Culture & Arts Videos, Festivals, Holidays

Best places to get your Christmas lights fix in Chi-Town

As if Chicago wasn’t already dazzling enough, the holiday season will take the urban light show up a notch. From the awe-inspiring Magnificent Mile Lights Festival to the animal-centered Lincoln Park ZooLights, the city abounds in opportunities to rekindle the Christmas spirit even if you’re well past the age of believing in Santa. Here is a list of the best places to be wowed.

(Note: Don’t forget your mittens; the lights might warm up your heart, but they won’t protect your hands from freezing.)


  • Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

When you live in a city famous for its grueling blizzards, you make the most out of every street celebration while you can still go outside without a face mask.

Last night’s ceremony is yet another proof of Chicagoans “go big or go home” approach to the holiday season. According to organisers, over 1,000,000 lights on 200 trees along North Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s largest shopping district, were lit up and a Disney-like world came into existence. The crowds were then treated with a mesmerising firework show over the Chicago river that literally turned the night into day.


  • Millennium Park Christmas Tree

The notorious “Cloud Gate,” aka “The Bean” just got some serious competition. Chicago’s 102nd Christmas Tree will be relocated from Daley Plaza in the Loop, its usual spot for 50 years, to Millennium Park. This way, locals and tourists alike will get the biggest bang for their (travel) buck: an ice-skating rink, a jaw-dropping sculpture and a 63-foot worth of lights. The tree, brought to life Tuesday, November 24, at 5.30 p.m., will rapidly become everyone’s selfie sidekick.


  • Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest

Unless you have relatives living at the North Pole, this is the closest you’ll get to Santa’s home. Scheduled for December 5, 2015 through January 10, 2016, the Winter WonderFest includes 24 rides such as a an indoor Ferris Wheel and a Reindeer Train Express. But the real show-stopper in addition to nearly 500 trees decorated with 25,000 ornaments is a 42-foot giant tree adorned with sparkling lights. (You might want to bring sunglasses.) And the best part? The general admission is $10, a small price to pay compared to the cost of a plane ticket to Alaska.


  • Lincoln Park ZooLights

What happens when a free admission zoo gets blanketed into a sheet of multi-colored lights? Well, even as an adult, you can’t help but think that Madagascar’s creators were onto something: animals have the ability to speak.

Sweet treats, live ice carving and rides on the Lionel Train Adventure are just a couple of things that keep the magic alive for little ones. There’s a better surprise for grown-ups: BrewLights, a beer-tasting event that allows participants to sample a dozen of different draft beers. The ZooLights  more than two million   will shine Friday to Sunday, from November 27 until December 13, and then nightly until January 13.


  • The Buckingham Fountain

Located in the heart of Grant Park, this architectural jewel seems, particularly at night, plucked from a Christmas postcard. Surrounded by skyscrapers and with more than 800 shimmering lights accompanied by music, the fountain offers a hypnotizing spectacle. While its powerful glow can be hard to capture on camera, it makes for an unforgettable memory. Fun fact: the fountain was featured in several movies including “Married…with children.”


Logan Square, one of Chicago’s most eclectic neighbourhoods, is the embodiment of hipsterism. Its streets are enveloped in all sorts of appealing scents like roasted coffee, homemade pastries and freshly-brewed beer; residents carry themselves with effortless flair, as if they just stepped out of an American Apparel ad.

The area’s energy is intoxicating. No wonder people are willing to pay a fortune in return to the privilege of calling this place home. The lucky owners of some of the most luxurious homes in Logan Square, currently listed for sale on, will set up their Christmas trees in high-end living rooms, large enough to accommodate the entire Chicago Blackhawks team. We dare you to take a sneak peak and not get green with envy (Or buy them in a heartbeat.)


1. 2142 W Lyndale St. — $1,699,900



A place to your (extended) family heart’s content: Picture your parents, grandparents, aunts and cousins perched on this creamed-colored sofa or one of the many comfy chairs on Christmas morning, the sun flooding in through those floor-to-ceiling windows, open gift boxes sprawled on the oak floor. The mosaic mirror and the two accent paintings? Artsy, playful, yet not over the top, they leave the spotlight to the mighty Christmas tree.


2.  1936 N Wilmot Ave — $1,599,000



Invite the crème de la crème of your friends: With vaulted ceiling and hardwood flooring, this room looks like a setting for “Pride and Prejudice.” The tall candle holder, the fireplace, the rocking chair and the piano, a timeless pièce de résistance, take you back in time to aristocratic parties where young ladies would charm the audience by playing cheerful sonatas. What keeps the place from looking obsolete is a statement red wall and chunky paintings.


3. 1921 N Honore St. — $2,100,000



Take delight in a white Christmas (with a few shades of grey): This idyllic living room has you covered in case the snow fails to make an appearance on the most important date of December.

Even in subzero temperatures, its fireplace should keep you nice and toasty. Airy windows and recessed spotlights divided to all four corners of the ceiling create the illusion of an even bigger space. Truth is, hadn’t it been for a handful of accents of grey, to wit, a sturdy sofa and the fireplace bricks, the room would have looked rather sterile. It’s basically a free pass to go crazy with the holiday decorations.


4. 2116 W Charleston St — $949,900



Royals? More like home buds: We’ve seen bigger, more luxurious living rooms than this one, but the intimate vibe it’s exactly what makes it a refreshing alternative to its opulent counterparts. Whoever pieced it together had only one thought in mind: the bigger, the better. Two massive, dark brown leather reclining chairs face the flat screen and a wide faux fireplace. Every inch of spare space is occupied by voluminous statuettes. Not a tacky combination thanks to furniture symmetry, but the future owner will have to settle for a symbolic pine branch as his only festive ornament.


5. 2113 W McLean Ave  $1,400,000



A therapeutic experience to clear your mind:  Holidays get-togethers bring out a lot of angst. This year, instead of playing charade, you and your dear ones can take turns laying on this chic low sofa and get it all out. Just being in this room will put you in a serene mood. A small glass coffee table, a minimalist cream rug and handful of decorative wood pieces give a break to tired computer eyes. The roomy windows are like an open invitation for your mind to wander — way better than a visit to the shrink office.


6. 1931 N Wood St.  $949,900



A college graduate’s dream come true: This little sanctuary can help any 20-something start their adult life on the right foot. The melange of patterns and textures injects liveliness, while calming grey walls and the scarcity of art decor staves off visual fatigue. As for the leather ottoman? Beside squeezing in two more late birds to the Christmas party, it will support your feet after long work days, when all you’ll want for dinner is a glass (or three) of wine.