There’s so much to do in our region this holiday season! Check out a few events below.
Hike/Ski Solar-Lighted Trails
Through March 11, trails open to 9 p.m. McHenry County Conservation District (MCCD) has two sites open late for hiking or cross-country skiing. Pleasant Valley, Pleasant Valley Road, Woodstock. Park in the first parking area and sign in. Hickory Grove Highlands, 500 Hickory Nut Grove Lane, Cary. Visitors sign in at the trail head.
Antioch Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting
Nov. 25, 6:30 p.m. Parade and official lighting of the tree outside the village hall, with homemade cookies, hot chocolate and caroling. Santa arrives, too. Main Street to the village hall, downtown Antioch, (847) 395-2160, antiochchamber.org.
Nov. 25-27, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri., 11a.m.-4 p.m. Sun. Jewelry, crafts from the Southwest. Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles, (918) 633-1032, treasuresofthesouthwest.com.
After the Fall: A Winter Tree Walk
Nov. 26, 1-2:30 p.m. Learn to identify bare winter trees. Registration requested at email@example.com. Volo Bog State Natural Area, 28478 W. Brandenburg, Ingleside, (815) 344-1294, dnr.illinois.gov.
Christmas on the Fox
Nov. 26-27, 10 a.m. Quality, hand-made arts and crafts show. Christmas tree decorating contest. Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles, (815) 772-3279, artoftheheartlandinc.com.
Barrington’s Annual Luminary Night
Dec. 1, 4-7 p.m. Luminaries light the way, as shops and restaurants throughout the village participate in this beautiful evening with special treats, activities and surprises for shoppers. Downtown Barrington, (847) 304-3400, barrington-il.gov.
Christmas Procession & Tree Lighting
Dec. 2, 6 p.m. Welcome the season with this annual event. Marengo Main Street, (815) 568-8440.
Lambs Farm Holiday Lights Gift & Craft Fair
Dec. 2-4, see website for times. Hundreds of vendors with fine arts and crafts. Lambs Farm booth with homemade items. Arlington Park Racecourse, 2200 West Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights, (630) 469-4611, holidaylightslambsfarm.org.
Christmastime at the Fine Line
Dec. 2-10, Mon.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. to 5 p.m. Show and sale with a variety of items. Fine Line Creative Arts Center, 6N158 Crane Road, St. Charles, (630) 584-9443, fineline.org.
Barrington Aglow & Tree Lighting Ceremony
Dec. 3, 1-7 p.m. Free carriage rides, strolling madrigal singers, hot chocolate and cookies, extended evening store hours. Santa arrives at 5 p.m. to light the Christmas tree and visit with children. Downtown Barrington, barrington-il.gov.
Bird Walks at McHenry Dam
Dec. 3, 8 a.m. Dress for the weather; bring binoculars/field guides; some provided. Length 1-3 hours depending on weather and luck in birding. Registration requested. McHenry Dam parking lot, Moraine Hills State Park, 1510 S. River Road, McHenry, (815) 344-1294, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas of Yesteryear
Dec. 3-4, noon. Free wagon rides, carolers, Christmas music, craft fair, cookie walk, poinsettia sale; specials at area shops. Events at Memorial Hall also. Santa arrives for tree lighting Sat. 4 p.m. Downtown Richmond, richmond-il.com.
Happy Holiday Railway
Dec. 3-4, 10-11, 10 a.m. Embark on a magical train ride and visit with Santa Claus and his elves at the Toy Workshop. Special fare event. No passes honored. Museum grounds and buildings NOT open these days. Illinois Railway Museum (IRM), Olson Road, Union, (815) 244-7245, irm.org.
Blackberry Farm Polar Express
Dec. 3-4, 10-11, 2-6 p.m. The Blackberry Farm train becomes the Polar Express. Book readings, Santa, holiday train layout. Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora (630) 892-1550, foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.
Candlelight at the Inn
Dec. 3-4, 3-7 p.m. Winter traditions by families like the Garfields in their 1846 Brick Inn. Hospitality, food, music and bake sale. Donations accepted. Garfield Farm, 3N016 Garfield Road/Route 38, La Fox, (630) 584-8485, garfieldfarm.org.
Winter Farmers Market
Dec. 4 & 18, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Shop local, sustainable farmers and producers. Rain or shine. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, (847) 835-5440, chicagobotanic.org.
Polar Express to 2Toots Train Whistle Grill
Dec. 7-8, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Travel to Glen Ellyn for lunch at the 2Toots Grill with Santa, who’ll read his favorite story, The Polar Express. Fee includes lunch and train ticket. Geneva Train Station, 328 Crescent Place, Geneva. Info: (630) 513-6200, stcparks.org.
Candle Light Open House
Dec. 10-11, 2-6 p.m. Enjoy a 19th century style Christmas with evergreens, a roaring fire and an old fashioned Christmas tree. Holiday music, treats. Durant House Museum, 8 Indiana St., St. Charles, (630) 377-6424, ppfv.org/durant.
Bird Walks at Volo Bog State Natural Area
Dec. 11, 8 a.m. Dress for the weather; bring binoculars/field guides or some available. Walk 1-3 hours, depending on weather and luck in birding. Registration requested. Parking lot, Volo Bog State Natural Area, 28478 W. Brandenburg Road, Ingleside, (815) 344-1294, email@example.com.
Dec. 11, 5-7 p.m. First, a hike to listen for owls. Next, head inside to see a slide presentation and a live owl. Dress for the weather and walking one mile over hilly terrain. Lost Valley Visitor Center, Glacial Park Conservation Area, 6316 Harts Road, Ringwood, (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
Holiday Lights Decorating Tour
Dec. 15-28. Take a self-guided car trip with your family and friends to view the most dazzling holiday decorations in St. Charles. On Dec. 15, tour guides will be available at the Pottawatomie Community Center and online at stcparks.org. St. Charles Area homes, (630) 513-6200.
Powers-Walker Holiday Open House
Dec. 18, noon-4 p.m. Volunteers in historical attire will be on hand to answer questions at this restored Greek Revival 1854 house during the holidays. Powers-Walker House, Glacial Park, 6201 Harts Road, Ringwood, (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
Holiday Sleigh Rides
Dec 20-30, 6-7 p.m. Tractor-drawn bobsled ride around fields and trails, then cookies, hot chocolate and holiday music by the glow of a wood stove. Snow cover required. $10/ $15 nonresident. Primrose Farm, 5N726 Crane Road St., Charles, (630) 513-6200, stcparks.org.
Hanukkah Dinner & Concert
Dec. 21, 5:30-8 p.m. Ticket includes parking, a buffet dinner, Maxwell Street Klezmer Band concert, and access to the Wonderland Express exhibition. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, (847) 835-5440, chicago-botanic.org.
Winter Solstice Night Hike
Dec. 21, 6:30-8 p.m. On the longest, darkest night to the northern hemisphere, create new traditions with a luminary-lit night hike (no flashlights, please), outdoor activities and a warm campfire. Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
Volo Bog’s WinterFest
Jan. 8, 2012, noon-4 p.m. Long-standing event, with live music, storytelling, photo contest awards, crafts and snacks inside, winter bog hikes and – weather permitting – snow sculpting contests and cross-country skiing outside. Volo Bog State Natural Area, Ingleside, (815) 344-1294, friendsofvolobog.org.
All Canada Show
Jan. 12-15, Thu. 5-9 p.m.; Fri. 3-9 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun. to 4 p.m. Representatives from more than 200 of Canada’s best fishing and hunting destinations. Free seminars, including by Norm “The Great” McCreight. Pheasant Run Resort Mega Center, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles, (800) 325-6290, allcanadashow.com.
Owls of McHenry County
Jan. 13, 7-8:30 p.m. Meet live owls, share stories and folklore, and go for a short hike in search of owls. Please be on time and dress for the weather. NOTE: There is a separate but simultaneous “Owl Prowl” program for ages 8-13. Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake, mccdistrict.org.
Breakfast and Birding
Jan. 22, 8-10 a.m. Enjoy a hot beverage and a breakfast treat before setting off on a hike in search of winter birds. Bring binoculars and a field guide; limited supplies to share. Pleasant Valley, Shelter No. 1, Woodstock, mccdistrict.org.
Three Friends of Winter Bonsai Silhouette Show
Jan. 27-29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. In Japanese culture, these are bamboo, pine and plum. Create ink scrolls of bonsai silhouette shapes and the Three Friends of Winter in the sumi-e tradition. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, (847) 835-5440, chicago-botanic.org.
Nature at Night
Jan. 27, 6:30 p.m. Presentations from Northwest Suburban Astronomers, McHenry County Audubon Society, Flying Fox Conservation Fund with live fruit bat. Guided walk at 7 p.m.; storytelling; hot chocolate; campfire; more. Ages 6 & up. Free drop-in event Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake, (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
What about Weasels?
Jan. 28, 2-3:30 p.m. Find out more about the weasels that call McHenry County home. Inside hands-on portion and outside exploration. Dress for the weather. Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake, mccdistrict.org.
Frozen Zucchini 5K Snowshoe Adventure
Jan. 29, 10 a.m. From Smart Farm of Barrington. All ages/experience. Prizes, goodie bags. Citizens Park, 511 Lake Zurich Road, Barrington Area, (847) 304-3400, smartfarms.org, barrington-il.gov.
Woodstock Groundhog Days
Feb. 1-5, events daily. Kick-off Wed. 6 p.m. and continues through the week, recalling the filming in 1992 of the Bill Murray film, Groundhog Day. Check website for events and times. Historic Woodstock Square, woodstockgroundhog.org.
Winter on the Frontier
Feb. 3, 7-8:30 p.m. Stories and winter survival techniques of early natives and pioneers in the Midwest. NOTE: Separate but simultaneous “Prairie Pioneers” program for ages 6-13. Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake, mccdistrict.org.
Feb. 4-5, Sat. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Browse 25,000 square feet of quality antiques and collectibles. $6. Du Page Expo Center, 4050 E. Main St., St. Charles, (715) 526-9769, zurkopromotions.com
Winter Woods Walk
Feb. 5, 2-3:30 p.m. A hike, activities and views of winter wonders. Dress for the weather with proper footwear for walking through some snow. Picnic Shelter, Rush Creek Conservation Area, 20501 McGuire Road, Harvard, mccdistrict.org.
Old House New House Home Show
Feb. 10-12, 10 a.m. Explore 300 deluxe displays with the latest in kitchens, baths, building, remodeling and landscaping; meet award-winning contractors and creative craftsmen. Pheasant Run Resort Mega Center, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 515-1160, kennedyproductions.com.
Leslie Hindman: Demystifying the Auction Process
Feb. 16, 10 a.m. Author of Adventures at the Auction and host of “At the Auction with Leslie Hindman” and “The Appraisal Fair” on HGTV, with 10 tips for putting value on an object. Creative Living Series, Woodstock Opera House, woodstockoperahouse.com.
Feb. 17, 7-8:30 p.m. Under a hushed winter sky learn to identify a few major constellations, and listen to the stories behind them. Dress for the weather and come prepared to be outside for part of the program. Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake, mccdistrict.org.
Feb. 18, 1-2:30 p.m. There’s no better time to explore animal tracks than after a winter snowfall to see what creatures have been traveling along the woodland trails. Shelter No. 1, Marengo Ridge Conservation Area, 2411 S. Route 23, Marengo, (847) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org. ❚