Festivals: Local light shows illuminate the holidays
Holiday Flower Show: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through December and 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in January, now through Jan. 7 at Wilder Park Conservatory, 225 S. Prospect Ave., Elmhurst. Get into the holiday spirit with Wilder Park Conservatory's festive holiday floral display. Free. (630) 993-8900 or epd.org.
Cosley Zoo Festival of Lights and Tree Sale: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Dec. 30 at Cosley Zoo, 1356 N. Gary Ave., Wheaton. Lights go on at 3 p.m. Open from 9 a.m. to noon Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland with 20,000 twinkling lights, plus there's a selection of Christmas trees to purchase. Free. wheatonparkdistrict.com.
Illumination-Tree Lights: 4:30 to 9 p.m. daily (closed Mondays except for Jan. 1, closed Dec. 24-25) at The Morton Arboretum, 4100 Route 53, Lisle. One-mile outdoor walking tour. New this year, interactive pendants that glow in sync with the sights. Pendants cost $10, $9 for members. Tickets are for a specific date and time. $12-$30. For tickets, call (630) 725-2066 or see mortonarb.org.
Mooseheart Holiday Lights: 5 to 9 p.m. daily through Dec. 31 along the Mooseheart campus, off Route 31, south of Batavia. The eighth annual event includes about 80 displays on a 1.8-mile route through the campus. Admission (cash only): $10 for cars; special rates for buses. Santa visits from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 8-10 and 15-17 at the field house. Hot cocoa, cookies, crafts and more are free. Proceeds benefit Mooseheart Child City and School. (630) 906-3601 or mooseheart.org.
Christkindlmarket: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 17. Expanded hours Dec. 18 through Christmas Eve at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. Christkindlmarket Naperville brings a cherished German and European tradition to Naperville with gifts, ornaments, food and more. Free admission. napersettlement.org.
Oakbrook Center Holiday Market: Noon to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 24, at Oakbrook Center, 22nd Street and Route 83, Oak Brook. Market features a variety of local artisans and one-of-a-kind food vendors. oakbrookcenter.com.
ROZ Winter Fest: Noon to 7 p.m. Dec. 8-10 and 15-17 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 on Sundays. All activities are included with zoo admission ($3.25 for residents, $4 for nonresidents, free for kids younger than 2) except hayrides, which cost $2. dtpd.org.
Aurora Festival of Lights: 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday through Dec. 26 at Phillips Park, 1000 Ray Moses Drive, Aurora. Drive through more than a mile of animated displays. New this year are dancing arcs and a 20-foot sign proclaiming Weisner Ice Rink. Hosted by the Aurora Rotary Cub. Free, but donations are welcome. aurorafestivaloflights.com.
Holiday Express: 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays, Dec. 8 and 15, and 2 to 6 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 9 and 16, at Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora. Meet Santa, seasonal storytelling, crafts (including making reindeer food), caroling hayride and train rides. $5. (630) 966-4527 or foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.
Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9-10 and 16-17, and Tuesday through Sunday, Dec. 26-31, at 8400 31st St., Brookfield. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. Guests can sing to the animals and enjoy professional ice-carving demonstrations, magic shows, a 41-foot talking tree, and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus (the latter through Dec. 17) at the 36th annual event. The zoo will be lit with more than 1 million LED lights and select animal habitats will remain open, as will zoo restaurants and gift shops. A schedule of music and live entertainment, costumed characters, a model railroad display and more can be found at czs.org/magic.
Long Grove Vintage Holidays: 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9-10 and 16-17, in downtown Long Grove. Free horse-drawn carriage rides, appearances by Mr. and Mrs. Claus, strolling costumed carolers, Victorian buildings trimmed in lights and walkways lined in luminaries. Free. longgrove.org.
Hoffman Estates' Winter Fest features sleigh rides, ice sculptures, crafts and more.
- Courtesy of the Hoffman Estates Park District
Hoffman Estates Winter Fest: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at 1400 Poplar Drive, Hoffman Estates. Crafts, s'mores, snowpainting, ice sculptures, sleigh rides and more. Free admission. heparks.org.
Last Chance Craft and Art Fair: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, at the College of DuPage Athletic Arena, corner of Park Boulevard and College Road, Glen Ellyn. Show features more than 175 booths of unique gifts. Meet artisans from across the Midwest and shop for jewelry, holiday decor, fine art, kids' items, furniture and more. Admission is $5; free for kids 16 and younger. facebook.com/events/1877189012597472/.
MainStreet Libertyville's Dickens of a Holiday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at Milwaukee and Church, Libertyville. Santa will hear wishes from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. in Cook Park. The Children's Holiday Shoppe, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Petranek's Pharmacy, allows children to shop with "helper elves." No adults are allowed. Free admission. mainstreetlibertyville.org.
Christmas Spectacular: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at Hope Lutheran Church, 1660 Checker Road, Long Grove. Face painting, cookie decorating, ornament painting, bouncy inflatables, visit with Santa, food and music. Free admission. hopelutheran-elca.org.
Frosty Fest: 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at Town Square, 271 Town Square, Wheaton. Train rides, reindeer visits, Santa, pony rides, music and more. Free admission. townsquarewheaton.com.