Chicago Prepares to Light One Million Lights at Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival® invites visitors to two days of free, family fun to celebrate the start of the holiday season—November 17 & 18—culminating in an unforgettable tree-lighting parade.

On Saturday evening, November 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!

Beginning on Friday, November 17 from 4:00 to 8:00PM, Lights Festival Lane (401 N. Michigan Avenue) 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.

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“BMO Harris Bank is once again thrilled to share the holiday season in partnership with various organizations dedicated to gathering families and friends as we celebrate this special time of the year,” said Justine Fedak, SVP, Marketing, BMO Harris Bank. “What truly makes this celebration unforgettable for me and everyone at BMO Harris Bank is seeing people from all of our incredibly diverse neighborhoods across Chicago enjoying this festival – that’s the real magic of this event!”

The fun continues Saturday, November 18 from 11:00AM to 4:00PM. Visit the Southwest Airlines® Porch for a delightfully festive photo booth, custom-embroidered giveaways, and the chance to win a roundtrip for two on the Official Airline of The Magnificent Mile!

Stop by the Santa Chalet for a visit with Santa Claus. Warm up with complimentary treat size bag of the Garrett Mix® at the Garrett Popcorn booth, or taste the tradition with a legendary slice of Connie’s Pizza. Don’t forget dessert: decorate a free slice of cheesecake from The Eli’s Cheesecake Company with whipped cream and fun candy toppings.

Subaru will have a display at Lights Festival Lane featuring the all-new 2018 Crosstrek; and a full activation steps away on Upper Illinois Street. Guests can help themselves to hot cocoa and holiday themed giveaways, while supplies last.

Live musical performances return to the BMO Harris Bank Stage starting Saturday, November 18 at 11:30AM 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 5:30PM 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; and wave to patients from Northwestern Medicine’s elite cardiovascular program, ranked highest in Illinois for 10 straight years.

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, presented by Southwest Airlines.

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.

The nationally-televised event will be hosted by ABC 7 Eyewitness News Anchors Alan Krashesky and Cheryl Burton on Saturday, November 18 from 6 – 7 PM CST on ABC 7 Chicago and 7.2, with anchor Terrell Brown capturing the magic from the street. The broadcast opens with a performance from the cast of Broadway in Chicago’s Margaritaville, and closes with a performance from American Idol winner, Taylor Hicks.

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The Lights Festival parade will also be streamed LIVE on, and will then be available on-demand on the ABC7 Chicago website. The broadcast will air in more than 90% of markets around the United States throughout the holiday season, with repeat airings in multiple markets. Viewers can find their local broadcast times at or check their local listings to relive the magic.

Book your stay Park & Stay package at one of 21 Hilton Hotels surrounding The Magnificent Mile this holiday season. Visit The Lights Festival is also the perfect time to get a start on holiday shopping! Seasonal promotions and holiday events from area shops, restaurants, hotels, and attractions continue into the new year.

For more information, visit; and follow The Magnificent Mile on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.