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 greater Central Illinois region, including Peoria, Mattoon, Shelbyville, Urbana, Chatham and more.
Most of these listed are permanent, annual fixtures in their communities. All of these are DRIVE-THROUGH lights displays.
Thank you to our sponsor, Mahomet Car Connection, for presenting 7 Great Places to See Holiday Lights in Central Illinois. Memories are made in the family vehicle. It can be as simple as piling everyone into the car with a thermos of hot chocolate and driving around to see the community’s lights. At MCC, we want your family to not worry about transportation, but instead focus on the moments that last a lifetime. So this holiday season, bundle up, map out your holiday lights trip, and enjoy the memories. From all of us at MCC, Happy Holidays! Click here to meet Mahomet Car Connection and get more information.
Our annual Champaign-Urbana Area Christmas Lights Guide will be live after Thanksgiving. 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!
Jump Directly to Champaign-Urbana Holiday Info:
Christmas Tree Farms | Meals with Santa | Where to See Santa | Gigantic Holiday Guide | Christmas Parades | Treelighting Ceremonies | Ho Ho Holidays | Holiday Bucket List
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 Nov. 23 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 ($30), and full-size charter buses which are $150 (cash, debit and credit cards 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
Downs Dooley Park Holiday Wonderland
What: A park in Downs turns into a holiday wonderland. Built by dedicated town volunteers, this is not nearly as elaborate as some of the others on this list, but fun nonetheless; an easy place to stop off Interstate 74.
When: December 1 – December 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. Local Churches will host a live nativity each Friday in December.
When: Open November 22- December 25th.; 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.
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 Nov. 22 through Dec. 29; 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: A relatively newer tradition, this one has certainly caught on in Hoopeston. Drive around the park and see graceful jumping reindeer, candy canes, Santa and a manger.
When: Open Nov. 30 through Jan. 2 (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
Chatham Light up the Park
What: Drive through over a mile of brilliant holiday lights in Chatham Community Park. 100,000+ lights, sculptures, arches, Santa, and more.
When: Open Fridays, Saturdays, and (NEW FOR 2019) Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Where: Chatham is a suburb of Springfield, located just south of the capitol city. About 90 minutes from Champaign. The event takes place in the Chatham Community Park.
Cost? $5/carload suggested donation. Proceeds benefit Chatham green spaces.
Did we miss your favorite community lights display in Central Illinois? Email us – firstname.lastname@example.org.