Holidays in Chicago: Step out of the Region to find holiday events in the city for the whole family

2013-12-15T10:30:00Z Holidays in Chicago: Step out of the Region to find holiday events in the city for the whole familyJane Ammeson Times Correspondent
December 15, 2013 10:30 am  • 

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

Gallery 11

Daley Plaza


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.

Goodman Theatre

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

Christmas Traditions

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.

Millennium Park

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

Navy Pier

Winter Wonderfest

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

Shedd Aquarium

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

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