Top Places to See Christmas Lights in and Around Chicago

If you want to experience the magic of Christmas through stunning displays of twinkling lights and bright, cheery colors, then Chicagoland is the place to be!  Nothing says happy holidays quite like gazing into the surreal displays that take over homes, buildings, parks, squares, zoos and beyond this time of year. And, all throughout this month, you can take in the best holiday displays around, from the massive displays at Lincoln Park Zoo and Navy Pier’s Winter Wonder Fest (as mentioned in previous posts) to the DIY creations found in the suburbs.  Absolutely everywhere you look you’ll find a shining light of Christmas cheer!

So, get out and explore the season’s best and brightest with your loved ones.  Here’s where you can take in some of the most spectacular displays of the season in and around Chicago:  

City of Chicago Christmas Tree

When:  Through January 6th

Where:  Millennium Park

Each year, Chicago’s Millennium Park is decked out with a spectacular Christmas tree.  This year’s stunner is a 60-foot-tall, 8,200-pound Norway spruce from Elmhurst, Illinois.  It’s the centerpiece of this larger-than-life tradition that attracts tourists from around the world for a sight of this twinkling festive celebration of the season.

Christmas Around the World

When:  Through January 6th

Where:  The Museum of Science and Industry

Head to the Museum of Science and Industry to admire more than 30,000 lights!  In addition to the 45-foot-tall Grand Tree, there are more than 50 other trees that surround the grand display, representing Chicago’s various communities and their respective holiday celebrations.  And, be sure to stick around for the falling “snow” that sprinkles from the rotunda every half hour and echoing sounds of live holiday music.


Where:  Loop

Everyone knows Macy’s takes the holiday season seriously!  So, head to this historic downtown department store to shop and see the festive sights.  And, while you’re there, make a day of it by stopping by the seventh floor for a sit-down lunch or dinner in the famous Walnut Room which is decked out with a stunningly massive light-strewn Christmas tree. Then, spend the rest of your evening strolling along State Street to see the magical window displays.  It’s fun for the whole family!

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo

When:  Through December 31st

Where:  Brookfield Zoo, Suburbs

If you head out to the suburbs, the Brookfield Zoo is decked out in one million lights for a spectacular holiday display.  Visitors can explore the zoo’s indoor exhibits and light shows while singing carols to the animals dwelling within. This year’s holiday event even features a Chicago Wolves skating rink.

Aurora Festival of Lights

When:  Through December 26th

Where:  Phillips Park & Zoo, Suburbs

Visitors can drive through a stunning wonderland of lights in Phillips Park and take in more than 420 different holiday scenes.  You’ll see everything from Santa’s sleigh, to his reindeer, elves, and so much more. This is one luminous sight you won’t want to miss!  

Wonderland Express at Chicago Botanic Gardens

When:  Through January 6th

Where:  Chicago Botanic Garden, Suburbs

For a fun family outing, head to the Chicago Botanic Gardens for an impressive 10,000-square-foot indoor model train exhibit.  See trains run through 80 tiny replicas of Chicago landmarks while fake snow falls throughout the venue. Then, once you head outdoors, see ice sculptors and the festive holiday lights strung all throughout the gardens.

Put a little sparkle into your holiday season, and spend this time with all of your loved ones exploring the luminous celebrations of Christmas!


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