Chicago Kicks Off the Holidays with a Light Festival

Darlene Leal
Staff Reporter


Chicago’s Light Festival – Friday night photos taken by Darlene Leal. Saturday’s photos taken by Natasha J Photography and Derek John LaPlante.

Just a short walk around Chicago, you know that the city is ready for the holidays. Macy’s has their Christmas displays out, the trees are lit and the Christmas trees are out. It’s hard to miss the holiday cheer.

One of the starting events that display that excitement and anticipation for the holidays is the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Light Festival.

The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Light Festival took place over a two-day span, starting at 4 p.m. on, Nov. 16. Despite the title, on the first night, it solely focused on a small section of the Magnificent Mile.

The event was located on 401 N. Michigan Avenue. It was quite crowded with families, young adults and businesses. Many of those businesses, such as Garrett’s Popcorn, Eli’s Cheesecake and Frango gave out free goodies to the visitors who waited in line.

People walked away satisfied with their goods, some even sneakily returning back in line after they finished their treat.

There was a 93.9 LITE FM DJ that was playing both Christmas music and announcing the next day’s events, such as a meet and greet with singer Cody Simpson and the official light festival parade.

By the AT&T section, there was a live performance by Cosmos & Creature. They performed their own work while AT&T gave away free blue AT&T endorsed glow sticks. There was a sea of blue glow sticks as people swung their sticks in the air, dancing with the performers.

There were two food trucks and a food stand, mostly Chicago classics. Harold’s Chicken and Connie’s deep dish pizza was busy and ready to feed the hungry visitors.

Chicago Fire and The Illinois Lottery both featured mini-giveaways where the visitors could win a possibility to see either the Chicago Fire or the Bulls play.

For the younger kids, there was face painting, photos with Santa and a VR gaming experiences.

At 8 p.m. there were fireworks to finish off the start of celebrating the upcoming holiday season.

The second night didn’t go as flawlessly. It was extremely crowded by overly excited Chicagoans and tourist. It was near impossible to get to on the Magnificent Mile.

The city was directing people away from the parade and rerouting people to basically dead ends. A lot of people who attempted to see the parade ended up walking back to the original spot they were directed away from or giving up and walking away. There was visible frustration from many.

People could be seen inside Michigan Avenue stores sitting by the windows attempting to see the floats, performers and the fireworks.

The parade started by the Water Tower and featured well-known characters such as Mickey Mouse, Benny the Bull, the sisters from Frozen and Santa Claus. It had dancing, a live performance from Cody Simpson, marching bands, lighted floats, character balloons and again ended with fireworks.

The second night was said to have had one million people and one million lights in Michigan Avenue, according to ABC7.



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