The Magnificent Mile is the place to be on November 21, when the famed stretch of Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago celebrates the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, the country’s largest evening holiday event. The festival is so beloved that the tree lighting is broadcast around 90% of the US for all to enjoy.

This festive evening has something for everyone and is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season in Chicago. Below are just a few of the reasons that this festival is a must-attend Chicago event.  


1.      Family Friendly Fun

The Lights Festival Lane is a favorite for families, with face painting, a Blackhawks and Bulls tent with free Hubert the Lion dolls, local food vendors such as Garrett’s Popcorn and Fannie May’s Fine Chocolates, a photo memories corner and more. Special surprise visits from the Blackhawks and Bulls, as well as the chance to meet some of the performers from the night make the Lights Festival Lane a star-studded location, along with a place to warm up and recharge. The tent also has hand warmers and a space for mobile phone charging.


2.      Live Entertainment  

The BMO Harris Bank Stage will feature a variety of live music options, including Michelle Branch, indie family singer Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players, and the Petoskey Steel Drum Band.


3.      Tree Lighting Parade

One of the highlights of the festival is the Tree Lighting Parade, which goes from Oak Street to Wacker Drive. Marching bands from around the country provide energetic music, while various businesses bring cheer with balloons and floats decked out for the season. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse come all the way from Disney World to be the parade Grand Marshalls, and a fireworks display over the Chicago River is a sparkling end to the parade.


4.      Shop till you drop

The Magnificent Mile is known for its shopping, and the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is the perfect excuse to visit your favorite stores. Take advantage of holiday deals and specials and unique events along the way. Not only are stores offering discounts, but some are having in-store events, such as the Ghirardelli Parade Party, a candy wrapper dress contest at Candyality, and bites and sips at St. John Boutique.


Make the night extra special with dinner reservations, cocktails, or dessert at David Burke’s Primehouse