So far we've brought you a list of Chicago-area Nutcracker performances; a guide to holiday musical performances; info about Polar Express trips; a list of holiday movies being shown in theaters; and a list of holiday-themed theatrical performances. Up next, how about we take a trip through the best Christmas light displays in the western suburbs?
WHEATON: Cosley Zoo in Wheaton will be celebrating its "Festival of Lights & Christmas Trees" through Dec. 30. About 20,000 lights will come on at 3 p.m. and the zoo closes at 9 p.m. Visit the animals and purchase a cup of hot chocolate, your tree, wreath and holiday gifts. Admission to the zoo is free during the festival.
NORTH AURORA: Mooseheart Child City & School in North Aurora will be holding its Holiday Lights display through New Year’s Eve. The 80 displays, covering a 2-mile-long driving loop, will be lit from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every night. The tour through the display costs $10, but $2 off coupons are available on the website for those visiting Monday through Thursday. Santa will also be in the Fieldhouse welcoming visitors from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 9, 10 and 11 and Dec. 17 and 18. Proceedsd from the event benefit Mooseheart's operating budget, including food, shelter, clothing, books and recreational activities for the children it serves.
AURORA: The Aurora Festival of Lights features more than a mile of lighted holiday displays in the city's Phillips Park. The lights will shine nightly from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Dec. 26. Admission is free, but donations are accepted and encouraged to raise money for local charities. This event is presented by the Rotary Club of Aurora.
BROOKFIELD: Brookfield Zoo’s “Holiday Magic” features more than 120 animated light displays, one million twinkling lights, live entertainment, a laser light show, magic show and ice carvers. It is held from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends of Dec. 3-4, Dec. 10-11, Dec. 17-18, plus Dec. 26 through Dec. 31. Regular parking and admission fees apply.
LOMBARD: Lilacia Park in Lombard is known for its gorgeous lilacs and its annual "Lilac Festival." But during December, the park features hundreds of decorations, displays, lights, train rides, a giant gingerbread house and more. Children can visit with Santa and take free train rides from 6 p.m to 8 p.m. on on Friday Dec. 9 and Dec. 16; Saturday Dec. 10 and Dec. 17 and Sunday Dec. 11 and Dec. 18.
ELBURN: The home at 42W891 Beith Road in Elburn has a light show synchronized to music. Owner Brian Larsen uses more than 200,000 LED lights and 200 computerized channels to choreograph his lights to more than a dozen songs. The show usually runs Monday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Note: There is limited parking, so expect to creep along the road! You can see a YouTube clip here.
AURORA: The homeowners on Lehnertz Avenue on the northeast side of Aurora (near Garfield Park) have a nearly 60-year tradition of telling the story of Jesus Christ’s birth with displays at houses along the street, including what one reader says is a gorgeous, life-sized Nativity scene. On Lehnertz Circle in Aurora you’ll find Peanuts-themed decorations. Note that I'm still trying to find the schedule for this year, but in 2010, the lights were turned on in the evening of Dec. 12, and after that, ligths were on through Jan. 7 from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
GENEVA: The Parcell family’s home at 813 Cheever Avenue in Geneva features nearly 50,000 lights synchronized to music. Broadcast on a low-power FM transmitter. The home is also a Toys for Tots drop-off site. Lights are on from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Dec. 31, weather permitting.
ST. CHARLES: The St. Charles Park District sponsors a free "Holiday Lights Decorating Contest" for residents. Starting Dec. 15, a list of the addresses of the homes that particpated will be on the park district's website. Will make for a fun driving tour!
GENEVA: A reader says a house in the Mill Creek subdivision, by the Tanna Farms Golf Course on Herrington, is particularly "awesome."
ST. CHARLES: Lovers of classic cars will want to see the house located on Third Street in St. Charles, just a block or two south of Prairie. (The house is located on the east side of the street.) The homeowner has parked his classic red car on his lawn, and it is being pulled by illuminated reindeer. Santa Claus sits inside, of course!
Do you know of any homes, neighborhoods or community displays that should be on this list? Please share!