Usher in winter at a seasonal light show

  • Sky Light Magic is part of Illumination: Tree Lights this year at The Morton Arboretum.

    Sky Light Magic is part of Illumination: Tree Lights this year at The Morton Arboretum. Courtesy of The Morton Arboretum

Updated 11/26/2022 8:57 AM

Pretty lights! That's what you'll find at seasonal light shows across the suburbs. From walking experiences to drive-through spectacles set to holiday music, there are a variety of options to get you in the spirit. But reserve your tickets now as many are already selling out.

Light Up the Lake


11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Saturday, Dec. 31, at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, This redubbed indoor interactive holiday experience incorporates light sculptures, a lighted birch tree maze, stomp light activity, ice skating, a holiday train, visits with Santa and a free ride on the Centennial Wheel. Adults: $27, kids 3-12: $17.

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo

3-9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27; Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1-4, 7-11, 14-18; and Monday through Saturday, Dec. 26-31, at Brookfield Zoo, 8400 31st St., Brookfield. More than two million lights stretching more than two miles make up the Holiday Magic light display, which also features illuminated animal sculptures, a tunnel of lights, a skating rink ($7 per person), a drop-off for letters to Santa and more. Reservations are required for South Gate entry; reservations are not required for North Gate entry. Adults: $24.95; kids 3-11: $17.95; seniors: $19.95; South parking: $13.40.

Amaze Light Festival

4-10 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, and daily from Wednesday, Nov. 30, through Sunday, Jan. 8 (except Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13 and 25), at Odyssey Fun World, 19111 Oak Park Ave., Tinley Park, An all-immersive storybook experience with five themed worlds of light displays, activities, holiday music and dynamic live performances. Adults: $36, kids: $30; VIP adults: $86; VIP kids: $80. Parking is $15 in advance; $20 on-site.

Illumination, Tree Lights is back for its 10th year at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
Illumination, Tree Lights is back for its 10th year at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. - Courtesy of Morton Arboretum
Illumination, Tree Lights

4:30-9:30 p.m. daily through Saturday, Jan. 7 (except Monday, Nov. 28, and Dec. 5, 12, 24 and 25), at Morton Arboretum, 4100 Route 53, Lisle, (630) 968-0074, Explore six new displays of light, sound and color along the 1-mile walking path, including a special Human+Nature display and an experience featuring 150 colorful lanterns. Stop by the firepits to roast marshmallows or purchase snacks and beverages at the concession tents. Members: $11-$22; nonmembers: $16-$27. Buy tickets early as many nights often sell out.

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4:30-11 p.m. various dates through Sunday, Jan. 8, at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe, (847) 835-6801, Experience nature in winter along a new walking path featuring light, fire, color and music in such displays as the re-imagined fire garden and Winter Cathedral. Timed tickets cost $30 for members, $32 for nonmembers for adults; $14/$16 for kids; free for kids 2 and younger; tickets purchased the day of the event cost $2 more. Order tickets early as many nights sell out.

Sparkle Light Festival

4:30-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 6-9 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and other times/dates through Sunday, Jan. 1, at Impact Field, 9850 Balmoral Ave., Rosemont, (847) 636-5450, Immersive displays of millions of holiday lights and outdoor holiday activities, including train rides, winter tubing, themed mazes, letters to Santa and more. The two-story Alpine Slide is an extra $22 for unlimited rides. A special menu of festive food and beverages will be available. Adults: $25; kids 2-12: $20.

Winter Lights

4:30-9:30 p.m. daily through Sunday, Jan. 8, at Central Park, Jorie Boulevard and Forest Gate Road, Oak Brook. A free half-mile illuminated walk along paved pathways. Purchase cookies, candy canes and hot cocoa in the Cocoa Cabin in the Central Park West building from 4:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays, Dec. 1-29, except Dec. 22. The path will be closed during inclement weather.

Holiday Magic returns to Brookfield Zoo Friday, Nov. 25.
Holiday Magic returns to Brookfield Zoo Friday, Nov. 25. - Courtesy of the Chicago Zoological Society
Aurora Festival of Lights

5-9 p.m. daily through Sunday, Dec. 25, at Philips Park, 1000 Ray Moses Drive, Aurora. The outdoor one-mile drive-through holiday light display returns featuring jumping reindeer, ice skating bears, Old Man Winter, howling wolves, Santa's toy factory, fields of gigantic snowflakes and more. Free; donations will be taken at the end. Register for an entry ticket at


Magical Christmas Drive-Thru Experience

5-9 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 5-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 30 (closed Dec. 24-25) at Santa's Village, 601 Dundee Ave., East Dundee, (847) 426-6751, See more than 3 million lights synchronized to holiday music during this drive-through light show. New this year at the end is the 300-foot tube slide, entertainment, hot chocolate, concessions and photo ops. Tickets must be reserved online as they will not be available at the gate. $35; $25 for existing season pass holders.

Nights of Lights

Dusk to 10 p.m. daily through Sunday, Jan. 8, at Adams Park, Main and Wesley streets, Wheaton, More than 55,000 lights and a new animated light display at the fountain. Free.

Santa's Rock 'N' Lights

5-10 p.m. daily through Sunday, Jan. 1, at the Lake County Fairgrounds & Event Center, 1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake, Be wowed by a mile of lights dancing to music during this drive-through animated lights show. $29.99-$34.99; online ticket purchase is required.

Willow Hill Lights Show

5-10 p.m. daily through Sunday, Jan. 1, at Willow Hill Golf Course, 1350 Willow Road, Northbrook, This drive-through holiday lights show features a 1.6-mile route with more than one million lights, three drive-through tunnels and a 30-foot Christmas tree. See the abominable snowman, Rudolph and his reindeer pals, the Twelve Days of Christmas, Frosty and his friends and more. $40 per car.

Shine Light Show

6-10 p.m. daily through Sunday, Jan. 1, at Northbrook Court, 1515 Lake-Cook Road, Northbrook, and Wintrust Field, 1999 S. Springinsguth Road, Schaumburg, Drive-through light shows feature a wonderland of more than one million lights synchronized to holiday music. $32.99-$42.99; fast pass add-on is an extra $20. One ticket per vehicle; online purchase is required.


5-7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Friday, Dec. 16, and Saturdays, Jan. 7-28, in Fabyan Japanese Garden in Fabyan West Forest Preserve, 1925 S. Batavia Ave., Route 31, Geneva, Experience the garden lit up at night. Entry timed at 15-minute intervals. $8; free for kids 5 and younger. Purchase tickets online.

• With additional reporting by Caroline Linden.

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