Holiday festivals 2018: Lights, cookies and visits from Santa
It's starting to look a lot like Christmas. And in the suburbs, you can find tree lightings, festive displays, holiday markets and much more.
Ongoing holiday events
Cosley Zoo Festival of Lights and Tree Sale: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, lights on at 3 p.m., through Dec. 30 at Cosley Zoo, 1356 N. Gary Ave, Wheaton. See thousands of twinkling lights in an animal-themed display and browse Christmas trees for purchase. Santa will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, on the second floor of the barn in the Kiebler Room. Free admission. Santa's Craft Corner is $5 per family and $3 for a printed photo with Santa. www.cosleyzoo.org.
Wonderland Express: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Friday, Dec. 21; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, through Saturday, Jan. 6, at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe. Marvel at festive displays of miniature trains and Chicago-area landmarks. $13; $10 seniors and kids 3-12; $20-$25 parking per vehicle. (847) 835-5440 or chicagobotanic.org.
Christkindlmarket: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, with additional hours of 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 17-20 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Christmas Eve), through Dec. 24 at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. Enjoy outdoor shopping and sampling spiced wine. Free admission. (312) 494-2175 or christkindlmarket.com/naperville.
Naperville Santa House: 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7; noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9; and 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 14 and 18-21 and noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 15-16 and 22-23, on the Riverwalk, Jackson Avenue and Webster Street, Naperville. Military and First Responders Night from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 11. Free; photos $8 or two for $15. www.napervilleparks.org/santahouse.
Illumination: Timed tickets available for slots from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 1. Closed on Mondays except for Dec. 31; closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It's at the The Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle. Outdoor light exhibit transforms trees along a one-mile path. In addition, visitors can see five sculptures in the Crown of Light experience. The arboretum features entertainment on some days as well as concession tents. Tickets cost $18-$23 for adults and $12-$15 for kids. mortonarb.org.
Holiday Express: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 and 14, and 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9 and 15-16, at Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora. Take a ride on the Holiday Express train around Lake Gregory or a hay wagon ride. Back in the historic pioneer village are crafts, a reindeer food bar, story readings of holiday classics at the one-room schoolhouse and a special visit with Santa. Food and drinks available for purchase. $7; free for kids younger than 2. www.foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.
Mooseheart Holiday Lights: 5 to 9 p.m. daily through Dec. 31 along the Mooseheart campus, off Route 31, just south of Batavia. One of the largest shows in the Chicago area, including about 80 displays on a 1.8-mile route. Admission, cash only: $10 for cars; special rates for buses. Santa visits from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23 at the field house. Hot cocoa, cookies, crafts and more are free while you wait. Proceeds benefit Mooseheart Child City and School. www.moosecharities.org.
Holiday Lights in Lilacia Park: 6 to 8 p.m. Fridays through Sundays through Dec. 23 at Lilacia Park, 150 S. Park Ave., Lombard. Visits with Santa and train rides, more activities on different nights. Free admission. lombardparks.com.
Brookfield Zoo's Breakfast with Santa: Seatings at 9 and 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 8-9 and 15-16, at Brookfield Zoo, 8400 31st St., Brookfield. Bring the whole family for a festive all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet in the Discovery Center. Santa and Mrs. Claus along with the zoo's costumed characters will make an appearance for photo opportunities and to visit with children. Reservations are required. $21.95-$29.95; free for kids 2 and younger. CZS.org/Events.
Holiday Magic: Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 23 and Wednesday through Monday, Dec. 26-31, at Brookfield Zoo, 8400 31st St., Brookfield. Now in its 37th year, the Chicago area's largest and longest-running lights festival. Visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus (through Dec. 23). See website for admission prices and hours. www.czs.org/holidaymagic.
Winter Fest at Randall Oaks Zoo: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 8-9 and 15-16, at Randall Oaks Zoo, 1180 N. Randall Road, West Dundee. Holiday lights, decorations, a bonfire, cookie decorating and more. On weekends, Santa visits from noon to 5 p.m.; hayrides from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; live reindeer from 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays. All activities included with zoo admission of $3.25, $4 for nonresidents and free for kids younger than 2. www.dtpd.org.
Algonquin Commons: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9 and 15-16, at Algonquin Commons, 1900 S. Randall Road, Algonquin. Santa will be on the Santa Express Trolley, ready to visit with riders. Free. shopatalgonquincommons.com/santa-is-coming-s/.
Geneva Commons: 1:30 to 5 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 9, 16 and 23, at Geneva Commons, 602 Commons Drive, Geneva. Greet Santa as he strolls through the shopping center from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., and visit Santa's Station from 2 to 5 p.m. near Learning Express Toys for a photo opportunity. Treats for all kids who visit Santa. Free. shopgenevacommons.com/portfolio-items/here-comes-santa-claus/.
Lakeside Arts First Friday: 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, 401 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake. Photos with Santa, Train Village and more. Free. lakesideartspark.org.
Des Plaines Tree Lighting: 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at Metropolitan Way in downtown Des Plaines. Pre-lighting festivities begin at 4 p.m., with the tree-lighting ceremony taking place at 6:30 p.m. The event features tree decorating by local organizations, entertainment, strolling characters, and Santa will be ready and waiting to hear everyone's wish list. Free. www.desplaines.org.
Geneva Christmas Walk: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, on Third Street between James and Campbell, Geneva. Santa Lucia arrives with Santa to light the Great Tree on the courthouse lawn and to open the Gingerbread House. Live Nativity, roasted chestnuts, strolling carolers, the first candy cane of the season and holiday shopping. Free carriage rides from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 8-23. (630) 232-6060 or www.genevachamber.com.
Hanover Park Tree Lighting: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at village Hall, 2121 W. Lake St., Hanover Park. Hanover Park continues the tradition of welcoming a special visitor from the North Pole who will help flip the switch to light up the holiday decorations. Free. www.hanoverparkillinois.org.
Santa Visits Lollipop Lane at the Wheeling Historical Society: 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, at Chamber Park Community Center, 131 N. Wolf Road, Wheeling. Santa and Mrs. Claus pose for free photos with families. Decorated trees and toys from many eras line the lane. Cookies and commemorative ornaments for sale. Free admission. www.lollipop-lane.org.
Warrenville Holly Days: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, on Warren Avenue and Tracy Place, Warrenville. Santa parade, tree lighting, entertainment, horse-drawn carriage rides, and holiday music and performing arts provided by local community and school groups. Free. warrenvilleparks.org.
Streamwood Tree Lighting: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at Veterans Memorial, 301 E. Irving Park Road, Streamwood. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the annual tree lighting ceremony. www.streamwood.org.
Breakfast With Santa: 8:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at First United Methodist Church of West Chicago, 643 E. Washington St., West Chicago. Meet and greet Santa Claus. Support the West Chicago Food Pantry by purchasing a pancake and sausage breakfast (beverage included). Tickets cost $3-$20. Photos with Santa are $5 each. Free parking. www.facebook.com/wegoumcucc.
Polar Express Storytime Train: 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Itasca Metra station, on West Irving Park Road, Itasca. Take a trip on The Polar Express Storytime Train. Meet at the Metra Train Station in Itasca and board the train for an adventure to the North Pole. Stories will be read, a snack will be served, and all children will have a chance to visit with Santa. Ride from Itasca to Elgin and back again. Register in advance, spaces are limited. $18-$22. www.elkgroveparks.org.
Santa @ the Settlement: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturdays, Dec. 8 and 15, at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. Santa and Mrs. Claus, craft ornaments, prepare a treat for Santa's reindeer and help Mrs. Claus decorate cookies. $13 members, $15 nonmembers, free for kids younger than 1. Registration is required. www.napersettlement.org.
Santa Claus at Wilder Mansion: 9 to 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Wilder Mansion, 175 S. Prospect Ave., Elmhurst. Includes holiday crafts, cookies and cocoa, and a complimentary photo. $12 for resident adults, $14 for nonresident adults; $15 for resident children, $18 for nonresident children. www.epd.org.
Breakfast with Santa: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 8, at Chevy Chase Country Club, 1000 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling. Enjoy a buffet breakfast while carolers sing. All children will have the opportunity to meet with Santa and have photos taken. The event concludes with entertainment. Reservations required. $5-$20. www.wheelingparkdistrict.com/events.
Candy Cane Hunt: 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Lisle Community Park Bandshell, 1825 Short St., Lisle. Annual event is designed for kids 10 and younger and is divided by age group. Dress warm and bring a basket for your goodies. Prizes given for finding special candy canes. A special visitor from the North Pole may stop by with other holiday treats. $5-$10. www.lisleparkdistrict.org.
Dickens of a Holiday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, in downtown Libertyville. Photos with Santa from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. in Cook Park; a Children's Holiday Shoppe with items up to $6 and no adults allowed at Petranek's Pharmacy; Victorian Tea ($35, reservations required) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Lawrence Episcopal Church; and Ansel B. Cook Museum tours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free admission. mainstreetlibertyville.org.
Lunch with Santa: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Cardinal Drive Church of Christ, 2300 Cardinal Drive, Rolling Meadows. Includes lunch, a picture with Santa, crafts and coloring. Free admission. www.cdfamily.org.
Santa's Craft Corner: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Cosley Zoo, 1356 N. Gary Ave, Wheaton. See Santa and the animals. Make a craft or two in the Kiebler Room. Admission includes crafts, refreshments and the Santa visit. $5 per family; $3 for a printed photo with Santa. wheatonparkdistrict.com.
Christmas on the Farm: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, at Kline Creek Farm, 1N600 County Farm Road, West Chicago. Celebrate a Victorian Christmas, visit the animals, enjoy hot spiced cider and carols by the fire, and stop in the visitor center to take a picture with Santa in his sleigh. Free; sleigh rides $5 for ages 5 and older. www.dupageforest.org.
Merry & Bright A Victorian Christmas: 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Downers Grove Museum, 831 Maple Ave., Downers Grove. Tour the holiday-decorated Victorian Blodgett house and listen to Victorian-era carolers. Warm up around a campfire and visit with Santa and his reindeer. Holiday snacks, cocoa and adult beverages available for purchase. Free. www.dgparks.org.
Gingerbread House Raffle Event: 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Panera Bread, 971 Irving Park Road, Streamwood. The Streamwood Woman's Club will be hosting its ninth annual Gingerbread House Raffle event. Enter to win a gingerbread house. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there. Panera will supply sugar cookies for kids to decorate. Proceeds go back to the community. Admission is free; raffle tickets are $1 each or six for $5. streamwoodwomansclub.webstarts.com/index.html.
Chicago Dogs Holiday Gingerbread & Cookie Party: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Rivers Stadium Club inside Impact Field, 9850 Balmoral Ave., Rosemont. The Chicago Dogs baseball team will host a holiday gingerbread house decorating event along with hot chocolate, coffee and cookies. Santa Claus, along with Chicago Dogs mascots Squeeze and Ketchup, will make appearances for photos. $15 for adults, $10 for kids. thechicagodogs.com.
Pictures with Santa Paws: 5 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, Cortesi Veterans Memorial Park, 318 E. Kenilworth, Villa Park. Pets can meet Santa and take a picture with him. Santa will have a special treat for each pet. Photo can be picked up on Friday, Dec. 14. www.invillapark.com.