Festival of Lights ‘winter wonderland’ closing January 2

Local News

EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Thousands of lights are all in one place to experience the joy of the holidays in East Peoria.

The Festival of Lights opened on Thanksgiving Day and is closing on Jan. 2, costing $10 per car and $30 for minibuses or party buses.

Displays have been updated and brightened this year to welcome a fresh take to the drive-through, after a five-week process of getting all the lights set up.

Doug McCarty, director of tourism for special events in East Peoria, said traffic has been what they have expected this year. In 2020, they saw the most cars ever because people did not have much to do entertainment-wise.

“We expect it to be more like 2019 and before that. So as we get closer to the holidays, with kids getting out of school, we expect the numbers to go up, and [to be] a little bit busier than the beginning part of the month,” said McCarty.

He also mentions that people who live in the area should avoid going on Saturdays, since they are the busiest Saturday nights, but they are still open 7 days a week.

Carriage rides are also available at $80 per ride for 4-6 people.

Owner of Hileman Carriage Service Zack Hileman said he reached out to McCarty a few years back to have horse-drawn carriage rides go through the Winter Wonderland.

Hilman said his favorite reaction to the horses came Wednesday, Dec. 8 this year.

“We had a little boy who is autistic and autistic kids usually bond really quickly with the horses, and his reaction to the horse was amazing,” said Hileman.

While McCarty noticed the fan-favorite is the skiers jumping over their cars during the drive-through.

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