With the flip of a switch, the holiday season begins

Many suburban communities kick off the holiday season with tree lighting ceremonies. Some of these events have grown into mini-festivals, complete with caroling, Santa visits, sleigh rides and more. Here’s where you can see them this week and beyond.

Nov. 16

MSI Tree Lighting: 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the Museum of Science and Industry; 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. The museum will hold its tree lighting ceremony. Adults $21.95; kids 3-11 $12.95; free for members. msichicago.org/.

Nov. 18

City of Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting: 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue and Washington Street, Chicago. Chicago’s official tree lighting. chicago.gov.

Gilberts tree lighting ceremony: 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, in Town Square Park, 195 Jackson St., Gilberts. villageofgilberts.com.

Tree Lighting on Spring Road: 6-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, Wild Meadows Trace Park, 483 Spring Road, Elmhurst. Join them for the first Holiday Tree lighting ceremony in Elmhurst with festive Christmas carols from 6 to 6:30 p.m and Santa Claus arriving aboard a fire engine at 6:30 p.m. The Christmas Tree will be lit after Santa arrives. Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while visiting with Santa Claus. exploreelmhurst.com.



Winter Lights: 6-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, in downtown Aurora. Illuminated parade with Santa and Mrs. Claus steps off at 6:30 p.m. at Downer Place and proceeds from Water Street to River Street. Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with Mayor Richard Irvin and the newly crowned Little Mr. and Miss Aurora, will light the city’s holiday tree. Tree lighting and fireworks display are best viewed from the east end of the Downer Place bridge. After the fireworks, Stolp Avenue, between Downer Place and Galena Boulevard, will be filled with music, food vendors, hot cocoa vendors, artisan vendors and roaming costumed characters at Millennium Plaza. aurora-il.org.

Nov. 19

Light Up The Park: 2-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at Parkway Bank Park, 5501 Park Place, Rosemont. Tree lighting includes visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, free horse-drawn sleigh rides, carolers and ice sculpting. Ice skating at the park begins at 11 a.m. ParkwayBankPark.com.

Palatine Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony: 4:45-7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at Towne Square, 150 W. Palatine Road, Palatine. Enjoy holiday music performed by the Palatine Children’s Chorus and help Santa light the holiday tree. Children can take pictures with Santa in the Towne Square gazebo. palatine.il.us.

Hoffman Estates Friendship Tree Lighting Ceremony: 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Hoffman Estates Village Hall, 1900 Hassell Road, Hoffman Estates. During the village’s 15th annual Friendship Tree Lighting Ceremony, Mayor McLeod will be joined by Cub Scout Troop 197 to light the tree and kick off a large fireworks display. Sponsored by the Celebrations Commission. hoffmanestates.org.



Nov. 20

Holiday Magic and Tree Lighting Ceremony: 4:45-7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at Green and Center streets, Bensenville. Holiday car parade begins at 4:45 p.m. Santa arrives along Center Street beginning at Tioga School and ending in Town Center. Take photos with Santa from 5-7 p.m. Holiday car parade winners announced on stage at 6:45 p.m. and tree lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. Free commemorative ornaments and refreshments, while supplies last. Bring new, unwrapped toys, new or gently used coats, and nonperishable food items for the annual toy, food and coat drives. bensenville.il.us.

Nov. 23

Mount Prospect Holiday Tree Lighting: 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, at the village hall, 50 S. Emerson St., Mount Prospect. Bring friends and family to the tree lighting. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, cookies and carols and then stay and explore the Christkindlmarket. Tree lighting sponsored by the Village of Mount Prospect. mountprospect.org.

Nov. 25

Lake Forest Tree Lighting Holiday Celebration: 2:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, in Market Square, 264 Market Square Court, Lake Forest. Enjoy live music, kids’ activities, food and beverages, carolers, LFDA dancers and Santa. lfparksandrec.com.

Elk Grove Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony: 4-5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at Charles J. Zettek Municipal Complex, 901 Wellington Ave., Elk Grove Village. Refreshments at 4 p.m., followed by a 4:30 p.m. holiday concert with the New Colony Six. Following the concert, Mayor Johnson will throw the switch to light up the village’s holiday tree and turn on 250,000 lights around the Municipal Complex, Elk Grove Public Library and the Elk Grove Park District Pavilion. Fireworks will follow the tree lighting, announcing the arrival of Santa and his elves. Hot chocolate and cookies will be provided. (847) 357-4041 or elkgrove.org.

Grayslake Tree Lighting Festival: 4-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, in downtown Grayslake. Live madrigal carolers; shops and vendors will be selling cocoa and treats; sleigh rides; fine arts show upstairs in the village hall; and visit Santa and Mrs. Claus. Tree lighting ceremony starts at 5:30 p.m. grayslakechamber.com.

Lights shine at North School Park during the Arlington Heights tree lighting ceremony.

Lights shine at North School Park during the Arlington Heights tree lighting ceremony.
– Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2021

Arlington Heights Tree Lighting: 4:30-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at North School Park, Eastman Street and Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights. View the annual tree lighting ceremony. ahpd.org/events/tree-lighting1.

Downers Grove tree lighting ceremony: 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at the Main Street train station, 5001 Main St., Downers Grove. View the tree lighting ceremony, with the tree featuring handmade ornaments by residents. Submit ornaments by Nov. 18 at public works, 5101 Walnut. events.downers.us.

Wheaton Nights of Lights: 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at Adams Park, Main and Wesley streets, Wheaton. More than 55,000 lights and a new animated light display at the fountain. Lights go on each night from dusk to 10 p.m. through Jan. 8. Wheaton Christmas Parade steps off at 6 p.m. near Wheaton City Hall, traveling south on Wheaton Avenue and west on Front Street. Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. at the new pavilion on Liberty Drive and Main Street. Music and activities at approximately 6:45 p.m. www.downtownwheaton.com/nightsoflights.

Glen Ellyn Holiday Walk: 5-8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, on Main Street. Gather for the Holiday Walk at 5 p.m. with music around the Christmas tree on Main Street. Santa will emerge from the firehouse at 6 p.m. and start his march down Main Street to light the star on top of the tree at 6:30 p.m. Photos with Santa at the firehouse from 7-8:30 p.m. glenellynchamber.com/Holiday/.

Light the Lights: 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at Wyman Green, Park and Vernon avenues, Glencoe. The annual holiday lighting ceremony takes place at 5:15 p.m. Enjoy family-friendly activities throughout the downtown, including train rides, live music by Rosie and the Rivets at 5:30 p.m., photos with Santa at Writers Theatre, hot chocolate stations, holiday shopping, live reindeer, and character greetings with Princess Anna, Princess Elsa and Olaf from “Frozen.” villageofglencoe.org.

St. Charles Holiday Homecoming Weekend: 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, with the Lighting of the Lights ceremony on the First Street Plaza. At 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, watch a free showing of “Elf” at the Arcada Theatre. Visits with Santa beginning at 1 p.m. on the First Street Plaza. At 5:30 p.m., the Electric Christmas Parade will proceed down Main Street. Santa’s House will be open from 1-4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 25 through Dec. 18, on First Street Plaza. stcholidayhomecoming.com.

Winterlights: 5 to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 25 to Dec. 16, in Fabyan Japanese Garden in Fabyan West Forest Preserve, 1925 S. Batavia Ave., Route 31, Geneva. It continues on Saturdays from 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 7-28. $8 or free for age 5 or younger. Entry timed at 15-minute intervals. For tickets, visit PPFV.org/winterlights.

Geneva Commons Christmas Tree Lighting: 6-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at Geneva Commons, off Randall Road. Holiday lights, festive selfie stations, and free hot chocolate and candy canes, while supplies last. Lighting of the Christmas tree by Santa Claus. Free. shopgenevacommons.com.

Round Lake Beach tree lighting: 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at the Cultural and Civic Center, 2007 N. Civic Center Way, Round Lake Beach. Music, Santa and Mrs. Claus, cookies, hot cocoa and more. rlbciviccenter.com.

Visitors use their cellphones to capture video and photos of last year's tree lighting at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg.

Visitors use their cellphones to capture video and photos of last year’s tree lighting at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg.
– Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2021

Schaumburg Tree Lighting Ceremony: 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, at Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg. The evening’s activities will begin at 6 p.m. with holiday caroling with the Schaumburg Choral Program and village board. Santa will be escorted by the Schaumburg Fire Department and will arrive at 6:30 p.m. to light the tree. After the tree lighting, Santa will meet with children in the Prairie Center’s Maggie Atcher Theatre, where parents/guardians are encouraged to take photos. Seasonal entertainment will be featured, and refreshments will be available. The event is co-sponsored by the Schaumburg Jaycees. www.villageofschaumburg.com.

Antioch tree lighting and parade: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, in downtown Antioch. The parade travels down Main Street and ends with the lighting of the village Christmas tree. antioch.il.gov.

Libertyville tree lighting: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, in Cook Memorial Park, 413 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville. Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m., with the tree lighting is at 7. libertyville.com.

Nov. 26

Fox Lake Festival of Lights: 2-8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at Community Garden Green, 17 E. School Court, Fox Lake. Kringle Winter Market from 2-6 p.m. Parade at 5 p.m. at Grant Community High School. Immediately following the parade there will be the annual tree lighting at Millennium Park and opening of the Santa Cottage. foxlake.org.

Vernon Hills’ Tree/Menorah/Kwanzaa Lighting: 4:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Vernon Hills Golf Course, 291 Evergreen Drive, Vernon Hills. Join the village of Vernon Hills, Countryside Fire Protection District, Vernon Hills Police Department and the Vernon Hills Park District as they light the Village Tree, Menorah and Kwanzaa displays. Santa will be on hand and there will be light refreshments. vernonhills.org.

Elgin tree lighting ceremony: 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at Festival Park, 132 S. Grove Ave., Elgin. Santa and city officials will turn on the holiday tree lights.

The Saint Alphonsus Liguori Choir sings during the annual Tree Lighting and Santa Visit last year at the Gary Morava Recreation Center in Prospect Heights.

The Saint Alphonsus Liguori Choir sings during the annual Tree Lighting and Santa Visit last year at the Gary Morava Recreation Center in Prospect Heights.
– Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2021

Prospect Heights Holiday Tree Lighting: 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Prospect Heights Park District Gary Morava Recreation Center, 110 W. Camp McDonald Road, Prospect Heights. Join Mayor Matt Dolick for the tree lighting and Santa visit by fire truck, with Christmas carols and refreshments. www.prospect-heights.il.us.

Volo tree lighting: 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at the village hall, 500 S. Fish Lake Road, Volo. Santa will light the tree and visit with families. villageofvolo.com.

Nov. 27

Batavia Celebration of Lights: 5-7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, at the Batavia Riverwalk, 151 Island Ave., Batavia. Festival includes hayrides, family photos, Santa, Batavia Community Band, holiday crafts, hot chocolate and the ceremonial tree lighting at 5:30 p.m. Free. bataviaparks.org.

Nov. 28

Glendale Heights tree-lighting ceremony: 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28, at Camera Park, 101 E. Fullerton Ave., Glendale Heights. Tree lighting and visits from Mr. & Mrs. Claus. Free. glendaleheights.org.

Nov. 30

Crystal Lake Luminaria Walk: 4:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, to Friday, Dec. 3, Veteran Acres, 431 N. Walkup, Crystal Lake. Take a stroll along the lighted 0.4-mile pond trail or 1-mile full trail. On Saturday, Dec 3, enjoy a campfire, hot cocoa, cookies, Candy Cane Forest and Mrs. Claus. $1 per person/$5 per family donation appreciated. Donations go to nature center education programs. www.crystallakeparks.org/special-events.

Dec. 1

Tree Lighting in Wilder Park: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, at Wilder Park, 175 S. Prospect Ave., Elmhurst. Elmhurst Park District kicks off the holiday season by lighting over 60 trees that line the park. Visit with Santa while enjoying games, photo opportunities, holiday music and more. Free. epd.org/news/tree-lighting.

Dec. 2

The Bloomingdale Festival of Lights and tree lighting takes place Dec. 2 in Old Town Park.

The Bloomingdale Festival of Lights and tree lighting takes place Dec. 2 in Old Town Park.
– Daily Herald File photo, 2019

Bloomingdale Festival of Lights opening night and tree lighting: 3:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Old Town Park, Old Town Bloomingdale and the Bloomingdale Park District Museum, 108 S. Bloomingdale Road, Bloomingdale. Kriss Kringle Market will be selling arts, crafts, decor, food, beer and wine. Visits with Santa from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at Pan American Bank & Trust. Santa’s train rides from 4:30-8 p.m. Tree and lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. bloomingdaleparks.org.

Des Plaines Holiday Tree Lighting: 4-6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Metropolitan Square, on Lee Street, in downtown Des Plaines. Live entertainment, a special appearance by Santa and a variety of food trucks Admire the trees decorated by local community groups. This year’s theme is “Season of Giving.” The mitten tree will be available for donations of new hats, gloves, mittens and scarves of all sizes. Nonperishable food donations for the Des Plaines Self Help Closet and Pantry are welcome. Tree lighting is at 6:30 p.m. desplaines.org.

Mundelein Holiday Tree Lighting: 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Village Plaza, 300 Plaza Circle, Mundelein. Kick off the holiday season with family, friends and festivities. Complimentary cookies, hot chocolate and popcorn. Free. mundelein.org.

Addison Christmas Tree Lighting: 5-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Village Green, 1 Friendship Plaza, Addison. Train rides in the Village Green, holiday craft fair, hot chocolate by Kiwanis Club, popcorn by Knights of Columbus, and historical museum open house. Visits with Santa in the Gazebo from 5-7 p.m. and 8-9 p.m. Vagabond Singers perform from 6:30-7:30 p.m. and 7:45-8:45 p.m. in the Century House. At 7 p.m., caroling by school groups, and tree lighting at 8 p.m. www.ithappensinaddison.com.

The Bartlett Holiday Tree Lighting includes visits with Santa.

The Bartlett Holiday Tree Lighting includes visits with Santa.
– Courtesy of Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce/Mary Beth Smith

Bartlett Holiday Tree Lighting: 5-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Bartlett Gazebo Park, 102 N. Eastern Ave., Bartlett. 5 to 8 p.m.: Ride through downtown Bartlett in a horse-drawn wagon and enjoy cookies, cocoa, and a DJ spinning holiday music. 5 to 6:30 p.m.: Santa arrives with Mrs. Claus and the elves. Visit Santa in the log cabin. Bring your camera to take photos. Donate a nonperishable food item for the Hanover Township Food Pantry. 6:30 p.m.: South Elgin High choir sings holiday songs in the gazebo. 6:30-8 p.m.: Enjoy music and visits with special friends from “Frozen.” 7 p.m.: The holiday tree will be lit, kicking off Merry & Bright in Bartlett. bartlettil.gov.

Hinsdale Christmas Walk: 5-7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, Razny Jewelers, 37 S. Washington St., Hinsdale. 56th annual kickoff event to the holiday season. Head to the downtown business district to welcome Santa, enjoy the holiday tree lighting ceremony, meet & greet with Santa, ride the traditional carousel and trackless train, and visit numerous vendors on-site with holiday treats and games. www.hinsdalechamber.com/christmas-walk/

Winnetka Tree Lighting: 5-6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Dwyer Park, 521 Birch St., Winnetka. Join friends and neighbors for an evening celebrating the start of the holidays and watch the lights come on. Refreshments provided by the Winnetka-Northfield-Glencoe Chamber of Commerce. villageofwinnetka.org/calendar.aspx?EID=1337.

Hanover Park Tree Lighting Ceremony: 5:30-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Ontarioville Plaza, 1931 Ontarioville Road, Hanover Park. Enjoy an evening of carols, reindeers, mini train rides, hot cocoa and cookies from the Lions Club, games, s’mores, face painting and photos with Santa. Tree lighting at 5:30 p.m. hpil.org.

Lincolnshire Lights: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Village Green Center, 100 Olde Half Day Road, Lincolnshire. The village will hold its tree lighting celebration. lincolnshireil.gov.

Carol Stream Holiday Tree Lighting: 6-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at Ross Ferraro Town Center, 960 N. Gary Ave., Carol Stream. Enjoy seasonal music, beverages and snacks, pick up a free holiday craft, and take a free digital photo with Santa, who will arrive at 6:30 p.m. Free. carolstream.org.

Geneva Christmas Walk: 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, on Third Street, Geneva. On Friday evening, Santa Lucia arrives and Santa makes his Geneva debut to open his Santa House. Enjoy carolers, the Great Tree lighting, roasted chestnuts, Swedish cookies, an old-fashioned candy cane pull and holiday shopping. Santa will arrive and the tree will be lit between 6-6:30 p.m. Free. genevachamber.com.

Island Lake Tree Lighting: 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, Dec 2, at the village hall, 3720 Greenleaf Ave., Island Lake. Lighting of the village tree. villageofislandlake.com.

Streamwood Luminaria and Tree Lighting: 6:30-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at the Veteran’s Memorial, 301-401 Irving Park Road, Streamwood. Volunteers, civic organizations and families will line Park Boulevard, the Veteran’s Memorial and village hall and other areas throughout town with luminaria. After visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus, join in front of the Veteran’s Memorial for the annual holiday tree lighting. streamwood.org.

Dec. 3

Barrington Holiday Festival Tree Lighting: 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at Park Avenue and Cook Street, downtown Barrington. Visit with Santa, petting zoo, trackless train rides, letters to Santa, holiday music, ornament decorating, tree lighting at 5 p.m., Barrington High School Madrigals and activities at Barrington’s White House. barrington-il.gov/visitors/special_events/holiday_events.php.

Roselle Winterfest: 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, on Main Street. Santa visit “fast pass” distribution starting at 12:30 p.m. at Roselle Public Library, 40 S. Park St. Live music with Laura Doherty and the Heartbeats from 1-2 p.m. Santa arrives by fire truck at 1:45 p.m. and will greet the children and hear all about their holiday wish lists along with the reigning Rose Queen starting at 2 p.m. From 2-5 p.m., strolling carolers, food trucks, an ice sculpture, trolley stops along Main Street, the lighting of the Community Tree and more. roselle.il.us.

Hawthorn Woods tree lighting: 3-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at Community Park, 5 Park View Lane, Hawthorn Woods. Mayor DiMaggio, village trustees and staff host the event with live music and holiday festivities, including a visit with Santa and lighting the community tree at 5:30 p.m. vhw.org/223/Hometown-Holiday.

Holiday in the Hills: 3-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at Farmhouse School, 3N369 LaFox Road. Park at Congregational United Church of Christ, 40W451 Fox Mill Blvd., Campton Hills. Featuring a local choir singing holiday favorites, visit from Santa & Mrs. Claus, roasted chestnuts, s’mores, candy canes, hot chocolate. Tree-lighting ceremony at 5:45 p.m. Free. camptonhills.illinois.gov.

Frosty Fest: 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. West Chicago’s downtown will be transformed into an old-fashioned winter vignette, complete with a grand tree lighting, horse-drawn sleigh, live reindeer, Victorian carolers, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. facebook.com/WestChicagoFrostyFest/.

Lisle Santa Parade and tree lighting: 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, in downtown Lisle. The parade begins at Spencer and School Street, heads west to Main Street, proceeds south on Main Street, then east on Burlington Avenue to the Lisle Village Hall parking lot at Burlington and Center Avenue for the annual tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. in front of the village hall. See and visit with Santa. villageoflisle.org.

Algonquin Miracle on Main: 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, on Main Street, Algonquin. Annual event includes ice sculpting, a visit with Santa’s reindeer, live performances by local groups and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Free. algonquin.org/recreation.

Wauconda Holiday Lights Parade and Tree Lighting: 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Wauconda Park District, 600 N. Main St., Wauconda. Holiday parade and tree lighting. waucondachamber.org.

Jingle Bell Jubilee: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at Lilacia Park, 150 S. Park Ave., Lombard. Meet Jingles the Reindeer from 4-5 p.m. downtown; listen to DJ music from 4-6 p.m. at Park and St. Charles; downtown trolley stops from 4:30-8:30 p.m. along St. Charles Road, Main Street and Maple Street. At 5 p.m., police and public works escort Jingles the Reindeer to Lilacia Park for the lighting of Lilacia Park at 5:30 p.m., Lombard Historical Society’s Victorian Cottage tours from 5:45-8 p.m. National Indo American Museum hosts a craft activity from 5:45-8 p.m. at the Lombard Historical Society. Seasonal holiday songs from 5:45-7 p.m. at Maple Street Chapel. Lombard Bible Church presents Stephen Uhl instrumental trio in concert at 6 and 7 p.m. and Chicago Carolers from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free. lombardparks.com/holiday.


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