One of the largest free outdoor holiday light displays in Northern Illinois, Aurora's Festival of Lights, is returning for its seventh year with even more dazzling displays, organizers say.
Presented in partnership between the Rotary Club of Aurora and the city, the signature winter event is a drive-through of more than one mile of spectacular lighted displays, many of which are animated, and are illuminated by tens of thousands of bulbs.
The display is staged at Phillips Park, 1000 Ray Moses Drive, and will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday starting Nov. 29 through Dec. 26.
Five new displays and 50 new lighted holiday trees have been added to this year's festival. Patrons will enjoy Santa's Toy Factory, Old Man Winter, elves and reindeer, holiday trains, gigantic snowflakes and other seasonal favorites.
The new trees are courtesy of students in the Lake Land College vocational welding class at the Sheridan Correctional Center. All of the displays use LED bulbs that use 86 percent less energy than traditional light bulbs.
Last year's festival set a record when almost 21,200 cars visited the four-week event. The festival is free, but the Rotary Club does accept donations that benefit local charities.
"The Festival of Lights has become a proud Aurora tradition bringing countless smiles to thousands of visitors and continues to make Phillips Park a regional attraction for people of all ages," Mayor Tom Weisner said. "The city is proud to partner with the Rotary Club and the dozens of sponsors that make the festival possible, particularly given the fact that the event raises money for local nonprofit organizations."
More than 45 organizations that address a variety of community needs have benefited from the Festival of Lights since its inception in 2007. The Aurora Rotary Club distributes the funds collected at the event to organizations most in need including those that serve the homeless, youth, seniors, domestic shelters, physically and developmentally challenged, and many others.
The Festival of Lights is sponsored by more than two dozen local companies, organizations, and individuals whose support has allowed the event to expand since its inception. Hundreds of men and women set up and dismantle the festival every year and volunteer for other duties during the course of the event.
For details, visit www.aurorafestivaloflights.com.