The holiday season in Chicago is made for memories, from annual traditions to one-off experiences.
Whether taking in the light show or sipping hot chocolate after an afternoon of ice skating, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
We have collected some details of the season; For more information, just click on the provided links.
November & December
Date varies: Millennium Park, Loop
Millennium Park will be a hub of activity this holiday season:
– See Chicago’s official Christmas tree, a 55-foot blue branch, through January 9
– Join in the singing on Friday evenings, Nov. 25-Dec. 16.
– Ice skating is open through March 5, weather permitting, at both Millennium Park and nearby Maggie Daley Park.
While you’re downtown, snap a photo by the Art Institute with the museum’s famous carved lions and catch the holiday window display at Macy’s State Street store.
Until December 20: CTA Holiday Train
Santa, his reindeer and his elves will travel through Chicago on a loaded train, stopping at train stations between November 25th and December 20th. The train is scheduled to travel first on the Green Line, followed by the Orange and Brown Lines. then the Red and Purple Lines, the Pink Line, the Blue Line and finally the Yellow Line.
Its companion, the CTA Holiday Bus, will run on various routes between November 29 and December 23.
December 9 to December 24: Music Box Christmas Sing-a-Long, Lakeview
For nearly 40 years, the Musical Box Theater has been presenting the holiday classics “It’s a Good Life” and “White Christmas” with its twist. Before the curtain rises, the house organist leads the moviegoers through a catalog of treasured Christmas carols. Fa-la-la-la-la.
Until December 24: Christkindlmarket, Daley Plaza and Aurora locations
Through December 31: Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville, Lakeview
Modeled after the traditional outdoor holiday markets of Germany, Christkindlmarket offers a taste of Europe in the Midwest. The Aurora location is new this year. In Wrigleyville, visitors can visit the adjacent Winterland at Wrigley Field.
Until December 25: ChiTown Movies Holiday Favorites, Pilsen
Load up the car and head to ChiTown Movies to catch “Home Alone,” “Elf,” “Christmas Vacation” and more on the big screen. If the ChiTown lineup is any indication, yes, Virginia, “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie.
Until December 31: Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield
Miles of zoo lights and illuminated animal statues have been delighting visitors for over 40 years. Additional features include a skating rink.
Until December 29: Kohlights at Kohl’s Children’s Museum, Glenview
Dubbed “mesmertastic”, the museum’s interactive light and color show is a wonderful children’s vacation destination. Highlights include the Lollipop Light Lane and the 360-degree Field of Lights.
Nutcracker 2021 from Art on theMART on Vimeo.
Until December 30: The Nutcracker, Art in the Mart, Merchandise Mart
See footage from the Joffrey Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” projected on the Merchandise Mart’s big screen.
Through January 1, 2023: Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park
Enjoy a spectacular light show in the heart of Chicago. The festivities include ice carvings, photos with Santa and merry-go-rounds. New this year are a Chicago skyline exhibit and the 165-foot-long Great Light Tunnel. Admission is free on Mondays.
Until January 1, 2023: Let This Light Show
No need to worry about finding parking at Let It Shine – the show is drive-thru. There are two locations – one in Northbrook and one in Schaumburg – although the setup of each is different from the other.
Until January 1, 2023: Sparkle Light Festival at Impact Field, Rosemont
The Sparkle Experience includes lighted villages, a children’s area, double-decker ice cream and free rides on the Holly Trolly.
Through January 7, 2023: Lighting: Tree lights at The Morton Arboretum, Lisle
Walk along a mile-long avenue of lighted trees to show off their winter beauty, accompanied by festive music. New this year is Electric Illumination, a late-night experience for adults 18 and older, set to trance and progressive house music, with synchronized light displays (December 16, 23 and 30 only).
Until January 7, 2023: Explore the Lake of Light at Navy Pier
Navy Pier puts on holiday lights like no other — indoors. Adventure highlights include a forest host of more than 100 lighted trees, a roller coaster ride and a train ride through Santa’s village for youngsters.
Through January 8, 2023: Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
The 1.25-mile illuminated trail takes visitors through magical light installations, including a fire garden and the perennial fan favorite, the Winter Cathedral.
Until January 8, 2023: Amaze Festival of Lights at Odyssey Fun World, Tinley Park
The Amaze Experience features a million twinkling lights, a holiday market, food trucks, music, a stage show and more.
Until January 8, 2023: Christmas Around the World, Museum of Science and Industry, Hyde Park
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the museum’s beloved tradition, which began with one tree in 1942 and has now grown to 50 trees, decorated to represent the holiday traditions of countries and cultures around the world.
Until January 8, 2023: Winter Flower Show at Garfield Park Conservatory, Garfield Park
This year’s theme is “Snow Day!” e, arranged with flowers to create the illusion of a snowy garden. The centerpiece will be a 12-foot-tall tree made of more than 200 white poinsettia plants.
Opportunities to shop local and support local artists and makers:
State Street Market, Loop, November 18-Dec. 18.
Chicago Artisan Market, Ravenswood, November 26-27.
One of a kind, Merchandise Mart, December 1-4.
Winter Market, Andersonville, December 2-4.
Winterglow Holiday Market & Beer Garden at Salt Shed, Goose Island, Dec. 2-4; December 9-11.
Holiday Rebel Market, Beverly Center for the Arts, December 3rd.
Chicago Art Department Holiday Market, Pilsen, December 9.
Dank Haus Weihnachtsmarkt, Lincoln Square, December 10.
Chicago Art Girls Holiday Pop-up, North Center, December 10-11.
Chicago Artisan Market, Fulton Market, December 11.
Holiday Market at The Plant, Back Yards, December 11.
Renegade Craft Fair, West Loop, December 17-18.
Randolph Street Holiday Market, West Loop, December 17-18.
Events in the list are subject to change. We recommend double-checking times and locations before you head out the door.