MAGNIFICENT MILE — It's not even Thanksgiving, but the merchants of North Michigan Avenue are ready to ring in the holidays.
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, now in its 24th year, will start at 11 a.m. Saturday in Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave. The annual event sponsored by BMO Harris Bank will once again involve the lighting of 200 trees along the Magnificent Mile, but this year include a performance by 2000s pop starlet Michelle Branch and other new acts.
Here's everything you need to know about this year's festival:
What Is It?
The annual lights festival, when more than one million lights will be lit along North Michigan Avenue, is billed by the Magnificent Mile Association as "the country's largest evening holiday celebration."
Mickey and Minnie Mouse will lead more than 40 floats and balloons down the famed retail corridor. Santa Claus, Benny the Bull, and Tommy Hawk will also appear.
When Is It?
A pre-parade festival in Pioneer Court featuring treats from Connie's Pizza, Eli's Cheesecake, Fannie May and others will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday. The parade itself begins at 5:30 p.m., starting at Michigan and Oak Street and ending with a riverfront fireworks show starting at 6:55 p.m.
Sounds like this is for kids. Anything for adults?
Shopping. And live music! For kids and adults. Here's the lineup at Pioneer Court leading up to the parade:
• Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players, 11 a.m.
• Petoskey Steel Drum Band, noon.
• Isaiah Grass, 12:45 p.m.
• Michelle Branch, 1:45 p.m.
• Lazaro Arbos, 2:45 p.m.
And the following artists will perform during the parade itself:
• Million Dollar Quartet
• The Girl and the Dreamcatcher
• Anthony Kearns
• Charles Perry
When should I get there?
Probably early. The Mag Mile Association expects 800,000 visitors taking in the parade. The association says it's less crowded on the east side of Michigan, particularly along the northern end of the route.
What streets will be closed?
Oak Street from State Street to Michigan, Michigan from Oak to Wacker Drive, and Wacker from Michigan to its eastern end will be closed from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Illinois Street will be closed from Michigan to the Hotel Intercontinental's side entrance from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Columbus Drive curb lanes from Wacker to Randolph Street will be closed from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Columbus will be totally closed from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The following streets will be closed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday:
• Clark Street's east curb lane from Oak to Delaware Street.
• Delaware's north curb lane from Dearborn Street to Clark.
• Oak from Clark to State.
• Dearborn from Delaware to Maple Street.
• Walton Street from State to Clark.
What if I just want to watch on TV?
The parade will be broadcast by ABC7 from 6 to 7 p.m. Saturday, and available for streaming at abc7chicago.com.
Check out the event's website for more information.
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