Navy Pier Light Up The Lake

Festival Hall is transformed into a wonderland at this annual, family-friendly event.

Light up the Lake at Navy Pier celebrates the holidays in Chicago.

New in 2021, Festival Hall is transformed into a winter wonderland and becomes the biggest indoor, temperature-controlled light garden.

Here’s your guide to one of the season’s most popular family-friendly activities in Chicago.

Navy Pier Light Up The Lake

Related: Christmas in Chicago: Chicago’s Favorite Christmas Traditions and Events

Blackhawks Ice Skating Rink at Winter WonderFest

What is Light Up The Lake at Navy Pier?

Light Up The Lake is a new event that celebrates winter and the holidays.

Entirely inside, the festival offers several activities and the hall is decorated with candy canes, Christmas trees, and lights galore.

Attractions at Navy Pier Light Up The Lake 2021

There are 170,000 square feet to fill in Festival Hall, and they are jam-packed with fun. Activities include an ice skating rink, kiddie train rides, a gift market, Merry Main Street presented by Brach’s, and a holiday beer garden.

The hall is decorated with more than 600,000 lights, making Light Up The Lake the largest indoor Christmas lights show in the area.

If you plan on going ice skating you should be aware that no bags are allowed on the rink. While there is a coat check, you cannot check your bags. If you plan on bringing a purse or backpack bring someone who can hold it for you while you skate.

Kiddie Train Ride at Navy Pier Light up the Lake
Kiddie Train Ride

Navy Pier Gift Market

In addition to all of the fun in Festival Hall, you can also get your Christmas shopping done at the holiday market. There will be seasonal treats, Chicago-centric items, and food specials.

How Much is Light Up The Lake?

Navy Pier Light Up The Lake 1

Tickets can be purchased online or at the on-site box office. Prices below

  • Light Up The Lake Admission for adults is $26
  • Light Up The Lake Admission for children 3 – 12 is $21
  • Children under 3 years old are free.

PLUS: Every ticket comes with a free ride on the Centennial Wheel (an $18 value), Don’t miss all the other activities and attractions at Navy Pier, which will be decked out for the holidays.

CLICK HERE TO GET TICKETS TO LIGHT UP THE LAKE

Santa Savings Days (prior to December 20th):

  • Tickets are just $15 for children and adults on Mondays
  • Children are $19 and adults are $21 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays 

Is Santa Claus at Light Up The Lake?

Yes! Santa Claus will be at Light Up The Lake daily through December 24, 2021.

Places to Stay Near Navy Pier

These hotels are close to Navy Pier and are some of our favorites at The Local Tourist:

ACME Hotel Company
ACME Hotel Company, photo credit TravelZoo

ACME Hotel Company – fun and affordable boutique hotel. Read reviews | Book now

Doubletree by Hilton Magnificent Mile – get a warm cookie at check-in! Read reviews | Book now

Hyatt Regency Chicago – one of Chicago’s largest hotels. Read reviews | Book now

InterContinental Hotel Chicago – an historic hotel on the Magnificent Mile. Read reviews | Book now

Loews Chicago Hotel – closest hotel to Navy Pier. Read reviews | Book now

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel – located in one of the most distinctive buildings in Chicago. Read reviews | Book now

Click here to find out more about these hotels near Navy Pier.

When is Light up the Lake at Navy Pier

Light Up The Lake is open November 26. 2021, through January 2, 2022

Light Up The Lake runs from November 26 through January 2.

Through 12/19:

Monday: 3–9 p.m.
Tuesday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Wednesday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Thursday: 3–9 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m.–10 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.–10 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.–8 p.m.

12/20 – 1/2:

10 a.m.–10 p.m.*

* The 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.

How Do You Get to Light Up The Lake?

Light Up The Lake Chicago is located at the east end of Navy Pier. Taxis are plentiful and you can take a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft. There is parking available at the pier and you can get discounted parking nearby with Spothero and Parkwhiz.

To find discounted parking with Spothero, click on “Edit” below and enter the dates you’ll be attending Light Up The Lake:


If you’re looking for a fun activity for the whole family, check out Light Up The Lake, a Navy Pier Christmas festival. There are activities that are age-appropriate from toddlers up to teens.

Before you go check out our ultimate guide to Navy Pier!

All photos Nick Ulivieri Photography / Navy Pier