Central Illinois loves the holidays! Celebrate the holidays with us this year by checking out one of the many fun events happening around the area. From the nation's longest-running holiday parade to the new Magical Cirque Christmas coming to the Peoria Civic Center, there is something for everyone to enjoy! 

Christmas On Court

Caterpillar Holiday Display: Nov. 7th - Dec. 29th 

Searching for the perfect backdrop for your holiday cards this year? Head out to the Caterpillar Visitors Center to take your picture in front of the massict cat PM 313 Cold Planer wrapped in twinkling lights! 

When: November 7th - December 29th normal business hours. 

Where: The Caterpillar Visitors Center, Downtown Peoria, IL

Pricing: Regular Admission Prices apply

Parade of Lights: Nov. 16th 

The Parade of Lights kicks off the start of the Festival of Lights and the holiday season here in Central Illinois. Approximately 30 lighted floats will illuminate the streets of East Peoria along Washington Street, turning onto Taylor Street and ending at Springfield Road at the Post office. Special guests, the Budweiser Clydesdales will be in the parade, weather permitting! 

When: November 16th at 5:45 p.m. 

Where: Washington Street, East Peoria, IL

Pricing: Free! 

More Info: Read more about this Central Illinois tradition on our blog

Narrated Nativity Scene: Nov. 22nd - Dec. 31st 

This beautiful handmade attraction - maintained by a dedicated volunteer base - details the "reason for the season." Tune into 87.9 FM to hear a two-minute narration of the original Christmas story!

The narrated Nativity Scene at the intersection of Taylor Street and Springfield Road is open 24 hours a day through the holidays. It features five realistic scenes. The original structures were created on plywood by local artists for the first Festival of Lights in 1985. Because of deterioration in storage, the scenes were restored as vinyl prints mounted to aluminum backing in 1999, giving the added advantage that the displays take on a three-dimensional appearance at night. Unlike the rest of the Festival of Lights, the nativity project is funded exclusively by private donations through the Nativity Display Association. The maintenance annually is about $1,200. Those wishing to contribute to the upkeep of the scenes can mail a check payable to Nativity Display Association to John Salzer, 105 Reinders Rd., East Peoria, IL 61611.  

When: November 22nd - December 31st 

Where: Intersection of Taylor Street and Springfield Road, East Peoria, IL

Pricing: Free! 

Folepi's Winter Wonderland: Nov. 23rd - Dec. 31st 

Celebrate the holidays with a million sparkles of excitement as one of the largest lighted, nighttime festivals in the midwest. Drive-through this spectacular holiday attraction in an electric park featuring lighted displays and floats. Featured floats are skiers, prehistoric area, circus area, Clydesdales, western town, victorian area, patriotic area, space area, castle, reindeer area, sea world, vehicles, and Christmas Toys. Tune in 107.3 FM for festive holiday music while you drive!

When: November 23rd - December 31st 

  • Sunday - Thursday: 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

  • Friday and Saturday: 5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

Where: 123 Par 3 Ln, East Peoria, IL

Pricing: Cash, Credit, & Debit Cards accepted

  • Cars, trucks, & vans - $10

  • Small bus (party, shuttle, mini or school) - $30

  • Full-size charter buses - $150

  • Winter Wonderland bus tour guides are available for a $30 - reservation only. 

More Info: Read more about this Central Illinois tradition on our blog

132nd Annual Santa Claus Parade & Yule Like Peoria: Nov. 29th 

The Santa Claus Parade is the nation's longest-running holiday parade! This Peoria tradition takes a magical journey through the downtown streets of Peoria. Over 85 units of costumed character, novelty walking units, horse units, and decorated floats will surely get you in the holiday spirit and bring delight to the children along the route. The Yule Like Peoria walk-about features refreshments and various forms of holiday entertainment in the beautifully decorated business area of downtown Peoria. 

When: November 29th at 10:15 a.m. 

Where: Downtown Peoria, Peoria, IL

Pricing: Free! 

Caterpillar Holiday Express Santa Luncheon: Nov. 29th 

Come warm up at the Caterpillar Visitors Center are the Annual Santa Claus Parade! Santa and Mrs. Claus will hop off their sleigh and head inside to visit with the children. It's a one-of-a-kind photo opp in front of the massive Cat PM 313 Cold Planer all decked out for the holidays. 

Make sure to get your tickets for this special event which will include admission to all exhibits, lunch, sweets, and access to the EXPRESS Santa Claus line. 

When: November 29th at 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. 

Where: The Caterpillar Visitors Center, Downtown Peoria, IL

Pricing: Buy tickets here!

  • Adult Tickets: $17

  • Child Ticket: $10

FOLEPI River Trail Classic: Nov. 30th 

Hit the holiday season running in this 4-mile competitive run and 2-mile non-competitive walk along the River Trail of Illinois. The 29th annual run is a point-to-point downhill race that attracts participants from throughout the country. It is open to men, women, and children of all ages. Awards will be presented to the top three overall male and female finishers and the top three male and female finishers in five-year age divisions from ages 10 to 75. No awards are presented in the two-mile walk. The post-race party will occur at Mickie's Pizzeria. All River Trail Classic finishers will receive pizza, and those age 21 and over will receive a free beer. 

When: November 30th 

Where: The River Trail of Illinois, East Peoria, IL

Pricing: Click here to register

  • With shirt through 11/28: $40

  • Without shirt through 11/28: $20

Folepi's Gifts Galore Shop & Stroll: Nov. 30th

Find the perfect gift during Folepi's Gifts Galore Shop & Stroll in the Historic Four Corners District and adjacent areas. Visit the unique participating businesses featuring handcrafted items, jewelry, and more. Have a bite to eat, purchase a gift for someone (or yourself), take a free horse-drawn carriage ride with Santa and get Free Balloon Art by The Unique Twist! The East Peoria Community High School Chorale will sing carols. 

Those who spend $25 or more at the participating businesses will receive a coupon to enter the Folepi's Winter Wonderland drive-through display for free! 

When: November 30th 

Where: Four Corners District, East Peoria, IL

Pricing: Free!

10th Annual Kristkindlemarkt: Nov. 30th - Dec. 1st 

Experience old world Christmas magic at Harmonie's 10th Annual Kristkindlemarkt at The Lindenhof. There will be live entertainment everyday along with food and beverages. Typical of the Kristkindlmarkts will also be available for purchase: bratwurst, weinerschnitzel, homemae strudel, gluhwein, hot chocolate, hot cider, Bavaria pretzels, and German beer. The Kristkindl/Santa Claus will be available each day handing out candy canes to the little ones. 

When: November 30th - December 1st 

Where: The Lindenhof, Peoria, IL

Pricing: Free! 

More Info: Read more about this event on their website

Folepi's Enchanted Forest: Nov. 30th - Dec. 31st 

East Peoria's Levee District is home to this display featuring a 35-foot tall Christmas tree, real lighted trees and displays, and the Terry the Tractor parade float. Join for the official lighting event at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, November 30th with carols by the Caterpillar Employees Mixed Chorus. You can also Santa from 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m!

On Friday, December 6th, 13th, and 20th along with free Kiddie Konas from Kona ice during Santa hours. After the kids visit Santa on December 13th, they can have fun at the Holiday Buttons & Crafts event sponsored by Fondulac District Library inside the Civic Plaza from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

When: November 30th - December 31st 

Where: The Levee District, East Peoria, IL

Pricing: Free! 

More Info: Read more about this Central Illinois tradition on our blog

Holiday Cruises Aboard the Spirit of Peoria: Nov. 30th - Dec. 14th 

Prairie Folklore Theatre celebrates the spirit of the holidays on the Spirit of Peoria with A Civil War Christmas. Featuring a hot homemade buffet, a two-hour cruise, and entertainment. Passengers will hear songs and stories from the Civil War era. 

When: View website for times, www.spiritofpeoria.com

  • Lunch Cruise: Nov 30, Dec 4, Dec 6, Dec 11, Dec 13-14

  • Dinner Cruises: Dec 6 & Dec 13

Where: Downtown Peoria, Peoria, IL

Pricing: Check the website for specific prices.

Pekin Winter Wonderland Parade & Opening Ceremonies: Dec. 1st 

Enjoy a parade, family-friendly activities, and then fireworks to end the night! Mineral Springs Park remains lit throughout December for all to drive through and enjoy. 

When: December 1st at 3:30 p.m.

Where: Begins on the 1100 block of Broadway, Pekin, IL

Pricing: Free! 

More Info: Read more about this Pekin tradition on their website

Peoria Area Community Festival of Nativities: Dec. 5th - 8th 

The Peoria Area Festival of Nativities is for the whole family, there will be hundreds of nativities, live entertainment, local art, along with a picture bingo/scavenger hunt for the little ones! Come out and revel in the splendor of beautiful and unique nativities from around the world. 

When: December 5th - 8th at 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Where: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Peoria, IL

Pricing: Free! 

Christmas on Court: Dec. 6th 

Looking for more holiday fun in Pekin? Head down to Downtown Pekin to enjoy the 17th annual Christmas on Court shop and stroll event! There will be carriage rides, a tree lighting ceremony, live entertainment and demonstrations, a scavenger hunt, and giveaways at local businesses. 

Participating downtown businesses will be open late offering treats and activities to attendees. In addition to shopping, the popular scavenger hunt will be held for the third year. Participants that complete the scavenger hunt by visiting all participating businesses on their card will be entered into a drawing to win a gift basket valued at approximately $150. 

Those in attendance can also expect free horse-drawn carriage rides throughout the vent starting in front of the Tazewell County Courthouse. Join Pekin Mayor Mark luft at 6 p.m. for the official tree lighting at Five Points near Pekin Community Bank. Families also can visit with Santa at Pekin Community Bank. 

When: December 6th at 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Where: 300-600 blocks of Court Street, Pekin, IL

Pricing: Free! 

More Info: Read more about this Pekin tradition on our blog

Old Fashioned Christmas Walk: Dec. 6th 

Carriage rides, trolley rides, Santa's House, and Christmas carols are all a part of thsi annual event. Beautifully decorated store windows and trees wrapped in twinkling lights in Jones Park. Merchants around the downtown area will be open late to show their appreciation to their customers. 

When: December 6th at 5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Where: Downtown Jones Park, Canton, IL

Pricing: Free! 

Santa's Wildlife Express: Dec. 6th - 8th 

Do you love Wildlife Scary Park and wish you and your family could spend more time there? Well, have no fear, Wildlife Prairie Park transforms into a Winter Wonderland! Take a train ride through the North Pole and enjoy games, crafts, cookie decorating, pictures with Santa and animal encounters! 

When: December 6th -  8th 

  • Friday, Dec 6th at 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

  • Saturday, Dec 7th at 12:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

  • Sunday, Dec 8th at 12:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. 

Where: Wildlife Prairie Park, Hanna City, IL

Pricing: Purchase tickets at Wildlife Prairie Park's website

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: Dec. 6th - 15th 

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat returns for the 29th year to the Eastlight Theatre. This Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical tells the story of Joseph and his 11 brothers. It was created as a soft rock fantasy fit for the entire family. Be sure to enjoy this Central Illinois holiday favorite! 

When: December 6, 7, 11, & 14 at 7:30 p.m.; December 8 & 15 at 2:00 p.m.

Where: Eastlight Theatre, East Peoria, IL

Pricing: Purchase tickets at www.eastlighttheatre.com

It's a Wonderful Heights: Dec. 7th 

Need an excuse to head out to Peoria Heights to do some holiday shopping? Then check out all the wonderful holiday deals this season at our local retail and dining establishments. You are sure to find the perfect gifts for all your shopping needs. 

When: December 7th at 2:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Where: Downtown Peoria Heights, Peoria Heights, IL

Pricing: Free! 

Breakfast & Photos with Santa: Dec. 7th 

Kids can join Santa for breakfast, crafts, and photos in this Festival of Lights event at EastSide Centre, presented by East Peoria St. Jude Runs. Advance registration by December 3rd is required. 

When: December 7th 

  • Breakfast at 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 

  • Photos at 10:00 a.m (bring own camera) 

Where: EastSide Centre, East Peoria, IL

Pricing: Visit folepi.org for prices and to register. 

Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis: Dec. 7th 

The Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run is the original festive race for charity. It's where you can strut your stuff in your favorite holiday costume and tie jingle bells to your shoes! Together, Central Illinois can jingle all the way to a cure for Arthritis! 

When: December 7th

Where: Peoria Riverplex, Peoria, IL

Pricing: Get registered for this great event here!

Santa Cause 5K: Dec. 14th 

Suit up for a cause this holiday season with Enjoy Peoria's Santa Cause 5K fun run! 

Run, walk, skip, or hop around the Northwoods Mall. Strollers are welcome. We'll have hot cocoa and treats available on the course. After the race, warm up at the awards ceremony inside the mall. Santa will be handing out medals to top runners. Finally, head across the street to Kouri's Pub for the official after-party! 

Your registration includes: 

  • 5-piece Santa Suit

  • Collectible Christmas Ornament

  • Sponsor Swag Bag

  • Chipped Race Bibs with Professionally Timed Results by ShaZam Racing 

  • On-site Cocoa & Goodies 

  • One Free Drink @ Kouri's Bar (alcoholic option for 21+) 

  • Award Medals for Top Runners

Packet pick-up will be December 13 from 9:00 a.m - 6:00 p.m. at Northwoods Mall. 

When: December 14th at 8:00 a.m.

Where: Northwoods Mall, Peoria, IL

Pricing: Click here to register (register BEFORE December to take advantage of the current pricing!) 

  • Child suit: $30

  • Adult suit: $35

  • Adult plus: $45

Peoria Ballet Nutcracker: Dec. 14th - 15th 

See this year's all-new, dazzling choreography, spectacular sets and costumes, graceful dancers from the famous Joffrey Ballet, and the timeless music of Tchaikovsky performed live by the Heartland Festival Orchestra. 

When: December 14th - 15th 

  • Saturday, Dec 14th at 2:00 p.m.

  • Saturday, Dec 14th at 7:30 p.m.

  • Sunday, Dec 15th at 2:00 p.m.

Where: Peoria Civic Center Theater, Peoria, IL

Pricing: Buy your tickets for the ballet at the Peoria Civic Center's website

A Magical Cirque Christmas: Dec. 20th 

Experience incredible performers and breathtaking cirque artists from all corners of the world, accompanied by your favorite holiday music performed live. 

When: December 20th at 8:00 p.m.

Where: Peoria Civic Center Theater, Peoria, IL

Pricing: Buy your tickets for the ballet at the Peoria Civic Center's website

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical: Dec. 22nd

Enjoy a heartwarming story of one small elf's big impact on his adoptive family and a glimpse into the magical lives of Scout Elves. The musical opens with a friendly Elf on the Shelf named Tater Tot speaking directly to the audience. When Tater Tot, top Scout Elf of his graduating class is sent to a disconnected, multi-generational family struggle to rediscover the Christmas spirit, he's got to find a way off the shelf and into their hearts. 

When: December 22nd at 7:00 p.m.

Where: Peoria Civic Center Theater, Peoria, IL

Pricing: Buy your tickets for the ballet at the Peoria Civic Center's website

Get Lit Celebration!: Dec. 31st 

The 19th annual Get Lit Celebration is back again! Run, walk or ride the Festival's lighted trolley through the Folepi's Winter Wonderland display. Then warm-up by the bonfire and enjoy campfire treats. There will be no vehicular traffic in the Winter Wonderland during the event, and dogs are not allowed. 

New ways for families to celebrate the New Year at the Get Lit are a bonfire with campfire treats from 9:00 p.m. until midnight, and rides through the display on the lighted Trolley float from 9:00 p.m. until 9:45 p.m. and again after the completion of the run/walk until midnight. The Get Lit's traditional run/walk through the Winter Wonderland starts at 10:00 p.m. and is a way for people to "run" into the new year. 

When: December 31st  9:00 p.m. - Midnight

Where: 123 Par 3 Ln, East Peoria, IL

Pricing: $20 per person (by Dec. 30)

  • Register by Dec. 19 for the commemorative long-sleeve T-shirt. 

More Info: Read more about this Central Illinois tradition on our blog

NYE Countdown Presented by Better Built & PNC NYE Kids Countdown: Dec. 31st 

Two New Year's Eve Countdowns (6:00 p.m. & Midnight) will take place at the Sonar Tide Patio next to City Hall where the NYE Ball will be 200 feet in the air lighting up downtown. There will be activities throughout the afternoon and evening for all ages to enjoy. No need to worry about the cold - there is plenty of space inside the glass atrium and patio to enjoy the festivities. 

The PNC New Year's Eve Kids Countdown activities will begin at 2:00 p.m. in Exhibit Hall D at the Peoria Civic Center. There will be face painting, balloon art, Fun on the Run, superheroes and more! 

The NYE Countdown presented by Better Built starts at 9:00 p.m in Exhibit Hall A where you can enjoy the Joe Stamm Band who will be onstage from 9:45 p.m. - 11:45 p.m. Concessions will be available and at midnight, countdown to 2020 and ringing in the new year with the ball drop and fireworks! 

When: December 31st  

  • Kids Countdown: 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

  • NYE Countdown: 9:00 p.m. - Midnight

Where: Peoria Civic Center, Peoria, IL

Pricing: FREE!

More Info: Read more about this Central Illinois tradition on the Peoria Civic Center's website