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Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Parade 2011

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Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Parade 2011

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival in Brief:

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival officially kicks off the Christmas season in Chicago, with numerous fun family activities and the highlight, the Mickey Mouse parade illuminating over one million lights along Michigan Avenue. (Times and events subject to change)

When:

November 19, 2011

11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Parade steps off at 5:30 p.m.

Where:

Michigan Avenue between Oak Street and the Chicago River

Admission:

FREE!

Getting to the Festival by Public Transportation:

CTA Red Line Train to Chicago or Grand stops, walk east to Michigan Avenue

Parking at the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival:

This is a heavily attended event, and driving along the Mag Mile can be incredibly aggravating, even for this lifelong native. Also, parking along Michigan Avenue is both sparse and expensive -- public transportation or taxi cab is highly recommended. But if driving is a necessity, the largest parking garages are at either the John Hancock Center or Water Tower Place at Michigan and Chicago Avenue (800 North). Expect to pay upwards of $30, and get there early -- the streets are closed off approximately an hour before the start of the parade.

More About the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival:

Held the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival marks the beginning of holiday shopping along North Michigan Avenue, a strip famous for its wide number of diverse stores and boutiques. Most shops will also have their holiday window displays in place, as well as extended shopping hours.

There are numerous fun activities for the entire family all day long, such as choir and theater performances, ice sculpting demonstrations, and live entertainment along the parade route. A full holiday activity guide can be found on the Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights website.

Speaking of the parade, it's certainly the highlight of the day. Mickey Mouse is the master of ceremonies, and as the parade heads south from Oak Street the more than one million lights along Michigan Avenue are illuminated all the way down the parade route. Immediately following the parade, there will be a fireworks display at Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River.

And sure, I know it's a ploy by the merchants association to drive people into the stores, but I don't care -- the Mag Mile Lights Festival brings out the kid in young and old, and is a great way to start the Christmas season.

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