From markets and performances to ice skating and light displays, Chicago has a lot of ways to get into the holiday spirit.
November 14th - January 5th
The Museum of Science and Industry has put on this beloved annual celebration since 1942. The Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light annual exhibit features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree surrounded by a forest of over 50 trees and displays representing holiday traditions from around the globe. Catch live holiday performances on the weekends.
November 15th - December 24th
Held annually at Daley Plaza, Chicago's largest open-air Christmas festival attracts more than one million visitors each year. Vendors from around the world come to this German-inspired market, selling unique holiday gifts like eclectic hand-blown and painted ornaments, toys, jewelry, clothes, home décor, and wooden handicrafts. There’s also a large assortment of German food and drinks, including potato pancakes, hot pretzels, schnitzel, plus Glühwein, a traditional hot spiced wine. Chicago’s own Christkind (Germany’s angelic version of Santa) wanders the market every Wednesday and Saturday from 2-4 pm. Check the website for other special events.
November 15th - March 8th (weather permitting)
Channel your inner Michelle Kwan at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park this winter. Admission is free if you bring your own skates, or you can rent a pair. Get there an hour before the rink opens on the weekends for free lessons.
November 29th-January 5th
Lincoln Park Zoo’s fun, free, family-oriented annual holiday tradition celebrates its 25th year in 2019. ZooLights features 2.5 million lights, ice-sculpture carvers, carolers, ticketed experiences (including a one-of-a-kind Light Maze and 65-foot Ferris wheel), warm spiced wine, frosty beers, delicious holiday snacks, and of course, Santa Claus! Monday nights are Family Nights, and there are several ticketed events, including a Holiday Market, Adults Night Out, BrewLights, Breakfast with Santa, a live performance of music from A Charlie Brown Christmas, and a Zoo Year's Eve celebration.
Fridays, November 29, December 6, 13, 20
Head to Millenium Park to belt out holiday classics while bundled up by The Bean with hundreds of strangers as local Chicago choral groups lead celebrants in song.
November 30th - December 29th
The Joffrey Ballet performs its reimagined version of Tchaikovsky’s classic for the fourth year in a row at the historic Auditorium Theatre. Set in Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair, choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s gorgeously visualized masterpiece is a holiday season must-see.
The Music Box invites you to get in the holiday spirit with a double feature of White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life. Santa will be there to welcome you and yours to this Chicagoland tradition, which started back in 1983. You can get tickets to one or both films, but be sure to be there during intermission for Christmas caroling.
Get a taste of The Windy City’s vibrant theatre scene as Chicago Theatre Week returns for its eighth year. Tickets for over 100 productions throughout the city—from big Broadway in Chicago shows to cutting-edge storefront productions—are all under 30 bucks.