Here are some of the best ways to enjoy your time off from school, or your weekends, during the holidays here in Central Illinois!
While searching for ways to entertain myself during winter break, I noticed that there wasn’t a lot to do in the good ol’ Land of Lincoln. But nevertheless, I did find a few things that certainly seem worthwhile. What I did notice though, is that most of the activities were centered around the Christian Christmas holiday. So I apologize in advance if you don’t celebrate Christmas, but I hope that you see something here that you’d like to check out any way! Also, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, what are your favorite things to do during winter break?? Tell us in the comments below or tag us @millikinect.
To get yourself into the holiday spirit, here’s a few Christmas light shows that you don’t want to miss!
1. Holiday Lights at Bunker Hill
December 9 – December 31
Kennekuk County Park
22296 A Henning Rd.
“Historic buildings at Kennekuk County Park’s “Bunker Hill Historic Area” will be lit for the occasion and decorated for the holidays. Continuing throughout the holiday season, the holiday lights will be displayed weekends from 5-8 p.m.” (source)
For more information contact the Vermillion County Conservation District Foundation.
2. Wonderland in Lights
November 27 – December 25
E. Temple Ave
Effingham, IL 62401
“Each year, the City of Effingham and the Effingham Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) turn Community Park into a winter wonderland! Wonderland in Lights, a drive-thru light display, features a variety of lighted holiday scenes including reindeer flying, Santa coming down the chimney, and a Nativity scene.” (source)
Hours are 5-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. See Effingham’s Convention and Visitors Bureau website for more information.
3. Shelbyville Festival of Lights
November 21 – December 27
East North 9th Street
Shelbyville, IL 62565
“Come to Shelbyville and take a drive through Forest Park as it is lit up for the Holiday season. These lights are put in place each year by volunteers and new lights and themed areas are added yearly. Candy Cane lane is to honor loved ones. Come enjoy the Victorian Village, Santa’s Shop, the North Pole, Bethlehem, and others.” (source)
4. Christmas with the Lincolns
December 3 – January 2
426 S. 7th St.
Springfield, IL 62701
“Where did the Lincoln boys hang their stockings for Santa to fill? What might have been in those stockings? What Christmas goodies were on Lincoln’s table? Discover how the Lincolns celebrated the holidays by taking a tour through the Lincoln Home.” (source)
Visit the National Park Service website for more information.
If you want to find out where the holiday customs and traditions like Christmas lights began Season of Light at Staerkel Planetarium is a must-see:
5. Season of Light
Parkland Staerkel Planetarium
2400 W Bradley Ave
Champaign, IL 61821
“‘Season of Light’ traces the history and development of many of the world’s holiday customs, all of which involve lighting up the winter season. “Seasons of Light” also recounts the historical religious and cultural rituals practiced during the time of winter solstice – not only Christian and Jewish, but also Celtic, Nordic, Roman, Irish, Mexican and Hopi. It also examines some of our more light-hearted seasonal traditions.” (source)
Shows Fridays December 12 and 19 and Saturdays December 13 and 20 at 8 p.m. For pricing and more information visit the Staerkel Planetarium website.
6. Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch
1356 County Rd. 2900 N.
If you’re itching to see a real, live reindeer up close and personal, head on over to Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch. “Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch is a unique and fun tour destination in Central Illinois. The ranch is an unusual and unique attraction that features a herd of authentic Alaskan reindeer ready for you to have an up-close encounter.” (source)
7. Santa’s Secret Star
Parkland Staerkel Planetarium
2400 W Bradley Ave
Champaign, IL 61821
For kids and adults alike: Santa’s lost his compass and can’t find his way home! Learn about the day and night sky and how you can find Santa’s star. (source)
Shows on Saturdays December 13, and 20 at 7pm. For pricing and more information visit the Staerkel Planetarium website.
8. Holiday Wonderland
201 Lincoln Square
“Come to Lincoln Square in Urbana and walk through the Holiday Wonderland! Over 500 Department 56 lighted houses and accessories, collection of Santas and Nativity Sets.” (source)
See Visit Champaign County website for hours.
9. State Farm Holiday Classic
IWU Shirk Center
302 E. Emerson St.
“One of the largest, coed high school holiday basketball tournaments in the nation is now in its 36th year. 64 teams will participate in this four day event, with the four championship games taking place at the IWU Shirk Center on Dec. 30.” (source)
Visit The Classic’s website for more information and a list of the teams playing.
And for all of your holiday shopping needs, check out these holiday markets:
10. Holiday Farmers Market
Illinois State Fair Grounds
“Each of the Holiday Farmers Markets will include at least 35 of vendors from central Illinois selling a wide variety of products, including pasture-raised turkeys, pork, beef, poultry, eggs, cheese, honey, and Illinois wine. Although the late fall and winter seasons are generally believed to be a time where there is very little in the way of fresh fruits and vegetables, many farmers have found inventive ways to extend their growing seasons well into the winter months.” (source)
Hours and more information available from the Illinois Stewardship Alliance.
11. Urbana Holiday Market
“At the Holiday Market you can meet the people who have locally grown and handcrafted the fresh produce, jewelry, pottery, paintings, soaps, ornaments, pet accessories and more that will be making their way under the trees and into the homes of your family and friends this holiday season!” (source)
Hours and more information from the Urbana Business Association.
12. Cross Country Skiing
Rock Springs Conservation Area
3939 Nearing Lane
“Rock Springs Center offers cross-country skiing for people ages 3 to 93. Maps are available for those unfamiliar with the designated trails. There are trails for both novice and experienced cross-country skiers. Workshops are held every weekend in January and February and require reservations.” (source)
2 hour or 24 hour rentals available.
13. Christmas at Clover Lawn
David Davis Mansion
1000 Monroe Dr.
This “The beautifully restored, nineteenth-century estate tells the story of Judge David Davis, whose influence on Abraham Lincoln’s legal and political career was crucial to President Lincoln’s success. (source)
“The David Davis Mansion State Historic Site will be lavishly decorated for Christmas and open for free public tours November 28 – December 31. Fourteen sumptuously decorated trees – count them!! – will grace the Mansion’s rooms, each echoing a different theme of the times. Visitors will also be able to view authentic Victorian–era Christmas decorations, including the same kinds of ornaments that were featured on the Downton Abbey Christmas tree during several Christmas episodes of the popular PBS television series. The Mansion will feature toys, foods, customs and traditions of Christmas in the 1870’s through 1910.” (source)
For hours see the Davis Mansion website.
Do you have activities that you enjoy doing during Winter Break that you don’t see listed here? Do you and your friends/family make your own merriment? Share in the comments below or tag us @millikinect!
Here’s to a carefree and fun break!