Aurora is the second largest city in Illinois and as such you will find a huge number of things to do here year-round. Of course, we know that the colder winter months can sometimes require a bit more motivation and inspiration to get out of the comfort of our homes and experience all the city has to offer around the holidays. So we’re helping you out by compiling some of our top suggestions for the best 2018 winter activities near Aurora, IL, below. Enjoy and be merry!
1. Winter Lights in Downtown Aurora
As the City of Aurora's official kick-off to the holiday season, this family-oriented event will be filled with merry-making moments and a sleigh full of free fun for the entire family. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, November 16 with the Holiday Parade, followed by a firework display along the banks of the Fox River.
2. Aurora Festival of Lights at Phillips Park
The Aurora Festival of Lights returns for its twelfth year in 2018. Presented in partnership between the Rotary Club of Aurora and the City of Aurora, this signature winter event is a drive through of more than a mile of 400 festive holiday light displays.
The festival will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, from the day after Thanksgiving to the day after Christmas.
3. Christmas Season at Abbey Farms
Join in the tradition of hunting for Abbey Farms-grown Christmas trees this winter or choose a precut tree from their large inventory of fresh-cut fir trees. After you check the tree shopping off your list, take time to shop their seasonal store, where you’ll find gifts for all ages, décor and delicious bakery goods. The Pine Tree Café serves farm-made meals and treats, courtesy of favorite family recipes. Open the weekend before Thanksgiving through December 23.
4. Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum
See trees in a different light at Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum. You'll be surrounded by color as you walk a one-mile paved path amid interactive lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter. Enjoy seasonal music, marvel at ever-changing interactive lighting designs, and warm up by a crackling fire with a cozy drink or roast marshmallows for s’mores. Runs from November 16 through January 1.
5. Holiday Express at Blackberry Farm
Take a magical ride on the Holiday Express train. You’ll see Lake Gregory and Blackberry Farm in all its holiday glory amid the twinkling lights and songs of Christmas. Back in the village, enjoy storytelling of the classics, festive decorations, a reindeer food bar, hay wagon rides, and a visit with Santa. It all happens on eight magical days (December 2, 3, 8-10, and 15-17). Hours are Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 6 p.m. Admission is just $5 per person. Tasty concessions with seasonal favorites and drinks (non-alcoholic) available for purchase. Pre-purchase tickets online and avoid lines at the ticket window.
6. The Second City's Holidazed and Confused Revue at Paramount Theatre, November 29 – December 23
Chicago’s famed sketch and improv comedy theater comes back to Aurora with another hilarious take on the holidays. These uproarious comedians have made it an annual end-of-year tradition to bring their festive hilarity to Paramount’s 173-seat Copley Theatre. If you like the holidays, you’ll love this show. If you hate them, you’ll love it even more.
7. Outdoor Ice Skating
During winter months, the Fox Valley Park District operates and maintains ice rinks at the Eola Community Center, Lincoln Park, Randall Park, and Wilbert Walters Park. Rinks are free and open to the public from dawn to dusk as conditions permit.
A free and fun activity for kids and families, check out some of the best sledding hills near Aurora. Lincoln Park is a gentle hill suitable for young children and beginners. Waubonsie Lake Park is a semi-steep hill that’s a favorite for those who are looking for a more thrilling ride, and Oakhurst Forest Preserve offers the fastest and steepest sledding in the area.
Snowshoeing is permitted in any of the Fox Valley Park District's 165 parks and across the 48-mile network of trails. Enjoy the peace, beauty and serenity of winter in the parks. Whenever the snow cover is three inches or more, snowshoes are available for rent seven days a week at the Red Oak Nature Center.
10. Cross Country Skiing
There are several good trails for cross country skiing near Aurora. The Fox River Trail is over 40 miles of a bike trail that runs through multiple communities; Waubonsie Lake Trail is a popular network of trails that can be accessed at Waubonsie Lake Park and from the parking lot at the Eola Community Center; and Stuart Sports Complex/Jericho Lake provides nearly 400 acres for skiers to roam.