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Best time to go to Chicago

Chicago Christmas Lights 2022-2023

Get into the festive spirit while walking or driving through spectacular holiday lights


Last updated: by Olha Savych
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Chicago and its suburbs are dazzling during late November throughout December and often until early January. Christmas is really the most wonderful time of the year here, with dozens of opportunities to dive into the sea of twinkling bulbs.

Christmas lights Chicago suburbs

Some of the best Christmas lights in Chicago are displayed in the suburbs of the city. The top choice must be the iconic Lightscape event in Chicago Botanic Garden. Many also like to explore stunning drive-thru shows, such as Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum.

Chicago Botanic Garden Christmas lights (November 12, 2021–January 2, 2022, select dates)

The Lightscape turns Chicago Botanic Garden into a magic glowing wonderland for the whole family to enjoy. Come along to bask in the lights of the illuminated trail and take in the glow of the famous Winter Cathedral. The gardens are open after dark until 11 pm. The admission is $75 per person and includes parking.

Christmas light show Chicago (mid-November–early January 2021)

If you'd rather behold the twinkling lights from the comfort of your car, opt for drive-thru Christmas light shows. The Morton Arboretum in suburban Lisle hosts the Tree Lights Illumination. Also, Phillips Park in Aurora City becomes home to the Aurora Festival of Lights, which is free of charge. Lastly, Northbrook Court, next to Botanic Garden, boasts Let It Shine Lightshow, noted as the largest Christmas drive-thru in North Shore.

Downtown Chicago Christmas lights

The heart of Chicago is likewise lavishly adorned for Christmas. You can hop on a holiday lights tour, visit Lincoln Park Zoo, or witness holiday lights along Michigan Avenue, hosting the legendary Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.

Holiday lights tour Chicago

Treat yourself to the BYOB Holiday Lights Trolley tour in Chicago for the most memorable gawker ride through the city's yuletide lights. The festive excursion sets off from Matilda (3101 N Sheffield) and takes you to the best Christmas spots across the downtown. You'll witness Christkindlmarket, Magnificent Mile, and ZooLights, not to mention music, prizes, and loads of fun that await you on the trolley. The experience is available at $79.

Chicago Zoo Christmas lights (November 19, 2021–January 2, 2022)

Not into touring? Then head straight ahead to the Lincoln Park ZooLights. Chicago's beloved family-friendly tradition embraces more than two million LED lights, set to cheerful Christmas tunes. Apart from larger-than-life animal illuminations, you'll discover the Enchanted Forest and the Light Maze, feast on seasonal snacks, and possibly do some holiday shopping. The tickets are $5.

Michigan Avenue Chicago Christmas lights (November 20, 2021–early January 2022)

Alternatively, reserve more time to enjoy holiday lights on Michigan Avenue. In late November, it traditionally opens the season at the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, featuring the Chicago Christmas lights parade. But the trees lining The Mag Mile will shine with millions of lights throughout the whole Christmas season.

Please check with the official websites for the tickets and the latest updates (see External Resources below.) Also, take a look at the map suggesting the best accommodations nearby.