Magnificent Mile Lights Festival illuminates Chicago

When it comes to lighting up the holiday season, no one does it better than the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. Between the one million twinkling lights, the nighttime parade and fireworks, and all-day concerts and activities, it’s the perfect spot for families.

It also can be crowded and overwhelming, so a little pre-planning is in order. Joel Morales, marketing chair for the fest, offers a few insider tips for families heading out to the festival.

  1. Start out at Pioneer Court (401 N. Michigan Ave.) where Disney star Shane Harper and the band R5 perform, along with others throughout the day. `Like’ The Magnificent Mile on Facebook and you just might hear about some meet-and-greets that will score you points with your tween girls, Morales hints.
  2. The performances end at 3 p.m. and the parade starts at 5:30 p.m. Fill the time in between by visiting Lights Festival Lane in the plaza where activities include decorating (and eating!) your own cheesecake for those who bring in a donation of canned goods. Plus, there are plenty of retailers along Michigan Avenue with lots planned to help keep downtown visitors busy.
  3. Consider watching the parade near Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. “You can see all the different floats and it isn’t as crowded, plus it’s a great view for the fireworks as well,” Morales says. “And it’s a great spot to get your escape plan going.” Park on the north side of the bridge and it’s a lot easier to get out of parking garages and the traffic is less congested.

If you go

The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights

When: Nov. 17
Times: Events and performers all day.
Lighting Procession at 5:30 p.m.
Where: North Michigan Avenue, from Oak Street to
Wacker Drive, Chicago
Cost: Free
More info:

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