Chicago, IL

Chicago's downtown holiday celebrations are back on after a break during the pandemic last season

Jennifer Geer

Ice skating, Christkindlmarket, and the lighting of the city Christmas tree in Millenium Park are just a few of the festivities to return to Chicago next weekend
Christmas Tree at Millenium Park(Michael Barera/CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons)

After a different sort of holiday season last year due to the pandemic, downtown Chicago is ready to break out the celebrations this November.

The holiday season's beloved Chicago traditions will hopefully bring some much-needed traffic to Loop businesses that have suffered during the pandemic.

Here's what's happening in the city next weekend.

Events kicking off on Friday, November 19:

  • Tree Lighting Ceremony in Millenium Park. The preshow begins at 5:30 PM, with the actual lighting at 6:30 PM, with fireworks to follow. See the city website for details.
  • Christkindlmarket. The outdoor German Christmas market is back this year at two locations, downtown, and Wrigleyville, where you can snack on roasted nuts and sip hot spiced wine as you browse through the variety of vendors selling unique products.
  • Millennium Park Ice Skating. The rink is open daily, and admission is free. But you do need online reservations. If you don't know how to skate, no problem. They offer free skating lessons on weekends and during Chicago Public School winter breaks.
  • Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park. See the animals under the "glow of millions of lights." It's members-only on Friday. The general public can attend for $5 starting Saturday, November 20. Tickets are required in advance. Check their website for free nights.

Events kicking off on Saturday, November 20:

  • Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. The day's events begin at 11 AM at 401 N. Michigan Avenue with family activities and visits with Santa. The parade kicks of at 5:30 PM down Michigan Avenue, finishing off with a fireworks show over the Chicago River at the DuSable Bridge at 7:00 PM. If you can't watch the parade live, it will be televised on ABC.
  • Illumination Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. No, it's not downtown, but I added it here because it's well worth the drive to the suburbs. The Arboretum's magical lights display is back on as a walking experience. Last year was drive-thru only. Running from November 20 to January 2, visitors can look for old favorites among some new exhibits including a Human+Nature display. Buy your tickets soon as certain nights tend to sell out fast.
  • A Christmas Carole at Goodman Theatre. From November 20 to December 31, the traditional play about finding the true spirit of Christmas returns to the stage.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area.

Chicago, IL

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