Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
Festival of Lights
Through Dec. 26, Fri.-Sat. 5-10 p.m., Sun.-Thu. to 9 p.m. Drive through more than a mile of lighted displays, one of the largest in northern Illinois. 1000 Ray Moses Dr., Aurora, (630) 408-5381, aurorafestivaloflights.com.
Christmas Light Spectacular
Through Dec. 30, 4 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Christmas lights set to music brighten up Pheasant Run’s Bourbon Street area. Shows run every half-hour. Santa’s Workshop crafts for children Fri.-Sat. Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles, (847) 301-8543, pheasantrun.com.
Illumination at the Arboretum
Through Jan. 1, except Mondays, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 4:30-9:30 p.m. Multicolored lights dance to symphonic music, highlighting the beauty of the arboretum’s trees in winter. Enjoy seasonal music, warm up by a crackling fire with a warm drink or roast marshmallows for s’mores. Morton Arboretum, 4100 Ill. Rt. 53, Lisle, (630) 968-0074, mortonarb.org.
St. Charles Indoor Farmers Market
Fridays through April, 9 a.m.-noon. Includes freshly harvested and locally grown fruits and vegetables, bread, meat, eggs, artisan cheeses, garden art and more. Baker Memorial Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles, (630) 584-6680, bakermemorialchurch.org.
Holidays in Long Grove
Dec. 1-23, weekends, see website for times. Enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers and musicians in costume and a Christmas parade in a small-town setting; Victorian buildings trimmed in lights. Historic Long Grove Village, Old McHenry Road, (847) 634-0888, longgroveonline.com.
Dec. 1-23, weekends, see website for times. Santa joins travelers on a train ride through the winter countryside as they sip hot chocolate and sample treats; gifts for children on the “good list;” holiday lights display. Illinois Railway Museum, 7000 Olson Road, Union, (815) 244-7245, irm.org.
A Very Merry Huntley
Dec. 1, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Enjoy horse-drawn trolley rides, a farmers market and craft fair, a book fair, kids’ crafts, caroling, cookies, live reindeer and a spaghetti dinner; Santa arrives on a fire truck and the Christmas tree is lighted. Top off the day with a holiday fireworks show. Fellowship Hall, First Congregational Church, 11528 E. Main St., Huntley, (847) 515-5262, huntley.il.us.
Woodland Santa’s Holiday Workshop
Dec. 1, 10-11:30 a.m. Watch Santa arrive with his husky team, write a letter to him, make an ornament and have your picture taken with the big guy himself. Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, 3795 Campton Hills Road, St. Charles, (630) 513-4399, stcparks.org.
Holiday Christmas Luncheon
Dec. 1-15, Sat. noon-1:30 p.m. Enjoy a buffet-style lunch celebrating various cultures and their Christmas traditions: Germany (Dec. 1), Italy (Dec. 8), New Orleans/Old South (Dec. 15). Res. req. Oscar Swan Country Inn, 1800 W. State St., Geneva, (630) 232-0173, oscarswan.com.
Teddy Bear Party
Dec. 1, 1-3 p.m. Young ones enjoy treats and tea with their favorite bear at this holiday party. Res. req. Historical Sites Commission, Sunderlage House, 1775 Vista Lane, Hoffman Estates, (847) 781-2606, hoffmanestates.org.
Celebrate the Season Festival
Dec. 1, 1-7 p.m. This family holiday festival includes sleigh rides, live reindeer, face painting, crafts and story time with Mrs. Claus and Santa. Cantigny, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton, (630) 668-5161, cantigny.org.
Dec. 1-2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Vendors offer products such as locally made jams, soaps and sweets. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, (847) 835-5440, chicagobotanic.org.
Kane County Flea Market
Dec. 1-2, Sat. noon-5 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.-4 p.m. “Jet Setter” magazine has named it one of the 10 best flea markets in the world. Hundreds of dealers help you find the perfect piece of refurbished furniture, holiday decorations, sports collectibles and antiques. Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles, (630) 584-6926, kanecountyfair.com.
Candlelight at the Inn
Dec. 1-2, 3-7 p.m. Experience the tradition of winter visits as practiced by families like the Garfields in their 1846 brick inn. Enjoy music, food and a bake sale. Garfield Farm Museum, 3N016 Garfield Road, La Fox, (630) 584-8485, garfieldfarm.org.
Christmas Brunch at Oscar Swan Inn
Dec. 2-23, Sun. 10 a.m.-noon. Enjoy a buffet-style brunch inside the cozy, fully decorated vintage country inn. Res. req. Oscar Swan Country Inn, Geneva, (630) 232-0173, oscarswan.com.
Winter Chocolate Walk
Dec. 6, 4-8 p.m. All things chocolate await you as you go from shop to shop to sample desserts, doughnuts, homemade marshmallows, chocolate-covered candy canes, mini cones and even chocolate martinis. Follow the map to visit 24 sweet stops. Begin at Blumen Gardens, 403 Edward St., Sycamore, discoversycamore.com.
Ladies Night Out
Dec. 6, 5-8 p.m. Ring in the holidays with a night of food, pampering and special promotions just for the ladies. Check in at the Legion Hall, 11712 Coral St., to receive your game board and map of participating businesses. Location: Village of Huntley & downtown businesses. Info: (847) 515-5262, huntley.il.us.
Walk with Santa
Dec. 7, 4:30 p.m. Bring the family to watch “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” then bundle up to welcome Santa, Mrs. Claus and Elf Susie. Join them for a parade through downtown Sycamore to the courthouse lawn for the lighting of the tree; children present their wish lists at Santa’s House. Sycamore Theatre, 420 W. State St., Sycamore, discoversycamore.com.
Dec. 7, 6-9:30 p.m. Take a carriage ride, enjoy roasted chestnuts, strolling carolers and the lighting of the great tree. Location: Courthouse Square and downtown Geneva. Info: Geneva Chamber of Commerce, 8 S. 3rd St., Geneva, (630) 232-6060, genevachamber.com.
Geneva Holiday House Tour
Dec. 7-8, Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. to 5 p.m. Visit five architecturally unique homes decked with boughs of holly and festive Christmas decor. Tickets include a holiday tea. Tickets/Info: Geneva Chamber of Commerce, 8 S. 3rd St., Geneva, (630) 232-6060, genevachamber.com.
Dec. 8, 10:30 a.m.-noon. Bring your dolls for a tea party with a special viewing of the museum’s Martha Mills Doll Collection. Reg. online. Arlington Heights Historical Museum, Banta House, 510 Vail St., Arlington Heights, (847) 255-1225, ahmuseum.org.
Family Holiday Tea
Dec. 8, noon. Nutcracker decor is the backdrop for this family-friendly Victorian tea and entertainment. Ages 4 and up. Reg. online. Colonel Palmer House, 660 E. Terra Cotta Ave., Crystal Lake, (815) 477-5873, crystallakeparks.org.
Second Saturday: Engineering
Dec. 8, noon-3 p.m. At this month’s Second Saturday drop-in family program, parents and kids celebrate the feats of engineering that helped make Chicago great, with hands-on building activities. McCormick House Gold Theater, Cantigny, Wheaton, (630) 668-5161, cantigny.org.
Annual Holiday Tea
Dec. 8, 1-3 p.m. Join Nancy Koutis as she brings to life the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; enjoy refreshments and music of the season. Elgin Public Museum, 225 Grand Blvd., Elgin, (847) 741-6655, elginpublicmuseum.org.
Dec. 8, 2-3:30 p.m. Enjoy tea and punch in the Banta House, decorated in Christmas splendor. Res. online. Arlington Heights Historical Museum, Banta House, 110 W. Freemont St., Arlington Heights, (847) 255-1225, ahmuseum.org.
Festival of Arts & Crafts
Dec. 8-9, Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. 1 a.m.-4 p.m. Featuring quality handcrafted treasures by 200 artists from six states, including indoor and outdoor furniture, painted windows, purses, stained glass, hand-poured soap, woven baskets and home furnishings. Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, (847) 301-8543, visitstcharles.com.
Lego Train Show
Dec. 8-9, Sat. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. to 4 p.m. Trains, stations, buildings all made of Lego bricks. Cantigny, Wheaton, (630) 668-5161, cantigny.org.
Dec. 8-9, 1-4 p.m. Spend an afternoon talking about the hearth and the holidays at this restored living history museum representing the lifestyle and furnishings of the 1840s. Durant House Museum, 8 Indiana St., St. Charles, (630) 377-6424, ppfv.org/durant.
Tea at the Museum
Dec. 8-9, 2-3:30 p.m. Enjoy sandwiches, sweets, tea and beautiful harp music in the historic Banta House. Reg. online. Arlington Heights Historical Museum, Banta House, Arlington Heights, (847) 255-1225, ahmuseum.org.
Holiday Open House
Dec. 9, 1-4 p.m. Refreshments, crafts for all ages, Santa and live holiday music by the Fox Valley Orchestra Woodwind Quintet. West Branch Library, 233 S. Constitution Dr., Aurora, (630) 844-8695, aurora.libnet.info.
Crafting the Holidays
Dec. 10, 6-7:30 p.m. Children make a homemade gift they can take home during craft time. Reg. online. Arlington Heights Historical Museum, 110 W. Freemont St., Arlington Heights, (847) 255-1225, ahmuseum.org.
Holiday Gingerbread House
Dec. 14, 6-8 p.m. All the materials are provided for families to make their own gingerbread house. Reg. online. Arlington Heights Historical Museum, Arlington Heights, (847) 255-1225, ahmuseum.org.
Family Fun Fest
Dec. 28-31, Fri.-Sun. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Mon. noon-8 p.m. A variety of interactive activities for the family, including a 51,000-square-foot indoor amusement playground. Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, (847) 301-8543, pheasantrun.com.
Happy Noon Year Party
Dec. 29, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Children ages 3-6 ring in the New Year with games, stories, holiday food and dancing. Reg. online. Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove, Elgin, (847) 742-2411, gailborden.info.
Wild New Year’s Eve Party
Dec. 31, 11 a.m. Who’s awake to celebrate and who’s hibernating? Meet the animals and share a toast at noon. Reg. online. Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, 3795 Campton Hills Road, St. Charles, (630) 513-4399, stcparks.org.
New Year’s Eve Celebrations
Dec. 31-Jan. 1, 4 p.m. Welcome the new year with dinner, dancing, an ’80s costume contest and more. Res. req. Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, (847) 301-8543, pheasantrun.com.
Winter on the Farm
Jan. 6, 2-4 p.m. Venture out into a winter wonderland as you greet the animals and visit with the farm staff. Help with winter livestock chores, tromp around the lantern-lit farmyard and drop into the kitchen for hot chocolate, cookies and festive music. Wagon rides available. Reg. req. Primrose Farm, 5N726 Crane Road, St. Charles, (630) 513-6200, st-charlesparks.org.
Lake Geneva Winterfest
Jan. 26-Feb. 3. During the two-week festival, watch 15 teams of sculptors and artists create works of art out of huge snow blocks in the national snow sculpting competition, enjoy live music, food, a human dog sled race, live magic and illusion show, helicopter rides, tours of Maxwell Mansion, a chili cook-off and the Cocoa Crawl in downtown Lake Geneva. Lake Geneva, visitlakegeneva.com/winterfest.
Abominable Snow Race
Feb. 2-3. The Midwest’s premier winter obstacle race challenges participants with 4-6 miles of snowy terrain, more than 20 winter-themed obstacles and potentially abominable weather. Blending fitness, family and fun, with lots to do before and after the race. Reg. online. Devil’s Head Resort, S6330 Bluff Road, Merrimac, Wis., (608) 493-2251, devilsheadresort.com.