Located only 40 miles west of Chicago, there’s no shortage of activities, events and attractions in suburban St. Charles, Illinois, especially during the holiday season. When the snow caps the Gingerbread Tower at Pottawatomie Park, St. Charles truly feels like a winter wonderland. Whether you prefer to view holiday light displays, indulge in seasonal shopping or go to a special holiday performance, St. Charles and surrounding communities will inspire you to celebrate the season with a holiday getaway to one of our hotels.
On Thanksgiving weekend, downtown St. Charles hosts Holiday Homecoming. Enjoy a holiday movie, visit Santa at the Santa House or ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. Friday evening, holiday lights come ablaze, accompanied by seasonal carols. Miss Illinois and Santa pay a visit, too. On Saturday night, the St. Charles Electric Christmas Parade features a holiday light extravaganza, floats and live music. Jenny McCarthy, Donnie Wahlberg and family are the 2016 Grand Marshals. It's always everyone's favorite Holiday Homecoming event!
For a personal take on seasonal joy, check out the Larsen Light Show, a piece of Elburn holiday magic and lore. Every year, Brian Larsen decks his home with a new arrangement of synchronized music paired with one million lights, drawing crowds of up to 800 a night. In 2013, the Larson Family fame grew nationwide with a spot on ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight. The Larsens share their lights from Thanksgiving night to the New Year.
A longtime holiday tradition, the Elburn Christmas Stroll takes place on Thanksgiving weekend. If you like holiday lights and hot chocolate, this is the place to be. Raffle tickets associated with the event help the Chamber of Commerce raise thousands of dollars for its Kaneland Scholarship Fund. While the Elburn Public Library is the event hub, complete with balloon animals and visits with Santa, downtown businesses feature sweet treats, face painting and choir performances.
Turn back the holiday clock at Garfield Farm and Museum in Campton Hills, Illinois, with its annual Candlelight at the Inn. Experience ‘winter visits’ as people did in 1846, where warm hospitality and tasty treats meet historic music and a holiday bake sale, reminiscent of old-fashioned farm gatherings.
Bright Lights and Santa Claus
About 15 minutes from St. Charles, the annual Holiday Lights at Mooseheart celebration takes place from late November through New Year’s Eve. One of the largest holiday light events in the greater Chicago area, it includes 1.8 twinkling miles of almost 100 displays and a Giant Light Tunnel. This enormous light display winds through the campus of Mooseheart Child City and School, a residential care facility. Starting the second weekend in December, admission will include a weekend visit with Santa in the Mooseheart Fieldhouse, accompanied by hot chocolate and cookies.
Handmade Holiday Gifts
Locals know the Christmas on the Fox Art and Craft Show is a great destination for quality, handmade gifts. Artists showcase their wares at the Prairie Events Center at Kane County Fairgrounds, in late November. Whether you purchase handcrafted candies and Christmas florals, or knitwear and holiday-themed folk art, allow yourself plenty of time for this one-of-a-kind holiday event. Enjoy a catered lunch amid lighted trees and an antique sleigh with holiday music playing in the background.
Fine Line Creative Arts Center hosts Christmastime at Fine Line, an annual holiday gathering where more than 70 artists sell unique ornaments, as well as paintings. Purchase handmade paper, a cozy hand-knitted sweater, handcrafted pottery and more. On opening night, luminaria light the way between the Fine Line barn and Kavanaugh Fine Arts Building, where you can enjoy hot cider and other goodies, as well.
With up to 200 juried booths and only $5 admission, the Festival of Arts and Crafts at Pheasant Run Resort provides another seasonal shopping opportunity. Enjoy browsing through sculptures, acrylic paintings, fabric art and holiday decor.
Come to award-winning professional theater right on Main Street in St. Charles at the Steel Beam Theatre. Interspersed with performances of the holiday musical, “Forever Plaid,” you’ll find a special Singalong with Santa. Part play and part seasonal songfest, this is a great way to celebrate the holidays with the entire family.
Intimate yet exciting, Vero Voce Theatre and School of Performing Arts features live entertainment, from a chamber string jazz and pop performance to a theatre revue or cabaret. Multi-course meals accompany Murder Mystery Dinners and musical theatre presentations include award-winning plays such as “Next to Normal.”