 Christmas Activities for Families while Social Distancing
Morton Arboretum – Illumination Tree Lights
This year Morton Arboretum has reimagined their Illumination Tree Lights to a drive-through experience.
This makes it a safe and fun way to still experience the beautiful lighted trees on a 2-mile drive.
Guests will spend 30-40 minutes driving through multicolored lights, illuminated trees, and festive music. From the warmth of your car, you’ll enjoy old favorites like Symphony Woods and Woodland Wonder.
Your kids will be in awe as you drive through this winter wonderland.
To find ticket information and learn more visit Morton Arboretum.
Event Runs November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Related Article – Easy DIY Christmas Card Display Ideas for Home
Holiday in the Park Lights
Six Flags Great America has announced they will host their Holiday in the Park Event once again this year. It will be the third year for this cool event.
The big difference in 2020 is there will now be both a walk-thru option and a drive-thru option. Which is pretty cool! No rides are available but there will be tons of lights & music.
For the Walk-Thru experience, guests can stroll through the park admiring the 3 million dazzling lights and holiday displays. Then enjoy socially distanced outdoor entertainment while munching on holiday treats.
Kids will enjoy doing arts and crafts with the elves and visiting Santa. We went to this event last year without doing any rides and had a great time. So don’t let that keep you from seeing all the beautiful lights.
Guests need to reserve their tickets ahead of time and prices start at $19.99. Check Six Flags for availability.
The Drive-thru experience will be offered on special days and will have you actually driving through Great America to see the 3 million lights and special holiday characters waving as you go by.
This is the perfect option for families wanting to social distance but still, experience the holiday lights.
The drive-thru will run select days in December and January. Check dates and pricing starting at $14.99 per person without season membership. Six Flags Great America
- Walk-Thru – November 27 – December 30, 2020
- Drive-thru – Select days in December and January
Museum of Science & Industry
**Update 11/19/2020: Museums in Illinois are temporarily closed check Science & Industry Site for openings if you plan to go.
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 this year you will need to purchase your tickets in advance as they have reserved time-entry into the museum.
Family members over the age of 2 will need to wear a mask and stay socially distanced. Find more details about restrictions & order tickets in Science & Industry.
Tip: Learn more tips for your visit in our Museum of Science and Industry Review.
Event Runs November 13th – January 3, 2021
Related Article – DIY Dollar Tree Christmas Decorations & Hostess Gifts
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.
Update 11/19/2020: There is now limited capacity for Zoos while Illinois is in Tier 3 Mitigation. Make sure to reserve your tickets to Zoo Lights early.
Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
Zoo Lights is celebrating its 26th 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?
This year there are some changes to keep in mind. They will be charging $5 for each guest to help support the zoo. You must have a ticket to enter Zoolights and your group can not exceed 10 people.
There will be 5 bonus free nights offered and tickets will be released the Sunday before at 4 pm. The dates are Nov. 24, December 9, 17, 21,29. Warning these will go fast.
Make sure to dress warmly as no indoor buildings will be open this year 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.
Event Runs – November 21st – January 3, 2021, from 4-10pm
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic is Chicagoland’s largest light festival. This is the 39th 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.
Changes for 2020 – Currently only outside animal exhibits are open. Visitors can not go into indoor exhibits. There are also timed entrances to get into the zoo as well as a mask rule while walking around.
Entrance to the event is included in your entrance fee. If you are a member it is free. For more information and updates visit Brookfield Zoo.
Tip: Learn more about the zoo in our Brookfield Zoo Guide for Families and be ready for a fun adventure.
Event runs on November 27, 28, 29 – December 2-6, 9-13, 16-20 and 26-31 2020 – From 3-9pm
Drive Through 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.
Let It Shine Light Show
This is the Northshore’s largest and newest 2020 Drive-thru Christmas light show. Let It Shine Light Show is located at the Northbrook Court Mall parking lot in Northbrook, IL.
Guests will drive through 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.
The coolest part is they have partnered with Northshore University HealthSystem and a portion of the proceeds will directly benefit Kellogg Cancer Center in honor of their Co-Founder’s battle with throat cancer.
So you can have a fun family night out and feel good about giving back this year.
They charge per vehicle, not individuals in your car and there is an optional fast pass to use on busy weekends. You can purchase tickets ahead of time at the Let It Shine website.
Event Runs – November 15- January 9, 2021, weekdays 4:30 -10 pm, Weekends 4:30 -11 pm
Santa’s Rock N Lights Drive-Thru Light Show
Located in Grayslake, IL 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.
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 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 you come so try for Mondays when it’s the cheapest. Find more about pricing here.
Event Runs – November 20th – January 3, 2021
Lights on Magnolia
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. Sit in your car and listen to holiday music while watching the fun light show.
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 a local 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 Runs – Starting December 5th
Sauganash Holiday Lights
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.
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.
I hope your family can find a few great places to view Christmas Light 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!!
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