America’s Largest Evening Holiday Celebration

Lights Festival 17

by Ellen Farrar

TimeZoneOne is proud to help The Magnificent Mile promote The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. Created by The Magnificent Mile community for the people of Chicago, the Festival is a holiday tradition attended by a million people, and a live TV spectacle, shown nationwide.

Play Video
LIGHTS FEST CASE STUDY IMAGESArtboard 1 copy 15

America’s Largest Evening Holiday Celebration

TimeZoneOne is proud to help The Magnificent Mile promote The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. Created by The Magnificent Mile community for the people of Chicago, the Festival is a holiday tradition attended by a million people, and a live TV spectacle, shown nationwide.

Magnificent

Our VP of Client Engagement Ellen Farrar has worked on the Festival for 18 years, first as an employee of The Magnificent Mile Association, and for the last three years as part of the TimeZoneOne team, and a volunteer. She explains the joys and challenges of such a vast event.

An Extraordinary Organizational Feat

It’s an extraordinary thing on the part of The Magnificent Mile Association to simultaneously run a huge live event and a live TV show. Merging the demands of these two events is a monumental task. Everything is timed to the second to maximize every minute of the live parade and still meet important TV cues.

Powered by 800 Volunteers

Every year the Association recruits and trains 800 volunteers from local businesses. After months of committee work, we all meet first thing the morning of the Lights Festival. Fueled by our traditional breakfast of peppermint mochas and Egg McMuffins, we meet, greet, and go our separate ways to our tasks.

The volunteers do everything, from setting up signage and stalls, to getting the parade on the road. There are so many variables, but we come together and function as one to solve problems, laugh in the face of adversity, and knock down wildcards one by one.  It’s joyful and community building. You fall in love with your comrades because you’ve done something so rewarding together.

A Family Holiday Tradition

Since 1959, long before the Festival began, businesses hung tiny white lights in the trees along The Magnificent Mile. People started to come from all over Chicago to enjoy the festive vibe. Leaders of The Magnificent Mile Association thought 'let’s make this a bigger thing,' and in 1992 the Lights Festival was born.

Now families come early in the morning to stake out their spot along the parade route, because it’s been their spot for more than 25 years! The day is full of free events, live music, a festive thoroughfare of booths and much celebration.

Throughout the day, more and more people arrive, and as it gets dark the parade assembles and the anticipation builds. When the kids see Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse making their way down the street to illuminate the lights, they start screaming like they’re seeing Elvis. It’s really something!

Growing the Festival Family

We love the event so much we’re always looking for ways to involve our community. The Illinois Office of Tourism sponsored Santa Claus at the Festival last year, and this year we were able to get them access to broadcast the parade on Facebook Live. We can’t take credit for this, but it was wonderful this year to see new TimeZoneOne clients Garrett Popcorn and Frango with branded floats, giving out samples of delicious treats throughout the day.

Proud to Partner with You for Five Years of Fun

Marketing the event starts months ahead on social media. As we get closer to the festival, our design team get stuck into a serious shopping list of promotional assets, including large scale signage, a holiday activity guide, posters, information panels, street pole banners, and all manner of digital goodies. It’s been really exciting this year to have been part of some large-scale branding and place making initiatives.

We’re grateful to The Magnificent Mile Association, for allowing us to play such a critical part in this event, both as your marketing partner, and personally, as volunteers. It’s so much fun, and it brings us much closer to you. You know you’re part of an extraordinary project when you feel like a family. Congratulations!

Light’s Fest landing page

371,000 visits

Facebook Impressions

17.8 million

media impressions

919 million

Related Case Studies

All Case Studies

Alpine Pacific Touring Route

Marketing Destinations/ Brand Strategy/ A TimeZoneOne Website

Alpine Pacific Touring Route

The Alpine Pacific, is New Zealand’s newest touring route, 450kms of spectacular scenery winding past wineries, alpine thermal pools, wild surf, and whales.

The Field Museum, Illinois

Marketing Destinations/ Digital Marketing/ Social Marketing

Illinois Social Media

We’ve had the pleasure of marketing some of the world’s most spectacular visitor destinations here at TimeZoneOne. But the opportunity to drive travel in Illinois, the home of our headquarters and so many of our team? That’s a dream—and you’ve got to pursue your dreams.

ILLINOIS MADE CASE STUDY IMAGES 1
Play Video

Marketing Destinations/ Video/ Content Creation

Illinois Made

In summer 2017, our video crew hit the road. They drove from the north of Illinois to the southern forests, interviewing 15 Illinois Made artisans and filming their stories. Videographer Johnny Hall tells the tale.

All Case Studies