It’s that time of year again to celebrate Christmas in Chicago! Are you wondering where the best Chicago Christmas lights, festivals, Displays & drive-thrus are? I’ve got you covered with all the magical Christmas Lights locations throughout the city and suburbs.
There is a wide variety of places to see holiday lights near you from Museums to ZooLights, drive-through lights, local neighborhoods, Chicago Botanical Gardens, Morton Arboretum, Navy Pier, and Six Flags. Plus the Sparkle Light Festival and the BMO Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. All are fun ways to celebrate the holidays with your family.
Get inspired by this newly updated Christmas Light Displays in Chicago list for 2023 and make some fun Holiday memories together.
I will continually update this article throughout the Holiday season so you have the latest details.
Most recently updated on 12/08/2023
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Where to Find the Best Chicago Christmas Lights in 2023
Our guide to the best places for 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.
Plan your whole Chicago Christmas Bucket List with these light displays and the Top Things to Do at Christmas in Chicago & the Suburbs with more holiday events, shows, and activities for the whole family.
While out looking at 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 help keep your kids engaged while you drive or walk through the holiday light displays.
BMO Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Parade
Kick off the holiday season with the BMO Harris Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. This event is considered one of the largest Christmas holiday celebrations in the country. A fun Chicago tradition that started in 1949 to help kick off the shopping season in the city.
You’ll see the largest nighttime parade in the US that goes right down Michigan Avenue in Chicago. This Christmas parade is the most popular holiday event in the city and draws in over one million viewers. So make sure to get there early to find the best spot to view the parade.
The parade features, Minnie Mouse & Mickey Mouse to start the parade, plus lighted floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, musical performances, celebrities, Santa Claus, and more. There are one million lights on the trees along Michigan Avenue that light up as the parade passes by.
The event’s big finale is the fireworks show after the parade at 7 p.m. It’s pretty amazing to see and a great way to get the holiday spirit for the season.
If you can’t make it in person you can watch with your family on ABC 7 Chicago. It’s usually shown on the Sunday after the parade.
Find all the up-to-date information on the parade & event Here.
Location – Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL
Event Date & Parade: Saturday, November, 18th 2023 – Parade Starts at 5:30 pm
Chicago Christmas Tree In Millennium Park
Find your holiday cheer at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago this Christmas. They have tons of fun holiday activities including the official Chicago Christmas Tree. Visiting Millennium Park would be a great family day out. Here’s what you can expect to find over the holiday:
–Chicago’s Official Christmas Tree-Lighting ceremony will be on November 17th at 6 p.m. in Millennium Park. The tree will stay up through early January 2024.
Dates for the below activites have not been updated yet for 2023. Keep checking back & I will update you.
–McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park will be open from November 18th through March 5th weather permitting. Admission is free but you must get online tickets ahead of time. Visit the Millennium Park website to get tickets & hours of operation.
–Millennium Park Art Market – The market will feature Chicago-area artists selling jewelry, pottery, drawings, and paintings, among other items. You’ll find it in the Chase Promenade North tent in Millennium Park from November 18th through November 20th only.
–Millennium Park Holiday Sing-Along – The super fun event will only be held on Fridays from November 26th through December 16th. You can join your voices in singing Christmas music and holiday songs with fellow Chicagoans, Community singers, and Choruses from around the Chicago area.
New This Year – The Cloud Gate known to Chicagoans as the Bean will be closed for repairs and the area around it until Spring 2024.
Location – Millennium Park, Chicago IL
Find more information on Millennium Park Holiday events Here.
Amaze Light Festival
This light show festival is an all-immersive storybook experience. It’s back again this year with all new features and is located at Odyssey Fun World in Tinley Park.
The Characters Zing & Sparky will take you on a sweet adventure throughout the park. Guest will walk through millions of twinkling lights, colossal 3D lighted décor, and photo opportunities around every corner in this interactive holiday-themed world.
The Amaze Light Festival also features high-energy holiday performances every 2 hours and a Mega light show every 30 minutes. You’ll want to try some of their food and drinks in the German-style cottages with sweet treats, savory plates, and custom cocktails for the adults while you’re there too.
Location – Chicago Tinley Park
Event Dates: Dates for 2023 not updated yet
Ticket Information: Buy your tickets for Amaze Light Festival Chicago
Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape
You probably have visited the Chicago Botanic Gardens in the summer but have you seen Chicago Botanic Garden Christmas Lights? It’s not to be missed!
Some of the best Christmas lights in Chicago can be seen here. Their popular Lightscape Event an after-dark illuminated trail is back this year with new trails and new lighting displays. When you enter the gardens, your eyes will be filled with twinkling lights throughout the garden paths.
Visitors will walk through a 1.25-mile-long lighted path around the garden’s main island. You can expect to spend 45-75 minutes enjoying the light tunnels and holiday displays.
There is an additional fee to enter the Lightscape exhibit. Tickets for the event are timed in 15-minute intervals but you may stay as long as you want.
Every year this event sells out so I would highly suggest you purchase your ticket way in advance. Find ticket information here.
Location – Chicago Botanical Gardens, Glencoe IL
Event Runs from November 10th, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Be Ready for Christmas in 2023 – 65 Fun Christmas Activities for Families You Won’t Want to Skip
Morton Arboretum – Illumination Tree Lights
It’s the 11th annual Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum event.
Guests will be able to explore over 50 acres of beautiful color lights and sounds throughout the trees and paths. This year there will be six new dazzling displays and the returning favorites leading to a spectacular laser light finale.
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.
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.
Plan-Ahead Pricing for Illumination and Electric Illumination. This new program rewards people who buy tickets early with the best pricing. Choose the price, date, and time that best matches your budget this year.
Location – Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL
Event Runs November 18, 2023 – January 6, 2024
More Holiday Events at Morton Arboretum
IlliumiBrew is back again this year to let visitors sample seasonal beers & ciders while exploring the Illumination trail. This event is only for adults aged 21 and older. This is only a two-day special event on November 16th & 17th. Get details here.
Electric Illumination is a late-night event for adults age 18 and older with a new light display synchronized to go with a curated mix of Progressive House music and 80’s music. Friday nights on December 8th, 15th & 22nd will have progressive house music. On December 29th it will be 80’s dance hits. The event is from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. each night. Learn more here.
Related Article – Easy DIY Christmas Card Display Ideas for Home
Six Flags Holiday in the Park Lights
Update – This event is cxled for 2023 ):
This year Six Flags Great America will host the World of Illumination Arctic Adventure in their parking lot instead of their traditional Holiday event. It is a new drive-through light display for Chicagoans in 2023.
Guests will not be able to use their Six Flag pass for this event like they have in past years. You can learn more about this cool new drive-through holiday lights event in the drive-thru lights section below.
Museum of Science & 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 may want to purchase your museum tickets in advance as at this time of year the museum gets very busy and sometimes at capacity on weekends.
Learn more about the Christmas Around the World Event.
Tips: Try and go earlier in the day on weekends before the parking lot fills up. Learn more tips for your visit in our Museum of Science and Industry Review.
Location – Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago IL
Event Runs November 18th, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Related Article – DIY Dollar Tree Christmas Decorations & Hostess Gifts
Sparkle Light Festival
At Impact Field in Rosemont, you’ll find the Sparkle Light Festival. One of the newest walk-through light displays in the Chicago suburbs.
Guests can walk through five Illuminate villages, slide down the Alpine slide, go to the kid’s activity area, and enjoy a ride on the Holly Trolly.
You’ll be completely immersed in the holiday spirit as you stroll through the millions of lights and unique holiday displays.
There is a variety of ticket options from the general ticket to accessing the club level at the Stadium. Look to see which ticket level works best for your family.
Find ticket information at Sparkle Rosemont.
Location – Impact Field Rosemont IL
Event Runs – November 17, 2023 – December 31, 2023
Navy Pier Light Up the Lake
Celebrate the holidays this year at Navy Pier. Their event called Light Up the Lake replaces the Winter WonderFest and was a huge success last year. 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, a birch tree maze, an 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
Location – Navy Pier, Chicago IL
Event Runs: November 24, 2023 – December 31, 2023
ZooLights – Christmas Light Displays at the Zoo
What could be more fun than Christmas Lights and Zoo Animals? Both Chicago Zoos offer great Holiday Light Events for your family.
Lincoln Park ZooLights
ZooLights is celebrating its 29th year at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The entire zoo will be aglow with 2.5 million colorful lights and hundreds of holiday displays.
This is one of our familes favorite holiday events and so worth the trek to the zoo.
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, live ice carvings, and s’mores pop-up holiday bars.
We love the light show experience on the Main lawns and South Lawn, the light maze, the Ferris wheel, the Pepper Family Wild Life Center, and two sensory-friendly nights.
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.
Tickets: All dates require a timed ticket for entrance even on the free days. This year tickets are free on Monday Nights and $7-$10 per person Tuesday through Sunday.
You can purchase tickets Here. Tickets will go on sale in mid-October.
Location – Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago IL
Event Runs – November 17th – January 7, 2023, from 4:30-10 pm (closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve & Christmas Day)
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic is Chicagoland’s largest and longest-running lights festival. This is the 42nd year for Holiday Magic featuring over 2 million twinkling lights, a 41-foot talking tree, ice carvers, an ice skating rink, carolers, light shows, a magic tunnel of lights, 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.
Keep your eye out as you walk for all the fun animal light displays throughout the zoo.
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 2023.
The event runs from 3-9 pm but I would highly suggest you get there a little early because there is a huge traffic jam that develops to get into the zoo every year.
Also, if you get there before it’s dark walk around the many trees decorated by local organizations to see all the different decorations.
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.
Location – Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield IL
Event runs in 2023- November 24-26 & 30th, December 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, 21-23, 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? Here are a few great options for drive-through Christmas light displays.
Willow Hill Lights Experience
Set atop Willow Hill golf course in Northbrook is the Willow Hill Lights drive-thru holiday experience. We found the height on top of the hill was really cool to see lights all the way to the city last year.
Guests will drive through a 1.6-mile journey with 3-holiday tunnels, and go through different themed areas of the holiday park. See the 12 Days of Christmas display, Rudolph and reindeer pals, Frosty the Snowman, Toy Land, and more. Keep your eye out for the Abominable Snowman and some dinosaurs too!
This was an easy drive-thru with much less congestion than some of the other drive-thru holiday lights. It’s also fun to be up on top of the hills to see lights above and below you as you drive.
You will need to buy tickets in advance to get your time slot. This allows them to control the traffic for a better experience. To learn more about ticket pricing visit Willow Hill Lights.
Location – Northbrook IL, Willow Hill Golf Course
Event Runs – November 17, 2023 – January 6. 2024 Opens at 5 p.m.
World of Illumination Artic Adventure
The World of Illumination Artic Adventure is the newest drive-thru audio and visual experience in the Chicago area. It is located in the parking lot of Six Flags Great America and replaces the old Six Flags holiday event.
Guests will drive through 1 million lights and meet Beti the Yeti and all his magical friends. The audio-visual experience will last 20-30 minutes while you drive through snowflake tunnels and look at all the cool snowflake-themed light displays.
On select nights guests will be able to go into the park after their drive to enjoy Carousel Lights & Market with photo ops, holiday treats, and more holiday decor.
Season ticket holders for Six Flags will not be able to use their pass for entrance.
To learn more about tickets and details visit World of Illumination.
Location – Gurnee, IL -Six Flags Great America
Event Runs – TUES- SUN November 17th, 2023 – December 31, 2023, from 6 pm – 10 pm
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 the first year and my whole family loved it!
This year the show is back and will be in two locations in the Chicago suburbs – Northbrook & Schaumburg IL
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.
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 Car -$32.99 Weekdays, $42.99 Weekends & Holidays, and an Optional Fast Pass of $20.
Locations & Times for Let It Shine
Northbrook Court – 1515 Lake Cook Rd., Northbrook IL
Event Runs Dates not available yet for 2023
Wintrust Field – 1999 S. Springinsguth Rd., Schaumburg IL
Event Runs Dates not available yet for 2023
***Gates close at 9:30 pm at both locations so make sure to arrive before then
Santa’s Rock N Lights Drive-Thru Light Show
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 new 3D larger-than-life polar bears, 3D Reindeer and 3D Dinosaurs. Plus giant sparkling emojis and hundreds of thousands of lights dancing to music.
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.
Tickets: You must prebuy your tickets as they will not be sold onsite. Pricing is per car for up to 6 people. The price changes based on the day of the week.
Find more about pricing & time slots here.
Location – Grayslake, IL
Event Runs – November 18th, 2023 – January 1, 2024
Aurora Festival of Lights
This fun drive-thru light display is FREE which is pretty awesome. Returning for its 17th 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.
Make sure to use their closed-circuit radio station to listen to the holiday music as you go too.
You’ll find the drive-through in Phillips Park at 1000 Ray Moses Drive, Aurora, IL.
You do need to register for a free vehicle ticket before you go. Here’s the Festival of Lights link to get tickets for your car.
Location – Phillips Park, Aurora IL
Event Runs – November 24, 2023 – December 25, 2023. Runs 5:00 pm-9:00 pm
Neighborhood Christmas Lights Displays
Check out local neighborhoods in the Chicago area that are known for their great Christmas light displays.
These are the perfect spots to use the Free Printable Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt. You’ll find tons of items on the checklist. Make it a game to see who can find the most holiday items first.
Taylor Swift Light Display
Do you have some Swifties in your family? Then you won’t want to miss the Eras tour-inspired music and decor a family in Naperville has created.
It’s a full holiday display with the home being transformed into a Taylor Swift winter wonderland. Travis Kelce even makes an appearance in the light display for all the football fans out there.
Location – Atlas Lane and Tupelo Avenue in Naperville
Event Starts – Dec. 1, 2023
Lights on Magnolia
Sadly this beloved local event is not going to be running in 2023
A cool neighborhood in Rolling Meadows, IL has worked together to create a synchronized 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.
There are tons of details on each house that keep 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 not to block anyone’s driveway.
Here is a link to their website Lights on Magnolia
Event Starts – Not running in 2023
Sauganash Holiday Lights
This Northwest side neighborhood of Chicago has been a popular destination to see neighborhood Christmas lights since the ’60s.
You will find 6 blocks of homes uniquely decorated for Christmas and Hanukkah. The area is famously known for the house with the 3-story-tall tree pictured above.
It gets pretty busy 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 month in 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 every since.
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.
Tip: In October they run their Halloween Light Show starting on Oct. 16, 2023, through Oct. 31, 2023.
Location – 860 Woodhollow Lane, Buffalo Grove, IL
Event Runs – the start date for 2023 is not available yet but they’re working on the display
Don’t miss learning about more fun holiday activies to add to your bucket list in Top Things to Do at Christmas in Chicago & Suburbs for 2023.
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.
Get the kids excited about looking for holiday items in the light displays with a free printable Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt.
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. Seven fun games for Holiday parties and family dinners too!
Make Planning Christmas Easier with the Ultimate Christmas Planner. Created for busy people you’ll get organized with 62 pages of Christmas checklists, meal planners, party planners, holiday budgets, gift lists, printable family games, monthly, weekly & daily calendars & more.
It’s the Ultimate Parenting hack for a stress-free Holiday!
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, festivals, and drive-thrus 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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Bonus you’ll get our FREE printable Would You Rather Questions Christmas Edition and enjoy a fun holiday game with your kids.