From Tree Lightings, to Christmas Markets, to Ice Skating at Wrigley Field, Holiday Events are Here

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In Chicago, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Friday kicks off a handful of holiday events across the city -- from the 109th annual "Official" Christmas tree lighting, to the opening of Chicago's favorite Christmas market, to ice skating inside Wrigley Field and more, this weekend is sure to get you into the holiday spirit.

That is, however, if you dress warm enough.

After a warm start to the month, the Chicago area saw below-average temperatures this week, and things are about to get downright frigid for the weekend.

By Friday morning, wind chills are expected to be in the single-digits in areas away from Lake Michigan, with parts of the far western suburbs potentially seeing “feels-like” readings of 5 degrees or lower.

Cloudy conditions are expected to dominate the forecast on Friday, and things will barely warm up at all. Wind chills will likely remain in the single-digits or the low-teens throughout the day, with high temperatures only rising into the mid-to-upper 20s.

That trend will continue Friday night and into Saturday, but the coldest wind chills could potentially be reported on Sunday morning, with “feels-like” readings dropping below zero in some locations.

So you know what that means: don your warmest holiday sweater, a jacket that goes past your knees and get those earmuffs out of storage. And while it may be cold, Chicago's holiday events are meant to make you feel warm and fuzzy. Here's an overview of which ones begin this weekend.

Chicago's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

CHICAGO, Nov. 23, 2019-- The lit-up 55-foot tall Blue Spruce is seen during the 106th annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the Millennium Park in Chicago, the United States, Nov. 22, 2019. (Photo by Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Wang Ping via Getty Images)

The annual Chicago tradition that ushers in the holiday season begins at 5 p.m. Friday in Millennium Park near "The Bean," according to the city.

Guests can enter the park through the South Promenade on Monroe Street.

Multiple viewing locations with screens and concessions will be set up across the park, with the ceremony's main stage on Grainer Plaza near Cloud Gate.

Nearby parking garages and public transit information can be found here.

The ceremony will be hosted by Matthew Rodrigues and Cortney Hall of NBC 5's "Chicago Today," and will include live music, performances from Broadway in Chicago's "Wicked", and more. Here's the schedule of events:

  • 5 p.m.: Pre-Show with DJ Mwelwa and Cabaret ZaZou
  • 5:45 p.m.: Performances by Son Monarcas, Broadway In Chicago: Wicked’s Lissa deGuzman “Elphaba” and Jennafer Newberry “Glinda” singing “For Good," Jumaane Taylor and Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Stone Soup Rhythms; and special guests Dreezy Claus and Sister Claus
  • 6 p.m.: Tree lighting ceremony set to begin
  • 6:25 p.m.: Fireworks
  • 6:30 p.m.- 7 p.m.: Electric Violinist Adia and DJ Mwelwa

NBC 5 Chicago will stream the event live online and on the NBC Chicago app.

The tree will be on display at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Washington Street through Jan. 9.

Read More: 55-Foot Colorado Blue Spruce From Morton Grove Will Soon Be Chicago's 109th ‘Official' Christmas Tree

But Chicago's "official" Christmas tree isn't the only giant tree on display in the city this Christmas season.

Shortly after Halloween, Macy's on State Street began installing its 45-foot Christmas tree inside the department store's historic Walnut Room.

The "Great Tree," in its 115th year, dons 1,500 ornaments designed by Macy's Visual team. Unlike other Christmas trees, it hangs from the ceiling instead of sitting on a base -- and the star that sits at the top is the very first piece to be installed, Macy's says.

According to a press release, Macy's holiday windows will be on display until Jan. 1, and the "Great Tree" will remain up through Jan. 9.

Chicago's Christkindlmarkets

A nutcracker statue is displayed at entrance of the Christkindlmarket in downtown Chicago, Illinois, on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. Bloomberg is scheduled to release consumer comfort figures on November 30. Photographer: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

One of the best Christmas markets in the country returns to three neighborhoods Friday across the Chicago area -- Chicago's Christkindlemarket.

Read More: 4 Things to Know About Christkindlmarket, Chicago's Favorite Christmas Market

The famed-German-style market offers visitors the opportunity to buy handmade artisan goods and taste international foods while listening to festive tunes. And this year, the Christmas market will take place in three different locations: Wrigleyville, Downtown Chicago, and Aurora.

The Christmas markets all open Friday, Nov. 18. Hours of operation and locations are below.

RiverEdge Park: 360 N. BroadwayAurora

  • Thursdays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Fridays and Saturdays: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
  • Sundays - 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Special hours Dec. 19 to Dec. 21: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Daley Plaza: 50 W. Washington St., Chicago

  • Sundays to Thursdays: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Fridays and Saturdays: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
  • Special hours Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Wrigleyville: 3635 N. Clark St., Gallagher Way, Chicago

  • Mondays to Thursdays: 3 p.m.-9 p.m.
  • Fridays and Saturdays: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Sundays: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Special hours Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Special hours Dec. 26-29: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Winterland at Gallagher Way


Ever dreamt of running the bases at Wrigley Field? Well, you can't quite do that this winter. But you can go ice skating in the outfield.

While it's not the North Pole, it may look (and feel) like that. It's all part of Winterland at Gallagher Way, which this year includes a number of activities that take place inside the Friendly Confines.

Carnival games, ice tubing, an ice slide and the "Infield Express train" will also grace field, along with holiday music, festive food, beverages and more.

Winterland begins Nov. 18 and runs through Jan. 8. Admission to Gallagher Way activities, including the Christkindlmarket in Wrigleyville and Santa’s Workshop, will be free.

Tickets, priced at $5, will be required for access to the Wrigley Field portion of Winterland. Attraction tickets will also be required to get on rides and to skate on the rink, according to officials.

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

[chicagogram] Chicago's holiday season begins tonight, as The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival illuminates the city. Keep an eye out for our friends at @ConradChicago, who are parading alongside a very special guest: Santa Claus. #BMOLightsFest #Stay

The 31st annual Wintrust Magnificent Mile Lights Festival takes place throughout the weekend, beginning with a tree lighting ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday at 401 N. Michigan Ave.

Saturday Nov. 19, Pioneer Court will be transformed into a "Lights Festival Lane" holiday village, with holiday booths, family holiday activities and more.

At 5:30 p.m., the festival will culminate with a grand Tree-Lighting Parade, where Grand Marshals Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will light up more than 200 trees along the Magnificent Mile, with the help of Santa Claus, marching bands, holiday floats and more.

Read More: Where to See Holiday Light Shows in the Chicago Area For 2022

The parade steps off at N. Michigan Ave. and Oak Street and will head south.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management says the following street closures are in effect for the parade beginning Saturday, Nov. 19:

Closed from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

  • Oak Street from State Street to Michigan Avenue 
  • North Michigan Avenue from Oak Street to Wacker Drive 
  • Upper Wacker Drive from Wabash Avenue to east turnaround 

Closed from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

  • Upper Columbus Drive from Wacker Drive to Randolph Street 

Closed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • Clark Street (east curb lane only from Oak Street to Delaware Street) 
  • Delaware Street from Dearborn Street to Clark Street (north curb lane only)
  • Oak Street from Clark Street to State Street 
  • Dearborn Street from Delaware Street to Maple Street 
  • Walton Street from State Street to Clark Street 

Closed from 3:30 to 9 p.m.

  • Upper Columbus Drive (the curb lanes from Wacker Drive to Randolph Street)
  • Randolph Street (curb lanes from Michigan Avenue to Columbus Drive) 
  • Intermittent closures based on traffic conditions 

Ice Skating at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, Millennium Park Art Market

Getty Images
CHICAGO, Dec. 14, 2019 -- People skate at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park, Chicago, the United States, Dec. 14, 2019. (Photo by Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images)

Also opening Nov. 18 for the season is the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink and the Millennium Park Art Market.

Admission to the ice rink is free, but reservations are required. Reservations for session times and dates vary and can be found here. Skate rentals are extra.

Millennium Park's Art Market, featuring local artists selling jewelry, pottery, art and more, begins Nov. 18 and runs through Nov. 20.

Lincoln Park ZooLights

File photo.

The longtime tradition at Lincoln Park Zoo will open Nov. 18, with a slate of attractions in store for visitors. A Ferris wheel, an expansive light tunnel and re-envisioned light shows are some of the event's highlights, according to the zoo.

ZooLights will run from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Nov. 18-23, 25-30, Dec. 2-14, 16-23, 26-31 and Jan. 1. Of the dates, tickets to the show will be free Nov. 21 and 28, as well as Dec. 5, 12, 19 and 26.

Tickets are available here and cost $5 Tuesdays through Sundays.

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