Holiday festivals: Catch Santa all over the suburbs this weekend

Santa will be making the rounds this weekend in the suburbs. Check out where to find Mr. Claus, ride holiday trolleys, sip hot cocoa, see holiday light displays and more.

Ongoing events

Cosley Zoo Festival of Lights and Tree Sale: Open from 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. Free admission.

Wonderland Express: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Friday, Dec. 21, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, through Saturday, Jan. 6, at 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

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 sample spiced wine. Free admission. (312) 494-2175 or

Naperville Santa House: Noon to 6 p.m. weekends and 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 14 and 18-21 through Sunday, Dec. 23, on the Riverwalk, Jackson Avenue and Webster Street, Naperville. Free; photos $8 or two for $15.

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, this is 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.

Illumination: Timed tickets available for slots from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., closed Mondays except for Dec. 31 as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Runs through Jan. 1 at The Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle. Outdoor light exhibit transforms trees along a one-mile path surrounded by 50 acres of trees. 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.

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 is cash only: $10 for cars; special rates for buses. Santa visits from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sunday, Dec. 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.

Visitors can drive through nearly a mile of animated lights at Santa's Rock n Lights in Grayslake. Courtesy of Santa's Rock n Lights

Santa's Rock n Lights show: 5 to 10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31 at the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center, 1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake. Drive through the fairgrounds to check out thousands of twinkling lights. $25-$35.

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.

Geneva Commons: 1:30 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 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.

Holiday Magic is now in its 39th year at Brookfield Zoo. Courtesy of Brookfield Zoo

This weekend

Visit with Santa: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at the Pavilion Craft Room, 1000 Wellington Ave., Elk Grove Village. Join at the Carousel to visit with Santa, make a special craft and play in Jumps n' Jiggles. Santa will be at the carousel from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Holiday Express: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, and 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15-16, at Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora. Take a ride on the Holiday Express train around Lake Gregory or go on a hay wagon ride. Back in the historic pioneer village, visitors will find 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.

Pizza with Santa: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at the Community Center, 1777 S. Blanchard St., Wheaton. Have pizza with Santa and take pictures and take part in other activities.

Holiday Trolley Express: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at Fountain View Recreation Center, 910 N. Gary Ave., Carol Stream. Take a festive trolley ride to see some of the holiday lights in Carol Stream and visit with Santa. $14 residents, $21

Santa @ the Settlement: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. Meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus, make craft ornaments, prepare a treat for Santa's reindeer, and help Mrs. Claus decorate cookies. $13 members, $15 nonmembers, and free for kids younger than 1. Registration is required.

Breakfast with Santa: 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Glendale Lakes Golf Club, 1550 President St., Glendale Heights. All-you-can-eat pancake breakfast and visit with Santa. $5, $3 for kids. Photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus $2. No registration required.

Breakfast 'N' Story with Santa: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Dunbar Recreation Center, 888 Dunbar Road, Mundelein. Children can share their holiday lists and enjoy Santa reading "A Visit From St. Nicholas." Breakfast will be served, followed by activities, crafts and more. Registration is required. Adults: $15 for residents, $20 for nonresidents; kids: $10 for residents, $15 for nonresidents.

Cosley Zoo's Festival of Lights runs through Dec. 30 in Wheaton. Courtesy of Cosley Zoo

Winter Fest at Randall Oaks Zoo: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 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.; and 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.

Algonquin Commons: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15-16, at Algonquin Commons, 1900 S. Randall Road, Algonquin. Santa will be on the Santa Express Trolley, ready to visit with riders. Free.

Flurry Fest: 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at the Lake in the Hills village hall, 600 Harvest Gate, Lake in the Hills. Deck the deer display, visit with Santa, food drive and family crafts. "The Funny Little People" will perform at 4:30. Guests are encouraged to "pack the bus" full of nonperishable food items for local food pantries. Free.

Christmas on the Farm: 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Peck Farm Park, 4038 Kaneville Road, Geneva. Gather around the fireplace and listen to a story from Mrs. Claus, plus enjoy Christmas Carolers, ice sculpting and a visit from Santa. Hot cocoa and snacks will be available for purchase. Free.

Santa in the Woods: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at Izaak Walton-Des Plaines, 1841 S. River Road, Des Plaines. Izaak Walton League-Des Plaines will be all decked out with lights for an evening with Santa. Hot chocolate and cookies, plus kids can make Christmas crafts. Bring your camera for photos with Santa and the Christmas cottage in the woods. Free admission.

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