Chicago Holidays: Events Bringing Cheer Across the Area This Season

From light displays, to snow tubing, to Christmas markets, here's a look at holiday events across Chicago

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Haley BeMiller

Chicago has not been short of Christmas spirit this holiday season, with new events popping up each week.

Here's a look at festivities across the area this month:

Chicago Christkindlmarket

The 25th annual Chicago Christkindlmarket returned in-person this year in two locations: one at The Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago, and another at Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville.

Inspired by the 16th century Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, the traditional European markets feature authentic German offer food and drinks, shopping, live entertainment and more. Admission is free.

Downtown Chicago hours: Sundays – Thursdays from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Fridays – Saturdays from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., and 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Closed on Christmas Day.

Wrigleyville hours: 4pm – 10pm on Nov. 20, Mondays – Thursdays from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m., Fridays – Saturdays from11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sundays from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., and 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. Closed on Christmas Day.


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McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park

Ice skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park is back for its 20th anniversary season. Weather permitting, the rink will be open through Mar. 6.

Admission is free, but reservations are required. Skate rentals range from $13-$15, and free skating lessons (reservations required) are offered most Saturday and Sundays from 8 a.m. - 9 a.m.

Hours: Mondays - Thursdays from 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m., Fridays - Sundays, holiday weeks and weekends from 9:30 a.m. - 9 p.m. Stay up-to-date on weather closures on Millennium Park's Facebook page.

Amaze Light Festival at Impact Field

The immersive Christmas lights and music display in Rosemont features snow tubing, Santa's Workshop and seven holiday worlds to stroll through: Deck the Halls, Storybook Village, Sparky's Land of Sweets, North Pole, Whimsical Forest, Tree Farm and Arctic Express.

Admission: Tickets range from $18-85. Runs through Jan. 2

Santa's Rockin Lights at the Lake County Fairgrounds

A drive-thru, animated light show with nearly a full mile of more than 100,000 lights set to Christmas music.

Admission and hours: Tickets range from $19.99 - $34.99. Advance purchase required. Hours are Sundays - Thursdays from 5 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Lincoln Park Zoo's ZooLights

The 25th annual Lincoln Park ZooLights features a light maze, visits with Santa, a pop-up bar, sensory-friendly visit times, specialty events throughout the season like BrewLights and more.

Hours and admission: Nov.19-24 and 26-30, Dec. 1, 3-15, 17-23, 26-31, and Jan. 1-2 from 4 p.m. - 10 pm. Tickets are required, and are $5 Wednesday-Sunday, and free on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Willow Hill's Winter Magic Drive-Thru at Willow Hill Golf Course

The first annual Winter Magic is a one mile, drive-thru Christmas lights display set to music at Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook, with holiday themed areas throughout an animated light tunnel.

Hours and admission: Open nightly starting at 4:30 p.m., through Jan. 2. Tickets are $45 per car. Advanced purchase and reservations required.

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

The ninth annual walking experience at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle is a one-mile, paved walking path with festive music and holiday lights meant to highlight the beauty of trees in winter. Along the way, you can stop for s'mores or warm up by a crackling fire.

Admission and hours: Runs through Jan. 2. Tickets range from $8-$24, and advance purchase is recommended. Evening entry times vary based on ticket availability.

Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden

The 1.25-mile trail leads guests through pine trees draped with strings of lights, candles lining pathways and a variety of other holiday light formations, creating a warm glow through which to walk.

Open through Jan. 2, tickets range in price from $12 to $28. Children under age 3 can walk through the show free of charge. Purchase tickets here.

Millennium Park Holiday Sing-Along

The new Millennium Park Holiday Sing-Along (the event formerly known as “Caroling at Cloud Gate”) runs through Dec. 17.

The sing along celebrates Chicago’s diverse cultures and holiday traditions on Fridays at 6pm, and Sunday, Dec. 12 at 4 p.m. Face masks are required for all Holiday Sing-Along guests.

Macy's State Street Holiday Windows

A Chicago Christmastime tradition, the holiday windows and Great Tree at Macy's on State Street return this year featuring a bright-eyed, blue reindeer named Tiptoe.

The windows tell the story of a little reindeer was "too shy to fly" with Santa's sleigh team on Christmas night, according to Macy's tale of Tiptoe.

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