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light up the lake experience 1

Oct. 7, 2021 | Family-friendly event runs Nov. 26-Jan. 2 at Chicago’s iconic lakefront destination; Tickets go on sale Oct. 25

Navy Pier to Launch Light Up the Lake, an Indoor Holiday Light-sculpture Experience

Please be aware that the content on this webpage was authored more than 6 months ago, so some information may be outdated or no longer accurate. Please visit our event calendar for information on current events.

CHICAGO — Navy Pier will brighten the winter season with Light Up the Lake, an indoor, temperature-controlled experience, featuring large-scale light-sculpture displays, comprising more than 600,000 twinkling lights; an Alpine ice rink, authentic holiday beer garden, kiddie train rides, Santa’s Village and gift market and other family-friendly events. Offering something for everyone, Light Up the Lake will run from Nov. 26 through Jan. 2, in Festival Hall at Navy Pier. Special themed events, including date nights, are also planned.

Individual ticket sales begin Oct. 25 at Every ticket comes with a free ride on the Centennial Wheel, and visitors are invited to experience all the free amenities and attractions—indoors and out—at Navy Pier, which will be decked out for the season. Catered parties for groups of 20 or more can be arranged now by emailing

Transforming more than 100,000 square feet of Navy Pier’s expansive Festival Hall, Light Up the Lake will also offer sit-down dining with holiday-themed eats, signature cocktails, and seasonal brews. Grab-and-go meals and snacks will be available throughout the event space.

Light Up the Lake will be open from 3-9 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays through Dec. 19, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily from Dec. 20 through Jan. 2. The holiday event will close at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. It will be closed on Christmas Day.

Light Up the Lake will incorporate some popular attractions of Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest, such as the ice rink and kiddie train rides, but other elements, such as the bounce houses, have been eliminated in the wake of the pandemic. Other covid protocols, such as face masks and social distancing, may be in place in accordance with CDC guidance at the time of the visit.

Holiday Parties and Group Events

Several party packages will be available for corporate, social and other groups looking to gather for the holiday season.  The Light Up the Lake website will have a button to click and direct them to Light Up the Lake sales professionals. Groups of 20 or more will have early access to tickets and discounts by booking through Guests can plan a complete experience, including catered family or office holiday parties, by emailing

Light-Sculpture Experience

The area’s largest indoor light show, boasting more than 600,000 lights, will feature oversized sculptures with holiday and toy box themes, including a giant Teddy Bear, a deer soaring 25-foot, high, 60-foot light tunnel and 40-foot tree. There will even be an oversized rubber duckie, who will greet skaters near the ice rink.

Alpine Ice Rink 

Guests are invited to come early, stay late and take a spin on the Alpine ice rink. Guests can bring their own skates, but skates will be available at no extra charge, pending availability. Lockers also will be available.

Santa’s Village

Kids can jump on the Holiday Train and explore Santa’s Village where they can share their holiday wish with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, and meet Santa’s friends, neighbors, street performers and toymakers. Photo opportunities are available throughout. The European-style holiday market will offer seasonal wares, novelties, treats and unique holiday gifts. Guests are encouraged to visit Jolly Olde Post Office where they can post a letter to Santa.

Holiday Beer Garden

The Holiday Beer Garden offers old-world Bavarian charm with seasonal craft beers, winter cocktails and delicious giant soft pretzels. Grab-and-go menu items will also be available throughout the experience.

Centennial Wheel

Each ticket includes a ride on Navy Pier’s iconic 200-foot Centennial Wheel, offering 360-degree views of the decorated city and frosty Lake Michigan. Guests can ride during their Light Up the Lake visit, weather permitting, but the ticket—an $18 value—is valid through March 31, 2022.

About Navy Pier

Located on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is the top nonprofit tourism destination in the Midwest, stretching more than six city blocks and typically welcoming nearly 9 million annual guests. Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, this Chicago landmark showcases more than 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities and more.

The Pier celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016 with the unveiling of the iconic Centennial Wheel, Polk Bros Park, Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion. In 2021, Navy Pier continued to usher in its second century with ongoing Pier-wide redevelopment efforts—including Sable, a 223-room Hilton hotel, new restaurants and partnerships, and thrilling additions to Pier Park. The Pier is also proud to continue providing free, year-round arts and cultural programming designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe. Click here to donate to Navy Pier, a mission-driven 501(c)(3) organization, in support of the organization’s post-pandemic revival and free public programming. For more information, visit


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