Memorial Holiday Fest Returns to Downtown Springfield

Memorial Holiday FestMemorial Holiday Fest, presented by the Springfield Memorial Foundation in partnership with Downtown Springfield, Inc., will feature a festive lineup of community events and family activities on Saturdays and Wednesday evenings between Nov. 26 and Dec. 21 in downtown Springfield. Most events at Memorial Holiday Fest are free.

“We’re excited to share Memorial Holiday Fest with our community,” said Melissa Hansen Schmadeke, executive director of the Springfield Memorial Foundation. “Families will rediscover familiar activities and enjoy exciting new offerings. This inclusive event celebrates the diversity of the holiday season with free admission and ample free parking available.”

For a map of all the sites featuring Memorial Holiday Fest activities and entertainment and a schedule of events, visit Maps are also included in Downtown Springfield, Inc. pamphlets, which can be picked up at local businesses. Here’s what to look forward to:

  • A tree lighting will kick off Memorial Holiday Fest at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 26, at the Old State Capitol Plaza.
  • Student-decorated trees will be on display at the Illinois State Museum, 502 S. Spring St. Students will compete in an online “People’s Choice” vote for first, second and third place. The public can vote online by visiting Springfield Memorial Foundation’s Facebook page.
  • Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza decorations will also be featured at various locations throughout downtown. New this year is a 10-foot-tall outdoor light display of Abraham Lincoln with Santa Claus on display at the Old State Capitol Plaza.
  • Visits with Santa Claus will be held on the lawn of the Old State Capitol. Santa will be available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and from 4-7 p.m. on Wednesdays.
  • Free “Midwest Sleigh Rides” will be available from 2-7 p.m. Saturdays and from 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays. People can catch the rides at 1 North Old State Capitol Plaza. In partnership with Springfield Mass Transit District, a shuttle bus will provide mobility assistance. For times and route information, visit
  • The Illinois State Museum will host holiday crafts for children on Wednesdays and Saturdays, a Desserts with the Sugar Plum Fairy event from 3-5 p.m. on Dec. 10 and a PJs & Story Time with Mrs. Claus event from 5-7 p.m. on Dec. 21, the last day of Memorial Holiday Fest.
  • Families can take children to several Holiday Fest activities in Kidzeum, 412 E. Adams St. The holiday fest activities are free with paid admission to Kidzeum. Children can make potholders adorned with their handprints and other arts and crafts. The Sock Skating Rink will be on the third floor of Kidzeum. For information about when the Sock Skating Rink will be open, visit
  • The LRS Ice Rink, a 4,000 square-foot outdoor ice skating rink located on the lawn of the Old State Capitol, will be open 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Nov. 16 through Dec. 21.
  • Activities for families will be available at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, including a selfie-station in the Teen Zone. For details, check the daily schedule at

Families attending Memorial Holiday Fest can pick up Polar Passports for children. When children visit four specific destinations, they receive a stamp on their passports. The four locations are: Springfield Visitors Bureau, Old State Capitol, Kidzeum and Illinois State Museum. With all four destinations stamped, children can turn in their passports at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, 402 S. Sixth St., where they will be entered into a drawing for free passes to the Kidzeum.

Downtown Springfield, Inc.’s (DSI’s) Old Capitol Holiday Walks, which coincides with Memorial Holiday Fest, is an opportunity for people to visit downtown and shop and eat in locally owned stores and restaurants, which “pull out all the stops for this most magical time of the year,” said Kayla Graven, DSI’s executive director.

Times for the Old Capitol Holiday Walks are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays. Shoppers can earn “red tickets” for purchases at downtown businesses, which they can enter for a chance to win up to $1,000. Free parking will be available at Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. This year marks the second year the hospital foundation has partnered with Downtown Springfield, Inc., to present Memorial Holiday Fest alongside DSI’s Old Capitol Holiday Walks. PNC Bank is Memorial Holiday Fest’s principal sponsor.

Memorial Holiday Fest is able to offer most activities for free and raise funds for Springfield Memorial Foundation, thanks to the support of its sponsors, said Hansen Schmadeke.

“We’re all working together to make a wonderful event for families throughout central Illinois. Downtown Springfield is a great destination during the holidays, and people can also spend time shopping at local businesses or grabbing a meal at one of our downtown restaurants,” she said.