The Scene

Holidays light up in Joliet with festive celebration and parade

Vintage cars drives along Chicago Street at the Light Up the Holidays Festival and Parade in downtown Joliet.

Joliet will kick off the holiday season Friday, Nov. 24, with the 25th annual Light Up the Holidays Festival and Parade.

It’s a full day of fun for the entire family, with activities beginning at 10 a.m., and running throughout the afternoon before culminating with the tree lighting at 5:15 p.m. and the parade, which steps off at 5:30 p.m.

The Joliet Central Madrigal Singers will perform before the tree lighting ceremony and parade, which will feature the following bands: Laraway School Band, Joliet Central High School Band, Joliet West High School Band, Troy Middle School Marching Band, Joliet Police Pipe and Drums, Wilmington High School Marching Band and Color Guard, Joliet Central High School Marching Band and the Joliet Public Schools District 86 student choirs.

Priscilla Cordero, executive director of the Joliet City Center Partnership, said about 15,000 people came to the parade last year.

“I think this parade is fantastic, we have one of the best parades around,” she said. “Milano’s Bakery tosses rolls of bread to the crowd, and people go crazy over that. It’s so fun, something people look forward to. Last year, Joey’s Red Hots handed out hot dogs. We’ll have horses in the parade, lots of bands from various schools. It’s just a special parade.”

A horse drawn carriage takes riders along Chicago Street at the Light Up the Holidays Festival and Parade in downtown Joliet.

Be sure to make your way to the downtown area much earlier in the day for all of the family-friendly activities.

The North Pole Christmas Market opens at 10 a.m. at the Renaissance Center, 214 N. Ottawa St., and will feature 28 vendors, where shoppers can find unique and personalized Christmas gifts, according to a news release from the Joliet City Center Partnership. Kids and adults alike will enjoy photos with characters from their favorite movies throughout the day at the Renaissance Center, as well as visits with Santa at the Joliet Area Historical Museum.

Enjoy ice skating, a Ferris wheel and a train for the kids, and photo opportunities at the North Pole Park from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Chicago Street lot in front of the Rialto Square Theatre. Horse-drawn carriage rides will start from the same location, running from 2 to 5 p.m.

Downtown businesses will provide activities throughout the day. New this year is a 25th anniversary commemorative mug that will be available for purchase at the North Pole Christmas Market, Jitters, Yura Nuna, Richardson’s, The Blue Taco and Chicago Street Pub.

A variety of businesses will have free entertainment or specials, including Jitters, Joliet Public Library, The Nail Inn Academy, Yura Nuna, The Blue Taco, C&C Vision Gallery and the Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66.

“We want people to visit downtown Joliet and all it has to offer during the most wonderful time of the year,” Cordero said in the release.

Aimee Barrows

Aimee Barrows

Aimee Barrows is the editor of The Scene, Shaw Local News Network's entertainment section. The Scene is your go-to destination for all things fun in Northern Illinois. Prior to The Scene, Aimee was the editor of the Kane County Chronicle for five years, and a freelance reporter for Shaw Media for four years.