The Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season is spectacular in Chicago despite the cold temperatures, and one of the best festivals is the nationally broadcast Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. It’s the perfect way for all ages to get into the holiday spirit. Plus, it makes Christmas shopping that much easier!
The magic in lights
For those amused by a house littered with thousands of lights, just imagine seeing over 1 million lights illuminate 200 trees. It’s breath-taking, and it is happening Saturday, November 23, 2013. The annual lights fest is in its 22nd year and is a free, all-day event that begins at 11 a.m. and concludes with a fireworks show over the Chicago River. The festival is America’s largest evening holiday celebration, and brings in over one million people from around the world each year.
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival parade kicks off the holidays with over 30 floats hosted by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, who fly in from the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. They are also accompanied by the Radio Disney Crew, and other friends from Disney. Celebrities, marching bands, and giant balloons also join the parade to bring it together. The parade will march down Michigan Avenue from Oak Street to Wacker Drive.
Light’s Festival Lane
Kids adore the Light’s Festival Lane that kicks off at 11 a.m. the day of the parade at Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave. It is loaded with activities like cheesecake decorating, games, prizes, and treats. Vendors from around the city will also be present to show off products and hand out samples. And of course, Santa will be available for photos!
The BMO Harris Bank Stage makes the festival a party with top artists. The line-up hasn’t been announced yet, but it won’t disappoint. Keep checking the website for announcements that will be happening any day now. Last year they brought in Colton Dixon and R5. Musical performances will also take place at 401 N. Michigan Avenue in the Pioneer Court between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
What you need to know
Chicago’s festivals can get crowded and frustrating. The secret to a successful experience is an open schedule and patience. Be early for the events that you want to attend, and get your parade spots hours before it begins for a front row seat. Take public transportation is the best way to travel to and from the parade since parking will be nearly impossible. If you are determined to park somewhere, try using an app like SpotHero, or ParkWhiz. Those two sites will save you a large percentage on parking.
If you get some extra time between all of the events, there is always shopping along Michigan Avenue to keep you busy, and restaurants galore to keep you fed.