Peter Cottontail is making his way through ILLINOISouth. See below for dates, times, and locations you can catch the Easter Bunny and check out an egg hunt.
Be sure to visit the second annual, authentic German Christmas Market held in the Public Square, downtown Belleville. Modeled after the German open-air markets, CHRISTKINDLMARKT (Christ Child Market) features merchants from Europe and across the Country, selling their items. Gifts, food, drinks and local/ regional specialties will be sold in individual wooden booths/chalets in a festive environment.
Children can enjoy free Trolley rides, Gingerbread creations and of course Santa! Live Reindeer will appear on Saturday, December 19 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and Sunday, December 20 from 11:00 a.m. – 1 p.m.
For adults, beer and gluhwein (hot spiced wine sold in souvenir mugs) will be served along with authentic German food. A heated tent will be set up for eating and drinking–with entertainment Friday and Saturday evenings.
The Markt is open daily through December 23 and admission is FREE!
Sunday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Friday & Saturday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Click Here or call 800-677-9255 to learn more.
This information originally appeared in the Holiday Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!
Can you believe that it’s November already? Boy, how time flies!!!
We still have bellies full of Halloween candy and, contrary to what the Hallmark Channel would have you believe, there’s still a little bit of time before we go into “Ho Ho Ho” mode.
In the mean time, let us highlight a few great events coming up around ILLINOISouth in the next few weeks!
Happy Days: A New Musical • November 5 – 7
Open House Theatre, New Athens
Art & Wine Walk • November 7
Winter Rendezvous • November 7 – 8
Fort de Chartres, Prairie du Rocher
Wood Carvers Show • November 7 – 8
Belle-Clair Expo Center, Belleville
Olde Tyme Christmas • November 13 – 14
Beer Pairing Dinner • November 15
Hidden Lake Winery, Aviston
The Nutcracker Suite Ballet & Concert • November 21 – 22
Scottish Rite Bodies Cathedral, Belleville
Craft Show • November 21 – 22
The Holiday Motel, Olney
12th Annual Native American Holiday Market • November 27-28
Cahokia Mounds, Collinsville
Girls Day Out • November 21
National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville
On top of these great events, there are several other fun, family events before the communities turn their Christmas lights on at the end of the month. CLICK HERE for our online calendar to find out more!!!
It’s time to celebrate Independence Day in ILLINOISouth. Beginning this weekend you can find everything from live music, to sandcastle contests, car shows to volleyball and washers tournaments. Runs, festivals and more will dot our region to celebrate the ultimate summer holiday…and, of course, don’t miss all the FIREWORKS!!!
Jun. 27, 2015
4th of July Dam Jam & Fireworks
Come enjoy a full day of live music, sandcastle building contest, volleyball tournament concluding with a wonderful fireworks display. The fireworks will be shot from point 1 and can be viewed by boat or shore in the Dam West and East Recreation Areas.
Celebrate independence with corn dogs, Kitten Ball and lots of contests (pizza eating, Little Miss and Mister, etc.) fireworks, music and food.
Jun. 27, 2015 – Jun. 28, 2015
West Salem 4th of July Celebration
Town Wide Yard Sale, 5K Run/Walk, Raffle, and fireworks. Church service 10:00 a.m. on the Square, Firehouse Dinner at Noon Car Show – Registration 11:30 a.m., Awards 4:30 p.m.
Jul. 1, 2015
Annual Carnival & 4th of July Celebration
Fairview Park, Centralia
The carnival will have entertainment, good games and fireworks. Patriotic event is held in the City’s park.
Jul. 1, 2015 – Jul. 5, 2015
Patriots in the Park
Wilson Park, Granite City
This event includes an auto show, carnival with food, live entertainment and rides. Don’t miss the incredible fireworks display on the 4th!
Fantastic 4th Weekend
Market St., Mt. Carmel
Mt. Carmel shows you how to celebrate the 4th with a weekend of family events. From the parade to the car show, you’ll find lots of reasons to be in Mt. Carmel on this Independence Day Weekend!
Jul. 2, 2015 – Jul. 4, 2015
4th of July
Rt. 50, Steeleville
Have fun with carnival rides, food, live music and beer stand. On July 4th, there will be craft stands before and after the parade, 3K Firecracker race at 9:00 a.m. and fireworks that evening.
Blast Off Parade and Fireworks
The parade will line up at American Legion and begin at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks at dusk.
Du Quoin State Fairgrounds
Fireworks will start around 9:15 p.m.
July 3 – 4
Gateway Grizzlies 4th of July Games
GCS Ballpark, Sauget
The games start at 6:35 p.m. with a great fireworks display at the end of the game.
4th of July
Food & fireworks
Carmi Lion’s Club 8th Annual Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show
White County Fairgrounds, Carmi
The 8th Annual Carmi Lion’s Club Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show will also have tractors, lots of trophies, dash plaques and awards. There will also be a swap meet, craft vendors, food and drinks and fireworks after dark!
4th of July Bike Parade and Celebration
Main Street & American Legion, Columbia
Decorated bikes and creative patriotic costumes ride down historic Main Street to celebrate our country! Later in the day head up to the American Legion to participate in the washer and kloepper tournaments or just enjoy the music and refreshments while you wait for the amazing fireworks display at dusk!
Picnic in the Park
Dupo Community Park
Bring the family and enjoy food, rides, games, live music, washers tournament and a large fireworks display.
4th of July Festival & Fireworks
Glik Par, Highland
Come early to enjoy food from various vendors and fun family activities.
Liberty Bell of the West Patriotic Celebration
201 First St., Kaskaskia
Come out to Kaskaskia and hear and see Patriotic music & tributes, ring bell for Liberty, French Marine Salute, traditional food available and tours.
Old Fashioned July 4th Celebration
Scheve Park, Mascoutah, IL
A hometown celebration to encourage and strengthen the relationship between surrounding communities and the city. The event will have food and craft booths, softball and kickball tournaments, rides, kids’ games, raffle, poker, artisans, music and fireworks.
Olney City Park
Fireworks begin at dusk.
4th of July Fireworks
Tri-Township Park, Troy
The first annual Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor weekend festival – “Miners, Mobsters, and the Mother Road” – will be held Saturday-Sunday, June 13-14. The Blue Carpet Corridor, from Chatham down to Collinsville, is a unique section of Route 66 characterized not only by its Mother Road charm, but also its rich mining history and colorful mobster lore.
Route 66 is known for its quirky attractions, roadside hospitality, and family fun. And on the second weekend in June, the blue carpet will be rolled out to welcome thousands of travelers all along the Blue Carpet Corridor. The event highlights 19 communities on historic Route 66 including Chatham, Auburn, Thayer, Virden, Girard, Nilwood, Carlinville, Gillespie, Benld, Staunton, Hamel, Edwardsville, Litchfield, Mt. Olive, Williamson, Livingston, Glen Carbon, Troy, and Collinsville.
A variety of events and activities awaits visitors in the nineteen participating communities along three historic alignments of the Mother Road. The cities and villages have planned a variety of activities, including festivals, car shows, live entertainment, children’s activities, and historic tours and exhibits. Food stands and eateries will be open for hungry travelers. Innovative museums, towering monuments, historic buildings, and winding stretches of original highway are waiting to be discovered. Visitors can scour antique shops, yard sales, flea markets, and unique mom and pop stores for hidden treasures.
So load the family car, start early, and join us for a whole weekend of fun on the Blue Carpet Corridor on Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14. Don’t forget to bring your camera because photo ops will be plentiful!
Each community’s activities and events, as well as local attractions, restaurants, and lodging, can be found on the Blue Carpet Corridor website community pages. For maps, updates, news, and complete event schedules, go to www.bluecarpetcorridor.org and check www.facebook.com/BlueCarpetCorridor for updates.
Get involved! Check out the “Selfies on 66” photo contest open to US residents ages 18+. For more information, contact the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway at 217-525-9308 or visit www.selfieson66.com today!!!
There are over 50 great events happening in ILLINOISouth this May. Taking a look at the Calendar, here is a handful that stand out.
Locust Street Fair
May 2 • Centralia
Crafters & artisans, great food, beer/wine garden, antique car show, historic walking tours, historic train presentation, Independent Silver Band concert, and “Tintype” photography
Willoughby Farms Spring Farm Day
May 9 • Collinsville
Local vendors including stained glass, woodworking, homemade soap, toy tractors, bird feeders, rug loom, rope making and more; baby animals, sheep shearing, wool spinning, hayrides, straw pyramid, corn table, scavenger hunts, nature walk and more
May 14 – 17 • Toledo
FREE Barbecue, Queen Pageant, entertainment, car show and the annual Fireman’s Chicken Dinner
Art on the Square
May 15 – 17 • Belleville
100 juried artists from all over the world, high school exhibit, entertainment, food & wine courts, demonstrations and children’s activities
(Visit us at our Monster Mural in the Children’s area!)
Carlyle Sailing Association Open House
May 23 • Carlyle
Tour the marina, ride along on several types of sailboats and kayaks
Jasper County Strawberry Fest
May 29 – 30 • Newton
Entertainment, music, games, food, crafts and all things strawberry
(Visit our online calendar for other Strawberry festivals in Ecekert’s in Belleville, Ruma and St. Jacob)
For more information on these and other great events this month, click here for our online calendar or click here to request your FREE copy of the Spring/Summer Tourism Times!
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
This April is all about the arts in ILLINOISouth.
See works from up-and-coming creators ranging from kindergarten to college at a student art exhibition. Take a raincheck on the latest blockbuster at the multiplex and catch live performances of classics like The Sting or Into The Woods. From gallery exhibitions and quilt shows to theatrical performances and concerts there is something for every palate.
We never cease to be amazed at the immense talent throughout our region – get out this month and see why!
High School Student Art Show & Life Experienced Senior Art Exhibition
Now – April 6
Schmidt Art Center at SWIC, Belleville
Fayette County Schools Art Show
April 2 – April 7
304 W. Main St., Vandalia
Clinton County Showcase Presents: The Sting
April 10 – April 19
Avon Theater, Breese
Perscription: Murder Presented by MASC
April 10 – 19
Capitol Theatre, Waterloo
Funky Butt Brass Band
St. Paul’s UCC, Belleville
The Blues Brothers Revue
Kaksaskia College Jane Knight Auditorium, Centralia
St. Louis Brass Band
The Hett at McKendree, Lebanon
Love, Laughs & Loss – One Act Plays
April 17 – 18
Lindenwood University, Belleville
Spring Indian Market Days
April 17 – April 19
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville
Quilt & Craft Show
7405 Exchange Rd, Texico
Voices of Spring
St. Paul UCC, Belleville
Into the Woods
April 22 – April 26
Dunham Hall Theater at SIUE, Edwardsville
SWIC Student Art Show
April 23 – May. 14
Schmidt Art Center at SWIC, Belleville
Hansel & Gretel
April 24 – April 25
O’Fallon Milburn High School Auditorium, O’Fallon
It’s a Grand Night for Singing
Union United Methodist Church, Belleville
Lindenwood University Auditorium, Belleville
It’s a bird, it’s a…no it’s actually a bird – a Bald Eagle to be specific. There’s lots of them flying around ILLINOISouth. Ever year in January and
February several of these majestic birds flock (get it?) to several places in the area to find food in lakes and rivers that aren’t frozen over.
Visitors from near and far come to several locations along the Mighty Mississippi to take a peek at our feathered friends. Look out spots like the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in Granite City (Madison County) and the Jerry F. Costello Lock and Dam in Modoc (Randolph County) provide the perfect vantage point to catch a glimpse. Carlyle Lake (Clinton County), the largest man-made lake in Illinois, also attracts many Eagles along its
83 miles of shoreline. This year alone 100 were spotted during an annual two-day count. This continues a trend of increased eagle populations coming
to the area in the winter months.
In addition to eagle watching, several events are held each year in ILLINOISouth and surrounding areas, which give visitors a chance to learn about our National Bird. Along with educational opportunities and activities, many of these events typically give people a chance to get up close and personal with Eagles.
Ho Ho Hold on a minute…what are you doing this weekend (and the next couple for that matter)?
ILLINOISouth knows how to celebrate the season in style. Don’t take our word for it – we’ve combed through our event calendar and picked 12 unique festivities that will knock your stockings off.
1. White County Christmas
Weekends, Now – December 13
It’s a White County Christmas featuring a Chocolate Tasting on November 21, Reindeer Run 5K and Festival of Trees on November 22 and Craft Shows on November 29 and December 13.
2. Christmas in Carlyle
The Christmas Season in Carlyle kicks off with a parade and fireworks.
3. Christmas on the River
December 5 – December 7
1331 Swanwick St., Chester
This year’s theme is All Aboard the Polar Express. The bell still rings for those who truly believe. Enjoy a lighted parade, craft show, quilt show, carriage rides and more!
4. Holly Jolly Christmas
December 5, 12, 19
Singer Burl Ives (aka Sam the Snowman in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer) recorded Holly Jolly Christmas, which has inspired his hometown to plan this event every year. Puppet shows, carriage and wagon rides, carolers in period dress and Santa Claus are just a few of the activities.
5. Christmas Past
December 5 – December 21
Mascoutah Heritage Museum, Mascoutah, IL
Relive the Christmases of your youth! Enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday season as you view historic Christmas cards, decorations and ornaments, listen to records on our Victrola, and look at our display of old-fashioned toys. You and your family can even have your picture taken in our Victorian parlor, decorated for the season. The Museum is open every Tuesday morning from 9:00 until noon, the first and third Sunday afternoons of the month, and on December 5th after the Santa Claus parade.
6. Christmas in the Barn
December 6 – December 7
Rainbow Ranch Petting Zoo & Exotic Farm, Nashville
Stop in to see the cows, sheep, donkeys, camel and other farm animals that are waiting for the Baby Jesus to be born.
7. Country Christmas Stroll & House Tour
December 6 – December 7
Stroll the activities throughout town – includes a craft fair, “Festival of Trees” display, and flea market/vendor show. The House Tour includes area homes and a church. Museum sites open and decorated surrey rides available (weather permitting). Breakfast with Santa will be at 9am on Saturday.
8. Old Fashion German Christmas
Participate in a traditional German holiday with music, food, carriage rides, shopping and more.
9. Christmas at Willoughby
Willoughby Farm, Collinsville
See a new side of Willoughby Farm: decorated for the holidays! Visitors will sip hot cider or hot chocolate and nibble on holiday sweet treats while visiting with Santa Claus in the farm house. Remember to bring your camera to snap a photo of Santa with your little one. Join un in the Bank Barn for a holiday sing-along while guests make ornaments to take home. From 1-4 p.m.
10. Christmas with Dickens
December 12 – December 14
Enjoy shopping, carolers and characters from “A Christmas Carol” while strolling the streets.
11. Statehouse Christmas Open House
Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site
The oldest surviving capitol building in Illinois is putting on its best holiday duds and throwing the doors open to the public. Visitors to the Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site will find the building illuminated by more than 250 candles and trimmed with decorations appropriate to the 1840s, when a young Abraham Lincoln served there. Decorations include fresh greenery and fruits.
12. Christmas in the Park
December 19 – December 20
Charley Brown Park, Flora
Christmas in the Park features horse drawn carriage rides, little toot train rides, petting zoo, Santa Claus in the Santa House, lots of festive light displays and more!
Don’t forget to check out some of the other great holiday happenings in our area! There are several places to see plays and concerts in the coming weeks. Plus, who can forget the great light displays in the area? Many of them like the Du Quoin Holiday Lights Fair and the Way of Lights in Belleville have live entertainment and indoor activities for all ages!!!
Picture this…you and the family are in your perfectly toasty car, hot chocolate in hand. You drive into a winter wonderland. Through the window you find scene after delightful scene of favorite Christmas Characters – Santa Claus, Frosty, eight tiny reindeer…nine if ol’ Rudolph is around – all adorned with bright, twinkling lights. Swirls of reds, greens and cool blues cover trees, bushes and fields…this is just a little bit of what you’ll experience at one of ILLINOISouth’s many BEAUTIFUL holiday light displays.
People come from all over the place to see the lights, but there is so much more to do! Many of the displays feature events, live entertainment, children’s activities and much more. Take time out this holiday season to make memories, and even start new family traditions at one of these fine attractions!
Fantasy of Lights
November 21, 2014 – December 31, 2014
Foundation Park, Centralia, IL
From Dusk to 11:00 p.m.
Admission: Free Admission
Lebanon’s Winter Wonderland
November 21, 2014 – January 1, 2015
Horner Park, Lebanon, IL
This annual event is a step back in time. It is a trip to a much simpler time with scenes depicting several of the area’s attractions, wonderful childhood memories, and fantastic ideas. A trip through Lebanon’s Winter Wonderland is truly different from other attractions in the area. We don’t pretend to be the biggest, brightest, nor most technically advanced. LWW is a view of the holiday that everyone remembers! See all the hand painted scenes and wonderful reminders of a much simpler time. Colorful lights and displays of all types are ready for your enjoyment. LWW includes a wide variety of illuminated venues and a life-size Nativity Scene.
Way of Lights
November 21, 2014 – January 2, 2015
National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, IL
45th Annual Way of Lights – This unique celebration of Christmas features a drive-thru light display, tree & wreath displays, an interactive children’s village, camel rides and an indoor laser show. With over one million lights, this event celebrates the true meaning of Christmas…the birth of Jesus.
City of Olney Christmas Light Display
November 27, 2014 – December 28, 2014
Olney City Park, Olney, IL
Drive through the Olney City Park to see thousands of Christmas lights and displays. Santa will be in the Community Building each Friday and Saturday beginning December 5.
Visit Our Website
Holiday Lights Fair
November 27, 2014 – December 30, 2014
Du Quoin State Fairgrounds, Du Quoin, IL
Three mile drive through Christmas lights display is open every night. Weekends in December, the beautifully decorated winter wonderland in Expo Hall, will have vendors with items for sale, food, kids’ corner and music entertainment.
Admission: $10.00 a car load
Christmas Lights Wonderland
November 28, 2014 – December 31, 2014
American Farm Heritage Museum, Greenville, IL
Tour the animated Christmas boxes and lights, then visit the Lil Red Barn Museum for free cookies, hot chocolate, coffee or tea. Visit with Santa every Friday and Saturday, ride the Polar Express on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and enjoy 1800s Christmas at Hill’s Fort.
Admission: Free Admission
Christmas Lights in the Park
November 28, 2014 – January 4, 2015
City Park, Carlyle, IL
Get into the spirit of the season as you view thousands of Christmas lights strung throughout the City Park.
Coulterville Holiday Light Display
November 29, 2014 – December 31, 2014
Coulterville City Park, Coulterville, IL
1/2 mile walk thru display features a million lights and 400 Christmas figurines! Don’t miss the walk through version of the “Candyland” game with favorites such as Lolli Pop Lane. Fridays and Saturdays evenings, there’s food, crafts and Santa.
Admission: Free Admission
Festival of Lights
December 5, 2014 – January 1, 2015
Leo French Park, Fairfield, IL
Come see the beautiful lights and holiday decorations.
Lights in the Park
December 7, 2014
The beautiful light display will be turned on for the holiday season. To help celebrate, Santa will be on hand to visit as well as Christmas carols being sung.