Are you ready to see some pretty Christmas lights in Chicago, Illinois?
Christmas in Chicago is a magical time. You will have fun shopping at the Christkindlmarket, ice skating in Maggie Daley Park, and of course, admiring all the light displays.
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Whether you are looking for an activity to entertain the kids or an idea for a romantic date night in Chicago, these Christmas lights are sure to dazzle!
There are plenty of outdoor options as well as drive-through displays and indoor fun for when the weather is too cold or snowy.
Don’t forget to check out our comprehensive guide on where to stay in Chicago as well!
Keep reading to learn where to see Christmas lights in Chicago!
15 Best Places to See Christmas Lights in Chicago
Start the holiday season off right by attending the City of Chicago Christmas Tree lighting at the end of November.
There has been an official Christmas tree in Chicago since 1913 and since 2015, it has been erected in Millenium Park.
The tree varies in size each year, ranging from 50 to 70 feet. Paired with the other lights in the park, it is a beautiful scene.
This Chicago tree lighting is sure to become a family tradition! Arrive early to grab a spot with a good vantage point.
The tree remains lit through the first week of January so you have plenty of time to stop by and enjoy these free Christmas lights in Chicago.
Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden is a gorgeous illuminated trail that will take your breath away!
It is fully immersive with light installations of all sorts of shapes and sizes. Changing and moving lights make it a unique Christmas light show in Chicago.
As you walk the 1.25-mile trail, you will wander through light tunnels, be memorized by the fire garden, and take photos of the pretty flowers made from light.
Music is played as well to make this experience even more whimsical!
This light display is ideal for couples wanting a romantic nighttime stroll or families with kids who can run around the fantastic forests of light.
This is one f the coolest things to do in Chicago.
Illumination: Tree Lights
The Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum will give you a new appreciation for the beauty of winter.
The event mixes color, light, and sound to create a festive atmosphere. The trees are lit with dancing colors that will amaze you!
There is a 1-mile paved path filled with some of the best Christmas lights in Chicago.
After checking out the displays, warm up by one of the fires and roast marshmallows. There are also concession tents for other snacks and drinks.
There are a couple of other cool events including IllumiBrew where you can sample local craft beers and Electric Illumination, an epic music-synchronized light display.
ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the more affordable Christmas light displays in Chicago with free nights available.
The millions of lights are sure to dazzle the old and young alike. There is an 18-foot holiday tree, Enchanted Forest, and Light Maze.
At Snowy’s Spirits & S’more, you can find festive cocktails and yummy treats. The kids will have fun roasting s’mores.
If you want a fun date night without the kids, check out BrewLights or Adults Night Out: Holidaze. Enjoy a drink while walking among the lights.
The Zoo Year’s Eve celebration is a fun way to ring in the new year with s’mores and champagne.
Willow Hill’s Winter Magic
At Willow Hill Golf Course, everyone will ooh and aww over the Willow Hill’s Winter Magic drive-through light display.
As you drive this mile-long route, you will spot many classic Christmas scenes and characters such as the North Pole’s toy land, Reindeer Flight School, and Frosty the Snowman.
There are also 50 lit Christmas trees and cool light tunnels.
Since it is a drive-through display, it is perfect for younger kids. Bring snacks and play Christmas music on the radio.
These Chicago Christmas lights are one of the best things to do in Chicago at night!
Amaze Light Festival
Amaze Light Festival at Impact Field in Rosemont has some of the most immersive Chicago holiday lights.
There are seven themed worlds with over a million lights and animated displays. You will be amazed by a 3-story-tall tree and a 2.5-story-tall snowman.
Take a ride on the trackless Arctic Express train to see the lights in style. There is also a tubing slide for even more fun for the family.
You can write a letter to Santa and take a picture with the big man too. This is a great memory to make with your little ones!
there are so many delicious restaurants in Chicago you can explore before or after viewing the holiday lights.
Macy’s Walnut Room
If you want to enjoy one of the best restaurants in Chicago paired with Christmas lights in Illinois, reserve a table at the Walnut Room at Macy’s.
This elegant restaurant is the longest-running restaurant in a department store, dating back to 1907.
You will love the Circassian walnut paneling and Austrian crystal chandeliers. It is a very pretty setting for a romantic dinner in Chicago.
From November through early January, the restaurant becomes magical with the 45-feet-tall Great Tree hanging from the ceiling and filling the room with cheerful light and colors.
Eating here is a downtown Chicago Christmas tradition. The menu features Mrs. Hering’s chicken pot pie, cider glazed turkey, and ice cream pie.
Seating is by reservation only! Make sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible because it books up fast!
Santa’s Rock N Lights
Santa’s Rock N Lights is a great Christmas light show in Chicago found at the Lake County Fairgrounds.
These drive-through Christmas lights are incredible with over 700 feet of light tunnels, 3D polar bears and dinosaurs, and lights that dance to music.
Tune your radio to a special station so the music matches the movements of the lights.
Kids will love the interactive aspect as they watch the lights in awe.
These are some of the best Christmas lights on the North Shore.
Light Up the Lake
Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier is ideal for the cold Midwest winter since it is an indoor light garden.
There are a ton of twinkling lights, huge sculptures, a 60-foot light tunnel, and a 40-foot tree. There are a bunch of Instagramable displays.
Kids will love taking a ride on the Enchanted Choo-Choo and exploring Santa’s Merry Main Street. The Alpine Ice Rink dazzles under a canopy of lights.
Shop at the European-style market to pick up gifts and treats.
Adults can head to the Alpine Pub to buy seasonal craft beers, winter cocktails, and fresh snacks.
Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival has some of the best free Christmas lights in Chicago!
This Chicago Christmas event has been popular for over thirty years and happens at the end of November.
Families will love watching one of the largest nighttime parades in the country.
There are lit-up floats, helium balloons, marching bands, characters like Santa Claus and Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and more!
There are also fireworks! This is a great time to get in the holiday spirit in Chicago!
The hundreds of trees along the Magnificant Mile are lit with millions of lights throughout the season.
You will love seeing these downtown Chicago Christmas lights as you shop in one of the best shopping districts in the country.
Let it Shine Drive-Thru Light Show
For more drive-by Christmas lights in Chicago, you will love the Let it Shine Drive-Thru Light Show.
There are two locations in the Chicago metro area where you can see this display: Northbrook and Schaumburg. Each version is unique.
Synchronize your radio to the lights for an even more immersive and festive experience.
The kids will love the bright light tunnels, trees, and animated displays.
Do not forget a camera to capture these Chicago lights!
Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light
At Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, the Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light is a popular annual event.
This holiday exhibit first occurred in 1942 and represents global unity. The museum’s rotunda becomes a dreamy, winter wonderland.
The 45-foot-tall, floor-to-ceiling Grand Tree is a sight to behold. Get ready to take some epic Instagram photos!
There is a forest of 50 trees decorated to show off cultures and holiday traditions from around the world.
You can take photos with Santa on select days and pick up unique ornaments at the holiday shop.
When the weather is blustery, this is one of the best things to do in Chicago during the winter!
Holiday In The Park
Six Flags Great America is where to see holiday lights in Chicago! The Holiday in the Park event guarantees fun for the whole family.
Decorations and 2.5 million lights fill one of the best amusement parks in the Midwest.
You will enjoy all the usual rides as well as character storytimes, holiday shows, concerts, and more!
There are a ton of seasonal treats and drinks to taste test. You can also roast marshmallows over a fire pit and make gooey s’mores.
Don’t forget to stop by Merry Market Place to pick up gifts or visit Santa’s Workshop to make an ornament.
There is also a drive-through version of the event if you want to save some money and only enjoy the lights.
Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic Some Of The Best Christmas Lights In Chicago
Holiday Magic at the Brookefield Zoo is one of the largest Christmas light shows in Chicago and has been happening for over 40 years!
It is impossible not to be in the holiday spirit after walking through the 600-foot-long Tunnel of Lights.
Pose for a photo in front of the 41-foot-tall tree with lights that dance to Christmas music. There are 700 more trees shining through the zoo.
Be amazed by the 3D 16-foot-tall gingerbread house and giant, illuminated animal sculptures.
There is also an ice skating rink. You will have a magical time surrounded by Christmas lights.
Naperville For The Best Lights In Chicago s
In downtown Naperville, the pretty Naper Lights create a wonderful holiday atmosphere. This is one of the best free Chicago holiday light displays.
From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, you can stroll through the lit parks and the riverwalk. There are over 150,000 lights with cool animations.
If you have kids, grab a pair of the special 3D viewing glasses which gives the lights a whole new look.
There is also a magic tree that will react when you talk to it! How cool is that?!
As you explore the lights downtown, you can pop into some of the shops and cafes. Listen to Christmas music as the trees dance.
On some days, you can hear music from Bach to Rock or take a photo with Santa Claus. No matter what, you will have fun!
You will love wandering this small town in Illinois and soaking up the holiday cheer.
Packing List When Experiencing Christmas Lights In Chicago
If you are searching, here are some tips on how to pack lightly when packing when heading to Chicago Illinois.
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when searching for beautiful Christmas lights in Chicago.
It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.
This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind.
You can place it under your clothes next to your body to carry your ID safely.
If you have a pouch already that does not come with the RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery.
This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and is so easy to use.
It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking Insta-worthy selfies when experiencing the Christmas lights in Chicago.
I never much believed in using packing cubes when traveling. That is until I tried them. Now I am hooked. These are the exact cubes I use to stay organized when I pack for a trip!
You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for your adventures and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.
Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium in your suitcase, or in your car. Then this collapsible silicone foldable water bottle would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.
You will want a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. . No matter the time of day or evening.
This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great. And it comes in many different colors!
There are so many Christmas lights in Chicago to keep you and the family entertained throughout the holiday season.
Chicago is one of the best places to enjoy Christmas in the Midwest!
If you have young kids, the many drive-through Christmas lights in Chicago are a perfect option. Older kids will love running around the outdoor displays.
These amazing Christmas lights in Illinois are sure to become a family holiday tradition to be loved year after year!