Best time to go to Illinois

Christmas Lights in Illinois 2024-2025

Lots of Christmassy spots are scattered all over the state, including far beyond Chicago

Dates: late November–early January

Most people would seek the best Christmas lights in Illinois close to Chicago, as the city and its suburbs indeed boast the most impressive holiday displays. The sheer ZooLights, Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue), and Lightscape in Botanic Garden are worth planning your festive getaway in Chicago. Yet, we have a separate article dedicated to those light displays. And below you'll find alternative spots to get into the Christmas spirit in Illinois.

Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Great America (November–January 2024, unconfirmed)

Just north of the Windy City in Gurnee, you'll discover a winter wonderland tucked at Six Flags Great America. Holiday in the Park provides a unique chance to combine Christmas cheer with your favorite thrill rides and coasters. The amusement park puts on more than a million dazzling lights and offers other seasonal entertainments, such as visits with Santa and your favorite festive treats.

Drive through Christmas lights Illinois

Illinois also offers a great deal of drive-through Christmas light displays. You'll discover some of the best holiday spectaculars in Rockford, in northern Illinois, East Peoria, in central Illinois, and the City of Carlyle in the southern part of the state.

Sinnissippi Park Christmas lights Rockford, Illinois (November 24–December 31, 2023, on selected dates) | All Aglow at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens (November 25, 2023–January 7, 2024)

The Festival of Lights in Sinnissippi Park, Rockford, is a long-running drive-thru Christmas light tradition that started in 1989. In addition to the holiday lights, kids can enjoy visits with Santa. Besides Sinnissippi Park, another nearby spot to check out is the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, hosting All Aglow. Both events typically run from late November through New Year's Eve or a bit beyond.

East Peoria Festival of Lights (November 24, 2023–January 1, 2024)

East Peoria Festival of Lights claims to be one of the brightest Christmas shows in Illinois. The Parade of Lights in late November marks the onset of the festival. Folepi's Winter Wonderland drive-through display opens at Thanksgiving and runs up to early January.

Carlyle Illinois Christmas lights (November 24, 2023–January 7, 2024)

Your final spot to soak up holiday lights is Carlyle City Park. Make sure to tune your radio to 90.1 FM to fully enjoy the animated drive-through with dancing trees. Thousands of bulbs shine brightly from late November till early January.

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

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