The holiday season in Chicago sparkles with lights and many fun events for families to do. Here’s our list of what’s best this season
Art Institute of Chicago
Holiday Thorne Rooms
Now to January 8, 2014
This year, one more of the 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms, capturing the exquisite interiors of abodes from the late 13th century to the 1930s, showcase their holiday style, making for a total of 11. Other rooms ready for the holidays include the Victorian English Drawing Room of the Victorian Period with Christmas tree, a modern-era California Hallway containing an Otto Natzler mid-century menorah and box with a dreidel and a English Great Hall from the Tudor period with such Christmas paraphernalia as a wassailing bowl, Yule log, and costuming for that period’s singing-dancing celebrants.
111 S. Michigan Ave
Now to December 24
Based upon the Nuremberg Christmas markets dating back to 1545, Chicago’s outdoor Christkindlmarket celebrates this European tradition. Red and white crested huts are set around the cubist Picasso sculpture at the Daley Plaza, each housing vendors cooking European treats such as Gluhwein (a warm spiced wine), savory and sweet crepes, stollen, sauerkraut, sweet cheese fritters, snow balls, Nürnberger and Kilometer sausages, Leberkäse and potato pancakes. Non-food vendors feature a myriad of goods from all over the world including Bavaria (handcrafted ornaments and pewter), Peru (jewelry, charms and rings), pottery from Boleslawiec, Poland and, from Strullendorf – Germany, clay and ceramic pottery items like decorative German houses that light up, tea and coffee sets and straw ornaments.
50 W Washington St.
A Christmas Carol
Now to December 28
See the Charles Dickens' classic at the Goodman Theatre, a tradition for over three decades. There are ghosts, music, dancing, a lot of "Bah, Humbugs" and ultimately a happy ending.
Lincoln Park Zoo and Ice Skating
Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo
Weekends Only, December 6–8, 13–23; December 26–January 5, 2013–14
Celebrate the holidays with the animals when the Lincoln Park Zoo is ablaze with over two million colorful lights. Activities include crafts, live ice carving demonstrations, visits with Santa in the Kovler Lion House, photos with Santa (up until December 23), carousel and train rides, musical light shows, animal encounters, 3-D displays, and food and winter drinks for a quick warm-up. New this year is ice skating at the rink in Farm-in-the-Zoo area.
Cannon Drive at Fullerton Parkway
Macy's on State
Now to early January at Macy's on State Street
The wonderfully themed and decorated windows along State Street display a story of Christmas good will. Be sure to wander inside for a view of the 45-foot Great Tree bedecked with more than 1,200 themed ornaments and 25,000 dazzling lights in the store’s Walnut Room.
111 N State St.
Caroling at Millennium Park's Cloud Gate/Ice Skating at McCormick Tribune Plaza at Millennium Park
Each Friday, take the family and sing along with such Chicago’s choral groups as the Chicago Children's Choir (Dec. 6) and the Wicker Park Choral Singers (Dec. 13). 6 - 6:50 p.m.
201 E. Randolph St.
After caroling, rent skates ($10) or bring your own for free ice skating at Millennium Park with the beautiful city skyline as a backdrop. Ends in March 9, 2014.
Michigan Avenue between Madison and Washington Streets
Museum of Science and Industry
Christmas Around the World & Holidays of Light
Now through Jan. 5, 2014
Since 1942, MSI has been doing it up in grand style with a 45-foot Grand Tree festooned with more than 30,000 lights and 1,000 ornaments and encircled by over 50 smaller trees decorated by the city’s ethnic communities to represent their cultures and holiday traditions. Located in the museum’s immense rotunda, intermittent falling "snow" adds to the holidays appeal. School choral groups and ethnic song and dance groups perform on the Holiday Stage by. This year’s holiday theme is inspired by the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives, the museum’s new temporary exhibit.
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive
Dec. 6, 2013 – Jan. 12, 2014
Amazing as usual, the marvelous 170,000-square-foot Festival Hall is recreated to include such family-friendly holiday fun as an indoor ice skating rink, such rides as Reindeer Express, Iceline Express Zip Line, Arctic Plunge, Visit with Santa, and live entertainment for both young and old.
600 East Grand Avenue
A Holiday Fantasea
Now through Dec. 24
Want to watch dolphins leap, penguins saunter and a sea lion dance and hear beluga whales sing? Then the Shedd's themed, multi-species aquatic show, A Holiday Fantasea, is a must-sea (their pun not ours). With lights twinkling and music playing at the Abbott Oceanarium, Santa arrives and the animals show their stuff.
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive