A Fairy Tale of Twinkling Lights: Ushering in the Holiday Season With a Bright Celebration

Winter has arrived and although some may consider it a somewhat gloomy season, that’s far from the reality. Especially in Chicago! Not only does November usher in the holiday season with over one million lights in downtown Chicago with the Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights and The Chicago Thanksgiving Parade, but your entire season can be illuminated by twinkling lights at various prominent locations around the city.

From Christmas celebrations of traditions and cultures across the globe to zoological splendor culminating in an impressive and delightful fireworks display at Navy Pier, this season is to be enjoyed by the whole family. And with all that’s on offer – Chicago doesn’t disappoint. Ready to take a sneak peek into what delights you can participate in? Let’s dive in!

Museum of Science and Industry (MSI): Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

Perfect for children of all ages as well as adults who have a deep sense of curiosity, this years Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light comes to the MSI from November 16, 2022 until January 4, 2023. Visiting one of the world’s largest science and technology museums, you’ll be able to join a rich, 80-year old tradition that dates back to World War II. Back then, it was a shared belief that there is more that unites than divides us, and with this the MSI celebrates countless Christmas traditions from around the world that usher in the holidays and bring joy to the world.

Visitors will delight in a glittering forest of over 50 Christmas trees and displays that represents the ways in which different cultures celebrate the season. But the ultimate must-see is the magnificent four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree illuminated by over 30,000 lights.  Take a holiday journey through the trees and enjoy entertainment at the holiday stage. Then enjoy snow that falls to get you in the holiday spirit. After all tis the season, when kids do all ages are filled with the joy, warmth and nostalgia that only the holidays can bring.

Chicago Botanic Garden Lightscape

And there’s something for the nature lovers as well. Running all November until January 8, 2023, The Chicago Botanic Garden offers visitors a splendid after-dark experience. The forest preserve, that consists of 385-acres of landscaped gardens, this year will offer plenty of exhibits to explore and enjoy the beauty of wintertime and the holidays.

And it culminates in a spectacular 110-foot luminous cathedral tunnel that’s illuminated by 100,000 lights. What’s more is that there are trees that “sing” Christmas carols you’ll enjoy at various exhibits, and of course, the enchanting fire garden. All this in addition to music, light, fire, and amazing color creations. You can enjoy hot drinks to give you that warm-hearted holiday feeling. Held for the fourth year running, this is another must-see in Chicago!

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo is a 235-acre zoo that features over 2,400 animals belonging to over 400 species. Animal lovers will be able to delight in what may be considered an entire overhaul of the zoo as over one million lights will cover trees, fences, and structures. Now in its 41st year, this is considered Chicago’s longest-running lights festival that features over two million twinkling LED lights. You will truly be walking in a winter wonderland!

One of the major attractions there will be a 600-foot-long tunnel that features colored lights that are synchronized to music to get you in the holiday spirit. But that’s not all! You’ll also be able to hunt for and spot illuminated animal sculptures created specially for the occasion. And to top it all off, there’s something yummy for everyone to enjoy, including funnel cakes, pizza, spiced wine, and hot cocoa. The perfect way to wrap up a cozy holiday evening!

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

But the magic doesn’t end there! This year, returning for the 28th year, Lincoln Park Zoo will again delight us with the ZooLights experience. Running from Saturday, November 19, 2022, until Sunday, January 1, 2023, this is an experience with a difference. Not only will proceeds of ticket sales support the zoo’s animal care, global conservation efforts, and learning programs, but this cherished family tradition will see hundreds of themed displays with 3D and LED lights cover the zoo as a Ferris wheel, an expansive light tunnel, Winter Wonderlawn, the opportunity to take photos with Santa and singers of Christmas carols will return on December 23 to spread the holiday cheer, and much more.

There’s also the unmissable live ice carving and a holiday pop-up bar in addition to the Endangered Ferris wheel and the Lionel Train Adventure, perfect for the little ones. Meanwhile, grown ups will be able to enjoy an array of tasty drinks and treats in addition to the ability to do some last-minute holiday shopping. The event will run from 16:30 until 22:00 every night except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

Light Up The Lake: Navy Pier light show

Described as a lakefront treasure, Navy Pier is located on Lake Michigan and is the largest non-profit tourism destination in the Midwest. It welcomes around nine million visitors every year and its expansive size (stretching over six city blocks) means there’s something there for everyone. This major Chicago landmark showcases more than 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities, and more.

Kicking off on November 25, 2022, and running until January 7, 2023, Light Up The Lake is possibly Chicago’s largest indoor Christmas lights experience. Although some favorites will return this year (such as light sculptures, an ice skating rink, Santa’s village, and the Centennial Wheel), families can enjoy new additions to the festivities as well. These include the Stomp Light Activity, which is a collection of 100 interactive light discs that change color at every touch.

Then there’s Light Memory Lane where guests can engage with interactive light sculptures through their smartphones. But there’s also the Reflecting Pond, a Birch Tree Forest with over 100 lit trees. The Roseaux is described as a “particip’active” art installation that is composed of 12 reeds that rise into the sky, which can then be interacted with to create a myriad of colors along the stems. And what would an evening be without some Magic Wands? Perfect for young and old, this is the perfect chance to create one’s own color story.

Making your way there…

With so much on offer this holiday season, it’s to be expected for big crowds to gather. This means concerns about parking spaces and finding your way around. Why not make it easy for yourself and your loved ones and book a trip with us? We’ll ensure you’re picked up and dropped off at the right location at the right time. And parking will be the last of your concerns. We ensure each guest that steps onto our buses has a pleasant and memorable experience and we delight in your enjoyment and wonder at all that Chicago has to offer. So, what are you waiting for? Reach out to us and we’ll take care of one of the biggest concerns – transportation, while you and your loved ones have a wonderful, memorable time this Christmas season!