In Chicago, there’s no better way to kick off the holiday season than by attending the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on Nov. 18. With family-friendly activities, a tree-lighting ceremony with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, performances by top musical artists, and fireworks over the Chicago River, it’s hard to find a better way to get that warm holiday feeling.
Beginning on Friday, Nov. 17 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Lights Festival Lane (401 N. Michigan Ave.) offers a range of holiday-themed activities. BMO Harris Bank invites visitors to an expanded BMO Harris Kid’s Zone tent, featuring face painting with holiday designs and a special fast lane for BMO customers. Family and friends can get their photo taken with fun props which will be printed and available to share via social media. Kids can enjoy a decoration station for their photos.
On Saturday evening, Nov.18, grand marshals Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from Walt Disney World® Resort help illuminate more than one million lights along The Magnificent Mile, from Oak Street to the Chicago River!
Live musical performances return to the BMO Harris Bank Stage starting Saturday, Nov. 18 at 11:30 a.m. with family-favorite Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players. The lineup also includes singer/songwriter Alec Joseph; and country music trio Temecula Road, presented by Southwest Airlines®. A limited number of wristbands are available for meet-and-greets with Alec Joseph at the BMO Harris Kid’s Zone; and Temecula Road at the Southwest Airlines Porch.
Saturday’s festivities lead up to the much-anticipated tree-lighting parade, the country’s largest evening holiday celebration. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. as grand marshals Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse join classic characters from Walt Disney World® Resort, including Woody and Jessie from Toy Story; and more than 40 magnificent floats, helium-filled balloons, and six marching bands from across the country.
Crowd favorites return to the route, including the larger-than-life Hubert the Lion balloon from BMO Harris Bank and popular Chicago team mascots Benny the Bull, Tommy the Hawk, and more.
The popular scent of Garrett Popcorn Shop’s popcorn infused from the shop’s float wafts down the route. New this year, Frango Mint presents a fresh look with a mint-colored float, complete with Frango Mint Chocolate Pearls for the crowd. Look out for another Chicago favorite, the Blackhawks Blues Mobile.
Celebrity appearances include Asher Angel, star of the Disney Channel’s “Andi Mack;” singer-songwriter, Alec Joseph; American singer, Billy Gilman; American Idol finalist, Melinda Doolittle; jazz singer, Shemekia Copeland; and country music trio, Temecula Road.
Santa Claus soars down the route on a float from Walgreens to officially signal the start of the holiday season. The Lights Festival draws to a grand conclusion with a spectacular fireworks display over the Chicago River.