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Fun local winter activities to do this winter

By Renee Forsyth

Winter is a favorite season for many, and fun holiday activities come along with it. There are many fun activities in the Chicagoland area that can be enjoyed by all age groups. Below are some of the top winter activities nearby.

Illumination: Morton Arboretum

This outstanding experience has lights farther than the eye can see. The one-mile-long path has interactive lights, outstanding light displays, and magical experiences that will leave families coming back year after year. Along the path are various tents, which feature coffee, hot chocolate, and various baked goods. The event hours are from 4:30-9:30 pm, but admission ends at 8:30 pm. Illumination is open from Sat., Nov. 17-Tues., Jan. 1, but is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas day and Mondays except for December 31. The rates for weekends are $23/adult, $15/child, and for weekdays are $18/adult and $12/child.

St Charles Electric Lights Parade- Nov. 24

This outstanding parade includes floats from various local companies, all lit up with an unforgettable river of lights. Featuring the man himself, Santa will make an appearance along with Mrs. Claus to open up the holiday season on a positive note. The parade is on Main Street, between 6th Street and 4th Avenue, and starts at 5:30 pm.

Festival of Lights-Aurora

This free drive-thru light show is an event worth remembering. As the largest free outdoor light show, it has over 420 displays and is in its 12th season. Ran by the Aurora Rotary Club, this event is free but is always open for donations to local charities. This event runs from Nov. 23 to Dec. 26, and is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 5-10 pm, and other days of the week from 5-9 pm.

Polar Express train ride–Tinley park

This train ride takes a magical adventure, based on the events of the book The Polar Express. The adventure will start at the Tinley Park train station and will take a trip to the North Pole (Joliet train station). After picking up Santa, the train with then venture back to the Tinley Park train station for some Christmas cookies. Tickets are $18 per person, ride times are on Dec. 2nd, and are at 11:20 am, 1:20 pm, and 3:20 pm sharp.

Larsen Light Show-Elburn

This extraordinary show is a must for every family’s holiday traditions. All in under a half an hour, this unforgettable experience boasts over 1 million lights, and over 200,000 feet of extension cords used. The Larsen Light Show won 1st place prize in the 2013 Great Christmas Light Fight and continues to live up to its name. Viewers can park on the street, or park in the parking lot on the Larsen’s property, all while tuning into their radio station to get the full experience in the comfort of one’s car. If parking on the property, the family kindly asks for a $7 donation to help offset costs.

Mooseheart Light Show-Batavia

This 1.8-mile long light show features over 80 light displays and designs. For nine straight years, this holiday tradition has families constantly coming back for more. The event is from Nov. 23- Dec. 31 from 5-9 pm daily and is $10 per car.

Christkindlmarket- Naperville

Located in the heart of Naperville at Naper Settlement, the Christkindlemarket is a place to shop, relax, and have fun. The market is primarily composed of local companies and vendors, and features unique food and beverages, and also serves as a place to get some holiday shopping done. The market is open from Nov. 24- Dec. 24 and is open from Thursday through Sunday. On Thursdays, the market is open from 11 am-7 pm, Friday-Saturday from 11am-9pm, and Sunday from 11am-6pm. The hours from Dec. 18-21 are 11 am-8 pm, and on Dec. 24 are 11 am-4 pm.

Breakfast with Santa- Pheasant Run, St. Charles

As a start to the holiday season, Pheasant Run is hosting their family-oriented Breakfast with Santa. The event is in the New Orleans Ballroom, but also take a look at Christmas-decorated Bourbon Street, as well as the iPanic Escape Rooms. The breakfast menu includes French toast, baked breakfast pastries, red velvet waffles, as well as other family-friendly favorites. The event admission is $24.95/adult and $12.95 for children ages 6-12, with children 5 and under free. The event dates are Sun., Dec. 2, 9 and 16 from 9 am-1 pm.

Christmas Around the World- Museum of Science and Industry.

This exhibit is a must during a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. Featuring 50 festive trees and traditions from around the world, this display shows how different countries and cultures celebrate Christmas, how they decorate their Christmas tree,  as well the different foods they eat during the celebration. The museum is open from 9:30 am-4 pm daily as the admission is $18/adult and $11/child. The Christmas around the world exhibit is included with the purchase of admission.

The Grinch

Based on the best-selling book by Dr. Seuss, this magical movie shows the story of the Grinch, as well as his trusty sidekick, Max. He dislikes Christmas very much, so to show his hatred he plans to steal the nearby town’s Christmas.  This is a family feature that will have everyone in the holiday spirit. Theatres showing this film include Randall 15, Charlestown 18, Tinseltown and AMC Naperville 16.

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