Lucia Nights in Downtown Bishop Hill -- December 8 and 9.

Friday, December 8, and Saturday, December 9, 6 – 9 p.m.

Downtown Bishop Hill, Illinois

A two-evening celebration of the Swedish tradition based on the legend of Saint Lucia, Queen of Light, the 2023 Lucia Nights Festival in Bishop Hill will, on December 8 and 9, deliver a seasonal treat featuring live music, a barn dance, a chili supper, a tree-lighting ceremony, carriage rides, and more.

It is believed that during a famine in Sweden on the longest and darkest night of the year, Saint Lucia appeared wearing a long white robe and encircling her head was a crown of candles. Legend has it that Lucia appeared on a ship laden with food. When the ship was unloaded, both it and Lucia vanished. Girls in Sweden today wake their families on December 13 carrying a tray of Lucia buns while dressed in a white robe and wearing a crown of candles.

The 2023 Lucia Nights festival begins in Bishop Hill with the Lighting of the Park Christmas tree at 6 p.m. on Friday, December 8. The public is invited to bring edible ornaments to hang on the tree. Throughout the evening, businesses and museums will have Lucia Girls to greet guests. Around the village, each building will have a single candle in each and every window, and sidewalks will also be illuminated by candles. Restaurants are open both evenings. Special Christmas gifts will be on sale.

On both evenings, Bishop Hill will be hosting a wide variety of free Christmas activities. At the Steeple Building Museum, Hammer and Pick will be playing a variety of Christmas and folk music from 6 to 9 p.m. The VASA National Archives will have a closing reception for their A Sampling of our Samling exhibit. Also at the Archives, storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis will share a medley of Swedish and Pioneer Christmas stories and songs from 6 to 8 p.m. At the Bishop Hill Fire Station, Barry Cloyd will be performing a variety of music from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., with Coffee Creek performing from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Peoria Cooperative Academy Madrigal Singers will be singing at the Bishop Hill Methodist Church from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Both Friday and Saturday, the Bishop Hill Community United Methodist Church will host its annual Soup and Chili Supper, beginning at 4:00 p.m. A free-will donation is appreciated to cover the cost of the meal. In addition, the Galva High School Choir and Wethersfield High School Choir will be going from building-to- building singing Christmas carols. Finally, Josh Christianson and Friends will be singing and leading Christmas Carols outside of J Goard Pottery from 6 to 9 p.m.

On Saturday, December 9 only, at 7 p.m., there will be an Old Fashioned Barn Dance at the Colony School. The Sangamo Stemwinders will be performing. All dances taught and called by Gail Hintze. Beginners are welcome and no partner is necessary. Also, the Krans Kafe is hosting horse drawn carriage rides from 6 to 9 p.m. A carriage ride cost $5 per person. However, children under the age of 1 are free.

Lucia Nights is sponsored by the Bishop Hill Arts Council, Bishop Hill Heritage Association, Bishop Hill State Historic Site, VASA National Archives, Bishop Hill Old Settlers’ Association, Bishop Hill Volunteer Fire Department, and numerous local businesses. This event is also partly funded by the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, and American Rescue Plan Funds from Henry County, approved by the Henry County Board.

Featured events for the 2023 Lucia Nights will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on December 8 and 9, and more information is available by calling (309)927-3899 and visiting

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