It may be getting colder in Chicago right now, but things are about to get a lot brighter! Whether you’re in the mood for dazzling lights, ice skating, entertainment, or some shopping, we’ve rounded up some of Chicago’s holiday events with light shows, activities, and Christmas markets. Be sure to check the event links for details on tickets, prices, transportation and more.
Odyssey Fun World, Tinley Park | Until January 8
This family-friendly festival of lights allows visitors to wander through themed worlds, snack on holiday treats and ride down an icy slope.
Merchandise Mart | Until December 30
If you can’t make it to the live show, the scenes Nutcracker It will be screened at the Merchandise Mart as performed by the Joffrey Ballet along with Tchaikovsky’s score.
Brookfield Zoo | Until December 31
Brookfield Zoo hosts its own festival of lights with the help of holiday magic and more than two million twinkling lights.
Morton Arboretum | Until January 7
This light show at the Morton Arboretum allows visitors to walk a mile-long path filled with music and light effects designed to bring out the “beauty of trees in winter.” Like the Lincoln Park Zoo, there are adult nights and beer festivals.
Navy Pier | Until January 7
If you don’t want to brave the cold temperatures, you can catch this indoor light show at Navy Pier. Explore the interactive light display or lace up your skates for the ice rink.
Chicago Botanical Garden | Until January 8
Walk through dazzling displays of light, music and fire at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s annual holiday light show. This year it has a new route and new installations by international artists.
Lincoln Park Zoo | Until January 1
Lincoln Park’s ZooLights return with lights, ice sculptures, a light maze, a ferris wheel and more activities for this annual tradition. General admission is free on Mondays and $5 all week. Additional events include Sensory Friendly Night, BrewLights and Senior Night.
Goodman Theater | Until December 31
This holiday tradition is back at the Goodman Theater with actor Larry Yando returning for his 15th year as Ebenezer Scrooge.
2343 S. Throop St. | Until December 25
Watch classic holiday movies at this drive-in theater in Pilsen. They are showing everything goblin and Alone at home to A Muppet Christmas Carol and Die Hard.
Museum of Science and Industry | Until January 8
It is the 80th anniversary of this Christmas exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry. Explore how Christmas is celebrated around the world with over 50 trees representing different cultures and countries.
Various Places | Until December 23
All in the most festive CTA tradition. Holiday trains and buses will roll through Chicago through December 23rd. See train and bus timetables.
Various Places | Constantly
Lace up your skates and head to one of Chicago’s ice rinks. The classic Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon option or the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink is located in Millennium Park. Winterland on Gallagher Way has its own rink, as well as several neighborhood parks, including McKinley Park, Midway Plaisance, Mt. Greenwood Park, Warren Park and Wentworth Park. Light up the Lake at Navy Pier (see above) also has an indoor track.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra | From December 17 to 23
Get in the mood for holiday music with a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alastair Willis and featuring the vocals of Jessica Vosk.
Joffrey Ballet | From December 3 to 27
Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker will return to the Joffrey Ballet again. With an emphasis on Chicago history, Marie’s fantastic journey takes her to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Go backstage at the Joffrey Ballet Nutcracker and is held at wttw.com/nutcracker.
Garfield Conservatory | Until January 8
This winter flower display at the Garfield Conservatory will feature a variety of flowers such as geraniums, pansies, poinsettias and more in white, silver and pink to create the “illusion of a snow-covered garden.”
Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field | Until January 8
Games, rides, an ice rink and access to Wrigley Field are part of Winterland, located on Gallagher Way near Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville (see more below). Visitors can go down the tube on an ice slide or take the “Infield Express” as part of this introductory event.
Catalpa Avenue and Clark Street | December 2–4
Visit this Swedish-style market in Andersonville, featuring Swedish and vintage vendors, Glögg and roasted nuts, and photos with Santa.
Daley Plaza, Wrigleyville and Aurora | Until December 31
Chicago’s beloved German Christmas Market is back with hot chocolate, mulled wine and a variety of vendors. There are three locations to choose from: classic Daley Plaza, Wrigleyville, and Aurora’s RiverEdge Park. Dates vary by location.
4740 N. Western Avenue | December 10
This indoor, German Christmas market in Lincoln Square will feature a variety of local vendors, food and drink.
1341 W. Randolph St. | December 17–18
More than 100 vendors will be at Randolph Street Market for holiday shopping, where shoppers can find vintage and modern gifts, homewares, clothing, art and more.
35 S. State Street | Until December 18
Bring your holiday shopping indoors with this State Street holiday market. Explore local vendors along with entertainment and other activities.
Salt Shed | December 2-4, 9-11
Chicago’s newest outdoor concert venue is home to this holiday market and brewery. Craft vendors, fire pits, hot cocktails and s’mores kits will be on hand.