While the weather may say differently, the holidays are just around the corner. If you can believe it, Thanksgiving is next week!
When people ask me when Chicago is at its best, I always enthusiastically say “Christmas!” That’s typically met with a few strange looks. However, it’s such a great time to be in the city! There are so many festive events to attend, and many of them free! If we’re all lucky, we may see a few snowflakes too! (But not too many, no one is quite ready for Snowmageddon yet.)
If you’re visiting Chicago this holiday season, save the date for a few of these great events that are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit!
1. Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
I have been a huge fan of this parade for years, much to some of my friend’s dismay. BUT, the Mag Mile Lights Festival Parade is the perfect way to welcome in the holidays! Watch Mickey Mouse turn on all the lights on North Michigan Avenue and welcome Christmas to the city. Bands and floats ride the route and of course, finishes with Santa Claus. Fireworks are the grand finale, but let’s be honest, at that point you’ll be walking to the nearest Garrett’s for some popcorn or Ghirardelli to warm up with Hot Cocoa. It truly does mark the start of the holidays here in Chicago!
Prior to the main parade event, you can get a free slice of pie and stay for the D-list entertainment. Pro tip: Skip this.
Catch Mickey, Santa and the rest of the parade Saturday, November 19 at 5:30 p.m. anywhere along North Michigan Ave.
2. Lincoln Park ZooLights
I’m aware that many cities have their own variation of this, but I absolutely love the beauty of Lincoln Park ZooLights. Walk around with a cup of cider or mulled wine and see the spectacular lights show, as well as a few animals. My favorite is the musical lights show in the middle of the zoo! The best part: the event is free! This year, Lincoln Park ZooLights has various dates this year:
- November 25-27, 2016
- December 2-4, 2016
- December 9-23, 2016
- December 26-31, 2016
- January 1, 2017, 2017
3. Holiday Markets
I couldn’t choose just one to attend! There are various markets throughout Chicago selling local goods that is perfect for anyone on your gift list. If you missed it, read The 2016 Chicago Gift Guide. Here’s a few to mention, that all happen to fall on the same weekend!
- Renegade Holiday Market, December 3-4.
- Local Goods Chicago, Loyola Station, Mini-Pop Up, December 3 (and visit me!)
- Red Door Animal Shelter Winter Bazaar, December 3
4. Ice Skating At Maggie Daley Park
While this activity is not simply for the holidays, I cant think of a better way to welcome in the season. While personally, I prefer a circular rink, like the one in Millennium Park, the ice ribbon in Maggie Daley Park is not to be missed. The rink opens November 25 and will stay open through the first week of March. If you bring your own skates, you can hop right on! Otherwise, skate rental is $12.
Pro tip: Check the resurfacing times before you go. The Zamboni takes A LONG TIME compared to traditional ice rinks.
5. Music Box Double Feature & Sing Along
There’s nothing like a classic holiday movie to really give you the festive warm-fuzzies. For their 33rd year, the Music Box Theater is continuing with their Christmas Double Feature and Sing Along. “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas” are Christmas classics. And, bring your singing voice to Christmas carol along! There are various dates and times between December 10 and December 24. Be sure to reserve your tickets online.