Want some good, relatively cheap fun? Take a drive and check out these lights displays in Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding area. If you know of an area (or certain house) that’s taken the spirit to new heights, let us know in the comments below! If we find more, we will add to the list.
Lighting Up Paxton: The Johnson Christmas Display, Paxton
So, you know those houses that have lights synchronized to music that you’ve typically only seen on YouTube? Well, just drive about 25-30 minutes from Champaign-Urbana and you can see one for yourself! The Johnson Christmas Display in Paxton takes the artform to a whole new level. The “show” is a loop of four songs, starting with a frivolous pop tune (Call Me Maybe got my girls totally fired up) and continuing into more “traditional” Christmas fare. The 2012 Johnson Christmas display features more than 100,000 clear, red, and green lights with 320 channels of computer control. Everything is synchronized to music broadcast on 89.9 FM. The show runs 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday through the first week of January. You can get updates at the Lighting Up Paxton Facebook page; this YouTube video shows one of the songs, Amazing Grace. To get there from Champaign-Urbana, take I-57 north to the Paxton exit, go right on Highway 9. Go about a half mile and take a left at Elm Street. Go to the second stop sign, which is Patton St., and go right. The house will be on your right at 332 W. Patton.
The Clark Griswold House, Mahomet
Paying homage to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, this Mahomet house is all decked out — lights everywhere! The front yard! The back yard! The trees! It is a sight to see, and you’ll even hear the Chipmunks singing. Some of the neighboring houses have also gotten into the spirit. Head out to Timberview Drive in Mahomet – there is a big sign off State Street to direct you there. Or here’s a map (the house is closer to State Street than 150, on the west side, but you can’t miss it.)
Candlestick Lane, Urbana
A Chambana holiday tradition for more than 40 years. Here’s a story we wrote about Candlestick Lane (aka Grant Place, located between Cottage Grove and Philo Roads, and north of Florida) awhile back. Candlestick Lane will be lit every evening from 5 to 10 p.m. through Christmas, starting this year on Dec. 15. Drive cautiously and turn off headlights to get the most enjoyment from the lights. When we were there last year, Santa was giving out gifts!
Continue east of Candlestick Lane and there are a few neighborhoods with some spectacular displays, particularly the area around Florida and Lincolnwood. We love the house at the corner there — particularly that the homeowner’s SUV lights up too when it is parked in the garage! Continue east on Florida to Savannah Green, especially Abercorn Street.
South Prospect Avenue, Champaign
It must be contagious, because this year it’s more than just the house at Greencroft (just north of Kirby) that is spectacular. Check out the house on the opposite side of the street, as well as the beautifully lit trees at Champaign Country Club. Continue south to see the house at the corner of Mendota and Prospect.
Fraternities at the University of Illinois, Urbana and Champaign
The large old (and some newer) homes provide great lights fodder. There are many to cruise around and gawk at – although one favorite is Alpha Gamma Rho at the corner of First and Gregory Drive in Champaign. The students don’t leave until Dec. 21, so plenty of time this year to see it!
Tell us your favorites below!