It’s that time a year again to celebrate Christmas in Chicago! This time of year, brings so many fun family things to do for Christmas. A great way to celebrate with the whole family is to discover all the Christmas light displays around the city and suburbs. With it getting dark so early you can easily take even the littlest ones out to view the magic of twinkling Christmas lights. Wondering where to find the best Chicago Christmas lights? I have put together for you the Ultimate list of Christmas light displays in the Chicago area. Create great family memories by visiting these beautiful holiday lights.
10 Best Christmas Light Displays to Celebrate Christmas in Chicago
Chicago Botanic Garden’s Wonderland Express
You probably have visited the Chicago Botanic Gardens in the summer but have you seen all the beautiful holiday lights in the winter time? When you enter the gardens, your eyes will be filled with twinkling lights throughout the garden paths. They also have an amazing miniature train display called Wonderland Express which transports you into a magical holiday display. Kids will love finding all the trains and parents will love all the details in the miniature Chicago. There is an additional fee to enter the Wonderland Express exhibit and I would suggest you buy your tickets ahead of time to ensure you get the best entrance time. Find ticket information here.
Event Runs from November 23rd – January 6, 2019
Morton Arboretum – Illumination Tree Lights
Every year Morton Arboretum hosts Illumination Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum. You will find a one-mile paved path filled with interactive lighting effects to highlight the many beautiful trees. You can watch multicolored lights dance to symphonic music, view cool artistic tree like sculptures, and let star lights cover you in a grove of trees. New this year kids can hug a tree and see a cool response. This is a ticketed event you can find the details and price here.
Event Runs through Tuesday January 1, 2019
Museum of Science & Industry
Every year the Museum of Science and Industry hosts its annual Christmas Around the World Display. 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.
Event runs through January 6, 2019
Tip: If you go over winter break the museum gets really crowded and the parking lot can fill up. Make sure to arrive early to get the most out of your day. We go every year at this time and even though it’s crowded it’s still a lot of fun for the family. Learn more tips for the Museum of Science and Industry.
Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Great America
New this year is Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Great America. My family and I just checked out this new event and it is really fun. The park is filled with holiday lights and Christmas displays everywhere you turn. There are a few holiday shows with your favorite holiday music in the theatre and roaming Christmas Carolers around the park. Kids will love the two outdoor light shows that are timed to go with the music. They will also love the fire pits and smores stations set up throughout the park for a snack. You will find a few rides open but most of the small kiddy rides are closed. I would say going this time of year is more for strolling through the light displays then riding the amusement park rides.
Navy Pier Winter Wonderfest
Looking for something to do inside on a cold day. Check out Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest. You will find 170,000 square feet of attractions for the kiddos. Wonderfest has rides, giant slides, an indoor ice rink, and fun holiday decorations. There is a fee for this fun attraction but if you buy your tickets in advance there is a discount and you get to skip the ticket line. You will find the smallest crowds if you go on weekdays or mornings. They do check bags for security so pack lightly.
Event runs from November 30th through January 6, 2019 in Festival Hall
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
Celebrating its 24th year the Lincoln Park Zoo will be a glow with 2.5 million lights and hundreds of holiday displays. Strolling through the light displays and see the animals playing at night what could be more fun? Best part, the Lincoln Park Zoo is Free. Check out more family tips for the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Event runs from 4:30-9pm on weekends only until December 2nd. Then nightly from December 7th through January 6, 2019. (excluding December 24th * 25th)
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic is Chicagoland’s largest light festival. This event features over 1 million twinkling lights, a 41-foot talking tree, ice carvers, carolers and much more. New this year they have added an ice-skating rink to the fun. Animal Exhibits are open till 8pm so if you get cold just pop into an exhibit and visit some of the animals. 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.
Tip: This is a really popular event and it gets crowded. I would suggest getting there earlier in the day and visiting the animals then staying for the lights. If you come once it’s dark there are huge lines to get into the parking lot. Read more Brookfield Zoo Tips here and be ready for a fun adventure.
Event runs on Saturday and Sundays, December 1-2, 8-9, 22-23, and Wednesday- Monday 26-31
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? Here are a few great options for drive through Christmas light displays.
Santa’s Rock N Lights Drive Thru Light Show
Located at the Lake County Fair Grounds in Grayslake, IL you will find Santa’s Rock N Lights. Drive through this amazing Holiday light display which is almost a mile long. While driving through you will find nearly 1,000 programable elements 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. Find more about pricing here .
Event runs from November 29th thought December 31, 2018 from 5pm -10pm
Lights on Magnolia
A cool neighborhood in Rolling Meadows, IL has worked together to create a synchronize Christmas Light display on their homes. It hard to show how cool the show is in pictures. 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 the holiday music while watch the fun light show. There are tons of details on each house which keeps the kids interested and excited.
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. You will see a box outside to leave your donation. 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 from November 25th through January 6, 2019. It is a nightly show from 4:30- midnight.
Sauganash Holiday Lights
This Northwest side neighborhood of Chicago has been a popular destination to see neighborhood Christmas light since the 60’s. You will find 6 blocks of homes uniquely decorated for Christmas and Hanukkah. On weekend nights you may even find traffic jams as cars slowly drive though 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. Their Facebook page is a little out of date Sauganash Holiday Lights but use it to help you find the neighborhood.
I hope your family can find a few great places to view Christmas Light Displays from this list. 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!!