Wintertime Is Here: A Breakdown of Holiday Events Starting This Weekend in Chicago, From Ice Skating to the Tree-Lighting Parade

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From the conditions outside to the numerous holiday-themed events happening across the city, wintertime festivities are fully underway in Chicago.

Friday marked the beginning of many of the city's holiday events with the 109th annual Christmas tree lighting, taking place in Millennium Park.

Also kicking off Friday was Winterland inside Gallagher Way, this year featuring the opportunity to ice skate inside Wrigley Field, with many more events throughout the iconic stadium to get Chicagoans in the holiday spirit.

Here's a look at the major holiday events that got started this weekend in Chicago:

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 on Friday afternoon with a tree lighting ceremony at 401 N. Michigan Ave.

On 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)

Another attraction that opened for the season on Friday 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 opened on Friday, 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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