CENTRAL ILLINOIS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS TRAIL
Are you willing to drive all over Central Illinois for good holiday lights shows? Don’t worry, so are we! We’ve put together a short list of the top Christmas light shows across the Central Illinois region, including Peoria, Mattoon, Shelbyville, Urbana, and more. Most of these are permanent, annual fixtures in their communities. All of these are DRIVE-THROUGH lights displays.
Thank you to Alpha Dog Entertainment Mobile Laser Tag for sponsoring this guide.
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Our annual Champaign-Urbana Area Christmas Lights Guide is NOW LIVE. That features lights displays in and around Champaign-Urbana (and a few a little further away, too.)
Want to know all things holiday in Champaign-Urbana? Sign up for our Ho Ho Holidays email newsletter every day from December 1-24. Click to sign up today!
East Peoria’s Winter Wonderland (FOLEPI)
What: Known as “Folepi” to locals, the Festival of Lights in East Peoria’s Winter Wonderland lights display has been a staple for more than 30 years. Set to music, (tune your vehicle’s radio to 107.3 for holiday music to accompany your drive), make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the the popular ski jumper feature. Displays include lighted arches and circus animals, the Western town, Space Land, the Candy Cane Factory, Prehistoric Land and more. The Festival’s mascot is the wooden soldier Folepi, whose name serves as an acronym for “Festival of Lights, East Peoria, Illinois.”
When: Open from Thanksgiving night through Dec. 31; 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For traffic updates, check the Festival of Lights Facebook page.
Where: About 1.5 hours from Champaign-Urbana. I-74 West to East Peoria, Exit 96. For more information including directions, go to the Folepi website here.
Cost?: Most vehicles are $10, except for small buses, and full-size charter buses which are $150 (cash, debit and credit cards accepted).
Downs Dooley Park Holiday Wonderland
What: A park in Downs turns into a holiday wonderland. Built by dedicated town volunteers, this is not as elaborate as some of the others on this list, but fun nonetheless.
When: Lights come on the day after Thanksgiving through Dec. 31. On at dusk daily.
Where: Dooley Park, Downs. Downs is located about 50 minutes from Champaign-Urbana, right off of I-74 just southeast of Bloomington-Normal.
What: Drive through Mattoon’s beautiful Peterson Park to see a vast array of standard and animated holiday light displays. Haven’t been in awhile? New displays and LED lights have been added.
When: Open through Dec. 25; 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: About 1 hour south of Champaign-Urbana. Take I-57 South, exit 190 B. Peterson Park, Mattoon.
Cost?: Free admission with donations accepted.
Candlestick Lane, Urbana
What: A community tradition for more than 50 years, this is what happens when a determined group of neighbors create magic for area children – and never let it go. This amazing collection of modest homes will wow you with their holiday spirit and creativity. Thank you Candlestick Lane!
When: Opening night is traditionally the second Saturday night in December, and the display is lit every evening through Jan. 1.
Where: Located at Grant Place in Urbana. Candlestick Lane is not a real street. Take Washington Street to Cottage Grove (south), turn onto Eastern Avenue, then to Grant Place. Go slow, some people walk this street.
Cost?: Free Admission.
Shelbyville Festival of Lights
What: The light display includes more than 500 lighted scenes with several lighted arches that includes traditional displays like manger scenes and Santa with his reindeer, and some not so traditional such as a large lighted Menorah, and Santa riding a motorcycle. Watch this video before you go.
When: Open through Dec. 30; 5:30 -9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5:30-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: About 1 hour, 20 minutes southwest of Champaign-Urbana. Not far from Mattoon, so a good loop. Located in Forest Park, Shelbyville.
Cost?: Free Admission with donations accepted at the end.
Light Up McFerren Park, Hoopeston
What: This is the baby of the group, at only five years into this tradition. Drive around the park and see graceful jumping reindeer, candy canes, Santa and a manger.
When: Open Nov. 24 through Dec. 31 (subject to change)
Where: Located at McFerren Park in Hoopeston, about an hour northeast of Champaign-Urbana. As of this date, anyone coming into the park will have to enter and exit through the south entrance off of Elm Street.
Cost?: Free Admission
Did we miss your favorite community lights display in Central Illinois? Let us know in the comments or email us – firstname.lastname@example.org.