During the winter holidays, Chicago spells unreal magical and the city transforms into a fantastic venue. As thousands of lights decorate the city’s famous skyline, and holiday cheer fills the air, Chicago becomes a magical winter wonderland. It’s impossible not to get into the holiday mood in the city, which changes exponentially as December gets closer, offering a wide range of fun and exciting activities. If you are looking for the best Christmas things to do in Chicago to collect unforgettable memories and experiences.
Then you just click on the right page, because in this blog, we’ll look into the best things to do in Chicago in December, including both time-honoured customs and fresh takes on the holiday.
This time of year has something fun for everyone, no matter you are looking to ice skate, shop at seasonal markets, or just enjoy the sights and sounds with your family or friends. We have listed all the latest events and activities that you can enjoy this year to take your Christmas bliss to the next level.
Latest Christmas Events & Activities In Chicago – The List
The Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza is like stepping into a cosy corner of Germany right in the middle of Chicago. As for recent updates, Christkindlmarket is coming back for the 2023 season on November 17 at three charming spots in the Chicago area including Daley Plaza, Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field and RiverEdge Park in Aurora.
This well-known market is full of holiday magic, with cute wooden stalls that make you think of a European town. As you walk around the market, you’ll see a lovely collection of ornaments, gifts, and tasty European treats like sausages and warm pretzels. It really pulls you in, and the atmosphere will take you to Nuremberg, Germany’s beautiful Christkindlesmarkt.
ZooLights At Christmas Holiday
The Lincoln Park Zoo’s celebration of holiday lights is called ZooLights, and it takes the idea of holiday lights to a whole new level. As the sun sets, millions of lights that twinkle and brighten the zoo transform it into a winter wonderland. In addition to the mesmerising displays, ZooLights provides guests of all ages with the opportunity to participate in captivating animal interactions as well as interesting holiday activities.
So must you see the beautiful ZooLights Show at Lincoln Park Zoo, which is open every day except for holidays and special event dates from November 17, 2023, to January 7, 2024. Be sure not to miss this fantastic holiday light show!
Ice Skating At Millennium Park
Oh Yes! Skating smoothly across the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park is the ideal way to get into the mood of the holiday season in Chicago. The stunning backdrop of the city’s cityscape, which creates a really iconic setting for ice skating, is the unique selling point of this event for free. The brisk winter air and the bright city lights around you create a picture-perfect scene as you strap up your skates and rollover. It is a time-honoured custom that perfectly expresses the vibe of winter in Chicago, also known as the Windy City.
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
During the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, Michigan Avenue will be transformed into a dazzling spectacle that is not to be missed. This is one of the most lively Chicago events December 2023, takes place every year and is a beautiful display of holiday spirit. Not only does it include a spectacular ceremony for lighting the Christmas tree, but it also gives attendees the opportunity to see well-known Disney characters, enthralling marching bands, and an abundance of floats decorated for the holiday season. An environment of enchantment that perfectly embodies the spirit of the holiday season has been created throughout the avenue with the installation of millions of lights that twinkle.
Christmas Around the World at MSI
At the Museum of Science and Industry, the Christmas Around the World exhibit is a unique celebration of global holiday traditions. It’s the place where over 50 beautifully decorated trees represent various countries’ customs and cultures. The exhibit is both interesting and educational because it shows how people from all over the world enjoy the holidays in different ways. At this wonderful time of year, it’s a heartwarming reminder of how beautiful it is to be united in variety.
A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre
Experience the timeless magic of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” by attending a performance at the renowned Goodman Theatre. This timeless story about the holidays is brought to life in a presentation that is both interesting and heartwarming. You will be deeply involved in the true spirit of the season as you watch the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s change, replete with excellent acting, spectacular settings, and a powerful message of redemption and kindness, as you watch the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation.
The Walnut Room
Delight in the tradition of enjoying a festive meal surrounded by the grandeur of the Great Tree at Macy’s Walnut Room. The Great Tree, a Chicago holiday icon, stands tall and resplendent in the heart of the department store, and dining in its midst is an enchanting experience. The elegance and history of the Walnut Room, coupled with delicious holiday fare, create a truly memorable and heartwarming holiday outing.
Holiday Tea at The Drake
For an afternoon of refinement and indulgence, there’s no place quite like the Palm Court at The Drake Hotel. Holiday Tea at The Drake is a time-honoured tradition that provides guests with the opportunity to indulge in a variety of superb teas and savour a variety of scrumptious snacks in an atmosphere that is both elegant and tastefully decorated. It is an opportunity to relive the elegance and allure of a bygone period while making cherished memories of the holiday season in the process of travelling through time.
Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier:
Navy Pier comes alive with holiday spirit as it hosts Winter Wonderfest, an indoor holiday festival that offers a plethora of seasonal entertainment. There is an extensive lineup of merry activities available for people of all ages, including thrilling rides, ice skating, and even a maze with a Christmas theme. It’s one of the best indoor Christmas activities! Because of the bright decorations and upbeat vibe, it is an absolute must-visit location for celebratory activities during the holidays.
So must discover an exciting exhibit at Navy Pier, available for exploration from October 6, 2023, to January 31, 2024. The best part? It’s open daily and free to the public, making it a great opportunity for everyone to enjoy!
Santa Claus at Macy’s on State Street
Macy’s Santaland 2023 display on State Street is the perfect place to get into the spirit of the holiday season by paying a visit to Santa Claus. This time-honoured custom gives children and their families the opportunity to visit Santa in a setting that is imaginative and enchanting. Children and adults of all ages will have a wonderful time interacting with the display because it depicts magical moments from Santa’s workshop. An event that encapsulates the essence of both the enchantment of childhood and the spirit of giving that permeates the holiday season is meeting Santa Claus at Macy’s.
Garfield Park Conservatory – Winter Flower and Train Show
During the Winter Flower and Train Show, the Garfield Park Conservatory will transform into a magical land where you can lose yourself in a world of wonder. This event takes place annually and combines the splendour of nature with the enchantment of model trains in miniature form as they wind their way through a verdant and plant-filled landscape. It is a one-of-a-kind experience that is visually engaging, and appreciating the holiday season in this manner is a pleasant way to do it because it allows one to witness trains winding their way through colourful flowers and lush tropical vegetation.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s “Merry, Merry Chicago!”
The “Merry, Merry Chicago!” concert put on by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is one of the joyous Chicago Christmas events that is sure to get you into the mood of the Christmas season. This musical event is held on Dec 15 – Dec 23, 2023, and is a joyful celebration of the season, with a repertoire of seasonal classics and sing-along carols. The world-class musicians of the symphony, combined with the participation of the audience, create an environment of warmth and unity throughout the performances, which is one of the reasons why going to the symphony during the Christmas season is such a treasured tradition for people who value the enchantment that music can provide.
Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
During the Holiday Magic event at Brookfield Zoo, you will feel the spirit of the season in a way that you never have before. The zoo has been transformed into a stunning winter wonderland with the addition of more than one million LED lights that twinkle. But that’s not the end of the celebrations; there will also be a mesmerising laser light show and other holiday-themed entertainment to make it an experience that the whole family will remember forever. This entrancing display of holiday lights and merriment is certain to produce memories that will last a lifetime.
Christmas Eve at Fourth Presbyterian Church
Attending a service with candlelight at the historic Fourth Presbyterian Church is a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit and learn more about the actual meaning of Christmas. On the eve of the event, this traditional custom provides participants with an opportunity for reverence and introspection. Attendees are reminded of the deeper meaning of Christmas by the combination of the church’s stunning architecture and the warm glow of candlelight, which creates an aura of serenity and spirituality within the building.
Home Alone Tour
A tour of the locations where the holiday classic “Home Alone” was filmed in Chicago is an absolute must for everyone who is a fan of the movie. You will be able to relive some of the most memorable scenes from the movie when you visit locations such as the McCallister mansion and the spots where Kevin outsmarted the Wet Bandits. When you watch an old movie, it’s like taking a walk down memory lane, and it also gives you an exceptional chance to get in touch with the magic of the holiday season as it’s portrayed on the big screen.
Gingerbread House at The Ritz-Carlton
At The Ritz-Carlton, they have a big gingerbread house tradition, and guess what? It looks just like Chicago’s skyline but made of gingerbread! And for every Christmas celebration, The Ritz-Carlton invites you to step into a fairy tale by admiring their life-sized gingerbread house. This architectural and one of the most iconic Christmas attractions, is not just a feast for the eyes but also a delightful sensory experience with the sweet scent of gingerbread wafting through the air. Guests can indulge in hot cocoa and delectable treats, making it a perfect place to warm your heart during the holiday season.
Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park
If you want to feel the real Chicago winter, put on your skates and skate around the quarter-mile-long ice ribbon in the middle of the city. Maggie Daley Park’s Skating Ribbon is a one-of-a-kind and beautiful place to go ice skating. You can enjoy the beauty of the city in winter in a way that you’ll never forget. You’ll be surrounded by buildings and in a beautiful park. So, join the fun on November 17, the opening day of ice skating at Maggie Daley Park’s Skating Ribbon. Make sure to check their website for ticket release dates, including Monday, November 6, 2023.
Holidose Art Exhibit
The Holidose Art Exhibit is an opportunity to step into the future while celebrating the holiday season. This show combines art and technology in a way that makes it stand out. You’ll see digital art, interactive displays, and new pieces that give traditional holiday celebrations a modern twist. It serves as a reminder that the holiday season is a mix of old and new traditions.
A Musical Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
This musical celebration of Tribute Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will bring the joy of the holidays right into your living room. This Christmas concert will contain a variety of timeless songs and jolly melodies that are sure to get you up on your feet and singing along. The enduring hooks and unforgettable anthems that Frankie Valli sang in are certain to put you in a jubilant and festive frame of mind.
Caroling at Cloud Gate (The Bean)
Experience the warmth of community and the magic of music at Millennium Park by joining in or listening to carolers singing traditional songs at Cloud Gate, affectionately known as “The Bean.” The reflective surface of this iconic sculpture creates a unique and acoustically vibrant space for carolers to fill the air with holiday cheer. It’s a heartwarming reminder of the power of music to bring people together during the season.
Holiday Window Displays
Take a leisurely stroll along State Street and Michigan Avenue to admire the elaborate and creative holiday window displays at the city’s top department stores. Each year, these stores go all out to create enchanting and imaginative scenes, making it a delightful and family-friendly activity. So must go for this one of the Christmas activities Chicago that must be done to get different vibes. It’s a tradition that brings a touch of magic to the bustling streets of Chicago and offers a visual feast of holiday spirit.
Conclusion: The Christmas Magic At Chicago
As we wrap up our exploration of “Christmas Things To Do in Chicago,” it’s clear that the Windy City knows how to create a winter wonderland like no other. Chicago has a lot of wonderful holiday activities, such as the beautiful Christkindlmarket, the bright lights of ZooLights, and the heartwarming customs of holiday concerts and candlelight services.
Traditional and new activities show off the city’s festive mood in a beautiful way. These activities always celebrate the warmth of community, the joy of music, and the magic of art and technology. You will get something to enjoy and experience at Christmas Chicago! This lively city weaves together the spirit of the season, the joy of custom, and the excitement of new ideas to make a magical tapestry of experiences. Spend Christmas in Chicago 2023, where the holiday spirit shines brightly and warmly, and feel the magic of the season.