Loyola University Chicago’s Cuneo Mansion and Gardens is once again getting decked out for its annual Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Show.
Staff and Vernon Hills public works crews are putting the final touches on hundreds of displays outside and decorations inside for the light show’s Nov. 23 opening.
“We are so pleased to share another holiday season with the public,” said Kevin Ginty, general manager at Cuneo Mansion and Gardens. “It is one of our favorite times of the year, and we are thrilled to host the open house with Santa for a second year. It brings such joy!”
Cuneo’s grounds will open for a drive-thru tour the estate’s 97 acres. Visitors can enhance their experience by tuning into the local radio station 107.1 FM for a dual music and visual experience. Last year, 24,000 cars toured the outside grounds of the mansion, located at 1350 N. Milwaukee Ave., in a six-week period, Ginty said.
The wait, on a busy weekend, can be one to two hours, he said. Weeknights are typically less crowded. Hours are 6 to 10 p.m. The cost is $5 per car Monday thru Thursday and $10 per car on the weekends.
Ginty has never actually counted the number of outside displays but he estimates there are at least 200. Every year, the village adds or changes some of the displays, he said.
“It’s quite a show,” he said.
Village crews start decorated the second week of October.
Staff decorates the inside of the mansion, a job that takes two weeks, Ginty said. There are five Christmas trees throughout the mansion along with wreaths and other décor. One tree has a circus theme, a nod to the Cuneo’s involvement with the circus.
Ginty’s favorite display is the large Christmas tree in the mansion’s great hall. The tree almost reaches the second floor and is decorated with old toys that belonged to the Cuneo family.
“It’s the first thing you notice when you walk in, it looks great. The mansion itself takes our break away so when it’s decorated, it just adds to it,” he said.
This year Cuneo has a few special events where its decorations and grounds will be on display:
- The mansion hosts a performance of the classic The Velveteen Rabbit by the Kirk Players’. It premiers at the mansion on Dec. 1. A schedule of performances is available on the website.
- The second annual open house with Santa from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 featuring a craft station, a coloring contest for children and Santa and his elves. Tickets must be purchased in conjunction with the driving tour.
- Fifteen Creches displays on loan from the Loyola University Museum of Art’s holiday exhibit titled Art and Faith of the Creche: The Collection of James and Emilia Govan. The exhibit is open now.
For more information on these events, visit Cuneo’s website.