Dear Fellow Members,
Greetings, and happy holidays to you all! The 30th Annual BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival kicks off the holiday season this weekend, and I truly hope you will all be celebrating! Producing this year’s events took herculean efforts by our Association staff and volunteer leaders, event sponsors, and hundreds of volunteers through their donations of time, talent, resources, and financial investment. Thank you!

Unsurprisingly, we faced pandemic-battered budgets to produce this holiday tradition. Determined to put on a bigger, brighter show despite that challenge, dedicated members, leaders of our hospitality and tourism organizations, and elected officials from our state who believe in the important economic impact, national visibility and business generation tied to the Lights Festival joined forces to ensure this event’s importance was recognized. Those efforts were rewarded when Governor JB Pritzker joined key supporters and sponsors during a press conference at The Drake Hotel yesterday, November 17, announcing the award of more than $400,000 through the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Tourism Attractions & Festivals Grant Program. We are truly grateful to everyone who played a role in securing this grant and appreciate the State’s incredible backing.

I want to thank the Lights Festival Founding Chair, Marc Schulman, who had the vision to begin a lighting event 30 years ago. Congratulations to the enormous talent behind every inch of the production, promotion, and events ahead. We greatly appreciate our staff and volunteers, and especially thank Gail Spreen, chair of the Lights Festival, and Grace Rappe, vice chair, and the members of the Steering Committee who put in hundreds of hours planning for the successful return of this magnificent event. Of course, we wouldn’t be here without the sponsorship and support of BMO Harris Bank. This year marks their 16th year of event support. Thank you, BMO!

The weekend’s full calendar of events is shared on our website. Find QR codes to scan that take you directly to the website throughout Lights Festival Lane. We're thrilled to welcome parade marshals Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse to Chicago once again as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort and help magically illuminate over more than one million lights adorning 200 trees lining Michigan Avenue.

Please plan to begin your weekend with The Wrigley Building’s tree lighting on Friday at 4:00 p.m. and then gather for a festive day on Lights Festival Lane starting at 11:00 a.m. before we experience the parade and culminating fireworks display that has been a family tradition for decades.

Finally, we hope you can help us to promote the return of Lights Festival to your patrons, guests, and visitors. Access elements for promotion via the Digital Tool Kit.

Wishing you all a holiday season filled with festivity, good health, and much success.

Dan Russell, COO, City Experiences
Chair, Board of Directors