Everyone has their favorite holiday traditions and must-visit Chicago Christmas events, but nothing compares to an evening spent gazing at shimmering lights displays. Throughout December (and much of November), Christmas lights in Chicago are strung up at Lincoln Park Zoo, along the Magnificent Mile and inside the Museum of Science and Industry. You can even spot a few DIY displays in some of Chicago's most beautiful neighborhoods. Bundle up, get outside to peep these dazzling Christmas lights in Chicago before New Year's Eve. (You can even pregame your outing with the steamiest hot chocolate Chicago has to offer.) Use our guide to find some of the brightest spots in Chicago and the suburbs.
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Christmas lights in Chicago and the suburbs
The Chicago Transit Authority's Holiday Train ride the rails throughout the city beginning on Friday, November 29, allowing you to cram yourself onto the most festive form of public transportation that humankind has devised. The six-car train is covered with flashing lights and garlands inside and out, accompanied by a flatbed car that brings Santa and his reindeer along for the ride. You have until December 23 to catch a ride, so you may want to plan ahead (and prepare for the crowds that will accompany you on your journey).
There's nothing subtle about the holiday decor at this Division Street bar. Each year, the owners of Butch McGuire's cover the ceiling with strings of shiny LED lights and set up a toy train that zooms around the room. In December, it's not uncommon to find coworkers and friends gazing upwards to admire the festive display, which coexists with the Irish saloon's collection of antique beer paraphernalia and model ships.
This historic downtown department store takes the holiday season very seriously. On the seventh floor, hungry visitors can sit down for lunch or dinner in the Walnut Room, which is outfitted with a massive light-strewn Christmas tree for the holiday season. On your way out, be sure to check out the epic window displays along State Street, where you'll find magical, illuminated scenes that the whole family will enjoy.
Logan Square may be best known as a destination for cocktails and cheffy dinners, but the neighborhood also hosts one of the most festive holiday light displays in all of Chicago. Locals refer to property at 2656 W Logan Boulevard as "the Logan Square Christmas House" because of the over-the-top decorations and twinkling blubs that cover the home during the holidays. Owner Frank Lopez creates wire frames of reindeer, birds and Christmas trees that he festoons with lights—it's a spectacle worth seeking out.