When is time to pack into the car to go on a Christmas light display tour in northern Illinois with some hot chocolate, these are some great stops to make.

Holiday Light Display Tour

There is no shortage of great places to take in all the illuminated colors of the holiday season. Once you've made it through all your favorite neighborhoods to see all the beautifully lit homes, it's on to something even bigger.

In northern Illinois, we're surrounded by parks, zoos, rivers, gardens, and arboretums that also do something special for the holidays. Having been to each one of these displays, I can tell you, THEY DO NOT DISAPPOINT.

Anderson Gardens Illuminated

An absolutely mesmerizing walk through one of the highest-quality Japanese gardens in North America, Anderson Gardens in Rockford.

Illuminated at Anderson gardens opens Thursday, December 1, and will be open Thursdays through Sundays from December 1 until December 18th. Illuminated will be open the entire week before Christmas except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Your last chance to see the gardens lit up for the holidays will be December 26-December 30.

Click HERE for details and tickets.

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All Aglow at Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens

It is hard to imagine the kind of meticulous planning that must go into constructing a light display like the All Aglow outdoor holiday light show at Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens in Rockford. All Aglow runs from November 26 through January 8.

Rockford Park District - Photo by Jesse Fox
Rockford Park District - Photo by Jesse Fox
Rockford Park District-Photo by Tom Doherty
Rockford Park District-Photo by Tom Doherty
Rockford Park District - Photo by Madeline Appino
Rockford Park District - Photo by Madeline Appino


ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

This event has been a Chicagoland tradition for thousands of families for almost 30 years. From November 18 through December 26. The zoo plans many different activities throughout the ZooLights event, so be sure to visit lpzoo.org/event/zoolights/ for details and tickets.


Chicago Botanic Gardens Lightscape

A magical nighttime stroll in the gardens accompanied by,

[...] music, light, fire, and color.

Yes, please. Nothing short of spectacular.  #LightscapeChicago is open from November 11 through January 8. You do have to purchase tickets ahead of time. Visit chicagobotanic.org/lightscape for details and tickets.


Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

Some holiday light displays create an entirely new level of awe, this is one of those displays. Illumination begins November 19 and runs through January 7.

Watch this short Instagram video below and you'll see what I mean.

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