Your Guide to Holiday Events Across Chicago Area

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.

30 photos
900 North Michigan Shops
900 North Michigan Shops
Illuminate 900 Tree Lighting Ceremony
n6 p.m. Nov. 16
nThe 900 North Michigan Shops will team up with Make-A-Wish Illinois for its second annual tree lighting ceremony in the atrium. This self-proclaimed "Holiday Love Letter to Chicago" will offer a variety of musical acts and holiday treats, including a sugar cookie-decorating station to bring the spirit of the holidays to the heart of downtown Chicago. Admission is free with a suggested $15 donation for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Tim Fears
Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light
nNov. 16-Dec. 23
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.
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonyn6 p.m. Nov. 17nCelebrate the 104th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Wrigley Square in Millennium Park and enjoy a lineup of live entertainment as you take in the dazzling Christmas tree lights. Admission is free and the tree will remain on display through December.
BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
nNov. 17-18
nScope out a prime viewing spot between Oak Street and Wacker Drive for the 26th annual BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. From 5:30-7 p.m. Saturday night, enjoy the spectacular display of balloons, massive floats and one million holiday lights traveling down Michigan Avenue, featuring various musical guests along the parade route. Fireworks will set off immediately following the parade, and other holiday festivities will take place Friday and Saturday afternoon leading up to the parade in Pioneer Court. Heads up, drivers: North Michigan Avenue will be closed to traffic from Oak Street to Wacker Drive beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday evening.
Geoff Halliday
Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum
nNov. 17, 2017-Jan. 1, 2018
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.
Christkindlmarket Chicago and Naperville
nNov. 17-Dec. 24 (Chicago);Nov. 24-Dec. 24 (Naperville)
nGet a taste of Germany during the holidays at the annual Christkindlmarket Chicago at Daley Plaza and Christkindlmarket Naperville at Naper Settlement 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. 17- March 4nThe 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 $12 Monday through Thursday and $14 on weekends and holidays. Skating hours listed online.
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
Maggie Daley Park Ice RibbonnNov. 17- March 4nJust behind Millennium Park, the Maggie Daley ice ribbon is opening for its fourth year of operation on Nov. 17. Similar to the Millennium Park skating rink, the ribbon offers free admission and an additional $12-14 for skate rentals.
Randolph Street Market
Randolph Street Holiday Market
nNov. 18-19 and Dec. 16-17
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.
O'Toole's Pub
O'Toole's Turkey Testicle Festival
nNov. 22, 2017
nBall out at O'Toole's the night before Thanksgiving for the chance to win a free turkey at their eighth annual Turkey Testicle Festival. Guests who arrive before 9 p.m. can register for the turkey testicle eating contest or the pumpkin pie eating contest, where winners will receive a $25 gift card (pie contest) or a whole frozen turkey for dinner the next night (turkey testicle contest). The pub will offer drink deals for contest spectators and will remain open on Thanksgiving Day with a special dinner menu serving traditional favorites.
Chicago Festival Association
McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade
nNov. 23
nMore than 5,000 performers and 1,300 volunteers will gather on State Street for the annual McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Grab a coat and arrive before the 8 a.m. start time to get a good seat, anywhere between Congress and Randolph.
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
Wreathing of the LionsnNov. 24nThe 26th Annual Wreathing of the Lions ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the Chicago Art Institute, a short walk from Millennium Park. Following the ceremony, guests are invited into the institute's Ryan Learning Center for fun holiday crafts. The entire event is free for everyone.
Grimaldi PR
Long Grove Vintage Holidays
nNov. 24-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. 24-Dec. 15nSing 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.
Mercado Navideño
nNov. 24-26
nThe National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen will host a special Christmas market offering unique gifts for your family and friends. The market will be open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and any museum members receive a 30 percent discount on any purchases.
Telemundo San Antonio
Lincoln Park ZooLights
nNov. 24-26, Dec. 1-3, 8-23, 26-31, 2017; Jan. 1-7, 2018
nOpening on Nov. 24, 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 brand new 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. Visit for a complete list of vendors and exact times.
Telemundo San Antonio
Fifth Third Bank Winter Wonderfest
nDec. 1-Jan. 7
nNearly 500 decorated Christmas trees will transform Navy Pier's Festival Hall into an enchanted forest for the 17th 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 $38 while junior and senior admissions run $13. Ticket prices also include a ride on Navy Pier's famous Centennial Wheel.
Fox Valley Park District
Blackberry Farm Yuletide Celebration
nDec. 2-3, Dec. 8-10, Dec. 15-17
nBundle up for a ride on the Holiday Express train at Blackberry Farm's Yuletide Celebration this December in Aurora. Sit back and enjoy over 60,000 lights illuminating the park, and be sure to check out the the rest of the holiday events Blackberry Farm has in store. Admission costs $5 for everyone, kids 2 years and under are free.
News 4 NY
Dance-Along Nutcrackern11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 3nWatch 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 2 p.m. on Dec. 3. This event is free to attend.
Nadine DeCristofaro
Music Box Christmas Double Feature and Sing-A-Long
nDec. 9-24
nCatch two of your favorite classic Christmas movies starting Dec. 9 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 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.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Jingle Ball
nDec. 13, 7:30 p.m.
nTickets are on sale now for 103.5 Kiss FM's annual Jingle Ball with prices ranging from $45-$115. Sing along with headliners Demi Lovato, The Chainsmokers, Kesha, Camila Cabello, Liam Payne, Charlie Puth and Julia Michaels as they perform all your favorite holiday tunes live at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. Tickets can be purchased here.
Gingerbread House Decorating Partyn1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Dec. 17nEnjoy some of your favorite holiday treats at Park Grill's Gingerbread House Decorating Party on Dec. 17. 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. 18-19nTwo performances of the Do-It-Yourself Messiah will be offered this December at the Harris Theater. The 42nd 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. 18-23
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 $23 for adults and $15 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 $30-60 and are on sale now.
Holly Daysn10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 27-30nChildren and their families are invited to the Chicago Art Institute for three days of free clay sculpting during the museum's annual Holly Days event. Holly Days will be held in the Ryan Learning Center.
Lanny Nagler
Winterland in the Park
nNov. 24- Dec. 31
nThe Park at Wrigley will debut 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 an ice skating rink, a third location of the popular Christkindlmarket, and different holiday activities such as wreath-making and a visit from Santa Claus. The Park at Wrigley also will hold a tree lighting ceremony featuring a massive 28-foot Christmas tree and a menorah to welcome the holiday season on Nov. 28.
Contact Us