Lights illuminate Sinnissippi Park outside Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, for All Aglow in Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
By Mary Sisk
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — Need some plans before Christmas this weekend? Look no further.

From ice skating (synthetically or traditionally) to a mini camp for your kids, there’s plenty to do in Rockford this week.

Here are 10 ideas for things to do, but you can always find more on our events page.

Celebrate the winter solstice

Nature at the Confluence is celebrating the winter solstice Wednesday with an evening of poetry, a guided walk, refreshments and more. Admission is $5 and pre-registration is strongly encouraged.

Quick facts

Where: Nature at the Confluence, 306 Dickop St.

When: 6:30-8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 21

Tickets: Click here

Is your kid a science whiz?

Take them to Winter Science KidVentures & Explorers at Burpee Museum of Natural History on Wednesday. Kids will have the opportunity to learn and perform experiments about water and various crafts.

Admission is $12 for members and $14 for non-members.

Quick facts

Where: Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St.

When: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 21

Tickets: Click here

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Dust off your ice skates

Go ice skating at Frosty Fridays public skate session from 7-9 p.m. Friday at Carlson Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Road, Loves Park.

Admission is $8, which includes skate rental, and reoccurs every Friday.

Quick facts

Where: Carlson Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Road, Loves Park

When: 7-9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16

More info and tickets: Click here

Go see the lights

The grounds outside Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens are illuminated on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, for All Aglow, the annual lights display at the Rockford park. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

The All Aglow holiday light display will be lit all weekend and available for your viewing at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. Second St.

The lights are on from dusk until dawn, but the park closes at 10 p.m. Admission is free, though donations are accepted.

Quick facts

Where: Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, 1354 N. Second St.

When: Open daily, but park closes at 10 p.m.

More info: Click here

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Go ice skating without the chills

Enjoy indoor skating on synthetic polymer, crafts and more fun from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at the Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St. You don’t even need skates. The setup allows for you to “skate” the synthetic ice in their socks. 

Admission is $10 public; free to members and children ages 1 and younger.

Quick facts

Where: Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St.

When: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17, but reoccurring through Dec. 23 and the 26-30.

More info: Click here

Kid-friendly yoga, crafts and more

Are your kids bored on winter break? Send them to Arctic Animals Kids Art + Yoga Mini-Camp from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday this week.

The camp will include child-friendly yoga, crafts, snacks and more fun at Smarty Pants Rockford Art Studio.

Quick facts

Where: Smarty Pants Rockford Art Studio, 317 Market St.

When: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 21 through Friday, Dec. 23

Tickets: Click here

Celebrate Christmas Eve with The Olympic Tavern

Hang out at The Olympic Tavern from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. for their Christmas Eve party. The restaurant will offer a complimentary buffet, last minute gift card sales, hot drinks and beer. Their kitchen will not be open during this event.

Quick facts

Where: The Olympic Tavern, 2327 N. Main St.

When: 11 a.m.- 5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 24

More info: Click here

Go see more Christmas lights

The annual Illuminated: A Lighted Garden Experience event reoccurs 5-8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at Anderson Japanese Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Road.

The event includes numerous light displays, pizza from Woodfire, various food trucks, live carolers on Fridays and Saturdays and more fun.

Admission is free for Premium Gardens members, free for children 5 and under, $11 for adults, $10 for seniors, $9 for students and military.

Quick facts

Where: Anderson Japanese Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Road

When: Open everyday this week from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

More info: Click here

Train fanatic?

Union Pacific at Sinnissippi Station
A miniature Union Pacific train moves through Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, as part of the Sinnissippi Station exhibit in Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

The Sinnissippi Station Model Train Exhibit is a reoccurring event, open from noon-8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. 3 p.m. Sunday at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. Second St.

The exhibit features nine structures modeled after Rockford landmarks, as well as other historical structures.  

Quick facts

Where: Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. Second St.

When: Reoccurs daily

More info: Click here

And even more lights to see

A car moves through the 100-foot light tunnel on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, at Festival of Lights in Sinnissippi Park in Rockford.

The Festival of Lights is warning that this week’s winter storm could force the drive-thru event to be shut down temporarily on Thursday or Friday. But you can see the 100-plus light displays once the snow is cleared.

Related: Festival of Lights braces itself for winter storm, which could hamper donations, too

Quick facts

Where: Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. Second St., Rockford

When: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Christmas week (pending weather); 24 hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Info: Check Festival of Lights Facebook page for weather-related updates or go to for more information and to donate to the volunteer-run effort.

This article is by Mary Sisk. Email her at or follow her on Instagram at @maryrrcurrent

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