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Holidays in Rockford, IL: Experience the Magic of the Season

Welcome to Rockford, IL—where the holiday spirit comes to life! Nestled in the heart of the Midwest, our city comes alive with holiday cheer and festive activities, making it the perfect destination to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. From the iconic Stroll on State to a unique collection of other magical experiences, we have everything you need to create cherished memories this holiday season.

Stroll on State: A Rockford Tradition

Every year, on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, Rockford comes alive with the much-anticipated Stroll on State. Dubbed as the Midwest’s best holiday Fest, this is the region’s largest holiday celebration and marks the official start of the holiday season in the region. This extraordinary event, held in downtown Rockford, is a free community event featuring a parade, fireworks, tree lighting, musical performances, surprise visits from Santa, and so much more! Come, be part of the magic and wonder that Stroll on State brings to Rockford.

Stroll on State Tree Lighting

Christmas Lights Displays

As the winter nights grow longer, Rockford transforms into a shimmering tapestry of holiday magic. From elegantly adorned parks to intricately decorated neighborhoods, Rockford's festive spirit shines through every twinkling light. Embark on a journey through this winter wonderland and let the brilliance of the season captivate your heart.

Festival of Lights

For 34 years, the Festival of Lights at Sinnissippi Park has been a must-visit for visitors and locals alike. What started with just 11 displays has now bloomed into an astounding collection of over 85 dazzling exhibits! These displays are lovingly created by local individuals, community organizations, or businesses. You won't want to miss this spectacular drive-through Christmas light display.

Festival of Lights

Illuminated at Anderson Japanese Gardens

Step into a world of enchantment at Anderson Gardens' wintertime display, Illuminated! Marvel at the captivating display of dramatic up-lighting and thousands of twinkling white string lights, weaving their magic through the garden's landscape. 

Visitors can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, the perfect companion to your evening stroll. And for those in search of a bite, don’t miss the made-to-order wood fire pizza, available every single night! Illuminate your senses and make this winter a memory to cherish at Anderson Gardens.

Illuminated Lights at Anderson Japanese Gardens

Snømarket 2023 at The Norwegian

Bundle up and join us outside The Norwegian's annual winter Snømarket. This event is free and open to the public. Enjoy a mug of homemade glögg, hot chocolate, æbleskiver, lefse, fish on a stick, and more. Take a free horse-drawn carriage ride through historic Churchills grove, play events like our herring toss and molkky, sing Christmas carole-oke, or just sit by the fire pit and listen to Chef Kent tell Viking stories. 


All Aglow at Nicholas Conservatory

Experience the holiday magic at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens! Wander through the outdoor gardens and be transported to a world of sparkling lights. Among the familiar favorites of trees and shrubs adorned with twinkling lights, there are delightful new surprises awaiting your discovery. Behold elegant, hand-crafted illuminated stars and an impressive lineup of 50 jumbo-lighted candy canes, all lovingly created by our dedicated Conservatory staff.

This event is open to the public, and while admission is free, donations are gratefully accepted. Keep an eye out for the distinctive purple donation poles within the display or choose to contribute online. It's an opportunity to spread holiday cheer and support the Conservatory's enchanting holiday tradition.

All Aglow

Christmas Concerts

Celebrate the holidays with RSO Holiday Pops! You won’t want to miss this sensational program of seasonal favorites, traditional carols, and plenty of yuletide cheer. 

Prepare to be enchanted as the renowned pianist Jim Brickman graces Rockford once more this winter season with his brand-new holiday extravaganza, “A Joyful Christmas.” Immerse yourself in an evening filled with the melodies of Yuletide carols, timeless holiday classics, and Brickman's chart-topping hits. 

Gift Shopping

Shopping for the perfect gift can be hard when you don’t know where to start. Luckily, Rockford has plenty to choose from.

With over 60 vendors, you’re sure to find plenty of delightful stocking stuffers at the Holiday Blitz Craft and Vendor Show. 

Waited a little too long to go shopping? The Last-Minute Market welcomes all last-minute shoppers to an indoor arts and crafts fair. Serving as the ultimate craft fair of the holiday season, this event provides a golden opportunity to snag those final items before the festivities begin.

Nearby Holiday Cheer

Stop by the Village of Roscoe for a dose of small-town fun at their Hometown Holiday Celebration. Enjoy festive music, meet adorable baby reindeer, engage in games and win prizes, and let the kids unleash their creativity with crafts at the Fire Station. Food trucks will line Main Street Square, ensuring delectable treats for all. At Village Hall, children can pen heartfelt letters to Santa. To culminate the evening, join the joyful caroling as the Community Holiday Tree is illuminated in all its splendor.

A local tradition, the first weekend of December is dedicated to the Rockton Christmas Walk. Local businesses go above and beyond, providing one-of-a-kind events, exclusive shopping experiences, and a plethora of holiday merriment. There are three main events that are absolute must-sees: the enchanting Lighted Displays, the dazzling Lighted Parade, and the delightful Hot Cocoa Crawl at Village Hall.

Where to See Santa

Looking for Santa? Rockford has plenty of chances to see the jolly man himself!  

If you don’t catch him at Stroll on State, you can visit him at Santa’s Workshop at Cherryvale Mall.

Make a full day out of your visit to Santa at Williams Tree Farm. In addition to telling St. Nick what’s on your list, you can shop for a Christmas tree and ornaments while sipping hot cocoa, making for a wonderful new tradition. 

Experience the magic of the holidays in Rockford, IL. Join us for Stroll on State and create memories that will last a lifetime. Start planning your trip today!



Celebrate the Merry & Bright season in the Rockford region!

Cool off with some fun in the snow or warm up with a hot cup of coffee or hot cocoa. There are plenty of local, family-friendly events and attractions to keep you busy all winter long! And don't forget to check out our Holiday Gift Guide if you're running low on ideas this season!