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Summer is over and now fall; its autumn foliage is briskly on its way. Beyond that are the winter season and the winter festivities. For those living in Chicago, one great place to experience the magic of winter is the Chicago Botanic Garden. Come in the evening during the earlier winter months and experience the charm of winter for the city's Lightscape. Many consider the summer the best time to visit Chicago, but winter in Chicago also has a charm of its own.

Lightscape is an after-dark, illuminated trail in the Chicago Botanic Garden. It features a new path and new light-filled installations specially created for the park. Experience the best of winter with music, light, fire, and color. Arguably, Chicago Botanic Garden's Lightscape is one of Chicago's leading activities to enjoy during the winter.


Why Chicago Botanic Garden's Lightscape Is Worth It

"Lightscape at the Botanic Garden is a Wonderful, breathtaking experience. Highly recommend to everyone."

TripAdvisor Reviewer

See a re-imagined fire garden and see the luminous Winter Cathedral. The park will put one in the mood for the festivities of winter with Christmas carols ringing in one's head. There are plenty of artistic displays around the park spread out over a mile-long trail.

  • Season: November 11, 2022, to January 8, 2023

The trail is 1.25 miles long and has been re-imagined since the last year while it does still include some of last year's favorites. It is a reverse route and guests leave through the Visitor Center.

  • Pets: Permitted
  • Duration: On Average, 45 to 75 Minutes

There are hot drinks and light snacks stations at the beginning and middle of the route (only credit and debit cards are accepted). So get a hot drink to keep warm during the Chicago winter night.

See the many artistic winter light displays and take winter Instagram pictures that will leave everyone jealous. Even if one has visited the last season's Lightscape, go again this year and see how it has been reimagined. It is a great activity for couples, groups, and families whose children can put up with the chilly Chicago evenings.

Related: One Weekend In Chicago: How To Tour The City Like A Local In 48 Hours

Planning A Visit To Wintry Lightscape

People planning to visit the Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden should plan on purchasing the ticket at least a day before (they cost $2 more on the day).

Admission Fees:

  • Adult: $30 Member l $32 Nonmember
  • Child: $14 Member l $16 Nonmember
  • Flex Ticket: $75 Per Person (Includes Parking)

The hours of the event can vary depending on the day (like Nov 19 and Nov 23), but generally, the hours of the Lightscape are from 4.30 pm to 11.00 pm. On normal days, the last entry is at 7.00 pm.

  • Operating Hours: 4.30 pm to 11.00 pm (Most Days)

Related: Which Part Of Chicago Should You Visit? A Neighborhood Guide

Tips And Important Information About Visiting The Lightscape

This is winter in the Windy City, so be sure to dress for the night-time winter weather (this is an outdoor event).

The tickets are timed in 15-minute increments to stagger visitors and improve the flow of people into the trail. One in, visitors are welcome to stay as long as they like until closing at 11.00 pm.

Parking is something that should be planned in advance. Visitors save 50% by paying for parking in advance (advance parking is $10 per vehicle, while upon arrival, parking is $20). All nonmembers are required to pay for parking. Ride-share vehicles are not required to pay for parking.

  • Parking: $10 (If Purchased In Advance)

Be careful not to be too late; if one misses one's time slot, then one can go in the next 15-minute time slot (subject to availability). But there is no entry after the last entry time. (e.g., if the last slot for the night is 9:15 p.m., then 9:30 p.m. is the cutoff for entry).

The event is held rain or shine (moonshine as it's a nighttime event). A little snow really enhances the ambiance and feel of the experience. Chicago Botanic Garden may cancel the event in case of hazardous adverse weather conditions (the decision will be made at 2.00 pm).

This winter, enjoy the crisp winter air and long dark nights of Chicago at the Lightscape show.