For some families, the holiday decorating just isn't complete until a model train is click-clacking its way around a miniature village.
The Northern Illinois Lego Train Club's show is just like that -- but bigger and more intricate.
If you goWhat: Northern Illinois Lego Train Club show
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9; train show party from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cantigny Park's Visitors Center, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton
Cost: Show is free with $5 parking or toy donation; party tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for ages 3 to 12, free for younger children
Info: cantigny.org or (630) 260-8162
In displays filling three rooms of Cantigny Park's Visitors Center, club members have constructed beach scenes with swimmers and sharks, cityscapes with superheroes protecting the citizenry in the shadow of the Willis Tower, a drive-in movie theater and even the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Every bit of it -- from the buildings to the characters to the smallest flower -- is built from Lego pieces to serve as the backdrop for Lego trains.
The show, a holiday tradition for many families, returns to the park this weekend with public hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9, at Cantigny, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton.
The show transforms the entire Cantigny Visitors Center into a wonderland for Lego fans. Le Jardin, the Visitors Center's restaurant and banquet room, is home to the primary Lego diorama where creative new elements are added each year. Secondary displays and a free craft activity occupy the building's main gallery area and meeting room.
The show is the Northern Illinois Lego Train Club's largest annual event in terms of floor space and attendance. Last year's exhibit attracted more than 10,000 visitors over two days.
Visitors can experience the event in a more intimate way by attending a special Lego Train Show party from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. Guests can enjoy the show without lines as they view the Lego displays and meet the builders. Snacks, desserts and hot chocolate will be served and a cash bar will be available. Ticket holders also receive a holiday keepsake and complimentary parking.
Tickets for the party are limited and priced at $15 for adults and $8 for ages 3 to 12; free for kids 2 and younger. Discounts are available for Cantigny Plus members. Purchase tickets online at Cantigny.org, at the park in the Cantigny Shoppe or by phone at (630) 260-8162.
Show admission is free with paid parking of $5 per vehicle or $2 before 10 a.m. Cantigny will waive the parking fee for anyone bringing a new and unwrapped toy for the Marine Toys for Tots collection. Drop boxes will be inside the Visitors Center.
While at Cantigny, guests are invited to stop by the Robert R. McCormick Museum and admire the Community Trees display. Seven local nonprofit groups have decorated trees and each will receive a donation from the McCormick Foundation. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite. Museum admission is free.