What Time is the Light Festival in Chicago?

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What Time is the Light Festival in Chicago?
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During Christmas, streets in Chicago were lit with millions of LED bulbs, making the city grand and fascinating. As you walk thru the streets, the experience is quite nostalgic as you would remember your childhood memories during the extended holiday season. 

During January, popular events include the Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier and Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden. In February, people usually celebrate various events such as the University of Chicago Folk Festival, Chicago Flamenco Festival, and Chicago Auto Show. 

During the Christmas season, Chicago transformed into a well-lit city during the Light Festival, commonly called the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. But what time is the light festival in the city? Where is the magnificent mile lights festival? Good question and you are in the right place. 

What Time is the Light Festival in Chicago?

For the 2020’s celebration, it took place on Nov. 22. at around 6:00 PM. Since there’s a coronavirus, no traditional parade was conducted. It was broadcast in Chicago on Nov. 22, Nov. 29, and Dec. 13 instead. Other cities were also able to witness the yearly Light Festival event in Chicago, putting a smile on everyone’s faces. Over 94% of the country in the US saw the event. It was also aired in Canada. 

Many have thought the Light Festival began in December. But it commonly starts in the last week of November. 

What is the best way to kick off the long holiday season? It is probably the Light Festival in Chicago, a daylong event that starts with a tree lighting parade and usually followed by celebratory fireworks. 

While the illumination of trees in the city’s Magnificent Mile is one of the much-awaited parts of the event, there are exciting performances, magical moments, and other surprises you shouldn’t miss, making your day worth it and remarkable as well. Who says the Light Festival is only for kids? Well, it is for people of all ages. 

Where is the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival?

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is a yearly event celebrated in the beautiful city of Chicago. Began in 1949, it remains a tradition in Chicago. 

During 1949, the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association put a Christmas tree and topped it with a star in Water Tower Park. It’s decorated with over 1,500 lights. A decade later, the Saks Fifth Avenue store adorned the elm tree branches with Italian white lights. 

Over the past years, other neighboring stores followed the trend. They also used different lighting decorations, making the event a popular tradition in Chicago. 

Burberry, Tiffany, Armani, Gucci, and other popular shops along Michigan Avenue participated in the annual festivities. Walt Disney officially became part of the festival, making the event a top tourist destination from November to December. 

While the traditional parade was canceled because of the coronavirus, trees and other Christmas ornaments were lit on live television. It was aired in several stations across Chicago and other cities in the US. 

Despite the pandemic, the annual event was still a great success, and this year’s celebration would hopefully be better. 

Where Does the Magnificent Mile Parade Start?

What’s the most exciting time in Chicago? It’s the holiday season, without a doubt. While there are several events across cities in the US, the Light Festival is one of the best ways to celebrate Christmas. 

Once November begins, the Magnificent Mile is ornamented with numerous lights and decors that make the street as lively as possible. 

If you walk within the Magnificent Mile at night, the place will leave you in awe or amazement. The stores install millions of lights in the trees, which is worth it. 

There are also other holiday-themed activities, including visits from Santa Claus, live music, treats from Garrett Popcorn, and the Eli’s Cheesecake Company. 

The parade is another much-awaited event in the Light Festival. It is colorful that can complete your experience. Although it was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus, it usually starts from Oak Street to the Chicago River or the Wacker Drive. 

The parade showcases more than 40 floats with giant balloons and is led by Frosty the Snowman and other popular Christmas characters.

Where is the Christmas Tree in Chicago?

Chicago’s official tree has consisted of smaller trees throughout the years. But one tree has been chosen by either a contest or nominations since 2009. 

The first official Christmas tree of the city was lit in 1913. Placed in Grant Park, the tree was studded with many smaller trees. Then, over 600 multi-colored lights were used as ornaments. 

For 2020, Chicago’s official tree came from the Townsend family. The 45 Millennium Park’s Christmas tree has a long history. A retired CPS teacher, Catherine Townsend, bought seeds to plant blue spruce trees in her yard in 1985. Thru the years, the trees grew up to 45 feet. Originally, she planted three trees, but only two ended up sprouting. Aside from adding a touch of elegance to her yard, the trees are extremely stunning. 

Since Nov. 20, 2020, people can view the tree in person at the intersection of Washington Street and Michigan. It was lit up to the 1st week of January of 2021. 

If you’re unable to witness the beauty of the city’s official Christmas tree, you can find clips on YouTube and other popular platforms online. 

How Much Does the Festival of Lights Cost?

The festival of lights cost so much. To light up the Magnificent Mile, it requires a million sparkling bulbs. More than that, the organization allocated an extra budget on labor, decorations, and other expenses to make people happy in this challenging time. 

It takes a million to conduct and celebrate the annual Light Festival in Chicago. But the chance to make others smile during this pandemic is a fulfilling experience to the organizers and other concerned officials. 

Is there an admission fee? No. Everyone can witness the illumination of trees in person. But since the government implements strict lockdown regulations in the country, the Chicago Light Festival was broadcast in over 90% of cities in the US. If you miss the free airing of the annual celebration, you can still find videos of trees’ lighting online. Enjoy. 

Arik Akunis
Arik Akunis

My name is Arik Akunis and I have been in the field of lighting for over the last 20 years, I started my journey in the world of lighting in the lighting niche for events where I first came across a festival of lights and immediately fell in love with it.