Things to Do for Christmas, Holiday Season In and Around Chicago

Chicago and its suburbs are spreading holiday cheer across the area. Beginning in November, gather your friends and family and check out these festive events to get you into the holiday spirit.

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Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
Tim Fears
Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light
nNov. 15-Jan. 6
nAttend an international holiday celebration at the Museum of Science and Industry's Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light exhibits. Christmas trees and holiday displays from over 50 countries share cultural traditions from around the globe, all showcased around the massive four-story Grand Tree. Santa makes an appearance every weekend in addition to live performances from cultural groups.
Geoff Halliday
Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum
nNov. 17-Jan. 1
nTake a walk through a real winter wonderland at this year's Illumination holiday celebration at The Morton Arboretum. A one-mile path guides visitors through 50 acres of trees adorned with spectacular holiday lights that provide a stunning backdrop for holiday photos. Guests must purchase tickets and reserve a time to tour in advance.
Nov. 16-Dec. 24 (Chicago); Nov. 23-Dec. 24(Naperville); Nov. 17-Dec. 31 (Milwaukee)
nGet a taste of Germany during the holidays at the annual Christkindlmarket Chicago at Daley Plaza, Christkindlmarket Naperville at Naper Settlement, and Christkindlmarket Milwaukee at Fisery Forum beginning later this month. Peruse the many holiday tents with various German crafts and gifts, not to mention authentic German food and drink perfect for a chilly fall afternoon. Admission to the event is free and the market will remain open until Christmas Eve.
McCormick Tribune Ice RinknNov. 16- March 10nThe classic holiday season tradition of ice skating in the park continues from mid-November to early March at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. It's free to use the rink, but skate rentals cost $13 Monday through Thursday and $15 on weekends and holidays. Skating hours listed online.
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
Maggie Daley Park Ice RibbonnNov. 16- March 10nJust behind Millennium Park, the Maggie Daley ice ribbon is opening for its fourth year of operation on Nov. 16. Similar to the Millennium Park skating rink, the ribbon offers free admission and an additional $13-15 for skate rentals.
Randolph Street Market
Randolph Street Holiday Market
nDec. 15-16
nThe Holiday Market at Randolph Street Market will feature all sorts of vintage and giftable goods for visitors to purchase. Head to 1340 W. Washington Blvd. the weekend before Thanksgiving or before Christmas and sip a refreshing beverage as you browse the fine jewelry and furniture, perfect for checking items off your holiday list. Save $2 on admission by purchasing your ticket online.
Grimaldi PR
Long Grove Vintage Holidays
nNov. 23-Dec. 22
Support local businesses this holiday season at the Long Grove Vintage Holiday celebration in Historic Downtown Long Grove. Shops and restaurants will be decked out in holiday decor as carolers walk the streets spreading holiday cheer. Santa Claus is scheduled to appear regularly throughout the four-week event, and free horse-drawn carriage rides are available on Saturdays and Sundays.
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
Caroling at Cloud Gaten6 p.m.-7 p.m. Fridays, Nov. 23-Dec. 12nSing along to your favorite Christmas songs every Friday in front of The Bean at Millennium Park. The schedule of local chorus groups performing at this year's caroling will be announced later on City of Chicago's website.
Telemundo San Antonio
Lincoln Park ZooLights
nNov. 23-25, 30, Dec. 1-2, 7-23, 26-31, 2018; Jan. 1-6, 2019
nOpening on Nov. 23, the Lincoln Park Zoo will light up the night with holiday spirit during its annual ZooLights presented by ComEd and PowerShares QQQ by Invesco. In addition to the displays along Candy Cane Lane and the light maze, visitors can choose from a variety of holiday activities like riding the carousel, browsing the holiday gift shop and tasting some festive treats.
Telemundo San Antonio
ACME Hotel Company Holiday Pop-Up Market
nNov. 29, Dec. 6, Dec. 9, Dec. 13
nThe ACME Hotel Company will host the first annual four-day Holiday Pop-Up Market this year on the second floor of its River North location. The event will feature local artists from Etsy selling unique, hand-crafted gifts for everyone on your list. Click here for a complete list of vendors and exact times.
Telemundo San Antonio
Fifth Third Bank Winter Wonderfest
nNov. 30-Jan. 6
nNearly 500 decorated Christmas trees will transform Navy Pier's Festival Hall into an enchanted forest for the 18th annual Fifth Third Bank Winter Wonderfest. Beyond the breathtaking holiday decor, guests have access to all kinds of seasonal entertainment, including the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Skating Rink and the Polar Ice Peaks Climbing Wall. General admission costs $20 while junior and senior admissions run $10. Ticket prices also include a ride on Navy Pier's famous Centennial Wheel.
News 4 NY
Dance-Along Nutcrackern11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Dec. 2nWatch and learn from the pros at the annual Dance-Along Nutcracker event this December. Dance lessons will be held at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., while performances will begin at noon and 3 p.m. on Dec. 2. This event is free to attend.
Nadine DeCristofaro
Music Box Christmas Double Feature and Sing-A-Long
nDec. 7-24
nCatch two of your favorite classic Christmas movies starting Dec. 7 at the Music Box Theater. "White Christmas" and "It's a Wonderful Life" will be shown every weekend in December until Christmas Eve for $15.50 for a single feature and $24 for both films. Upon arrival at the theater, guests are also welcomed with the singing of beloved Christmas carols led by Santa Claus himself.
Andersonville Chamber of Commerce
St. Lucia Festival of Lights
nDec. 13
nAndersonville embraces its Swedish heritage every holiday season with the St. Lucia Festival of Lights, a cultural celebration at the Swedish American Museum on Clark Street. Beginning at 4:45 p.m., a procession of young "Lucia" girls dressed in traditional white robes carry candles down Clark as they lead the way to the holiday celebration at the museum. Swedish foods, music and dancing are offered to guests for just $1 or the donation of a toy or canned food item toward Care For Real's holiday drive.
Getty Images for iHeartMedia
Jingle Ball
nDec. 12, 7:30 p.m.
nTickets are on sale now for 103.5 Kiss FM's annual Jingle Ball with prices ranging from $30-$125. Sing along with headliners Shawn Mendes, Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Alessia Cara, Bebe Rexha, Bazzi and Sabrina Carpenter as they perform all your favorite holiday tunes live at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. Tickets can be purchased here.
Marcus Riley
Gingerbread House Making Brunchn10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Dec. 16nEnjoy some of your favorite holiday treats at Park Grill's Gingerbread House Making Brunch on Dec. 16. Pay $25 to decorate a gingerbread house with candies and icing, or stop by for free to warm up at the hot cocoa bar.
Do-It-Yourself Messiahn 7 p.m. Dec. 17-18nTwo performances of the Do-It-Yourself Messiah will be offered this December at the Harris Theater. The 43rd annual musical masterpiece will feature a variety of performers, including a full orchestra made entirely of volunteer musicians. The cost is $15 per ticket.
Lanny Nagler
Selfies with Santa at Skydeck Chicago
nDec. 20-23
nCapture a thrilling holiday photo with Santa Claus when he visits the Skydeck at Willis Tower this December. From noon until 5 p.m., visitors can snap a photo with Santa as the stunning Chicago skyline illuminates the background. Tickets cost $24 for adults and $16 for kids; admission is free for children under 3 years old.
Lanny Nagler
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Brandenburg Concertosn7:30 p.m., Dec. 20nAnyone with a taste for classical music will enjoy the beloved holiday performance of Johann Bach's Brandenburg Concertos at Harris Theater. Ticket prices range from $30-70 and are on sale now.
Lanny Nagler
Winterland in the Park
nNov. 23- Jan. 27
nThe Park at Wrigley will host its Winterland in the Park event this year, offering a variety of seasonal entertainment to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. The event will include its new interactive "Chimes at Gallagher Way" art exhibit, an ice skating rink, and different holiday activities such as wreath-making and a visit from Santa Claus.
Lanny Nagler
Brookfield 'Holiday Magic' Lights
nDec. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 26-31 2018
nFor the 37th year, the Brookfield Zoo is hosting 'Holiday Magic' which is Chicagoland's largest and longest running lights festival. It features over one-million LED lights, a 41-foot talking tree, a skating rink, carolers, ice carvers, and so much more.
Lanny Nagler
CTA Holiday Train and Bus
nRide in holiday style with Chicago’s CTA. The CTA announced its 2018 holiday train and bus will be running from Nov. 27 to Dec. 23. The holiday train and elves’ workshop train will be decorated with festive gear and thousands of twinkling lights. In addition to transporting commuters, the train will be delivering food baskets to charities across the city. Click here. for a full schedule.
Lanny Nagler
Macy’s Holiday Windows
n Nov. 6-Dec. 24
nStop by Macys’ State Street location to see their 51st annual holiday window display. Guests will get to check out the store’s charming, animated windows and the 45-foot Great Tree in the Walnut Room. The display will remain open through Dec. 24.
Walnut Room
nSince 1905, the Walnut Room has been one of Chicago’s most beloved holiday traditions. Guests will get to see the 45-foot Great Tree on display. In addition, the Walnut Room will be offering a special holiday buffet featuring its signature dishes such as oven-bakes meatloaf, Asiago chicken, Mrs. Hering’s chicken pot pie, and many more. Reservations can be made between now and Jan. 6, 2019.
Chicago Christmas tree at Millennium Park
nVisit Millennium Park to see Chicago’s 105th official Christmas tree. This year’s tree is a 60-foot Norway Spruce from Elmhurst which was donated by Deborah Orth and her family. It will be on display until Jan. 6, 2019.
Getty Images
Rosemont Holiday Lights Through the Village
nNov.25-New Year’s
nThose who love walking through holiday lights displays have plenty to choose from. Beginning Nov. 25 the following spots will be decked out in twinkling, colorful lights: Westin Park, Rosemont Theatre, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Village Hall, River Road Interchanges, Burgermeister Park, and Dunne Park.
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