Top 10 Holiday Things To Do in Lake County 2019

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Visit Lake County wishes a happy holiday to everyone, and we hope to provide you with a jolly 10 holiday things to do in Lake County to unScrooge yourself this festive season.

Let’s face it, there are a collection of bah hum-buggers out in the world.


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Holiday in the Park opens tomorrow with even more magic than ever before!✨🎢

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Fill yourself up with holiday cheer in Lake County. Continue here » to learn more.

Enter here to win free Six Flags Great America tickets, an overnight stay at Great Wolf Lodge Illinois and a $200 Gurnee Mills gift card.

Here are your top 10 holiday things to do in Lake County. Happy Christmakwanzakah Lake County!

1. Canadian Pacific Railroad Holiday Train (December 2)

The train horn can be heard in the distance. That’s the sound of the Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train making its annual stop at Viking Park in Gurnee. This vastly illuminated 14-car train partners with local communities to raise food and funds for local food banks as well as raise awareness about hunger issues. The train will blare live holiday music, conduct a brief ceremony and will pass out candy canes for the kids. The choo-choo features live performances from Meghan Patrick, Tanika Charles and Kelly Prescott. There is a charter pickup from Saratoga Square (southeast corner of Milwaukee Avenue) and Riverside Plaza (northeast corner across from Six Flags Great America’s employee entrance). Free parking at Saratoga Square and Riverside Plaza runs from 2-7 p.m on December 2.

2. Festivals in December (December 6-21)

Just because it may be a tad brisk, doesn’t mean the party ends. Lake County celebrates winter with its outdoor festivals, whether it’s a tree lighting or a frosty experience in the snow.

  • Staben House: “A Home For The Holidays Gala at the DoubleTree by Hilton Libertyville-Mundelein (Dec. 6) INFO»
  • First Fridays on MainStreet Libertyville (Dec. 6) INFO»
  • Deerfield’s Winter Celebration (Dec. 6-7) INFO»
  • ElfWauk in Waukegan (Dec. 7) INFO»
  • Gold Eagle Holiday Winter Tasting (Dec. 7) INFO»
  • Miracle on Main Street in Lake Zurich (Dec. 7) INFO»
  • Dickens of a Holiday in Libertyville (Dec. 7 and 14) INFO»
  • Fox Lake Children’s Holiday Party (Dec. 8) INFO»
  • Vigneto del Bino’s Holiday Celebration (Dec. 14) INFO»
  • David Adler’s “Making Spirits Bright Perform-a-thon) (Dec. 14) INFO»
  • Fa-La-La Film Fest at Gorton Community Center (Dec. 17, 20 and 27) INFO»
  • HannaKwanzaChristmaFestival Pop Punk Party at Mickey Finn’s Brewery (Dec. 20) INFO»
  • HolidayWauk in Waukegan (Dec. 21) INFO»
  • The Millennial Ball Holiday Celebration at Mickey Finn’s Brewery (Dec. 21) INFO»

3. Nutcracker Productions in Lake County (December 6-15)


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We are switching up our traditional #WCW postings. Instead of celebrating our #WomenCrushWednesday, we will be celebrating some women who are CRUSHING it on Wednesdays. The perfect person to kick it off is our very own Lucy Taylor! . Lucy Taylor, an advanced student of our Ruth Page School of Dance, has been a prominent cast member in the Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” since she started training here. She danced as Clara for 2 years, and has now moved on to the advanced roles of Columbine Doll, Snowflake Corps, Marzipan Soloist, and the American Beauty Rose Soloist (at just 15 years old!) . To watch her dance, catch her at any Nutcracker performance December 7th & 8th at NEIU or December 14th at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, IL. AND, if you can’t wait that long, she will be performing her Sugar Plum Fairy variation at Chamber Opera Chicago’s production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” on November 30th and December 1st at the Athenaeum Theatre. . . . #WCW #WomenCrushingItWednesday #Ballet #Dancer #ChicagoDance #RuthPageDancer #RuthPageCenter #RuthPage #TheNutcracker #RuthPageNutcracker

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The Nutcracker is a staple of the holiday season, especially when it’s the night before Christmas Eve. The ballet originally composed by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky follows a group of family and friends gathered together for a Christmas celebration. Clara, the story’s protagonist, is given a Nutcracker gift from her godfather. When the children go to bed, Clara stays awake and finds herself in the middle of a battle between a slew of mice and toy soldiers – and thus, the magic ensues with the soldiers led by the Nutcracker himself. For other performances, click the info button for more information.

  • “The Magic of the Nutcracker” at Genesee Theatre (Dec. 6) INFO»
  • Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” at the James Lumber Center (Dec. 14) INFO»
  • Ballet Makkai Presents “The Nutcracker” at Gorton Community Center (Dec. 14-15) INFO»

4. Pick Up Your Christmas Tree in Lake County (Through December 23)

“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches.” Have you been dragging your feet this year and haven’t picked up your family tree yet? Don’t be a blockhead like Charlie Brown. Whether it is a real tree, one you cut down, a natural tree you buy or artificial vegetation, grab a lovely full and festive tree from Lake County this holiday season. Here are 10+ locations to grab your family arbor.

5. Visit Santa in Lake County (Through December 24)

“You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.” Jolly old Saint Nick will be present at a slew of locations, whether it is a mall, a polar express, for dinner and other Lake County venues.

6. Lake County Shopping Spree (Throughout the Holiday Season and on)


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Who do you bring with you to go shopping at Gurnee Mills? 🛍️ 📸: @samanderson._

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It’s an all-out shopping spree, and of course, everyone in Lake County is invited! Black Friday sales may be over, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find stupendous deals throughout the holiday season. From malls to mom and pop shops, Lake County’s shopping options are abundant. Here are a few spots to explore your gift-giving generosity.


Mom & Pop Shopping Areas

7. Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Great America (Through December 31)


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Had a great time at @sfgreat_america’s #HolidayInThePark!🎄

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Six Flags Great America kicks off their second Holiday in the Park event this year. This festival runs from November 23-December 31 on select days. The new holiday party will transform the park into a winter wonderland featuring millions of dazzling lights, a beautiful Christmas tree (5 p.m. lighting every night), meet and greets with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, festive entertainment and of course, rides on a world-class roller coaster.

8. Dickens Holiday and Kringle Christmas Villages (Through January 1)


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Fun day exploring Antioch’s Dickens Holiday Village! #godblessuseveryone #dickensholidayvillage #momslastday😞

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“Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.” Jacob Marley and a cast of other memorable Charles Dickens characters are lined along Antioch’s Main and Lake Streets to offer visitors a cheerio to the holiday. This Olde English public art exhibit comes to life with Dickens Holiday Village, over 40 lifelike mannequins spread along the streets, displaying over 25 different storylines and acting out different Dickens’ scenes. Get the “bah humbug” out of your soul with these charming displays. Across town, Kringle’s Christmas Village illuminates with the holiday spirit. In an indoor storefront pop-up down from Piggly Wiggly, a plethora of shadowboxes provide that same nostalgia attained when enjoying Chicago’s Marshall Fields’ windows. Both are on display through January 1. Kringle’s Christmas Village (on Orchard Street) is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and Dickens’ exhibits are outdoors and self-guided.

9. Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge (Through January 4)

“Let it snow” in Lake County for all we care because inside Great Wolf Lodge Illinois; the temperature is a toasty 84 degrees. This is the final weekend you and the family can experience their annual Snowland celebration. The event is full of holiday season activities like visit’s with Saint Nick, shimmering décor, Snow ‘N’ Glow Dance parties, the North Pole University where your kids can achieve their official “Snowploma” this snow-mester, a life-sized gingerbread house that your family can devour a delectable meal and of course an 80,000 square-foot indoor water park for a splashing good time. The event runs through January 4.

10. Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden (Through January 5)

“Turn up the lights in here baby, extra bright, I want y’all to see this…cop lights, flashlights, spotlights, strobe lights street lights…all of the lights!” Meander in the illuminated world of wonder and light at Chicago Bo’s Lightscape. As you enter you walk through a cathedral-esque threshold, you enter a world of the Glencoe sanctuary that’s as luminous as it’s ever been. This is a must-experience event for your eyes and your feels. Snap your #instagood grams and/or holiday cards here!

For all of the festive happenings besides these 10 holiday things to do in Lake County, continue here. For everything else going on in the land of the lakes, click here. 

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