Editor’s Note for 2022: The Six Flags Great America drive through holidays lights experience, named Holiday in the Park, will not be happening this year.
Six Flags Great America, a popular summer destination for Champaign-Urbana area families, is bringing back a one-of-a-kind holiday experience after its debut last year
If you’re dreaming of summer days filled with your favorite theme park attractions, an evening at Six Flags Great America this Christmas season may scratch the theme park itch to carry you through into next year.
Enter Holiday in the Park, presented in two different ways for 2021.
Six Flags Great America, located 2.5 to 3 hours from Champaign-Urbana (depending on traffic), has been around since the mid-1970s, so many of us not only have good memories from recent years with our own kids but memories from our own childhood years, too.
For 2021, the park will hold both “Holiday in the Lights,” which is a walk-through holiday experience with pop-up shows, limited rides and more, and a drive-thru experience for those who wish to stay in the warmth of their car to enjoy the park’s lights.
Six Flags Great America announced on Nov 9 that it will offer both experiences for 2021, beginning on Nov. 26 and running on select dates through Jan. 9, 2022.
Must Know Info About the Holiday in the Park Lights and Drive-Thru Experience
Dates: Select dates between Nov. 26 and Jan. 9 (with specific nights designated for the two different experiences)
Location: Six Flags Great America, Gurnee (located north of Chicago)
(Take I-57 North to I-294; the tollway circumvents the city of Chicago, and means that there is generally smoother sailing up to Gurnee.)
Tickets: Online and ahead of time only, so plan ahead
Cost – Drive-Thru: $17.99 per person in the car, children 2 and under are free with no ticket required
Cost – Walk: Starts at $24.99 per person, children 2 and under are free with no ticket required
The Drive-Thru Experience
Purchasing tickets ahead of time online for every person that will be in your vehicle will allow your car to roll through the actual theme park, past all your favorite attractions.
The carousel that welcomes you will be dancing along with holiday music, and each area of the park will be decorated with a theme. The shows along the way use state-of-the-art technology and will wow all your riders.
Snacks are available for purchase; last year included favorites like churros and hot chocolate.
The speed limit is just 3 mph and no restrooms are available in the park for visitor use. You must stay in your vehicle except for emergency purposes.
The Walk-Around Experience
You can also get tickets for the walk-through holiday experience, “Holiday in the Park Lights” on Six Flags Great America’s website. This experience will have shows you can walk around and enjoy, 14+ rides and more. Tickets start at $24.99 per person.
Make a Getaway Out Of It
While you certainly could hop in your car, drive two and a half hours, drive around the park, and drive back to C-U, you can make this a little getaway for your family, if you wish.
A handful of these dates fall on weekdays and are bound to be less crowded than the weekends (which will likely sell out). Stay at the nearby Great Wolf Lodge (affiliate link) and get some waterpark time in while you’re in Gurnee. (A review here, done pre-pandemic.)
What else is there to do around Six Flags?
Another drive-through lights show not far away from Six Flags is Let It Shine, in Northbrook. See one million LED lights that are synchronized to holiday classics. Show goes through Jan. 9. Buy one ticket per vehicle. $29.99 weekdays, $39.99 weekends, $20 fast pass (optional).
The Chicago Botanic Garden also has a lights events this winter, through Jan. 2. Lightscape requires walking and is not a drive thru; the trail is 1.25 miles long, outdoors.
Other drive-through light displays around Central Illinois
Head to Peoria, Shelbyville, Mattoon and more. If you want to see a few mega-displays but don’t want to drive as far as Six Flags, this article is for you.
Looking for more? Subscribe to our Home for the Holidays Newsletter. Want more ideas for holiday (or everyday) fun? Check out our Event Calendar.
Everything Holiday Season In and Around Champaign-Urbana
- Amazing Christmas Lights Around Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- Live Nativity Displays in 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