Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
Through Jan. 2, 5-9:30 p.m. This annual display transforms a Chicago-area wintertime walk in the woods into a colorful, inspiring experience like no other. Morton Arboretum, 4100 Ill. Rt. 53, Lisle. Info: (630) 968-0074, mortonarb.org.
Nov. 27-Dec. 31, Thu.-Sat. 5-9 p.m. Stroll the museum grounds and experience a magical holiday lights celebration. Presented by The Sunrise Rotary Club of Naperville. Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. Info: (630) 420-6010, napersettlement.org.
North School Park Light Display
Starts Nov. 27. A highly detailed light display centered around an evergreen tree on the park’s fountain. Downtown Arlington Heights. Info: (847) 577-3000, ahpd.org.
Festival of Lights Holiday Parade
Nov. 27, 7 p.m. Decorated floats, marchers, music and Santa’s arrival. More than 50 parade entries in this lighted nighttime parade. Five categories of awards, trophies distributed to winning businesses, organizations and individuals. Downtown Crystal Lake. Info: (815) 479-0835, downtowncl.org.
Dickens of a Christmas Celebration
Nov. 27, 6 p.m. Ring in the holiday with this time-honored tradition, including the tree lighting ceremony, lighted holiday parade, carriage rides, visits with Santa and more. Front Street, downtown Wheaton. Info: (630) 682-0633, downtownwheaton.com.
Lighting of the Square
Nov. 27, 7 p.m. Tree lighting, late-night shopping and dining, and a visit from Santa. Caroling before and after. Woodstock Square. Info: (815) 338-4300, woodstock-il.org.
Nov. 27-28. Fri. 5 p.m. Lights come on at First Street Plaza. Sat. all day. Family activities downtown include a movie at Arcada Theatre, horse-drawn sleigh rides and the Holiday Electric Parade at 5:30 p.m. Downtown St. Charles. Info: (630) 443-3967, downtownstcharles.org.
Aurora Festival of Lights
Nov. 27-Dec. 27, Sun.-Thu. 5-9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 5-10 p.m. Witness the more than 200 displays at the largest outdoor holiday light display in northern Illinois. Phillips Park, 1000 Ray Moses Drive, Aurora. Info: (630) 408-5381, auorafestivaloflights.com.
Christmas on the Fox
Nov. 28-29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Juried show of more than 90 handmade art and crafts exhibits. Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles. Info: (815) 772-3279, artoftheheartlandinc.com.
Nov. 28-29, 12:30-3:30 p.m. Learn to make bright, colorful, hard candies; take home recipes to start your own holiday tradition. Programs begin on the half-hour. Kline Creek Farm, 1N600 County Farm Road, West Chicago. Info: (630) 876-5900, dupageforest.com.
Nov. 29, 2 p.m. The parade around the square officially heralds Santa’s arrival. Woodstock Square. Info: (815) 338-4300, woodstock-il.org.
Celebration of Lights
Nov. 29, 5:30 p.m. Hayrides, hot food and drinks, community sing-along, photos with Santa, story hour and ceremonial tree lighting. Batavia Riverwalk and Peg Bond Pavilion, 151 N. Island Ave., Batavia. Info: (630) 879-5235, bataviaparks.org.
Little Friends Holiday Parade of Lights
Nov. 29, 4 p.m. entertainment, 5 p.m. parade. Festivities, brightly lit floats, musical entertainment, Santa and Mrs. Claus’ arrival. Begins Water & Webster streets, north on Main, left on Van Buren, ends at Naper School. Downtown Naperville. Info: (630) 544-3372, downtownnaperville.com.
Winter Chocolate Walk
Dec. 3, 5-8 p.m. Enjoy the quaint downtown shops and sample chocolate treats, from hot chocolate and chocolate martinis to truffles and fudge. Get your guide cards signed at each stop to enter a raffle basket drawing. Downtown Sycamore. Info: (815) 895-3456, discoversycamore.com.
Walk With Santa
Dec. 4, 6 p.m. Parade with Santa, Mrs. Claus and elves through downtown Sycamore to the courthouse lawn, where Santa will light the holiday tree and listen to children’s wish lists. Begins at State Street Theater, Downtown Sycamore. Info: discoversycamore.com.
Christmas Walk & House Tour
Dec. 4-5, Fri. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. to 5 p.m. Welcome the Christmas holiday with arrival of Santa Lucia and tree lighting ceremony. Self-guided tours of five distinctive homes decorated for the holidays. Downtown Geneva. Info: (630) 232-6060, genevachamber.com.
Celebrate the Season Holiday Festival
Dec. 5, 4-7 p.m. Lighted decorations, sleigh rides, live reindeer, carolers, crafts and more. Cantigny Park, 1S151 S. Winfield Road, Wheaton. Info: (630) 668-5161, cantigny.org.
Santa’s Arrival & Tree Lighting
Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Take photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, meet giant gingerbread people, ride carriages and trolleys, watch village tree lighting. Events at Foundry Shopping Center, Ice House Mall, Shops on Lageschulte, and Village Center. Info: (847) 304-3400, enjoybarrington.com.
Santa’s Frozen Fingers
Dec. 5, 10:30 a.m. shotgun start. Annual charity golf outing, this year benefitting Toys for Tots. Players bringing in a toy receive a free round of golf for 2016 season. Pheasant Run Golf Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. Info: (630) 584-6300, pheasantrungolfresort.com.
Dec. 5, noon-5 p.m. Peek inside the festively decorated windows of downtown businesses, see Santa, skate on the outdoor rink. Tree lighting at 5 p.m. Downtown Elgin. Info: (847) 4880-1456, downtownelgin.com.
Kane County Flea Market
Dec. 5-6, Sat. noon-5 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Up to 1,000 dealers display and sell antiques, collectibles & shabby chic. Country breakfast served on Sundays. Kane County Fairgrounds, St. Charles. Info: (630) 584-6926, kanecountyfair.com.
Happy Holiday Railway
Dec. 5-6, 12-13, Sat.-Sun. Take a magical train ride to visit Santa Claus and his elves at the Toy Workshop. Those on Santa’s “good” list get a gift. Illinois Railway Museum, 7000 Olson Road, Union. Info: (815) 244-7245, irm.org.
Dec. 5-20, Sat.-Sun. 2-6 p.m. Holiday classics, festive decorations, crafts, snacks, hayride, visit Santa. Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora. Info: (630) 892-1550, foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.
Dec. 6, 5-7 p.m. An informative presentation, a hike to listen for owls, meeting with a live owl. Hilly terrain; dress for the weather. Lost Valley Visitor Center, Glacial Park, 6316 Harts Road, Ringwood. Info: (815) 338-6223, mccdistrict.org.
Polar Express Storytime Train
Dec. 6, 9:30 a.m.-noon, 1:30-4 p.m. Kids travel to the North Pole to pick up Santa and his friends, return to Geneva for lunch or dinner at Front Street Cantina, then pose for photos with Santa. Festive pajamas encouraged. Registration required. Info: (630) 232-4542, genevaparks.org. Train departs Geneva Metra station.
Winter Nature Walk/Snowshoe
Dec. 6 & 20, 5-6:30 p.m. Enjoy a guided nature walk along the solar-lit path, learn about winter ecology and possibly hear hoots and howls. Old School, 28285 St. Mary’s Road, Mettawa. Info: (847) 968-3321, lcfpd.org.
Introduction to Snowshoeing
Dec. 9, 7-8 p.m. Indoor lesson on the best ways to dress, where you can go and necessary equipment. Lost Valley Visitor Center, Ringwood. Info: (815) 678-4532, mccdistrict.org.
Dec. 10, 7-9 p.m. Learn how to make your own recycled paper and then turn it into beautiful holiday ornaments, decorations and greeting cards. Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Road, Crystal Lake. Info: (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
Night of the Luminaria
Dec. 12, 6-10 p.m. The streets, steps and sidewalks of downtown Galena will be lined with nearly 5,000 candle-lit luminaria. Various streets, downtown Galena. Info: (877) 464-2536, galena.org.
Holiday House Tour
Dec. 14 & 15, 6-8:30 p.m. Tour the entries for the Holiday House Decorating Contest and vote for your favorite. Various locations in Schaumburg. Info: (847) 985-2115, parkfun.com.
Saturday with Santa
Dec. 15, 1-3 p.m. Visit with Santa, create a holiday craft with his elves, sip hot cocoa, warm your feet by the fire. Peck Farm Park, 4038 Kaneville Road, Geneva. Info: (630) 232-4542, genevaparks.org.
Solstice Night Hike
Dec. 20, 6:30-8 p.m. Investigate old ways to celebrate this celestial event while creating new traditions, including a candlelight night hike and warm campfire. Dress warmly, no flashlights, only candles. Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake. Info: (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
Sunset Snowshoe Hike
Jan. 2, 4-5:30 p.m. Take a snowshoe trek and venture out across windswept fields to visit an out-of-the-way corner of the farm. Primrose Farm, 5N726 Crane Road, St. Charles. Info: (630) 513-6200, st-charlesparks.org.
Owls of McHenry County
Jan. 8, 7-8:30 p.m. Live owls, stories/folklore, short hike in search of owls. Dress for the weather. Separate, simultaneous program for ages 6-13. Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake. Info: (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
Intro to Ice Fishing
Jan. 9, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Learn how to ice fish as well as what gear to bring and how to remain safe. Prairie Education Center, Crystal Lake. Info: (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
It’s a Wonderful Time of the Year
Jan. 10, 3-4:30 p.m. Hike, winter games, search for winter inhabitants. Dress for weather. Ages 7 & up. Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake. Info: (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
Jan. 15-Feb. 21, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Two levels of trains traveling through the beauty of four seasons. Free with admission. Morton Arboretum, Lisle. Info: (630) 968-0074, mortonarb.org.
Woodstock Groundhog Days
Jan. 29-Feb. 8, events daily. Festivities kick off 6 p.m. Wed. and continue throughout the week, including Woodstock Willie with his weather prediction. Many activities celebrate the town’s role in the 1993 film “Groundhog Day.” See website for full list events/times. Historic Woodstock Square. Info: (815) 334-2620, woodstockgroundhog.org.
Winter on the Frontier
Feb. 5, 7-8:30 p.m. Hear the stories and winter survival techniques of earlier times. Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake. Info: (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
Walk with a Naturalist: Van Patten
Feb. 6, 9-10 a.m. A one-hour guided nature hike of the DPR trail. Van Patten Woods, Wadsworth. Info: (847) 968-3321, lcfpd.org.
Sunset Snowshoe Hike
Feb. 6, 4:30-6 p.m. Take a snowshoe trek and venture out across windswept fields to visit an out-of-the-way corner of the farm. Primrose Farm, 5N726 Crane Road, St. Charles. Info: (630) 513-6200, st-charlesparks.org.
Bald Eagle Bus Tour
Feb. 13 & 27, 8 a.m. A four-hour exploration of five bald eagle wintering communities. Reservations required. Stoney Creek Inn, 940 Galena Square Dr., Galena. Info: (877) 464-2536, galena.org.
Winter Woods Walk
Feb. 27, 2:30-4 p.m. A walk in the cool, crisp air to watch for winter wonders. Dress for the weather and for walking through snow. Pleasant Valley, 13315 Pleasant Valley Road, Woodstock. Info: (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.