Holiday Lights in Illinois 2021

Twinkling lights add a bit of magic to the holiday season. Infants to elderly are fascinated by dazzling lights displays. Whether you prefer to enjoy holiday lights on foot or in the warm comfort of your car, you’ll find many impressive and unique holiday lights displays throughout Illinois.

Editor’s note: This article was previously published but has been updated for 2021.

Holiday lights by foot

At Morton Arboretum’s Illumination, hug a tree and it changes color. Stand in front of the camera and your face projects high onto the trees. With a wave of your hand you create the illusion of rain or snow. Sing to a tree and watch the colors change. Take a mile-long stroll through this interactive virtual kaleidoscope of color. Through January 2.
Note: Tickets are available for specific times, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Some days sell out, so they strongly recommend you purchase your tickets ahead of time. Once admitted, you can stay as long as you’d like. Admission ends at 8:30 p.m., and the exhibition closes at 9:30 p.m.

Morton Arboretum Illumination, holiday lights
Photo provided by Morton Arboretum


Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
twinkle on the following evenings from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.: November 20-24, 26-30, December 1-23, 26-31, and January 1-2.  Stroll through a light maze and enchanted forest; ride the carousel or train. Tickets most days are $5. Download the program for the complete program, including free days and special events.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights, holiday lights Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic runs Friday through Sunday, November 26-28, Wednesday through Sunday, December 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, and Sunday through Friday, December 26-31. Hours are 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Enjoy over two million lights, a skating rink, dolphin shows (additional fee), and a gnome hunt. Advanced, time-entry reservations are required.Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic holiday lights

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Holiday lights by car

If you miss East Peoria’s lighted parade, not to worry. The floats that were in the parade are part of the Folepi’s Winter Wonderland. Instead of the floats riding past you, you drive past two miles of colorfully lighted floats, showcasing everything from traditional whimsical toy soldiers to spaceships and dinosaurs, all covered almost solidly with twinkling lights. Opens Thanksgiving night, November 25, 2021, and runs nightly through January 2, 2022.

train holiday lights in PeoriaThe Way of Lights at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois, focuses on the biblical story of Christmas. Drive through a mile and a half of life-size biblical statues and electro-art displays that include over a million lights. The trail takes you on a scriptural Journey to Bethlehem. Open nightly from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, November 19, through Friday, December 31 for the lights. Special events include camel, donkey, and pony rides; carriage rides, community performances, and more. All events except lights are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas. Check the website for complete event schedule and other details.

The Du Quoin Annual Holiday Lights Fair turns the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds magical from Thanksgiving through December 30 with over 3 miles of lighted displays from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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There’s plenty of time during the holiday season to enjoy more than one of the holiday lights displays. Why not take a weekend off from shopping and make a getaway weekend of it? Please check the individual web sites for display hours and admission fees.

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8 thoughts on “Holiday Lights in Illinois 2021

  • November 20, 2017 at 9:53 am
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    The lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo have been on my list for a while!

    Reply
    • November 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm
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      The Lincoln Park Zoolights was on my list for a long time, too. We finally got there a few years ago. Well worth going!

      Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 10:48 am
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    Those are some amazing light displays! I love Christmas lights, and if I ever can get a little more north during the holidays, I will check some of these out. So beautiful!

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    • November 26, 2017 at 7:49 pm
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      The holiday season is such a short window of time if you want to travel to see lights in other places.

      Reply
  • November 28, 2017 at 2:09 am
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    Looks awesome. My daughter is obsessed with everything lights and I am planning to take her here 2 weeks before Christmas when we will be touring the US. I didn’t know Illinois even had tourist attractions – and to be honest – this takes the pie. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    Reply
    • November 28, 2017 at 9:01 am
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      You’re welcome, Rene! You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find in Illinois and all over the Midwest. I’ve lived in Illinois my entire life, and I’m continually amazed at the attractions, both natural and man-made, that I discover.

      Reply
  • November 28, 2018 at 1:31 pm
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    The Morton Arboretum’s Illumination display looks fabulous! I want to do something similar at my own home.

    Reply
    • November 28, 2018 at 7:30 pm
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      That would be cool. I wouldn’t be surprised if companies start marketing things like that for decorating homes.

      Reply

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