Holidays in Chicago 2016

The city sparkles with lights and cheer during the holiday season. Make it your family tradition to take advantage of all that Chicago has to offer during this time of year. There are train and trolley rides, music and performances, Santa runs and specialty shopping. Here’s the list of some of our favorite family-friendly holiday activities.










Christkindlmarket Chicago
Nov. 18 – Dec. 24
Chicago: 312-494-2175
Daley Plaza between Washington, Clark & Dearborn Sts. The Christkindlmarket is Chicago’s largest open-air Christmas festival and features a wide range of vendors from Germany and around the world. Richly crafted hand-blown ornaments, nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, and beer steins, toys for all ages, jewelry, clothes, home décor, and wooden handcrafts. Large assortments of savory and sweet foods, drinks and candied treats. Sun.-Thur. 11am-8pm, Fri.-Sat. 11am-9pm. Free.


Annual Turkey Day Run Chicago 8K & 5K
Nov. 24, 7am registration opens
Lincoln Park, Cannon Dr. between Fullerton & Diversey. Join runners, joggers and walkers for some lighthearted fun. The Turkey Tailgate Zone from 9-11:30am features a variety of games for the whole family, including: turkey bowling, football throw, cornhole toss, costume contest, CLIF Kid Zone tent and more! Register online.


Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light
Through Jan. 8, 2017
Chicago: 773-684-1414
5700 S. Lake Shore Dr. The Museum’s 45-foot Grand Tree takes center stage in the Rotunda, surrounded by more than 50 smaller trees beautifully decorated to represent their cultures and holiday traditions. Daily from 9:30am-4pm (except Thanksgiving and Christmas).


A Charlie Brown Christmas
Through Jan. 11, 2017
Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. Tis the season to celebrate everyone’s favorite Peanuts pals as they dig past the commercialized gimmicks of presents and decorations to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.


2016 McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade
Nov. 24, 8-11am
Begins at Congress and moves north on State to Randolph St. A tradition of family celebration with balloons, bands and floats marching up State St. Many cultural groups represent their community, their culture and heritage in this parade. Free.


Chicago Trolley Holiday Lights Tour
Nov. 25 – Dec. 26
John Hancock Plaza, 875 N. Michigan Ave. Passengers are swept away by special Holiday Trolleys to the Magnificent Mile, State Street, the Loop, and other iconic landmarks that will all be glowing with glittering lights.


Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
Fri.-Sun. Nov. 25-27 & Dec. 2-4, nightly Dec. 9 – Jan. 1 (not Dec. 24 and 25), 4:30-9pm
Chicago: 312 -742-2000
2001 North Clark St. ZooLights celebrates the winter festivities with more than two million lights illuminating the sky. The free event transforms Lincoln Park Zoo into a winter wonderland with visits from Santa himself, holiday crafts and activities, ice sculptors and of course, sweet treats. Bring your skates for the ice rink.


A Christmas Carol
Through Dec. 31
Goodman Theatre 170 N Dearborn St. Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with A Christmas Carol—Chicago’s favorite holiday tradition!


Dec. 2-4
St. Viator Rec Center, 3644 N. Kedvale Ave. This event incudes an ice skating rink, Mistletoe Market indoor craft fair, fresh wreath & trees, jumpy house, movies, food plus drinks. Join us to snack, skate, sip & shop!


Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier
Dec. 2, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017
600 E. Grand Ave. Experience Chicago’s biggest and best indoor winter playground featuring 170,000 square feet of rides, giant slides, inflatables, entertainment, the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Skating Rink and more.


The Polar Express Train Ride
Dec. 3 – Jan. 1, 2017
Chicago Union Station, 500 W. Jackson Blvd. Rail Events Productions Inc. is proud to announce service on board THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride at historic Chicago Union Station. The magical story comes to life when the train departs Union Station for a one-hour roundtrip journey through downtown Chicago.


Santa Hustle Chicago 5K
Dec. 3
Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Dr.The 2016 Santa Hustle Chicago Charity is proud to be partnering with the American Cancer Society. Jingle all the way through the course with candy and cookies, festive music, creative Christmas images, and so much more, it is all designed to get you in the perfect holiday mood.


Dollar photo ice skating

Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon
Ongoing Nov. 25, 2016 – Mar. 2017
Chicago: 312-552-3000
Try Chicago’s newest downtown skating rink that curves through the park and winds around trees and a climbing wall. Bring your own skates to avoid the rental lines.


Chicago's Millennium Park skating

McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink
Ongoing Nov. 2016 – Mar. 2017
Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St. Enjoy the views in this 16,000 sq. ft. rink in the heart of the city.