From the beginning of the Fall semester leading into the winter, college kids go from tailgates to staying in their apartments more than ever. When it’s too cold to leave your house, but winter break is not in sight yet, what can motivate you to make the most of your day? Looking for an outlet of fun things to do, we’ve compiled a list of awesome events perfect for students around the UIUC campus and Champaign/Urbana area. Catering to students and their needs, the area is packed with winter and holiday events to keep the students happy until they leave for the Holidays.
After taking a year off, the Nutcracker is back at Krannert center in Champaign-Urbana, and it’s ready to usher in crowds all winter long. “E.T.A. Hoffman’s timeless tale—complete with enchanted toys, a princely hero, and fanciful figures—comes to life in this showcase of community talent. This holiday tradition sparkles with exquisitely handcrafted costumes and magical moments.” If you’re looking for a fun date night activity or something cool and creative to liven your mind up from studying, this show will be a great addition to your winter calendar. Tickets are available at a discount for UIUC students! Running December 2nd-5th, don’t miss a yearly trip to the ballet! Get your tickets here.
After going virtual last winter, the parade of lights is officially back in downtown Champaign on November 27th. From children to college students to parents, this event is for the whole town. “This year’s theme will be “Blue Christmas/Holidays,” so expect lots of blue lights and “Elvis elves” as part of this year’s celebration. There will be lighted floats, live entertainment (did someone say marching bands?), and lots of FREE holiday-themed fun at the Parade of Lights.
And while there won’t be candy thrown from floats for this year’s parade, children can participate in a “candy crawl” throughout downtown in the hours leading up to the parade. There will also be horse and carriage rides, visits with Santa, and live musical entertainment. Did we mention it is all FREE?! Get excited and put it on your calendar; it’s right around the corner! See all information regarding the parade here.
All of the college kids are looking forward to the German Christmas market that is owned and run by a beer company. The event features fun food like crepes, brats, potato pancakes, and other themed holiday food. With vendors changing each week, it is open for the 4 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas and is free to all. Just show up! Check out all the info here.
For the 6th year in a row, Allerton park puts on a family-friendly after-dark light show just a short drive from UIUC. Running Dec 3-23, and 2 weeks in January, this light even will bring you right into the holiday spirit. The show “features an illuminated one-mile walk through the gardens of Allerton Park after dark. The path will be familiar to Allerton visitors, including a trip through the Fu Dog Garden and other Allerton favorites. There will be some new favorites, in addition to more familiar light displays from years past.” The park is mapped out stunningly with courtyards and walkways that illuminate the lights even further, making this a truly fun and remarkable light show experience. See dates and times here.
Right on your own turf, the U of I ice rink is an awesome spot to spend any night of the week. They host a plethora of events like open skating time and hockey games! The area is a “55,000 square foot facility and is the only one in Champaign-Urbana. The dimensions of the rink are 192′ by 115′ with a 1,200 seat arena surrounding. There are four public locker rooms, four party areas, and two Zambonis in the facility”. Get yourself out of the house and show your school spirit all at once. Check out the event calendar here.
Just a hop, skip, and a jump over to a neighboring campus of Parkland college, you will find an incredible planetarium for students and nonstudents alike. One of the most popular places on their campus, the Planetarium, puts on incredible shows for the public on a rotating schedule, so you can keep coming back for more! It is an excellent place to spend the evening staring and learning about the stars, especially when it’s too cold to do it in real life! Check out their show schedule here.
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