After slowly slipping into a food coma as an aftermath of indulging in copious amounts of turkey, stuffing and maybe a few extra slices of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day, everyone can agree that as soon as the clock strikes midnight, the holiday season has begun. It’s time to deck the halls, pick out a tree and dazzle the neighborhood with endless strands of twinkling lights. Pull out that ugly Christmas sweater and get baking! While you may have set holiday traditions that you partake in each year, there is always something new and exciting that you can add to your holiday to-do list. When it comes to Christmas, there is no place quite like Chicago. From theatrical performances to parades and ice-skating, this magnificent city offers something for everyone during the holiday season. Check out these ideas for something fun and exciting to do this winter!
1. Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo
Stop by the Lincoln Park Zoo to view over 2 million lights that illuminate the sky and dance to choreographed music. On select days, you can even say hello to Santa and tell him what’s on your wish list this year! The zoo is open from 10am to 5pm, but you can view these magical lights from 4:30pm to 9pm. Experience the holiday fun from November 27th through January 3rd. And the best part? It’s totally free!
This popular Christmas market is located in Daley Plaza and is one of Chicago’s most popular winter attractions. Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Germany, it features German food, beer, entertainment and handmade trinkets. This year, the market is open from November 20th to December 24th. This event is also free!
3. Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
Head on over to Brookfield Zoo every Saturday to view light shows, ice carvings, a 41-foot talking Christmas tree, carolers and so much more! The Holiday Magic opening ceremony starts December 5th at 5pm, and festivities continue each Saturday and Sunday in December at 4pm. Tickets are $16.95 for adults and $11.95 for children and seniors.
4. A Christmas Carol
Come see this Christmas classic and watch as Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. The show is running November 14th-27th at the Goodman Theater. Tickets generally range anywhere from $50 to $315 depending on the date and time.
5. Christmas Around the World at the Museum of Science and Industry
Stop by the Museum of Science and Industry to view a 45-foot Grand Tree, as well as 50 other trees that represent a variety of other cultures and traditions. Each tree was decorated by volunteers of different ethnic communities in the Chicago-land area. The trees are on display November 19th through January 3rd. Tickets are $18 for adults and $11 for children.
6. Ice Skating
What better way is there to celebrate winter than by grabbing a pair of skates and hitting the ice? There are so many places to go ice-skating in Chicago, and many of them are free. Some ice-skating rinks include Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park and the Lincoln Park Zoo.
7. The Nutcracker
There’s nothing that says Christmas like The Nutcracker Ballet. The Joffrey Ballet has been bringing the Nutcracker to Chicago since 1987. The performance features 118 dancers, vocalists from five children’s choirs and Tchaikovsky’s famous score performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The show runs from December 4th to December 27th, and tickets range from $70 to $300.
8. Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier
Winter Wonderfest features 24 rides and attractions and over 170,000 square feet of entertainment for people of all ages. Visitors can stop by and see Santa, decorate sugar cookies and even glide across the Blackhawks’ ice skating rink. General admission is $10 while an activity ticket (which includes all attractions) is $25.
9. The Polar Express
All aboard the Polar Express train ride at Chicago’s historic Union Station! This magical one-hour train ride through downtown Chicago brings the story of the Polar Express to life through caroling and choreographed entertainment. Each passenger will receive a golden ticket, hot chocolate, and a silver bell. For more information about departure times and pricing, call 312-471-2501.
10. The Great Tree at the Walnut Room
Stop by Macy’s on State Street, and visit the Walnut Room to see the Great Tree this holiday season. It’s over 45 feet tall and features over 2,000 ornaments and 6,600 lights! Admission is simply the price of a meal in the Walnut Room restaurant. This activity is sure to get you in the holiday spirit!