Gigantic roundup of holiday season fun for families, with special considerations for this unique year
Make holiday memories kids won’t forget with lights, hot chocolate and all kinds of magic in Champaign-Urbana and beyond
There’s something magical about the holiday season in Champaign-Urbana, for kids and parents alike. The twinkling lights, the fresh snow (if we’re lucky), and the excitement in the air all make this a memorable time of year.
This is our complete guide to all things holiday-season in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities. We will keep adding posts, events and updates as they are announced, so check back often; all events are also listed on our events calendar. Click on the links for more information on each topic — we have lots of exciting things to share with you in the coming months!
Also, some topics do not have links yet as the information has not been finalized. Check back again soon!
Thanks to University of Illinois Athletics for presenting this post. Celebrate the holidays by getting each family member their own Illini package. Tiny Illini, Oskee Pet Club, and Fighting Illini Kids Club all start at $35. Get your package today!
Everything Holiday for Champaign-Urbana
Pin this page, post this to Facebook, save the link to your homescreen, or bookmark this link because this is one page you’re going to want to come back to over and over again for the holidays. Click on each link below to read what we’ve taken the time to put together for you and your family. Some topics do not have links yet as the information has not been finalized. We do our best to include links for specific events so that you can follow along with them on social media and make sure there are no last-minute cancellations or changes.
If you are trying to make each day count this holiday season, this section is for you — click here. The holiday season gets busy, so we have done the planning for you! Be sure to check out our calendar to see a different activity each day that your family will enjoy.
Take a break this Thanksgiving! We have the list on where you can find complete meals to go that you order ahead of time, as well as a comprehensive list of which restaurants are open for dining on Thanksgiving.
If you’d like to order a turkey from a local farmer OR a local dining establishment, we have a list ready for you. Don’t delay on these: many sell out completely well in advance of the big day.
Kicking Off the Holiday Season
There is nothing quite like heading to a Champaign-Urbana area Christmas tree farm to pick out the perfect Christmas tree. Whether you want to head out to the field and cut your own Christmas tree or you prefer to choose from a selection of fresh cut Christmas trees, our handy guide will help you find the best Christmas tree farms near you. And many of the area farms offer unique experiences to make your visit even more memorable.
We love parades! Find a list of all of the holiday parades happening a short drive from Champaign-Urbana, and mark your calendars for our very own Parade of Lights!
Chanukah happens Nov. 28 – Dec. 6 this year. Learn more and find out how to celebrate.
Learn all about the Jewish Festival of Lights.
Shopping for Gifts and Supporting Local Restaurants
Skip the kitchen work this holiday season. Find out where you can order a holiday meal ahead of time and a list of which restaurants are open for takeout on Christmas Day.
You might not think about fun when you think about shopping. For some, it’s a chore. For others, it’s an enjoyable part of the season. Be sure to check out our shop local trail, sharing specials from now all the way through Christmas.
Here is our list of holiday “bucket list” to-dos, customized for Champaign-Urbana area families. Pick one, do all 35, or something in between, but whatever you do, have a wonderful holiday season making festive memories with your crew.
Create memories, not clutter, with the gift of an experience this holiday season! We’ve got pro tips for you if you’d like to focus more on memories and less on STUFF this year.
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 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.
Looking for houses with the best Christmas light displays in the Champaign-Urbana metro area? Check out our list to help you plan a night with your family that’s fun, festive and free! So pack some snacks, fill up a thermos with hot cocoa (or a sippy cup with chocolate milk for the toddler crowd) and head out on a mission to find the best decorated houses!
We’ve found holiday zoo lights at most of the zoos, large and small, within a reasonable driving distance of Champaign-Urbana.
Traditions and Memories
Chicago dials it up to 11 for the holidays. We set out to discover some big-city holiday highlights with the help of our readers.
Indianapolis comes alive during the holidays! We’ve listed some of our favorite attractions in and around the city, many of which have special events during the holiday season.
Where to find Santa this year – and maybe even get your picture taken – in Champaign-Urbana and beyond.
Seeing Santa is one thing, but the experience of a meal with the big guy himself is one to remember! Many require registration this year; find out where they are and how to sign up ahead of time.
There’s more to the Polar Express than the famous Monticello train rides. We list ways to experience the magic of Polar Express in Champaign-Urbana, in ways that won’t break your budget.
How will you be celebrating the holidays? No matter how you choose to spend the season, we hope it is full of love, light, laughter, and joy.
All Upcoming Holiday Season Events
We’ve made it simple for you to scroll what is happening, in upcoming order, near you. Check it out!No Events
Everything Holiday Season In and Around Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Eat on Christmas in Champaign-Urbana
- Meals with Santa Claus in Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Find Santa Claus in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- 50+ Experience Gift Ideas for Kids in Champaign-Urbana
- Amazing Christmas Lights Around Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- Live Nativity Displays in Champaign-Urbana
- Holiday Lights at the Zoo: Where to Drive From Champaign-Urbana
- How to Chop Down Your Own Christmas Tree in the Shawnee National Forest – For $5 (or Less)
- Home for the Holidays: Shopping and Eating Locally in Champaign-Urbana
- Botanical Garden at Lake of the Woods to Illuminate during Holidays for First Time
- 8+ Great Places to See Holiday Lights in Central Illinois
- All Aboard: Polar Express Fun (Beyond the Train) in Champaign-Urbana
- Champaign-Urbana Area Holiday Events and Activities
- Where to Buy a Live Christmas Tree Near Champaign-Urbana
- Christmas Parades near Champaign-Urbana
- German Christmas Market Returns to Riggs Beer Company in Urbana
- What You Need to Know About the Walk-Through Holiday Lights at Allerton Park