With its joyous atmosphere and glittering lights strung along the trees, downtown Chicago is a delightful winter wonderland. Shining bright is a tradition now in its 23nd year, The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.
Join Mickey and Minnie, Anna and Elsa, Santa and more! Experience the magic of the holidays and welcome the winter season when the parade lights up Chicago's grand Michigan Avenue on November 22, 2014.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
It's the nation's largest evening holiday celebration, which means there are hours and hours of outdoor fun lined up on the schedule of events. Get a jump start on the festivities bright and early at 11:00 am, catch the parade of floats at 5:30 pm, and don't miss the showstopper at 6:55 pm – a grand fireworks display over the Chicago River.
- Lights Festival Lane
11:00 am – 5:00 pm at Pioneer Court (401 N. Michigan Avenue)
Bundle up the kiddies for an entertainment blowout! Get hands-on Chicago-style decorating slices of Eli's Cheesecake. Get a sweet treat from Garrett Popcorn Shops. Plus enjoy face painting, photo opps and giveaways.
- BMO Harris Bank Stage
11:00 am - 3:30 pm at Pioneer Court (401 N. Michigan Avenue)
A series of musical performances by top artists rock the BMO Harris Bank stage all afternoon. Don't miss any of the free concerts!
11:00 - 11:45am: Justin Roberts & the Not Ready for Naptime Players
12:45 - 1:45pm: Jacquie Lee presented by Radio Disney
(followed by 1:30 pm Meet-and-Greet)
1:45 - 2:15pm: Nico and Vinz presented by Southwest Airlines®
(followed by 2:30 pm Meet-and-Greet)
2:45 - 3:15pm: Kendall Schmidt of Big Time Rush and Heffron Drive
- Tree Lighting Parade
5:30 pm on Michigan Avenue, from Oak Street to Wacker Drive
It's quite the sight! Grand marshals Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida lead the way along with a cast of beloved character friends. Giant helium balloons, marching bands and more than 40 colorful floats fill the street. And see Sabrina Carpenter from Disney Channel series Girl Meets World; Dee Snider of Twisted Sister; Brendan James from America's Got Talent; and Anna & Elsa from Disney on Ice Frozen — and perhaps the most famous face of the night, Santa Claus himself. Add to that a route lined with more than a million lights on 200 trees and it's magic.
- Fireworks Finale
6:55 pm on Michigan Avenue at the Chicago River
And what's a holiday without fireworks? After the procession leaves Michigan Avenue twinkling, the horizon is illuminated in a spectacular show of lights. More than 10,000 handmade fireworks shells will take to sky along the waterfront, a fitting grand finale for the festival.
Start your holiday shopping early and walk away with incredible special offers and events from Magnificent Mile stores, restaurants and businesses. Businesses all along the famed shopping mecca are spreading the holiday cheer on November 22 and throughout the season. Some include:
- Chillcation "Park, Stay & Chill" hotel packages from over 10 downtown hotels including The Drake, theWit and Hampton Inn
- Half-price theatre tickets from Hot Tix
- 20% off tickets from comedy geniuses The Second City
- Edible epicurean gift options from the NoMI Boutique | Sugar & Spice
- A delightful Hot Chocolate Bar at Cafe des Architectes with macaroons, eclairs, cocoa & more for only $3 each
- A free meet-and-greet and photos with Santa and few of his reindeer friends at the Trump International Hotel & Tower
- 15% off gifts and souvenirs from Chicago Architecture Foundation
Looking for the best spots to catch all the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival happenings? The best advice is to arrive early, then try out these tips for viewing locations:
- Get up high – 1,000 feet up to be exact – with stunning panoramic (and heated!) views from 360 Chicago (formerly known as John Hancock Observatory)
- Set up on the east side of Michigan Avenue for a little more elbow room when watching the parade (just make sure to make the crossing before it starts)
- Cozy up to the river for views of the fireworks, along Wacker Drive from the State Street Bridge to the Michigan Avenue Bridge are as close as you can get!
- Remember the Michigan Avenue Bridge (aka DuSable Bridge) closes as early as 3:30pm each year
- Review the official activity guide in advance, or at least pick one up at a Chicago Visitor Center or on-site
You'll find the complete Magnificent Mile Lights Festival schedule and a list of all offers and activities at themagnificentmile.com.
For more holiday celebrations across the city during the festive November and December months, check the featured Events section or browse the Events Calendar to find out what's happening during your stay.