My favorite tradition growing up was going to see holiday lights with my family. We would pack into the car, turn on the Muppets Christmas album with John Denver in cassette form (I am definitely aging myself) and drive around Rockford looking at lights with a tin of freshly baked sugar cookies. The festive music paired with the beautiful lights makes brings out my inner child. Rockford has no shortage of beautiful twinkling displays to choose from and enjoy.
Situated along the Rock River, the Nicholas Conservatory’s All Aglow light display is one of the most beautiful displays I have ever seen. It's the picture perfect photo spot and a beautiful holiday walk and there's no charge for admission. There's a food truck on site where you can purchase hot chocolate and bring a steaming cup to keep you warm through your magical stroll. There's over 300,000 lights to enjoy and All Aglow is until until January 7, 2024.
Across the street from All Aglow is the Festival of Lights which I have driven through every year. The drive through the light tunnel is spectacular. The Festival of Lights has been illuminating Sinnissippi Park with over 85 Christmas light displays! Displays are created and sponsored by local families, non-profits and businesses, adding new and exciting displays to look forward to each year. Pile in your family vehicle, wrap up in cozy blankets and sip on some hot cocoa as you drive through this one-of-a-kind experience. If you don't have a cassette tape of holiday music, or music on your phone, you can tune to a radio station playing only holiday music. On weekends you may spy the Snow Queen or Santa along the way. Admission is free and the Festival of Lights is open until December 31.
Anderson Gardens' Illuminated is a winter wonderland that is another holiday tradition I have added for my family. The white lights are classic and the uplighting of blues and purples reflect on the pond in the center of the gardens perfectly. The lights paired with the Japanese Gardens and hot drinks from Rockford Roasting are just magical. Admission is $13 for adults and $11 for children. Illuminated is open until December 30 and is open from 5-8:30 p.m.
Downtown Rockford Light Displays
Downtown Rockford is has an almost 50 foot decorated tree, light up for Stroll on State, which is always the weekend after Thanksgiving. The holiday decorations from Stroll on State are a wonder to behold. There's giant presents, three lit trees and so much more. There's still a few days to do some holiday shopping in downtown Rockford or take a break from cooking and eat at a downtown restaurant. Afterwards, get a photo by a tree or one of the present boxes.