Can’t Miss Festive December Events in and Around Chicago

As winter sets in, don’t let the cold air get you down!  Now’s the time to get out, and explore all of the festive fun going on in and around Chicago.  With so many holiday events to choose from, you’ll forget all about your winter blues. So, break out those calendars, and load up on holiday cheer with some of our favorite can’t-miss festivities:  


When:  Until December 24th

Where:  Daley Plaza, The Loop

We can finally say that the holiday season has taken over Chicago, as our favorite holiday market, Christkindlmarket, is open and brining all the fest!  The giant open-air market has more shops and handcrafted items than ever before where guests can find everything from non-seasonally traditional items like beer steins and cuckoo clocks, to the more seasonally appropriate gifts of nutcrackers and glass ornaments.  And, if you’re not up for shopping quite yet, the market is also the perfect place to get your inner foodie on with everything chocolate-covered as well as hearty treats like potato pancakes, hot pretzels, and schnitzel. Pair it all with a steaming mug of Glühwein, a traditional hot spiced wine, and your holiday market experience will be complete!   

Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum

When:  Until January 1st

Where:  Morton Arboretum, Suburbs

Don’t miss the trees at Morton Arboretum light up in a sea of color this holiday season.  Illumination is a popular winter event where guests get to walk down a one-mile path through the forest while admiring the psychedelic display that dances to seasonal music.  New features this year will include a tree-like sculpture from artist HYBYCOZO, a display that amazingly changes colors when you hug it. And, there will be campfires stocked with hot drinks and s’mores.


When:  Until January 6th

Where:  Lincoln Park Zoo

Even though most of the animals are headed indoors to wait out the frigid winter weather, you won’t want to miss the Lincoln Park Zoo’s transformation into a winter wonderland.  Covered head to toe in twinkling bulbs, ZooLights decorates the beloved zoo with Instagram worthy themed displays. All throughout the holiday season, guests will find ice-sculpture carvers and carolers leading the fun, all while you sip on your favorite festive hot beverage to stay toasty warm.  And this year, don’t miss the special ticketed events, including a live musical performance from A Charlie Brown Christmas on December 9th, and a Zoo Year’s Eve celebration on December 31st.

Winter WonderFest

When:  Until January 6th

Where:  Navy Pier, Festival Hall 

Once again, Navy Pier brings Chicago’s favorite Winter WonderFest and all of the winter fun indoors into its enormous Festive Hall.  Amidst its 170,000-square-feet, holiday festival goers will find an ice skating rink, carnival rides, a tubing hill, seasonal activities and piles of holiday decorations.  It’s fun for the whole family that you simply can’t miss!

Winterland at Gallagher Way

When:  Until January 27th

Where:  Gallagher Way, Wrigleyville

Wrigleyville, known as the home of The Cubs, comes to life even during the off-season to show off the public square’s Winterland.  The event series offers all kinds of exciting seasonal activities, including an ice skating rink, curling, visits from Santa Claus and free screenings of holiday movies.  There’s also a colorful art installation called “Chimes,” which is made up of 30 lights and eight speakers that react to the movements of a giant set of wind chimes.

There are so many reasons to celebrate this holiday season, and these Chicago-favorite events are just a small glimpse at all of the fest happening in and around town.  So, bundle up, and don’t miss out!

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment