CHICAGO (CBS) — Saturday marks the 25th annual BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.
The festival is said by the Magnificent Mile Association’s to be “the country’s largest evening holiday celebration.”
The festival includes a parade led by Mickey and Minnie Mouse down Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, lighting 200 trees along the route. The parade concludes at the Chicago River, with a grand finale fireworks display.
The event is anticipated to draw a crowd of 800,000 people.
Think you are ready to join in on the holiday celebration? Here is a Guide to the BMO Harris Bank’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival:
The event starts early this year with the Lights Festival Lane in Pioneer Court opening Friday night. Guests will be able to participate in a variety of family-friendly activities including an interactive wonderland, a virtual-reality experience, and more. Guests can also enjoy treats from Connie’s Pizza, Garrett Popcorn, The Eli’s Cheesecake Company and more. Santa Claus will also be there.
Schedule of Events:
Friday, Nov. 18
4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
– Lights Festival Lane, located in Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave:
The area opens early this year with more than a dozen family-friendly activities. Guests can listen to live music and have the chance to visit with Santa Claus. There will be an interactive wonderland filled with holiday-themed activities. There will also be food and snacks from Connie’s Pizza, Garrett Popcorn, The Eli’s Cheesecake Company and more.
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
-Wrigley Building’s Second Annual Tree Lighting, located in The Wrigley Building’s Plaza, 400 N. Michigan Ave:
Join the Master of Ceremony, Theresa E. Mintle, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, as she flips the switch to illuminate the tree. Holiday songs will be sang by After School Matters’ student carolers. Ghirardelli Chocolate and Peet’s Coffee & Tea will be passing out samples and Walgreen’s will pass out hand warmers.
-Enjoy holiday experiences and special offers at participating retailers, restaurants and attractions around The Magnificent Mile District!
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
-Lights Festival Lane, located in Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave:
Guests can listen to live music and have the chance to visit with Santa Claus. There will be an interactive wonderland filled with holiday-themed activities. There will also be food and snacks from Connie’s Pizza, Garrett Popcorn, The Eli’s Cheesecake Company and more. Make sure to stop by the BMO Harris Bank dome for a virtual-reality experience.
5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
-The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Tree-Lighting Parade:
The parade steps off onto North Michigan Avenue at Oak Street. Grand Marshals Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and their friends from the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida travel down North Michigan Avenue to Wacker Drive, lighting one million lights along the way! The procession features spectacular floats, helium-filled balloons, marching bands and top musical performers.
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
-Ghirardelli Chocolate Lights Festival Party:
A bird’s-eye view of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival from the 2nd floor of the Wrigley Building. Guests will enjoy chocolate and wine pairings, hot cocoa, sundaes, hor d’ouerves, and a sampling of Ghirardelli’s newest products. The party will have stunning views of the full parade as it makes it way down Michigan Avenue from the 2nd floor of the historic Wrigley Building, and also front row seats for the fireworks over the Chicago River. Tickets are $75 for adults 21 and older, $20 for ages 9-20, and free for children 8 and under (one child per purchasing adult), and available now here.
Enjoy a fireworks display over the Chicago River at North Michigan Avenue.
Viewing: Standing along Wacker Drive or in Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Avenue, are the prime places to view. The Magnificent Mile reminds guests that The DuSable Bridge, formerly Michigan Avenue Bridge, closes as early as 3:30 p.m. If you want to get to your favorite spot for the lighting procession, be sure to make your way across the bridge before that time.
7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
– Enjoy extended hours at participating retailers around The Magnificent Mile District.
Tree-Lighting Parade Route:
The tree-lighting parade steps off at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19 at Oak Street, heading south on Michigan Avenue to Wacker Drive.
Viewing: The Magnificent Mile reminds guests that Michigan Avenue is less crowded on the east side of the street, especially at the north end of the procession route.
-Blue Man Group
-USO Show Troupe
-Forever In Your Mind
-Jo Dee Messina
-BMO Harris Bank
-The Blue Buffalo Co.
-Garrett Popcorn Shops
-Gift of Hope
-Illinois Office of Tourism
-Lurie Children’s/Kohl’s Cares
-Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida
-Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
-Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.
-Crystal Lake Strikers Drumline – Crystal Lake, Illinois
-Cullman High School Band – Cullman, Alabama
-Defiance High School Band – Defiance, Ohio
-Lake Fenton High School Band – Linden, Michigan
-Maumee High School Band – Maumee, Ohio
-Tallassee High School Band – Tallassee, Alabama
-3rd Street Dance and Theatre
-Bonnie Lindholm Dance Company
-The Happiness Club
-Heart of the Valley Dancers
-South Shore Drill Team
– Lights Festival Lane, Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Avenue
– 900 North Michigan Shops, 900 N. Michigan Avenue
– Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Avenue
– The Shops at North Bridge, 520 N. Michigan Avenue
If You Are Driving from the:
-North: Go south on Lake Shore Drive, exit at Michigan Avenue.
-Northwest: Take I-90/94 to Ohio Street then east on Ohio Street to Michigan Avenue.
-South: Go north on Lake Shore Drive, exit Illinois Street/Grand Avenue, follow signs to Michigan Avenue.
-Southwest: Take I-55 to Lake Shore Drive north then exit on Illinois Street/Grand Avenue, follow signs to Michigan Avenue.
Consider taking public transportation:
Metra trains drop riders at various locations around the city. Metra will also operate additional trains the day of the event. Additional seating capacity will be added to scheduled service in anticipation of the large crowds for the festival.
The CTA will provide Saturday additional bus and train service for the 2016 Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights. The Blue, Brown, Orange and Pink Line trains will operate longer trains from approximately 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Red Line will run more frequently from approximately 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Magnificent Mile recommends reserving affordable parking in advance with SpotHero. *You can download the SpotHero app and enter promo code LIGHTS16 for an extra $5 off parking!
The Millennium Park Garage and Grant Park North Garage are closest to the south end of the Lights Festival parade route on Michigan Avenue. You can pre-purchase parking for the lowest rate.
Millennium Park Garage
5 S Columbus Dr.
Chicago, IL 60601
Grant Park North Garage
25 N Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60602
InterPark parking garages also have multiple locations near the Lights Festival parade. You can also purchase parking in advance with one of their garages.
Street Closures Saturday, Nov. 19:
From 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
– Oak Street from State Street to Michigan Avenue
– North Michigan Avenue from Oak Street to Wacker Drive
– Upper Wacker Drive from Michigan Avenue to east turnaround
From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
– Upper Illinois Street from Michigan Avenue East to Hotel InterContinental side entrance
From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
– Clark Street (east curb lane only) from Oak Street to Delaware Street
– Delaware Street from Dearborn Street to Clark Street (north curb lane only)
– Oak Street from Clark Street to State Street
– Dearborn Street from Delaware Street to Maple Street
– Walton Street from State Street to Clark Street
From 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
– Southbound Lanes of Upper Columbus from Wacker Drive to Randolph Street (Curb lanes from Wacker Drive to Randolph Street, with full southbound lanes street closure 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
– Westbound Lanes of Upper Wacker from Michigan to Stub Ramp (Curb lanes from Michigan to Stub, with full street closure 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
– Upper South Water (both directions) Stetson to Columbus and ramp