10 outdoor and drive-through holiday light shows in suburbs, Chicago

  • Lightscapes brings new and returning favorites, including the Cathedral of Light, to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

    Lightscapes brings new and returning favorites, including the Cathedral of Light, to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden/Alex Hewitt

  • Light, color and sound combine for Lightscapes, the outdoor holiday lights show at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

    Light, color and sound combine for Lightscapes, the outdoor holiday lights show at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

  • Six Flags Great America's Holiday in the Park in Gurnee features more than 2.5 million sparkling lights.

    Six Flags Great America's Holiday in the Park in Gurnee features more than 2.5 million sparkling lights. Courtesy of Great America

  • Six Flags Great America's Holiday in the Park in Gurnee features more than 2.5 million sparkling lights.

    Six Flags Great America's Holiday in the Park in Gurnee features more than 2.5 million sparkling lights. Courtesy of Great America

  • Illumination returns to Lisle's Morton Arboretum on Nov. 20.

    Illumination returns to Lisle's Morton Arboretum on Nov. 20. Courtesy of Morton Arboretum

 
 
Updated 11/16/2020 10:27 AM

Enjoying holiday lights -- either on an outdoor stroll or from the warmth of your car -- allows families to get in the spirit of the season safely this year, when so much else has been canceled by COVID-19.

Here's a look at 10 holiday light shows in the suburbs and Chicago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Aurora Festival of Lights

5-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Nov. 27 to Dec. 26, Phillips Park, 1000 Ray Moses Drive, enter from Smith Boulevard, Aurora. The winter holiday drive offers more than a mile of lighted displays, some animated, including the 20-foot singing, dancing Christmas tree. Donations accepted. www.aurorafestivaloflights.com.

Brookfield Zoo's Holiday Magic

3-9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Nov. 27-29; Wednesday through Sunday, Dec, 2-6, 9-13, and 16-20; and Saturday through Thursday, Dec. 26-31, Brookfield Zoo, 8400 W. 31st St., Brookfield. The zoo lights festival's 39th year will feature more than a million twinkling LED lights, including a 600-foot-long tunnel with colored lights synchronized to music, a 20-foot lit orb, decorated trees, larger-than-life LED animal sculptures, Santa, holiday refreshments and more. Reserve tickets in advance. Zoo admission is $24.95 for adults, $19.95 for seniors 65 and over, $17.95 for children 3-11 and free for ages 2 and under. Admission is free on Tuesdays and Thursdays in November and Mondays and Tuesdays in December through Dec. 22, though reservations are still required. www.czs.org/holidaymagic.

Cosley Zoo Festival of Lights and Tree Sale

Zoo hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with last entry at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 27 to Dec. 30, (closed Dec. 25), Cosley Zoo, 1356 N. Gary Ave., Wheaton. Stroll through the winter wonderland featuring more than 20,000 twinkling lights and a herd of whimsical lighted animal figures. Four varieties of trees are available for sale as well as wreaths, greens and garlands. Zoo admission is free during the festival, however timed-entry reservations are required. cosleyzoo.org.

Great America's Holiday in the Park

4-9 p.m. weekends and select weekdays Nov. 27 to Dec. 30, Six Flags Great America, 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee. Walk through more than 2.5 million sparkling lights, with continuous twinkling holiday light displays, themed entertainment for open-air viewing, socially distanced photo ops, holiday treats and more. The park's rides will not be open. Reservations are required. For fees and tickets, visit www.sixflags.com/greatamerica.

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Illumination, Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

5-10 p.m. (last entry at 9:15 p.m.) Sunday through Thursday, 5-11 p.m. (last entry at 10:15 p.m.) Friday and Saturday, from Nov. 20 to Jan. 3, (closed Mondays Nov. 23, Nov. 30, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14), Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle. See trees in a different light at the annual light show re-imagined as a driving experience, 30 to 40 minutes long, featuring a spectacle of color, light and music. See returning favorites and five newly designed sights displayed in a tunnel of lights along a two-mile road. Date-specific tickets must be purchased online in advance; tickets will not be available for purchase on-site. Ticket prices per car are: $39 peak night, $29 standard night for members; $49 peak night, $39 standard night for guests. www.mortonarb.org.

Kohlights: A Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular

Previewed the weekend of Dec. 4-6, then on select days from Dec. 11 through Jan. 3, Kohl's Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview. The holiday show designed specifically for children allows guests to interact with thousands of lights in a two-acre outdoor exhibit. All stations have "no-touch" activation; kids manipulate displays with their bodies, glow sticks or thermal sensors. Tickets are $25 per person, with discounts for museum members. Infants under 1 are free. Advance reservations are required at www.kohlights.com.

Let it Shine

4:30-10 p.m. weekdays, 4:30-11 p.m. weekends, Nov. 15 to Jan. 9, (closed Nov. 26 and Dec. 25), Northbrook Court, 1515 Lake-Cook Road, Northbrook. Guests are invited to stay in their cars and immerse themselves in a wonderland of light displays synchronized to holiday classics. Online tickets required, no tickets will be available at the door. $29.99 per car on weekdays and $39.99 per car on weekends; Fast Pass add on $15. shinelightshow.com.

Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden

4:30-10 p.m. Sundays or 11 p.m. select Fridays and Saturdays, now through Jan. 3, (closed Nov. 26 and Dec. 24 and 25), Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe. Visitors walk an after-dark, illuminated trail designed with safety in mind. Thousands of twinkling lights are featured. Book early to guarantee preferred dates. Ticket prices vary. See www.chicagobotanic.org/lightscape.

Santa's Rock 'N' Lights

5-10 p.m. Nov. 20 to Jan. 3, Lake County Fairgrounds, 1060 E Peterson Road, Grayslake. The drive-through light show returns with almost double the lights and more than 700 feet of tunnels including a new techno rainbow tunnel. The re-imagined layout includes themed worlds. Online reservation required; prices vary by time and date, $19.99-$27.99 per car, $5 per passenger over six passengers. santasrocknlights.com.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

4-10 p.m. select dates Nov. 21 to Jan. 3, Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago. Hundreds of luminous displays and seasonal activities are featured. All guests, including children and infants, must have a ticket to enter ZooLights, and groups cannot exceed 10 people. $5; free nights will be available on Nov. 24 and Dec. 9, 17, 21 and 29. www.lpzoo.org.

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