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A magical holiday light display with snowflakes, animals, and light projections.
Lincoln Park ZooLights
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Where to see holiday lights in Chicago

Let the magic begin

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Lincoln Park ZooLights
| Shutterstock

If you’ve been in Chicago for at least one winter, you know that the sparkly holiday lights add a bit of magic to our dark, dreary frigid season. These glowing neighborhood boulevards, seasonally decorated landmarks, and glimmering downtown displays brighten up the longer nights.

The city lights up its 55-foot Christmas tree on Friday, November 22 and most of the other festivities closely follow beginning at the end of the month.

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1. Chicago Botanic Garden

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1000 Lake Cook Rd
Glencoe, IL 60022
(847) 835-5440
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The massive grounds at the gardens are decked out in elaborate light creations. The show, Lightscape, lets visitors walk a mile-long path full of playful installations like singing trees, a waterfall of light, and a twinkly cathedral tunnel.

2. West Logan Boulevard

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W Logan Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647

A point of pride for the neighborhood is what locals call the Christmas House created by owner Frank Lopez. There’s music, elaborate lights, moving reindeer, and Santa’s sled. It was so spectacular that kids would drop off letters to Santa—Lopez responded to a few. Unfortunately, the man behind the cherished decor passed away this year. His family, still struggling with the loss, put up lights this season in his honor.

In 2015, Lopez told the Chicagoist “the reason I do it is because I see so many people, so many kids, they pass by over here … and I have music on, and I see all their smiles,” he said. “I enjoy that.”

3. Lincoln Park ZooLights

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2001 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 742-2000
Visit Website

One of the city’s most popular light displays, Lincoln Park ZooLights illuminates the exhibits. During the event, visitors will have a chance to stroll through the grounds admiring 3D displays, get photos with Santa, and observe ice sculptors. Every year the zoo hosts a handful of events like Brewlights and a Holiday Market—this season will go out with a bang with the Zoo Year’s Eve party.

4. Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest

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600 E Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 595-7437
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Can’t stand the cold? Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest features decorated Christmas trees, carnival rides, giant slides, and climbing walls. End the day with a ride on the Centennial Wheel (which features closed cars and a colorful light display at night).

5. Macy's on State Street

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111 N State St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 781-1000
Visit Website

When Marshall Fields operated the historic State Street department store, it was known for its beloved holiday decor. When Macy’s took over, it kept up the tradition. The whimsical window displays, iconic gold trumpets, and beautiful Christmas tree in the Walnut Room are holiday must-dos.

6. Millennium Park

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201 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 742-1168
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Just before Thanksgiving, the city lights up its holiday display and Christmas tree in Millennium Park. The ceremony is typically followed by a parade and Lights Festival on the Mag Mile. Just down a few blocks in Daley Plaza is Christkindlmarket with festive, glowing wooden stalls selling glittery ornaments and a giant menorah.

7. Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic

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8400 W 31st St
Brookfield, IL 60513
(708) 688-8000
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More than a million twinkling lights and animated displays light up the grounds of Brookfield Zoo during the holiday season. Visitors can enjoy theater performances, magicians, caroling, and zoo chats with experts.

8. The Morton Arboretum

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4100 IL-53
Lisle, IL 60532
(630) 968-0074
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The Morton Arboretum is a beautiful place to visit any time of year, but especially so when the forests are decorated with LEDs and feature colorful projections. Take a walk through the wild light displays and explore how some installations respond to movement and noise.

9. Washington Park

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Washington Park
Chicago, IL

Community activists from My Block, My Hood, My City have committed to lighting up eight miles of Martin Luther King Drive from 51st Street to 115th Street. More than 1,000 volunteers worked to decorated 250 homes, nearly 500 street poles and the Washington Park Fieldhouse.

The effort brightens up ten neighborhoods that have dealt with gun violence. The organization’s leader, Jamal Cole, told the Tribune: “We are elevating empathy,” he said. “In the words of MLK: ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.’ We are trying to take away the darkness.”’

10. Museum of Science and Industry

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5700 S Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 684-1414
Visit Website

Every year since 1942, the museum celebrates global Christmas traditions with 50 trees decorated by country. See how the Danes, Greeks, and Poles all decorate their trees with beautiful hand-crafted ornaments and glowing lights. This year there’s also a Holidays of Light that highlights celebrations like the Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah, and St. Lucia Day.

1. Chicago Botanic Garden

1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL 60022

The massive grounds at the gardens are decked out in elaborate light creations. The show, Lightscape, lets visitors walk a mile-long path full of playful installations like singing trees, a waterfall of light, and a twinkly cathedral tunnel.

1000 Lake Cook Rd
Glencoe, IL 60022

2. West Logan Boulevard

W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647

A point of pride for the neighborhood is what locals call the Christmas House created by owner Frank Lopez. There’s music, elaborate lights, moving reindeer, and Santa’s sled. It was so spectacular that kids would drop off letters to Santa—Lopez responded to a few. Unfortunately, the man behind the cherished decor passed away this year. His family, still struggling with the loss, put up lights this season in his honor.

In 2015, Lopez told the Chicagoist “the reason I do it is because I see so many people, so many kids, they pass by over here … and I have music on, and I see all their smiles,” he said. “I enjoy that.”

W Logan Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647

3. Lincoln Park ZooLights

2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

One of the city’s most popular light displays, Lincoln Park ZooLights illuminates the exhibits. During the event, visitors will have a chance to stroll through the grounds admiring 3D displays, get photos with Santa, and observe ice sculptors. Every year the zoo hosts a handful of events like Brewlights and a Holiday Market—this season will go out with a bang with the Zoo Year’s Eve party.

2001 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614

4. Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest

600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Can’t stand the cold? Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest features decorated Christmas trees, carnival rides, giant slides, and climbing walls. End the day with a ride on the Centennial Wheel (which features closed cars and a colorful light display at night).

600 E Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

5. Macy's on State Street

111 N State St, Chicago, IL 60602

When Marshall Fields operated the historic State Street department store, it was known for its beloved holiday decor. When Macy’s took over, it kept up the tradition. The whimsical window displays, iconic gold trumpets, and beautiful Christmas tree in the Walnut Room are holiday must-dos.

111 N State St
Chicago, IL 60602

6. Millennium Park

201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602

Just before Thanksgiving, the city lights up its holiday display and Christmas tree in Millennium Park. The ceremony is typically followed by a parade and Lights Festival on the Mag Mile. Just down a few blocks in Daley Plaza is Christkindlmarket with festive, glowing wooden stalls selling glittery ornaments and a giant menorah.

201 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60602

7. Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic

8400 W 31st St, Brookfield, IL 60513

More than a million twinkling lights and animated displays light up the grounds of Brookfield Zoo during the holiday season. Visitors can enjoy theater performances, magicians, caroling, and zoo chats with experts.

8400 W 31st St
Brookfield, IL 60513

8. The Morton Arboretum

4100 IL-53, Lisle, IL 60532

The Morton Arboretum is a beautiful place to visit any time of year, but especially so when the forests are decorated with LEDs and feature colorful projections. Take a walk through the wild light displays and explore how some installations respond to movement and noise.

4100 IL-53
Lisle, IL 60532

9. Washington Park

Washington Park, Chicago, IL

Community activists from My Block, My Hood, My City have committed to lighting up eight miles of Martin Luther King Drive from 51st Street to 115th Street. More than 1,000 volunteers worked to decorated 250 homes, nearly 500 street poles and the Washington Park Fieldhouse.

The effort brightens up ten neighborhoods that have dealt with gun violence. The organization’s leader, Jamal Cole, told the Tribune: “We are elevating empathy,” he said. “In the words of MLK: ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.’ We are trying to take away the darkness.”’

Washington Park
Chicago, IL

10. Museum of Science and Industry

5700 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637

Every year since 1942, the museum celebrates global Christmas traditions with 50 trees decorated by country. See how the Danes, Greeks, and Poles all decorate their trees with beautiful hand-crafted ornaments and glowing lights. This year there’s also a Holidays of Light that highlights celebrations like the Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah, and St. Lucia Day.

5700 S Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60637