Get in the Christmas spirit, Windy City Style!
Believe it or not, ready or not or like it or not, the holiday season is fast approaching and there’s no better place for getting in the spirit than downtown Chicago. Start planning your getaway now to enjoy the best parades, tree lighting ceremonies, shopping, holiday performances and the festive atmosphere that take over The Windy City.
Grab your share of holiday cheer by checking out any of the fabulous seasonal events below:
Ice Skating at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
What better way to kick off the holiday season than with a good old-fashioned skate in the middle of downtown Chicago? The rink opened last week and will stay open through March 2016. So why not grab your skates (or rent them at the rink) and glide among the twinkling lights and soaring skyscrapers of Millennium Park? Hot chocolate and snacks are also available at the Park Grill Cafe.
November 20 – December 24
Every year since 1996, Daley Plaza has hosted Chicago’s largest open-air Christmas market, which was inspired by the nearly five-centuries-old Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany.
In addition to gift and specialty items, vendors, food and drink stands and plenty of kids activities, there are events like live music and dance performances, parades and more!
Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Each year before Thanksgiving, the Magnificent Mile lights up with more than one million lights adorning 200 trees. This year’s parade and a fireworks show over the Chicago River will be led by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. Plus, it will feature visits with Santa, more than 40 spectacular parade floats, five marching bands and thousands of helium-filled balloons.
Randolph Street Holiday Market Festival
November 21-22, November 28-29, December 12-13
With more than 200 vendors, this European- style, indoor-outdoor urban market makes Christmas shopping fun again. Browse rare and uniquely crafted vintage and modern fashion pieces, jewelry, decorative objects, housewares and gift items offered by nearly 90 vendors.
Millennium Park Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Now in its 102nd year, this beloved event features the official tree lighting at 6:00 p.m. and live performances by Lyric Opera’s Renée Fleming and Danielle de Niese, the cast of Emerald City Theatre’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and traditional holiday music by the Latin Music Project Ensemble.
McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade
Winding down State Street on Thanksgiving morning, the nearly 5,000-person-strong McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade kicks off a fun-filled Turkey Day with helium floats, marching bands, baton twirlers, dancers, colorful balloons and more. In addition to floats like Garfield the Cat, Bullwinkle J. Moose and a 50-foot Turkey, don’t miss Santa as he makes one last appearance before ducking back to the North Pole to get ready for his Christmas Eve flight.
ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo
November 27-29, December 4-6 and nightly from December 11 to Jan. 3 (excluding Dec. 24 and 25)
Watch in amazement as the Lincoln Park Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland featuring more than two million Christmas lights, a visit from Santa, holiday crafts, delicious food and a host of additional seasonal activities. Best of all, this fun, family-oriented activity is completely free.