Chicago has no shortage of holiday spirit. Check out the festivities offered in this winter wonderland of a city below
Art on the Mart
While taking an evening stroll near the Chicago Riverwalk between Wells and Lake St., take in the beauty of innovative contemporary art created by Chicago-based artists digitally projected on the massive Merchandise Mart. The presentation beckons visitors to stop and admire the larger-than-life canvas lighting up the city’s iconic architectural landmark. The beauty of the images is accompanied by unique music.
Date: Thru Dec. 30 | Location: The Merchandise Mart
Christmas Around the World & Holidays of Lights
The Museum of Science + Industry — the largest science museum in the country — revels in exploring rich traditions from around the world. During its special annual holiday celebration, take in the grandeur and beauty of the spectacular Grand Tree and its adjoining exhibit of 50 decorated trees. The trees are individually decorated with sparkling lights and special touches representing Chicago’s diverse international cultures and their unique holiday traditions. You can even be showered in indoor “snow” to further experience the spirit of the season.
Date: Mid Nov. - Jan. 7, ‘24 | Location: Museum of Science + Industry
This cherished authentic holiday outdoor market unites German and European traditions with international flair. Individuals and families throughout the greater Chicagoland area have been familiar with this popular attraction since it arrived in Downtown Chicago in 1996. Visit the impressive group of international vendors who proudly showcase and sell authentic Christmas ornaments and holiday gifts. You’ll be dazzled by the variety. It’s a special place to browse and visit the authentic wooden huts beckoning visitors to enjoy tasty and hearty drinks; delicious German sausages; unique specialties; as well as hot chocolates and hot spiced wine. The ambiance brings the true German holiday spirit, with its traditions and experiences, to light.
Dates: Nov. 17 - Dec. 24 | Location: Daley Plaza
Ice Skating Millennium Park
Like a vintage picturesque winterland postcard, ice skating in Millennium Park invokes days gone by and cherished memories. The McCormick Tribune skating rink brings breathtaking views while you swirl across the smooth ice. Close by at the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, eager ice skaters meander around snow-dusted pine trees and special play spaces during the winter season. Both venues offer ice skating, weather permitting, with unmatched views of Chicago’s iconic and astonishing skyline.
Dates: Winter ‘23-‘24 | Location: Millennium Park
New Year’s Eve
Ring in the new year with an over-the-top experience at Chicago’s beautiful Navy Pier, which is even more enhanced by its prime location on glistening Lake Michigan. Enjoy gourmet appetizers and a live band while dancing on the city’s largest dance floor at the ever-stunning Aon Grand Ballroom. Looking for a different vibe? Say hello to 2024 by enjoying an all-inclusive event situated on the nation’s largest rooftop bar, the Offshore Rooftop. Take a ride on the iconic Navy Pier Ferris Wheel and take in the spectacular views of the city. Another option includes an elegant dinner cruise that departs from Navy Pier. Feast on dinner, dancing, and champagne toasts and dance the night away to the beats of DJ music. At the stroke of midnight, you’ll be ready at the most magical place in Chicago to view Navy Pier’s iconic New Year’s Eve fireworks show at the stroke of midnight.
Date: Dec. 31 | Location: Navy Pier
Ugly Holiday Sweater Party
For all of you hiding those ugly holiday sweaters in your closets, unite and show off those lovable garish toppers. It’s BYOS (Bring Your Own Sweater) when you attend THE holiday ugly sweater party of the year. Dare to wear it and take a chance at winning a one-night stay in a Park Hyatt Chicago suite that’s estimated at a $2,000 value. Enjoy light passed hors d’oeuvres and live DJ music in the festive NoMi Lounge, featuring a sprawling bar that spotlights local art.
Date: Dec. 13 | Location: Park Hyatt Chicago
Walnut Room Dining
Dining at the iconic Macy’s Walnut Room during the holiday season has been a beloved tradition since 1905. This world-famous landmark was the first restaurant ever to be opened in a department store. The beautiful atmosphere exudes holiday magic, warmth, and a comfortable elegance. Family, friends, and groups gather amid spectacular holiday decor highlighted by the 45-foot tall lighted Great Tree. The 17,000 square-foot dining room features Circassian wood paneling imported from Russia and sparkling Austrian chandeliers. Diners crave the Walnut Room’s menu specialties, including its best-known classic dishes, like Mrs. Hering’s 1890 Original Chicken Pot Pie and classic French Onion Soup. A special kids menu offers tasty versions of their favorites. Desserts, like Frango-Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Pie, pleasantly finish the experience. Holiday reservations are recommended for lunch, breakfast buffet, and Santa breakfast buffet.
Dates: Nov. 4 - Jan. ‘24 | Location: Macy’s - 111 North State Street
Winterland at Gallagher Way
It may not be baseball season, but there are a lot of merry reasons to enjoy the holiday season both inside historic Wrigley Field and outside of the ballpark at Gallagher Way. Winter celebration activities for families, visitors, and local neighbors are on top of the list here, including the Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville. Check out the traditional candy cane-striped wooden huts and shop, dine, drink, and take part in the German-rooted traditions. The Gallagher Ice Rink, a 12,000-square-foot skating rink in the park, is a must to invigorate the winter fun. Enjoy the neighborhood that showcases twinkly lights to get you in a festive mood.
Dates: Nov. 18 - Jan. 8, ‘24 | Location: Wrigleyville - Chicago
Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo
For more than 25 years, visitors have enjoyed the marvels of the light displays and seasonal holiday activities amidst the “stars of the show” at the zoo. Zoolights continues its traditions by providing exciting displays, photo opportunities, and interactive programming to complete the genuine family experience. The dazzling displays light up into the sky with holiday merriment.
Dates: Nov. 17 - Jan. 7, ‘24 | Location: Lincoln Park Zoo