Christmas Parades in McHenry County for 2023

As you shake off the Thanksgiving sluggishness, a great way to kick off the holiday season is by heading outside for a Christmas parade. They are often combined with other great festive activities like lighting the Christmas tree, holiday markets, or visiting a certain jolly fellow dressed in red. We’re actually fortunate to have a fair number of holiday parades to choose from, so check our list for the Christmas parades across McHenry County.

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Our Christmas parades guide breaks them out by city and provides a map detailing some point along the parade route, often the end point…or hopefully, at least in the general vicinity.

It’s challenging to show the parade routes, so definitely check the respective websites for any specific route and timing details, as well as any last-minute changes.

While some of these Christmas parades may be standalone events, others may be combined with holiday Christmas tree lightings, visits with Santa, or other events, so be sure to factor that into your timing as well as your preparations…especially in dressing for the weather and extended time outdoors this time of year.

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McHenry County Christmas Parades

Kick off the 2023 holiday season with a Christmas parade near you! Check the details below before you make all of your plans.

NOTE: we’ve shaded those events below that are as of yet unconfirmed. We’ll continue to update as new information is available.


Merry Cary Parade & Festival

Date: Sunday, December 3, 2023

Start Time: 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Location: 108 W. Main Street, Cary, IL 60013

Information: Details, Article

Crystal Lake

Festival of Lights Parade

Date: Friday, November 24, 2023

Start Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Location: N Williams St & Brink St, Crystal Lake, IL 60014

Information: Details, Article

Fox Lake

Fox Lake Festival of Lights

Date: Saturday, November 25, 2023

Start Time: 5:00 pm

Location: 17 E School Ct, Fox Lake, IL 60020

Information: Details

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Christmas in Harvard Parade

Date: Saturday, December 2, 2023

Start Time: 6:00 pm

Location: 201 W Diggins St, Harvard, IL 60033

Information: Details


Holiday Magic Parade & Tree Lighting

Date: Saturday, December 9, 2023

Start Time: 5:30 pm

Location: W Church St & St Johns Ave, Johnsburg, IL 60051

Information: Details


2023 Marengo Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting Ceremony

Date: Saturday, December 2, 2023

Start Time: 5:30 pm

Location: 132 E Prairie St, Marengo, IL 60152

Information: Details

Santa's arrival.

Tips for Christmas Parades

  1. Arrive early. The best viewing spots often fill up quickly, so it’s a good idea to arrive at least 20-30 minutes before the parade start time.
  2. Check the route. While these are often annual events that follow the same route, it’s always a good idea to double-check if the route is specified.
  3. Pick a spot for before, during, and after. What other activities are there, before or after the parade? Caroling, tree lighting, Santa visit, or other activities? If you want to do these other things, then be aware of when and where those take place, and pick a spot accordingly. If you aren’t, then picking a spot along the parade route away from those areas may be easier and less crowded.
  4. Dress for the weather. Parades are complex events that involve lots of different people, closing streets, and much planning. Therefore, they often happen as scheduled, regardless of the weather. While it could be unseasonably warm, it could also be cold, rainy, snowy, or all of the above. Dress for an extended period of time, including a hat, gloves, scarf, and coat, as well as layers so you can adjust to the temperature as needed.
  5. Bring a blanket or chairs. This will give you a comfortable place to sit and watch the parade. You may also want to bring a small table to hold snacks and drinks. However, this may not be feasible, depending on the specific parade and where you want to be.
  6. Pack snacks and drinks. Parades can be short, but some may last for over an hour, especially if you need to arrive extra early for the spot you want. It’s important to have something to drink at least and maybe something to eat while you’re waiting. Bring snacks that are easy to eat, such as granola bars, trail mix, and fruit. You may also want to bring a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee.
  7. Bring a camera or phone to take pictures. You’ll want to capture all the festive sights and sounds of the parade.
  8. Be prepared for crowds. Christmas parades are popular events, so expect large crowds. Be patient and respectful of others, and keep an eye on your children.
  9. Separation plan. Plan ahead, especially with children, what to do and where you are going to meet if, and when, you get separated. Have young children carry a paper or card with your photo, name, and phone number on it.
  10. Have fun! Christmas parades are a great way to get into the holiday spirit. They often happen right after Thanksgiving and are a great way to kick off the festive season. Enjoy the music, the floats, and the company of your loved ones.

Extra tips for young children:

  • Talk to your children about what to expect at the parade, such as the crowds and the noise.
  • Set ground rules for behavior, such as staying close to you and not running into the street.
  • Bring activities for your children to do while they’re waiting for the parade to start, such as coloring books, sidewalk chalk, or bubbles.
  • Take breaks throughout the parade so your children don’t get too tired or overwhelmed.

Port Barrington

Annual Village Santa Parade & Party

Date: Sunday, December 17, 2023

Start Time: 12:00 pm

Location: 69 S Circle Ave, Port Barrington, IL 60010

Information: Details

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Wonder Lake

Christmas at the Lake

Date: Saturday, December 2,, 2023

Start Time: 1:00 pm

Location: 7602 Hancock Dr, Wonder Lake, IL 60097

Information: Details

See our other holiday guides!

Santa House in the middle of Brink Street Market.
Santa’s House is lit up and ready for the holidays.


Annual Woodstock Christmas Parade

Date: Sunday, November 26, 2023

Start Time: 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Location: 100 N Johnson St, Woodstock, IL 60098

Information: Details

As always, all events are subject to change. Please be sure to check the event pages for the specific event for current information.

President and Founder of Identity Developments, LLC, the parent company of the McHenry Life website. My hope for McHenry Life is to create a resource and destination for the residents and businesses of McHenry County alike. A place where residents can discover new places to explore, fun events and ways to spend time, and then share those experiences with others. A place where businesses can connect with existing and potential customers, and not simply market their businesses, but share their own unique stories.

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