Gigantic roundup of holiday season fun for families
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.
chambanamoms thanks Lodgic Everyday Community for presenting this comprehensive guide
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 this holiday season.
Also, some topics do not have links yet as the information has not been finalized. Check back again soon!
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.
Champaign-Urbana Christmas holiday performances range from single performance shows to those that run through the whole season such as plays, musicals, concerts, and of course the ballet.
Chanukah happens Dec. 18-26 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
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, as is enjoying festive food you don’t have to cook. Be sure to check out our Home for the Holidays roundup, sharing local shopping and eating specials from Thanksgiving through Christmas.
Skip the kitchen work this holiday season. Find out where you can order holiday meal and treats ahead of time.
Here’s our list of where to eat out (or take-out) on December 25 in Champaign-Urbana (not including fast food or coffee shops).
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
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.
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.
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.No Events
Everything Holiday Season In and Around Champaign-Urbana
- How to Have a Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve in Champaign-Urbana
- 5 Things to Do on Christmas Day in Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Eat on Christmas in Champaign-Urbana
- A Beloved University of Illinois Tradition Sings On: Dial-A-Carol Goes Live Dec. 8
- Where to Order Holiday Meals and Treats in Champaign-Urbana
- Holiday Giving and Volunteering in Champaign-Urbana
- Amazing Christmas Lights Around Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
- Where to Find Santa Claus in the Champaign-Urbana Area
- All Aboard: Polar Express Fun (Beyond the Train) in Champaign-Urbana
- Meals with Santa Claus in Champaign-Urbana
- Holiday Lights at the Zoo: Where to Drive From Champaign-Urbana
- 50+ Experience Gift Ideas for Kids in Champaign-Urbana
- Champaign-Urbana Holiday Bucket List: 35 Things To Do Before Christmas
- 10 Festive Indianapolis Destinations for a Family Holiday Getaway
- 8 Great Places to See Holiday Lights in Central Illinois
- Holiday Season Parades in and around Champaign-Urbana
- Where to Buy a Live Christmas Tree Near Champaign-Urbana
- Home for the Holidays: Shopping and Eating Locally in Champaign-Urbana
- Champaign-Urbana Area Holiday Events and Activities
- Champaign-Urbana Area Christmas Shows, Concerts, Performances and More