Here's a guide to celebrating the holiday season in the Rockford area this year

Ashton Carr mails a letter to Santa on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Stroll on State in Rockford.
Ashton Carr mails a letter to Santa on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Stroll on State in Rockford.

The holidays in the Rockford area are filled with tree lightings, parades, concerts and other events for the whole family.

The following is a list of some of the special events to help celebrate the season.

Illuminated: A lighted garden experience

What: Illuminated is Anderson Gardens’ wintertime lights experience, featuring dramatic up-lighting and thousands of white string lights woven throughout the landscape and canopy of the Garden. New this year, made-to-order Woodfire Pizza and a rotating schedule of food trucks each night.

When: Dec. 1 through Dec. 30

Where: Anderson Japanese Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Road, Rockford

For more:

Festival of Lights

What: Drive through Sinnissippi Park and view dozens of holiday light displays. Festival of Lights has been a family tradition since 1989.

When: 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1 through Sunday, Dec. 4; 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday Dec. 8 through Sunday, Dec.11; 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15 through Sunday, Dec. 18; 5 to 11 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19 through Friday, Dec. 23; Open 24 hours Christmas Eve & Christmas Day; 5 to 11 p.m. Monday, Dec. 26; 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. New Year’s Eve.

Where: Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. 2nd St., Rockford

For more:

All Aglow Holiday Display

What: View the spectacular holiday lights in the outdoor gardens along the Rock River.

When: Lights are on from dusk until dawn through Jan. 8.

Where: Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford

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Making Parks Bright

What: Small winter light displays can be viewed during the holiday season at several Rockford Park District locations.

When: Dusk until dawn through Jan. 9, 2023

Where: Alpine Park entrance, 950 S. Alpine Road, Rockford; Brown Park, 2010 N. Main St., Rockford; Fairgrounds Park, 450 Kilburn Ave., Rockford; Sand Park Pool, 1041 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park; Wantz Memorial Park, 602 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park.

For more:

Belvidere Hometown Christmas Light Up the Night Parade

What: The city of Belvidere will ring in the holidays with a parade and celebration. There will be vendors, food trucks and Christmas displays throughout downtown.

When: 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2

Where: State Street in downtown Belvidere

For more:

A horse and wagon take people for a ride on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Stroll on State in Rockford.
A horse and wagon take people for a ride on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Stroll on State in Rockford.

Rockton Christmas Walk

What: The Rockton Christmas Walk is a holiday tradition for thousands of area residents. Area businesses offer unique and exclusive events, shopping experiences, and holiday festivities.

When: Lighted displays, 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2; parade on Main Street, 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3; Hot Cocoa Crawl at Village Hall, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4.

Where: Downtown Rockton

For more:

St. Lucia Concert

What: This annual event brings the holiday spirit with traditional Swedish songs and a candlelight processional.

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2

Where: First Lutheran Church, 225 S. 3rd St., Rockford

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The Nutcracker

What: The Nutcracker Ballet returns to the Coronado Performing Arts Center for a magical performance featuring Tchaikovsky’s ballet performed by the Rockford Dance Company with professional featured dancers set to live music performed by the Rockford Symphony Orchestra.

When: 3 p.m., Dec. 3

Where: Coronado Performing Arts Center, 314 N. Main St., Rockford

For more:

A Magical Cirque Christmas

What: Experience the enchantment of Christmas as Magical Hostess Lucy Darling takes you through an evening of dazzling performers and breathtaking cirque artists, accompanied by your favorite holiday music performed live. Get into the spirit of the season with this merry treat that’s perfect for the entire family.

When: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4

Where: Coronado Performing Arts Center, 314 N. Main St., Rockford

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Rockford Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops

What: Featuring favorite holiday classics including The Christmas Song and the Hanukkah Festival Overture along with some fun contemporary pieces such as Elf: the Musical Medley and The Toy Trumpet featuring Mark Baldin, RSO’s principal trumpet. And no Holiday Pops is complete without the Christmas Pops Sing-A-Long.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17

Where: Coronado Performing Arts Center, 314 N. Main St., Rockford

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Holiday Wagon Rides

What: Rockford Park District wagons will be decked out with holiday lights and cheer. Enjoy a 20-minute ride through a winter wonderland, nestled in the woods of Lockwood Park.

When: 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30 and 7 p.m. Dec. 2, 7, 9, 14, 16, 21 and 23.

Where: Lockwood Park Trailside Equestrian Center and Children’s Farm, 5201 Safford Road, Rockford

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What: This holiday favorite returns with a candlelit trail, make-your-own s’mores, winter nature activities, live music and more.

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 9 & 10.

Where: Severson Dells Nature Center, 8786 Montague Road, Rockford

For more:

Williams Tree Farm

What: Take a trip to Williams and start your own family tradition. Cut your own tree, visit the gift shop with thousands of ornaments, enjoy hot cocoa by the fire, pony rides, hayrides, maze, children's play area.

When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Dec. 23

Where: Williams Tree Farm, 4661 Yale Bridge Road, Rockton

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Holiday Mingle Jingle

What: Local vendors will showcase their unique gift options. Light refreshments will be provided.

When: 12 p.m. Dec. 10

Where: Eilerts, 1100 W. Galena Avenue, Freeport

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It’s a Wayward Christmas at Midway Village

What: Enjoy games and crafts and take pictures with Santa Claus.

When: 12 to 4 p.m., Dec. 17

Where: Midway Village & Museum Center, 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford

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Winter Solstice Celebration

What:  The evening will include a guided walk along our luminary path, poetry and story sharing, refreshments, and more. Please register in advance because space is limited.

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 21

Where: Nature at the Confluence, 306 Dickop St., South Beloit

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Winter Solstice Poetry Caroling

What: "Chugro and her Acolytes" will be at Walker Park to hand out poetry scripts, hold a quick rehearsal and then lead poetry carolers through the neighborhood. "Chugro and her Acolytes" will also teach the community a snow dance.

When: 3 to 5 p.m., Dec. 21

Where: Walker Park, 1500 Myott Avenue, Rockford

For more:

Ken DeCoster covers business news and features. Contact him at 815-987-1391, or @DeCosterKen. 

This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Celebrate the holiday season in Rockford with these events