Where to find holiday light shows in suburbs, Chicago

  • A family walks through an arch of lights at Elgin's Festival of Lights.

      A family walks through an arch of lights at Elgin's Festival of Lights. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Updated 12/24/2020 9:27 AM

Looking to get out of the house and enjoy a bit of holiday spirit? Here's a look at several suburban holiday light shows to enjoy on a socially distant stroll or from the safety of your car.

Here's a look at several. Check before you go since many require advance tickets.


Aurora Festival of Lights

5-9 p.m. Thursday and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, through Dec. 26 at 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. Saturday through Thursday, Dec. 26-31, at 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 older, $17.95 for children 3-11 and free for kids 2 and younger. www.czs.org/holidaymagic.

Cosley Zoo Festival of Lights and Tree Sale

Zoo hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with the last entry at 8:30 p.m. through Dec. 30 (closed Dec. 25) at 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. 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.

Elgin's Festival of Lights

5-9 p.m. daily through Sunday, Dec. 27, at Festival Park, 132 S. Grove Ave., Elgin. Enjoy the lights from a car or on foot. An enhanced show will take place 5-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 24, through Sunday, Dec. 27, with three holiday-themed songs playing on the half-hour while lights dance and twinkle to the music. Free admission. www.cityofelgin.org.

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Goebbert's Winter Light Show

5-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5-11 p.m. Friday through Sunday, through Jan. 3, at Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard, 42W813 Reinking Road, Pingree Grove. Enjoy a light show from the comfort of your vehicle, set to music and featuring more than 1 million lights. $15 per car Mondays and Tuesdays, $20 Wednesdays and Thursdays, $25 Fridays through Sundays; online tickets required Fridays through Sundays. goebbertspumpkinpatch.com/winter.

Great America's Holiday in the Park

4-9 p.m. Dec. 26-30 and drive-through Jan. 2 and 3, 7-10 and 14-18, at 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. A drive-through version will be offered in January. The park's rides will not be open. Reservations are required. For fees and tickets, visit www.sixflags.com/greatamerica.

Illumination, Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

Runs through Jan. 10 at 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. Date-specific tickets must be purchased online in advance; tickets will not be available for purchase on-site. Ticket prices vary. www.mortonarb.org.

Kohlights: A Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular is designed specifically for children. It runs on select days through Jan. 3 at Kohl's Children's Museum in Glenview.
Kohlights: A Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular is designed specifically for children. It runs on select days through Jan. 3 at Kohl's Children's Museum in Glenview. - Courtesy of Kohl's Children's Museum
Kohlights: A Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular

On select days through Jan. 3 at 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 younger than 1 admitted free. Advance reservations are required at www.kohlights.com.


Let it Shine

4:30-10 p.m. weekdays and 4:30-11 p.m. weekends through Jan. 9 (closed Dec. 25) at 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

Sold out. Runs through Jan. 3 at 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. See www.chicagobotanic.org/lightscape.

The Mooseheart Caboose is part of the Mooseheart Holiday Lights display.
  The Mooseheart Caboose is part of the Mooseheart Holiday Lights display. - Rick West | Staff Photographer
Mooseheart Holiday Lights

5-9 p.m. daily through Thursday, Dec. 31, at Mooseheart, 155 S. International Drive, Mooseheart. For the 11th year, enjoy 1.8 miles of light displays, including old favorites and new displays. $20 suggested donation per car. www.moosecharities.org or (630) 966-2200.

Santa's Rock 'N' Lights

5-10 p.m. through Jan. 3 at the 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 reservations required; prices vary by time and date, $19.99-$27.99 per car, $5 per passenger over six passengers. santasrocknlights.com.

Winter Lights Festival at The Forge

Dusk to 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Jan. 18 at The Forge: Lemont Quarries, 1001 Main St., Lemont. Guests can enjoy the beauty of winter plus a dazzling display of festive lights around The Forge Quarry. Free. www.forgeparks.com.

Winter Wonderland Walk

5-9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 24, at Willow Creek Community Church, 67 Algonquin Road, South Barrington. A half-mile paved walking path with 80 wrapped trees, 55 lighted structures and more than 10 miles of lights. Free; timed tickets are required. The decorated walkway will feature interactive elements that tell the Christmas story and give pause for reflection. www.willowcreek.org/en/connect/events/winter-wonderland-walk.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

4-10 p.m. select dates through Jan. 3 at Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago. Enjoy hundreds of luminous displays and seasonal activities. All guests, including children and infants, must have a ticket to enter ZooLights, and groups cannot exceed 10 people. $5; free on Dec. 29. www.lpzoo.org.


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