Chicago Holiday Events 2012

Chicago and Lake Michigan Shoreline

Chicago Holiday Events 2012

If you can't make a trip to downtown Chicago, see the Magnificent Mile- Festival of Lights Parade Photo Gallery

The 2012-2013 holiday season is here. Chicago offers a plethora of ways to celebrate the holidays. Check out some of the many holiday events taking place this season in and around Chicago listed below. Get into the holiday spirit by watching our Christmas in Chicago Video!

Holiday Links for every Chicago Traveler!

To have your holiday event included in our listings, please use our Submit Your Event Form.

2012 Holiday Events Calendar

Wrigley Building in Downtown Chicago with Holiday Lights

Wrigley Building in Downtown Chicago

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Champagne Dinner Cruise - Odyssey

Start 2013 on the water! Come experience the spectacular Chicago skyline while taking pleasure in the ultimate cruising indulgence, the Odyssey! Enjoy a plated dinner menu, live entertainment and private seating. On this special cruise complimentary Champagne will be served throughout the boarding hour. Learn More.

  • Nov. 1 - Dec. 31

Winter Wonderland

John Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL

Remember the Winter Wonderland Holiday Train? The holiday lights and Lake Michigan in ice? This year we’re celebrating 40 years of festivities at JHO and everything you loved as a kid is there for you to share with your kids or grandkids – at a great price!

Winter Wonderland is open every day from Nov 1 to Dec 31 and Santa will be flying in every weekend from 12-4pm. We also have some fun activities going on every weekend so download this Winter Wonderland calendar to stick on your refrigerator for upcoming events.

  • November 1 - December 31, 2012

Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier

Navy Pier, Chicago, Il

The annual Winter WonderFest present by Bank of America brings Chicago 7 more days of Holiday family fun than usual! Enjoy 170,000 square feet of winter wonderland playground, with indoor ice skating, inflatable slides, rides and so much more!

Winter WonderFest is open Sunday through Thursday from 10am - 5pm and Friday and Saturday from 10am - 10pm! Special holiday hours include Christmas Eve from 10am - 5pm, New Years Eve and New Years Day from 10am - 8pm, and Winter WonderFest will be closed on Christmas Day! Bring the whole family our to celebrate the holidays in Chicago!

  • November 30, 2012 - January 6, 2013

Macy's Great Tree Lighting & Holiday Windows

Macy's State Street, 111 N. State Street, Chicago

Macy's kicks off the holiday season at 12noon on the 7th floor in the Walnut Room with the annual Great Tree Lighting ceremony with a special guest performance by Chris Mann. Immediately following the Tree Lighting, the kid's department on level 5 at 1:00 p.m. will have holiday family fun including face painting, balloon twisting, fun from Radio Disney and much more. Outside, passersby will one again be amazed with this year's Macy's window display.

  • November 18, 2012 - March 11, 2013 (weather permitting)

Millennium Park Ice Skating

Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, Chicago

Located on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets, the Millennium Park Ice Rink draws more than 100,000 skater annually. The rink is open to the public every day of the week and skating is free. Skate rentals are available.

  • November 17 - January 8, 2013

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

Night Time Aerial View of Downtown Chicago IL

Night Time Aerial View of Downtown Chicago IL

Museum of Science & Industry, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

The Museum halls will be decked, holiday singers and dancers will fuel the festivities, and the sparkle of dozens of decorated trees will greet you at this year’s Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light. The Museum’s grand tree takes center stage in the Rotunda, while more than 50 trees beautifully decorated by members of Chicago’s ethnic communities to represent global cultures adorn the Museum's Main Level. Stroll through the trees, enjoy intermittent falling “snow” and savor the performances of various dance and choral groups on the Holiday Stage.

  • Nov. 25 -Dec. 20

Drury Lane Children's Theatre - A Christmas Carol

100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, IL

A popular holiday tradition entertaining hundreds of children and families each year is back once again this Christmas season at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace -- the timeless classic A Christmas Carol. In addition to a performance from a cast of top Chicago actors, Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace offers families the special opportunity to have breakfast or dinner with Santa Claus on select performance dates. Featuring a festive buffet style menu complete with holiday favorites, these events are a wonderful way to introduce children to the arts.

  • November 2 - December 22, 2012
  • Tickets $12 each, $10 each for groups of 20 or more
  • Breakfast and Dinner buffet with Santa available on select dates
Chicago Travel Info

Holiday Hotel Deals in Chicago

$800
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Hotel Info Nightly Rates*
MileNorth, A Chicago Hotel
4
Located in Gold Coast
View 1 Promo for this hotel -
 
Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

Rates Starting At

$219* Details
The Homestead
3
Located in Evanston
Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

Rates Starting At

$140* Details
Best Western River North
3
Located in River North
View 1 Promo for this hotel -
 
Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

Rates Starting At

Check Availability Details
AmericInn Lodge & Suites
2.5
Located in Bolingbrook
Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

Rates Starting At

$80* Details
4.125
2 Reviews
The Silversmith Hotel & Suites
4
Located in Downtown
Bar/LoungeBusiness ServicesConciergeFitness CenterFree InternetLakesidePet-FriendlyBusiness Center

Rates Starting At

Check Availability Details
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Chicago Travel Info

Year-Round Chicago Attractions

Venue Info Location
Bobby's Tike Hike Located in Streeterville
View 1 Promo for this attraction -
 
ActiveFamily FriendlySights of ChicagoScenic

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Interior Architecture Tour Located in The Loop ActiveCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricSights of ChicagoScenic

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Willis Tower Located in The Loop Sights of Chicago

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4.125
2 Reviews
Children's Museum Located in Gold Coast ArtsyCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricMuseumSights of Chicago

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Chicago Museum Located in Gold Coast ArtsyCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricMuseumSights of Chicago

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Chicago Travel Info

Upcoming Events in Chicago

Format: 2014-10-23
Format: 2014-10-23
Event Info Price
Hunk-O-Mania Chicago
Age Requirement: 21 and over
Event Type: Theater

Located in

Near NorthDetails
ZooLights at the Lincoln Park
Age Requirement: All Ages
Event Type: Holiday

Located in

Lincoln ParkDetails
International Festival
Age Requirement: All Ages
Event Type: Festival

Located in

The LoopDetails
Chicagoween
Age Requirement: All Ages
Event Type: Holiday

Located in

The LoopDetails
Spooky Zoo Spectacular
Age Requirement:
Event Type: Holiday

Located in

Lincoln ParkDetails
More Chicago Events...
Chicago Travel Info

Save Big in the Windy City

Venue Info Location
Go Chicago Card Located in The Loop Sights of Chicago

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Chicago Pass to the City Located in The Loop MuseumSights of Chicago

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Chicago Museum Pass Located in Grant Park ArtsyGrant ParkCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricMuseumSights of Chicago

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Museum Campus Pass Located in Grant Park Grant ParkCulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricMuseumSights of Chicago

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Chicago Family Fun Pass Located in The Loop Family FriendlyHoliday FunMuseumSights of Chicago

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Best of Chicago Pass Located in The Loop ActiveCulturalFamily FriendlyMuseumSights of ChicagoScenic

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Chicago Kid's Pass

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Huge Savings Chicago
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Chicago Art & Architecture Located in The Loop CulturalFamily FriendlyHistoricHoliday FunMuseumSights of Chicago

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Virtual Go Chicago Card Located in The Loop CulturalFamily FriendlyHoliday FunSights of ChicagoScenic

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*Terms & Conditions: Offers, promotions and rates subject to change and may vary based upon date, length of stay and other factors. Some offers do not include taxes and fees. All offers based on availability and are subject to change without notice.

A Christmas Carol

Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago

Charles Dickens’ classic story, the exceptional actors and the miraculous stagecraft have made A Christmas Carol a beloved Chicago tradition. Every year, audiences look forward to the “Bah Humbugs,” the arrival of the ghosts, the music and dancing and Scrooge’s joyful discovery of life and love. Whether this is your first or your 31st visit to A Christmas Carol, this timeless play will put the magic in your holiday season!

Chicago Toy and Game Fair

Navy Pier, Festival Hall B, Chicago

The Chicago Toy and Game Fair allows the public to preview, play and purchase the year's hottest new toys and games. The Fair showcases hundreds of companies and thousands of products from around the world including Australia, Asia, Europe and Africa. Raffles, tournaments, prizes, live entertainment, shopping, free gaming areas, Young Inventors' Challenge, 24x7 game playing featuring the coolest new games from Europe's famous Essen Fair, costumed characters, toy drive and live game shows makes Chi-TAG the most fun you can have in one weekend, packed under one roof.

  • November 17- 18, 2012

The Evanston Art Center's Winter Arts & Crafts Expo

The Evanston Art Center, 2603 Sheridan Road, Evanston

Each winter holiday season, the Evanston Art Center presents a high quality exhibition and sale of the finest one-of-a-kind arts and crafts created by local artisans. Discover hand crafted works of jewelry, ceramics, fiber, metal, glass, painting, photography, mixed-media, and more.

  • Sat. November 17, 2012

Take a Shoreline Water Taxi to the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

Ogilvie Center/Michigan Avenue Bridge

Arrive on The Magnificent Mile in magnificent style for the kick-off of the holiday season! Take a Shoreline Water Taxi from Union Station/Ogilvie Center to the Michigan Avenue Bridge (weather permitting) for The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival® presented by Harris.

The parade is this Saturday, November 17th, 2012. Shoreline Water Taxis will depart Union Station/Ogilvie Center for the Michigan Avenue Bridge approximately every 15 minutes from 11 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. After the parade and fireworks display, Shoreline Water Taxis will depart from our Michigan Avenue dock to Union Station/Ogilvie Center every 15 minutes until 8 p.m.

Tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under. (children 2 and under ride free). Click here for more information and tickets.

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

N. Michigan Avenue, from Oak Street to Wacker Drive, Chicago

For more than 40 years, the trees along North Michigan Avenue have been illuminated to signal the official start of the holiday season. Join Mickey Mouse and his pals from the Walt Disney World® Resort for a magical holiday celebration in The Magnificent Mile district. Witness the spectacular lighting of more than one million lights along North Michigan Avenue, culminating in a magnificent fireworks show over the Chicago River. Beginning at 11:00am, festival lane opens up and there will be live concerts on the Harris Stage at 401 N. Michigan Avenue. The lighting procession begins at 5:30pm and fireworks begin at 6:55pm. For additional information see:

Modern Vintage Holiday Market

Magnificent Mile with Holiday Lights Chicago Illinois

Magnificent Mile with Holiday Lights Chicago Illinois

Beaux Arts Plumbers Hall, 1340 W Washington Street, Chicago

The annual Modern Vintage Holiday Market is held indoors at the beautiful Beaux Arts Plumbers Hall. Shoppers can kick off their holiday shopping with gifts in all price ranges, available in a one-stop-shopping experience. In a fun and fanciful space, shoppers will discover fabulous keepsakes from embroidered hankies, sterling spoons and festive aprons, to estate jewelry, couture formal wear and crystal goblets. Independently designed handmade and beautifully preserved vintage ornaments round out the mix and are the perfect gift for anyone. Free parking will be available in the Plumbers Hall parking lot and free gift wrapping and packaging will also be offered throughout the weekend.

  • Nov. 23 - Dec. 24 2012

Daley Plaza Santa's House

Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington Street, Chicago

Visit Santa's House at Daley Plaza, where you can tour Santa's house and he will be available for pictures and taking wish lists. Visits with Santa start on Thanksgiving Eve. Here is Santa's schedule:

  • Nov. 23: 6 - 8pm
  • Nov. 24: 11am - 4pm
  • Nov. 25 - 27: 11am - 8pm (closed from 3pm - 4pm)
  • Dec. 2 - 4: 11am - 8pm (closed from 3pm - 4pm)
  • Dec. 9 - 11: 11am - 8pm (closed from 3pm - 4pm)
  • Dec. 16 - 23: 11am - 8pm (closed from 3pm - 4pm)
  • Dec. 24: 11am - 4pm

Chicago's Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Daley Plaza, Washington St. & Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60602

The Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is a highly-anticipated event drawing people of all ages to the heart of Chicago's downtown Loop. Musical performances and festive holiday music begin at 4:30pm and the holiday season officially commenced at 5:00pm, when the switch is flipped and the lights begin to dazzle in Daley Plaza.

  • November 23

Christkindlmarket Chicago

Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington Street, Chicago

See, taste and hear the holiday cheer. Experience a traditional holiday market, based on the century old markets in Germany, in the heart of downtown Chicago. This free event features German and International vendors who display hand crafted ornaments, toys and unique gifts as well as traditional German foods, sweets and beverages.

  • Nov. 24

McDonald's 77th Anniversary Thanksgiving Parade

Location: State Street from Congress Parkway to Randolph Street, Chicago

Time: 8:00am - 11:00am

Are you ready for Chicago's favorite holiday tradition? The annual McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade will step off Thanksgiving morning at 8:00am, with Ronald McDonald, Santa Claus, and thousands of performers marching down State Street in downtown Chicago. Children of all ages, young and old, will be amazed at the high-flying inflatable balloons, melodic marching bands, engaging entertainers and exquisite equestrian units that they will see.

  • November 22, 2012 from 8am - 11am

Annual Wreathing of the Lions

Art Institute of Chicago

Kick off the holiday season with the Art Institute's annual Wreathing of the Lions. After the ceremony, visit a drop-in workshop to create a wreath inspired by your favorite Art Institute treasures.

  • November 25 - Decemeber 24

A Christmas Carol

Metropolis Performing Arts Centre - 111 W. Campbell Street, Arlington Heights, IL

Scrooge is a stingy old man, pinching his pennies when it comes to helping the poor, his employees and even his family. But that’s all about to change. Go on a heart-warming adventure as Scrooge sees the error of his ways as he is visited by the Spirits of Christmas. It’s an exciting and magical musical retelling of the classic tale that’s the perfect addition to any holiday tradition. Appropriate for all ages. Enjoy this company's performance of A Christmas Carol!

  • November 25 - December 16 at 6pm (Fridays only)

Caroling at Cloud Gate

Millennium Park, Chicago

Celebrate the holidays in Millennium Park, when Caroling at Cloud Gate returns on Friday evenings each week throughout the holiday season. Chicagoans and visitors alike are invited to Cloud Gate to hear the beautiful voices of different Chicago choral groups including the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Chicago Chamber Choir, Windy City Gay Chorus and Aria, and the Wicker Park Choral Singers. Free admission.

  • Nov. 25 - Jan. 1 (select dates)

ZooLights

Lincoln Park Zoo, 2200 Canon Drive, Chicago

One of the brightest parts of Chicago’s winter—ZooLights—returns in late November. ZooLights is free and open to all. Watch ice carving demonstrations, visit with Santa, savor warm drinks, enjoy cool crafts and be dazzled by more than one million beautiful lights. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only through Dec. 11. Open nightly Dec. 16 - 23 and Dec. 26 - Jan. 1. Closed Dec. 24 and 25.

  • December 1 - 31, 2012

Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland Express

Chicago Botanic Garden1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL

Take a magical trip to a winter wonderland of twinkling lights and holiday beauty at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Outside, 750,000 lights sparkle and welcome you and your family to the Garden's wonderland. Inside the Regenstein Center, a 10,000-square-foot exhibition of miniature trains winds over bridges, under trestles, past waterfalls, and through more than 80 mini-replicas of Chicago's favorite landmarks. On select dates (see website) you can have breakfast or supper with Santa, hot chocolate with Mrs. Claus, or a Hanukkah dinner and concert. (Closed Christmas Day.)

  • Nov. 26 – Jan. 8

Holiday Flower Show

Garfield Park Conservatory300 N. Central Park Avenue, Chicago

The Holiday Flower Show is unfortunately cancelled this year due to damage from the June 30th hailstorm.

Come enjoy a traditional Holiday Flower Show in the Show House. You’re sure to marvel at the sheer number of poinsettias on display. The holiday scene is perfect for taking annual family photos or for just getting in the holiday spirit. Admission is free to this all-ages event.

  • Nov. 26

Vienna Boys Choir

Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

An annual Thanksgiving-weekend delight, the Vienna Boys Choir returns to Chicago for a joyful performance at Symphony Center. The legendary ensemble performs holiday favorites, secular music and popular folk songs. This group consists of 100 choristers between the ages of 10 and 14, divided into four touring choirs that travel throughout Europe, Asia and North America and perform more than 300 concerts in front of nearly half a million people each year.

  • November 16 - December 31, 2012 (Select Dates)

A Klingon Christmas Carol

Greenhouse Theater Center 2257 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago

The first play ever to be produced entirely in the Klingon language, the Twin Cities phenomenon A Klingon Christmas Carol has finally come to Chicago. Scrooge has neither honor nor courage in this uproarious twist on the classic holiday tale. Can the visits of three spirits help him to become a true warrior in time to save Tiny Tim from a horrible fate? Find out in Commedia Beauregard’s melding of Charles Dickens' morality tale with the language and culture of the Star Trek warrior race. Performed “in the original Klingon” (with English subtitles provided for the benefit of audience members who don't speak the language), this bizarre hit has earned itself a following of both Trek devotees and novices alike.

  • Nov. 21 - Jan. 1 (Select Dates)

Second City's Dysfunctional Holiday Review

Second City, 1616 N. Wells St. Chicago, IL 60614

Second City's Dysfunctional Holiday Revue features a seasonal blend of hilarious scenes, songs and our trademark improvisation with a sprig of holiday mischief for a night of spirited fun. Funny, bright and completely original, Second City's Dysfunctional Holiday Revue is the perfect alternative to the same old holiday shows. From uneven gift exchanges with your clueless boyfriend to couples therapy with Joseph and Mary, Second City has your ticket to all that’s ridiculous about this magical season.

Events Beginning in December

  • Dec. 1 – Dec. 30

December Holiday Cruises

Odyssey, Spirit of Chicago, Mystic Blue

Celebrate this holiday season aboard the elegant Odyssey, festive Spirit of Chicago or contemporary Mystic Blue. All cruises offer festive décor, dining, dancing, live or DJ entertainment, outstanding service and dazzling views of the city from the water. Take in all the splendor of the holiday season on our one-of-a-kind lunch and dinner cruises.

  • Dec. 1 - 21

City Hall Holiday Concert Series

City Hall Lobby, 121 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago

Get into the holiday spirit while listening to the classics sung by children's choirs from throughout the city. The City Hall Holiday Concerts are held every weekday from noon to 1 pm. The concerts take place in the west end of the City Hall lobby near the LaSalle Street entrance. The concert series truly exhibits the talents of children from all over Chicago and warms the hearts of the audience. Admission is free.

  • Dec. 2

Handel's Messiah at the University of Chicago

Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago IL 60637

The University of Chicago Chorus and Motet Choir will join the Rockefeller Chapel Orchestra, and special guests for the annual performance of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah in Hyde Park on Friday, December 2nd at 8:00 pm at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. James Kallembach conducts. Undergraduates, graduates, faculty, staff, and singers from the University and Hyde Park unite to fill Rockefeller Memorial Chapel with over 150 voices.

  • Dec. 2 - Jan. 8

Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier

Festival Hall, Navy Pier, Chicago

Winter WonderFest returns to Navy Pier for another wonderful holiday season. This Chicago tradition delights visitors of all ages with breathtaking holiday décor that fills 170,000 square feet of indoor holiday fun. Come to experience thousands of glistening lights, hundreds of decorated holiday trees, festive candy cane decor and enchanted holiday entertainment on various stages. Visitors from around the world come to the Winter WonderFest to wander about the lavishly decorated holiday village and to enjoy an indoor adventure that includes exciting rides, huge inflatable slides, train rides, indoor ice skating, climbing walls, cookie decorating, live entertainment and so much more!

  • Dec. 2 - 4

Lincoln Square Christkindl Market

Leland & Western Avenue, Chicago

Take part in the sites, sounds and flavors of a traditional German Christmas market in the heart of the German community on Chicago's north side. Walk down Lincoln Avenue and take in the strolling musicians, ice sculptures and beautiful Christmas decorations. When you arrive at the corner of Leland and Lincoln you will be welcomed into the big heated tent filled with traditional German food. Sip on warm Gluewhein as you listen to traditional Christmas carols or toast with a refreshing beer. At Kids Korner, the little ones can decorate cookies, wreaths and create special ornaments. Throughout the day traditional Christmas carols will be ringing in the air sung by local children's and adult choirs, but at night the market moves from the traditional entertainment to the contemporary.

  • Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18

Breakfast with Santa

John Hancock Observatory, 875 N. Michigan Avenue, 94th Floor, Chicago, IL

Even Santa needs a hearty breakfast during his busiest month of the year! What better place than high above Chicago's rooftops at JHO. We have a delicious buffet, prepared in our award-winning Lavazza Espression café and served by our hard-working elves. And Santa will be on hand for your children to have a word is his ear about presents. (No Dad, you can't have a Porsche).

Following this, enjoy our Winter Wonderland activities and make sure you have time for our free kid's interactive multimedia Sky Tour narrated by Lookingglass co-founder, David Schwimmer.

This famous festive buffet sold out fast last year, so make like Prancer and book early to share a magical meal with your kids or grandkids. We are serving breakfast at 8:30am and 10:30 am on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18. Adults are $39, Youth $29, Infants $19 - including buffet breakfast, a FREE family photo*, JHO admission and other goodies. Call 1.877.875.6940 to reserve a spot - there's a 50% non-refundable deposit due at time of booking.

  • Dec. 3 - Dec. 18 (Saturdays & Sundays)

Macy's Breakfast with Santa

Macy's State Street, 111 N. State Street, Chicago

Join Santa for a delicious breakfast meal and afterwards there will be fun and games for the whole family. Don't forget your camera so you can capture every moment. Seating is limited - to make a reservation call 1-877-556-2297.

  • Dec. 3 - 4

Julmarknad (Christmas Bazaar)

Swedish American Museum5211 N. Clark Street, Chicago

Julmarknad is the Museum’s annual Christmas Bazaar, and traditional Scandinavian and modern handicrafts will be available for purchase. Visit the Children’s Museum for crafts, games, and a special visit from Santa. It’s entertainment for the whole family and includes a kaffestuga, Lucia processions, and folk dancers.

  • Dec. 3 - 4

Amahl and the Night Visitors

Cindy Pritzker Auditorium @ Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, 400 State Street Chicago, IL

Chamber Opera Chicago presents its annual presentation of Gian Carlo Menotti’s classic favorite, Amahl and the Night Visitors. The production has become a treasured Chicago holiday tradition, perfect for all ages!

Amahl and the Night Visitors tells the story of how a crippled young shepherd boy’s life is changed forever when he sees an amazing star in the sky. When Amahl and his mother encounter three kings following the star in their search for a wondrous child, the result is a timeless and inspiring message of how faith, charity, and unselfish love can work miracles. This production will be directed by Francis Menotti, based on his father’s original 1951 production.

Sung in English with orchestra, featuring dancers from Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater. A 20 minute program of Christmas carols, sung by the children’s chorus, will begin each performance. The cast of Amahl and the Night Visitors will feature Patrick Blackwell, Brian Hotchkin, Barbara Landis, Christopher Lorimer, Kenny Lumb, and Aaron Stegemöller.

For tickets or information, visit www.chamberoperachicago.org or call 312-951-7944.

  • Dec. 3 – Dec. 31

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo, 1st Avenue between Ogden Avenue & 31st Street, Brookfield

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo takes place from 4:00pm – 9:00pm each evening during the season enjoy more than 120 animated light displays, live entertainment, model trains, a train ride, a dolphin show, ice carvers and, of course, the animals. Every Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 3 - Dec. 18) and every day from Dec. 26 through Dec. 31.

  • Dec. 5, 6 and 12

Moscow Ballets Great Russian Nutcracker

Rosemont Theatre

Principal artists Ekaterina Bortyakova and Akzhol Mussokhanov star in this spectacular production of this unique interpretation of the Nutcracker. This show will be performed in over 70 cities in North America for its annual tour.

  • Dec. 9 - 27

The Joffrey Ballet Nutcracker

Auditorium Theatre, 500 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago

Robert Joffrey created this Nutcracker, turning a decidedly European ballet into a uniquely American experience. The holidays are captured in 120 minutes as the entire Joffrey company takes the stage, creating the magic of the season. The Joffrey’s Nutcracker maintains the spirit of the original 1987 performance, while sparkling with contemporary choreography, dazzling costumes, Tchaikovsky’s thrilling score, inventive lighting and extravagant set design.

  • Dec. 9 - 11

Tidings of Tap!

University of Illinois Chicago Theater - 1044 W. Harrison, Chicago

If you're tired of the same old holiday entertainment, Chicago Tap Theatre has a show for you. Featuring rhythm and whimsy-filled interpretations of your favorite Christmas, Chanukah and Winter songs, this is a fun yet sophisticated, family-friendly evening. This show is truly enjoyable for all ages. Children and parents will love the end-of-the show number, where all the children are invited on-stage to dance and delight in the indoor snow. Parents are even allowed to take photos of their kids on stage.

  • Dec. 10th

Spirit of Chicago Santa Lunch Cruise

Spirit of Chicago's vibrant Lunch with Santa Cruise has it all! Dine on our festive lunch buffet and enjoy live solos by our talented staff as we cruise the lakefront. Even take pleasure in a visit with Santa himself. Plus, see spectacular up-close views of Chicago' s world-famous skyline, all on our warm and cozy climate-controlled decks! Reserve your seats today.

  • Dec. 10th

5th Annual Holiday Breakfast with Santa

Soldier Field, 1410 S. Museum Campus Dr.

Soldier Field hosts its fourth annual Breakfast with Santa Saturday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. in the United Club for about 600 guests. The lavish brunch will be one of the few times during the year when the United Club’s fine dining is open to the public. Families will not only be able feast on a fantastic holiday-themed breakfast, but also visit with Santa and his elves.

At the stadium, children under age 12 can decorate holiday cookies or take part in other interactive festivities. Families are encouraged to bring their own ornament to decorate the stadium tree. The top three handmade ornaments will receive prizes.

“We invite everyone to take advantage of this unique holiday event as it’s a special opportunity to experience this historic venue,” said Timothy J. Mitchell, General Superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District.

  • Dec. 11th

Movies with a Mission: The Black Candle, A Kwanzaa Celebration

DuSable Museum

This inspirational film celebrates the African-American family culture, focusing on the seven principles of Kwanzaa. This afternoon presentation is free.

  • Dec. 10

Festa's Annual 12 Bars Of Xmas Pub Crawl

Wrigleyville

TBOX, which stands for "Twelve Bars of Xmas" is Festa's flagship pub tour event. Beginning in 1996, this Wrigleyville pub crawl attracts thousands of participants, considered by some as a "cult" following, with folks coming in from 40+ states and over a dozen countries. It's a day of regal pageantry, manic energy, crazy costumes, cereal shots, stickers everywhere, opening and closing ceremonies, and tons of other bells and whistles that make TBOX the definitive Chicago Party Experience.

  • Dec. 10 - 11

Bucktown Holiday Artshow

Beautiful Fireworks in Chicago Fired from Navy Pier

Beautiful Fireworks in Chicago Fired from Navy Pier

Holstein Park Fieldhouse, 2200 N. Oakley Avenue, Chicago

At the annual Bucktown Holiday ArtShow, art lovers and holiday shoppers convene to browse and shop for one-of-a-kind gifts and original works of art. Shop from 100 artists displaying and selling their creative works. The Bucktown Holiday ArtShow considers and presents art of all media--from photography to textiles, watercolors to oils, jewelry to ceramics--and a whole lot more.

  • Dec. 16 - 18

Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet “The Nutcracker”

College of DuPage, McAninch Arts Center, 25 Fawell Boulevard, Glen Ellyn, IL

Von Heidecke Chicago Festival Ballet and New Philharmonic present Tchaikovsky's timeless classic.

  • Dec. 17 - 18

Salt Creek Ballet's "The Nutcracker"

North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, Centre East Theatre

9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL

It would not be the holidays at the North Shore Center without its annual presentation of "The Nutcracker". This year, the outstanding Salt Creek Ballet perform this holiday classic in the grand Russian tradition.

  • Dec. 21

Hanukkah Dinner and Concert

Chicago Botanic Garden

The Hanukkah Dinner and Concert is at the Chicago Botanic Garden, located in Glencoe, IL (north of Chicago) and features a live concert by The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, as well as a traditional Hanukkah dinner, and admission to the Garden’s Wonderland Express (see below). This is a great way to celebrate the festival of Hanukkah as well as enjoy some beautiful music and delicious cuisine!

New Years

  • Dec. 31

New Year's Eve Fireworks

8:15pm - New Year's Eve Family Fireworks

Families can ring in the New Year a little early with this spectacular fireworks display to end the New Year's Eve Family Bash.

Midnight - New Year's Eve Midnight Fireworks

Welcome in 2013 with Chicago’s only lakefront fireworks show on New Year's Eve. Check out Entertainment Cruises to see the fireworks aboard the Spirit of Chicago, Mystic Blue or Odyssey and enjoy a special New Year's Eve celebration.

  • Dec. 31

Navy Pier's New Year's Eve Bash

Festival Hall Winter WonderStage

Families can ring in the New Year…a little bit early! Navy Pier presents a spectacular all-ages showcase of hip-hop dance, live music, and more at the Winter WonderStage. The celebration begins at 6:00pm and culminates with a special 8:15pm Family Fireworks show outside on Dock Street.

  • Dec. 31

NYE 2013 Official Playboy New Year's Eve Celebration

Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago

This year's Official Playboy New Year's Eve Celebration, held at the Hilton Chicago, will feature a performance by Grammy award winner T-Pain. Overnight accommodations at the Hilton are available.

Party Tickets will include:

  • 4-Hour Premium Open Bar
  • Hors d’oeuvres & Buffet
  • Midnight Champagne Toast
  • Video Countdown & Confetti Explosion
  • Over 4,000 Party-Goers

Playboy VIP Lounge Tickets will include:

  • 5-Hour Premium Open Bar (1 Extra Hour)
  • Meet & Greet with Eight Playboy Playmates
  • Exclusive Casino Gambling
  • Super Premium Open Bar
  • Expanded Hors d’oeuvres & Buffet

Holiday Cruises

  • Dec. 31

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruise – Odyssey

Make a magnificent New Year's memory aboard Odyssey's elegant New Year's Eve Fireworks Dinner Cruise. It's the perfect, most sophisticated celebration on the lakefront. Package includes:

  • - 4 ½ Hour Celebration
  • - Private Seating
  • - Distinctive New Year’s Eve Plated Menu
  • - Butlered Hors d’Oeuvres
  • - Chocolate Fountain
  • - Premium Open Bar
  • - Champagne Toast at Midnight
  • - Live Band and Dancing
  • - Magnificent Fireworks Display
  • Dec. 31

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruise - Spirit of Chicago

Spirit of Chicago's New Year's Eve Fireworks Dinner Cruise is the most festive and entertaining party in the entire city! Package Includes:

  • - 4 ½ hour Celebration
  • - Open Seating
  • - Sumptuous New Year’s Eve Dinner Buffet
  • - Premium Open Bar
  • - Champagne Toast at Midnight
  • - Lively DJ for Dancing
  • - Front-Row Seat for Fireworks
  • Dec. 31

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruise - Mystic Blue

Ring in 2013 with the hottest New Year's Eve celebration on the water! It's all happening aboard Mystic Blue's New Year's Eve Fireworks Dinner Cruise. Package Includes:

  • - Rockin’ 4 ½ Hour Party
  • - Open Seating
  • - Tasty New Year’s Eve Dinner Buffet
  • - Premium Open Bar
  • - Champagne Toast at Midnight
  • - DJ Spinning the Hottest Mixes for Dancing
  • - The Best Fireworks View

New Year’s Day Champagne Dinner Cruise - Odyssey

Start 2013 on the water! Come experience the spectacular Chicago skyline while taking pleasure in the ultimate cruising indulgence, the Odyssey! Enjoy a plated dinner menu, live entertainment and private seating. On this special cruise complimentary Champagne will be served throughout the boarding hour. Learn More.

Other Chicago Holiday Events Resources

Visit Sightseeing Chicago and the Holiday Links below:

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