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The Lights at Cedarhurst

Just over the river and through the woods, The Lights will transform the museum campus into a winter wonderland with 10 dazzling light features installed along a 3/4 mile walking loop designed to highlight the best of the Cedarhurst campus.

From distinct building architecture to the beautiful sculpture park – including open lawns, wooded trails, water features, and thoughtful artworks – there is no better setting to experience the magic of the holidays.

Immerse yourself in the 50-foot Tunnel of Illumination that guides visitors into the wooded walking trails. Feel the festivity emulate from the Fluer de Lights, a floating light installation on the Cedarhurst pond. And enjoy a Classic Christmas at the historic Mitchell House, decorated in traditional fashion. These are only a sampling of the sparkle that’s in store at The Lights.

Capture the memories at fun photo stations placed along the walking route – just don’t eat the Gingerbread men! There are plenty of other treats available anyway. Roast some s’mores at the fire pits or stay warm with a hot cocoa (adults can add an extra kick!) as you take in the twinkle.

Grab your friends and family – maybe a scarf and some mittens, too – and get ready to wrap yourself in the magic of the season at The Lights

This holiday season, the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts will unveil The Lights, an exhibition of holiday magic for southern Illinois. Attendees can view 10 different light features along a 3/4-mile walking loop designed to highlight the distinct architecture of each building and the best of the Cedarhurst sculpture park – including open lawns, wooded trails, water features, and thoughtful artworks.

The program will run for seven weekends from mid-November through Dec. 31. 

The Lights program is the culmination of 18 months of planning, and a direct response to ideas generated during Cedarhurst’s last strategic planning process. 

“We started our strategic planning with a community survey and got a lot of feedback about holiday programs and Christmas lights,” said Hillary Esser, Executive Director. “We had roundtabled the idea in previous years, but the community input was the motivation we needed to embark on this new program venture.”

During the 2021 holiday season, the Cedarhurst team spoke with and visited more than 10 institutions that do similar light presentations.

“This type of lights program is not a new concept, and we wanted to visit other museums and organizations to see how it’s being done,” said Courtney Kabat, Director of Engagement. “This really allowed us to see the different presentations, and to bring back all of our favorites experiences to share here at Cedarhurst,”

Crucial to this program has been a partnership with Blachere Illumination, a global company with a physical footprint in Christopher, Illinois.

“We really wanted to keep our program investments in southern Illinois – building up and connecting with this region – so when we found Blachere we were relieved,” Esser said. “They have helped us design some incredible light features specific to our campus, and we are so excited to see it come to fruition.”

While the unique display of holiday lights is the main attraction of The Lights, there is much more to enjoy, including community fire pits, photo opportunities, festive food and drink concessions, and special programs on select weekends (see sidebar for details).

All art galleries and the interactive Beck Family Center will remain open during The Lights as well, in an effort to introduce new visitors to all Cedarhurst has to offer. 

“The goal is really to bring new people to Cedarhurst and Mt. Vernon,” Esser said. “We hope to create a tourism season during the holidays and make Cedarhurst a destination for all of southern Illinois.” 

Tickets are on sale now! The cost is $15 for general admission, $10 for Cedarhurst members, and $5 for children ages 2-10. 

We invite you to be part of our inaugural season in 2022 and immerse yourself in holiday wonder Cedarhurst!

Additional programs and rental opportunities are being planned during The Lights… 

Festival of Trees Kickoff Event

Nov. 18-20

The Lights kicks off November 18 with the Festival of Trees, a partnership fundraiser with Spero Family Services. A ticketed community gala will be held Friday, November 18, featuring Christmas trees, dinner, drinks, and horse-drawn carriage rides offering a first look at The Lights

General admission to The Lights will start Saturday, November 19, and Christmas trees will be on display in the Mitchell Museum through November 20, allowing visitors throughout the weekend to view, enjoy, and even bid on the beautifully decorated trees. 

Cedarhurst is excited to partner with Spero and welcome this longtime community event to Cedarhurst.

Christmas Market

December 4-6

Patrons who purchase a ticket to The Lights during the first weekend in December will have the opportunity to browse more than 15 artisan booths set up in the museum Performance Hall. Shop for unique holiday gifts and support regional artists at The Lights Christmas Market!

Supper with Santa

December 16 and 17

Bring the family and enjoy Supper with Santa at this special experience at The Lights!

Families will enjoy a buffet dinner, craft activity, a special gift, and the chance to merrily mingle and take photos with Santa. After dinner, families can walk The Lights and enjoy everything the Cedarhurst campus has to offer.

Family Nights

December 11 and December 30

Cedarhurst strives to be a resource to all, and therefore the museum has designated two Family Nights, during which patrons can claim free children’s tickets to The Lights.

Special activities will encourage extra family time, including holiday movie showings, story time with Mrs. Claus, coloring, crafts, and more. 

* CASA organizations throughout southern Illinois will help distribute priority vouchers, and all are welcome to participate.

Fire pit Rentals

Reservations nightly at 5 and 7 p.m.

Bring your entourage and enjoy a VIP experience at The Lights! Semi-private fire pits located in the lawn behind the Mitchell House can accommodate up to 12 people for an extended night of fun. 

Rentals include a 90-minute private fire pit rental and private bathroom access, complimentary drinks, choice of a deluxe s’mores board or charcuterie board, and an official souvenir from The Lights. Rental bookings are available starting Oct. 20.     

Facility Rentals

For larger groups and private events, Cedarhurst offers rental of the onsite Schweinfurth House, located at the north end of the Cedarhurst property. Host your family Christmas celebration, corporate holiday party, or a holiday party with friends in conjunction with The Lights. Rentals at the Schweinfurth House are available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. 

Rent The Lights for a private viewing and larger celebration in the Mitchell Museum during special rental opportunities available on Thursday evenings. 

Facility rentals are booking now! Contact Courtney Kabat ( for more information.

Holiday Hours

Tickets to The Lights will be available in timed intervals from 5 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. To accommodate the evening hours, Cedarhurst will implement shortened daytime hours starting Nov. 15, open 11 am to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.