The Chicago holiday season is made for memories, from annual traditions to once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Whether you’re taking in a light show or enjoying a hot chocolate after an afternoon of ice skating, there’s something for everyone.
We have rounded up some important points of the season; for more information click on the links provided.
November and December
Dates vary: Millennium Park, Loop
Millennium Park will be the focus of activities this holiday season:
– See Chicago’s official Christmas tree, a 55-foot blue spruce, through January 9.
– On Friday evenings, join the singers, from November 25 to December. 16
— Ice skating is open, weather permitting, through March 5 at both Millennium Park and the nearby Maggie Daley Park rink.
While you’re downtown, stop by the Art Institute for a photo op with the museum’s famous costumed lions and catch the holiday window display at Macy’s State Street store.
Until December 20: CTA Holiday Train
Santa, his reindeer and elves will travel through Chicago on a covered train, stopping at train stations between November 25th and December 20th. The train will first go on the Green Line, followed by the Orange and Brown. then the Red and Purple Lines, the Pink Line, the Blue Line and finally the Yellow Line.
Its companion, the CTA Holiday Bus, will appear on several routes between November 29 and December 23.
From December 9 to December 24: Music Box Christmas Sing-a-Long, Lakeview
For nearly 40 years, the Music Box Theater has been showing the holiday classics “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas,” with a twist. Before the curtain goes up, the house organist leads moviegoers through a catalog of treasured Christmas carols. Fa-la-la-la-la
Until December 24: Christkindlmarket, Daley Plaza and Aurora locations
through December 31: Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville, Lakeview
Modeled after traditional German outdoor holiday markets, the Christkindlmarket offers a taste of Europe in the Midwest. Aurora’s location is new this year. In Wrigleyville, visitors can go next door (with a ticket) to Winterland at Wrigley Field.
Until December 25: ChiTown Movies Holiday Favorites, Pilsen
Load up the car and head to ChiTown Movies to catch “Home Alone,” “Elf,” “Christmas Vacation” and more on the big screen. If ChiTown’s lineup is any indication, yes, Virginia, “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie.
Until December 31: Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield
The zoo’s miles of lights and illuminated animal sculptures have been delighting visitors for over 40 years. Additional features include a skating rink.
Until December 29: Kohlights at the Kohl Children’s Museum, Glenview
Dubbed “Memertastic,” the museum’s interactive light and color display is a holiday wonder for kids. Displays include Lollipop Light Lane and a 360-degree beam area.
The Nutcracker 2021 from Art on theMART on Vimeo.
Until December 30: The Nutcracker, Art in the Market, Merchandise Market
See scenes from the Joffrey Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker projected on the Merchandise Mart’s massive screen.
through January 1, 2023: Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park
Enjoy a dazzling display of lights in the heart of Chicago. The festivities also include ice carvings, photos with Santa and carolers. New this year are the Chicago skyline display and the 165-foot-long Grand Light Tunnel. Admission is free on Mondays.
Until January 1, 2023: Let It Shine Light Show
No need to worry about finding parking at Let It Shine – the show is driveable. There are two locations, one in Northbrook and the other in Schaumburg, although each has a slightly different setup.
Until January 1, 2023: Sparkle Light Festival at Impact Field, Rosemont
The Sparkle experience includes lighted villages, a children’s zone, a two-story ice slide and free rides on the Holly Trolly.
through January 7, 2023: Lighting: Tree lights at The Morton Arboretum, Lisle
Walk a mile-long avenue of trees lit up to showcase winter beauty, accompanied by the sound of festive music. New this year is Electric Illumination, a late-night experience for adults over 18, set to progressive trance and house music with synchronized light displays (16, 23 and 30 December only).
Until January 7, 2023: Light up the lake at Navy Pier
Navy Pier does holiday lights like no other, indoors. Highlights of the experience include a forest maze with over 100 illuminated trees, a skating rink and a train ride through Santa’s Village for the little ones.
through January 8, 2023: Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
The 1.25-mile lighted path takes visitors past dazzling light installations, including a fire garden and the perennial fan favorite, the Winter Cathedral.
Until January 8, 2023: Amaze Light Festival at Odyssey Fun World, Tinley Park
The Amaze experience includes a million twinkling lights, a holiday market, food trucks, music, a stage show and more.
Until January 8, 2023: Christmas Around the World, Museum of Science and Industry, Hyde Park
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the museum’s beloved tradition, which began with a single tree in 1942 and has now grown to 50 trees, dressed to represent the holiday traditions of countries and cultures around the world.
Until January 8, 2023: Winter Flower Show at Garfield Park Conservatory, Garfield Park
This year’s theme is “Snow Day!” is, flowers arranged to create the illusion of a snow-covered garden. The centerpiece will be a 12 meter tree of 200 white poinsettia plants.
The Lincoln Park Conservatory’s Winter Flower Show is open through January 7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. The theme is “Sugar Plum” with music from “The Nutcracker” to enhance the experience.
Opportunities to shop local and support local artists and creators:
State Street Market, Loop, Nov. 18-Dec. 18
Chicago Artisan Market, Ravenswood, November 26-27.
One of a Kind, Merchandise Mart, December 1-4.
Winter Market, Andersonville, December 2-4.
Winterglow Holiday Market & Beer Garden at the Salt Shed, Goose Island, Dec. 2-4; December 9-11.
Holiday Uprising Market, Beverly Arts Center, December 3rd.
Chicago Art Department Holiday Market, Pilsen, December 9.
Dank Haus Weihnachtsmarkt, Lincoln Square, December 10th.
Chicago Art Girls Holiday Pop-up, North Center, December 10-11.
Chicago Artisan Market, Fulton Market, December 11th.
Holiday Fair at The Plant, Back of the Yards, December 11th.
Renegade Craft Fair, West Loop, December 17-18.
Randolph Street Holiday Market, West Loop, December 17-18.
Events listed are subject to change. We recommend double-checking times and locations before heading out the door.