The holidays are fast approaching, and Arlington Heights offers locals and visitors alike a wonderful home base for the holidays. Winters in Illinois can be brutally cold, so it’s always a good idea to have hot cocoa in your hands and heart-warming festivities on your calendar. As one of the 15 largest municipalities in Illinois, and located just 25 miles from downtown Chicago, the Village of Arlington Heights has you covered for holiday entertainment.
Whether you visit the local Christmas tree lighting celebration, park lights, or craft fairs, or venture slightly further afield to drive through lights displays, attend festivals, markets, and events, there’s something for everyone this festive season. The holiday season is an especially important time also to prioritize your family’s health and wellbeing. Be sure to enjoy some family fun together at these events around Arlington Heights.
Watch the Arlington Heights Tree Lighting Ceremony and Parade
It’s a bit before December, but this local holiday tradition is an absolute must-see for anyone in Arlington Heights. On November 26, head to Harmony Park to watch the procession of trolleys and holiday storytellers. Beginning at 3:45 p.m., characters from the local Metropolis Theater’s A Christmas Carol will be performing stories about the village’s history. At North School Park, you can catch carolers and dance groups performing. Then the mayor will speak and welcome guests, and finally, the park and tree will be illuminated.
Back at Harmony Park from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., you can see ice carvers as they work to create incredible holiday-themed sculptures from ice and even meet a real reindeer. There will also be photo booths and other holiday-themed attractions throughout the park. It’s truly a unique and entertaining holiday event here in Arlington Heights.
View the North School Park Lights Displays
You can also visit the Arlington Heights Park District all the way through the new year to see entertaining lights displays. The village prides itself on its craftsmen who spend hours developing holiday lights displays that carry a children’s toy theme. Some displays are even interactive, providing the perfect entertainment for younger members of your family. Last year’s displays included Frosty the Snowman, an interactive sleigh, Santa with his reindeer, a spinning penguin, an interactive train, and many more. Grab your friends and family and head to the North School Park this December to enjoy this holiday attraction.
Visit the 40th Annual Lambs Farm Holiday Lights Gift and Craft Fair
If you’re one of those last-minute holiday shoppers or just enjoy a high-quality holiday fair, then head to the Arlington International Racecourse for the 40th Annual Lambs Farm Fair this December. Featuring hundreds of exhibits from around the country, this fair is a local Arlington Heights staple during the festive season. The event will run from December 2-5 with hours varying from day to day. You’ll be able to find decorations for your home this holiday season, look for gifts for your loved ones, and enjoy festive drinks and food while you explore.
Experience an Authentic German Christmas Market
If you’re willing to drive a bit further for a holiday market, the Christkindlmarket is an incredible, authentic European-style Christmas Market here in Chicago. There will be two locations this year: Chicago’s Daley Plaza and Wrigleyville’s Gallagher Way. Both markets begin on November 19, with the Chicago location closing down on Christmas Eve and the Wrigleyville location closing on New Year’s Eve. Enjoy mulled wine and bratwurst while you wander amongst twinkling lights, beautiful displays, and unique exhibits while listening to classic and modern holiday music. Just a short drive from Arlington Heights, this classic holiday market can’t be missed.
Drive or Walk Through One of the Greater Chicago Area Holiday Lights Displays
While Arlington Heights doesn’t host its own drive-through lights display, there are plenty of incredible exhibits in the Chicago metropolitan area within a 30-minute drive from the Village. Six Flags Great America hosts its Holiday in the Park Lights throughout December. It’s a drive-thru experience that allows you to stay cozy in your car while enjoying festive views. Or for a walking experience, head to Chicago Botanic Garden, which will hold its Lightscape event from November 12 to January 2 this year. Displays include their Cathedral of Light, Winter Cathedral, and a choir of singing trees.
For a unique and majestic holiday light experience, head 20 minutes south for Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum. Walk through 50 acres of colorful lit-up trees in a one-of-a-kind display. Also featuring this year is their Human+Nature exhibit which will include 150 colorful lanterns. As you walk, stop for a beverage at one of the concession tents or roast a marshmallow over an open fire for delicious s’mores. Tickets should be booked in advance for this event, as it often sells out.
If you love animals and want a unique holiday experience, head to Lincoln Park Zoo for their ZooLights display. This year’s event features new and upgraded exhibits, including an 18-foot tree and an impressive light show on the South Lawn. You can enjoy concessions, including holiday-themed cocktails and s’mores, while wandering through displays incorporating over 2.5 million lights. Since this event is hosted at the zoo, show up in the afternoon to walk around and see the animal enclosures before the sun sets and the lights come on. This event also requires pre-booking, as it’s quite popular.
Stay Safe and Warm This Holiday Season
Winter weather brings joyous holiday occasions, quality family time, and, of course, colder weather. While you enjoy these fun events around Arlington Heights, be sure to prioritize your and your family’s health and safety. Always bundle up, take warm beverages, keep the heat on in the car during light shows, and have good snacks on hand. It’s also important to pay attention to mental health during the holidays, as this time of year is often an opportunity to decompress and relax, but it can also highlight psychological issues that affect many of us.
So look after yourself, stay safe and warm, and enjoy these fun holiday events this season. If we missed your favorite activity in the Arlington Heights area, be sure to let us know!