Chicago, IL

Seven of the Best Chicago Holiday Popups That You Can Visit Safely This Year

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Chicago has no end to its festive spirit, especially during the holidays as these pop-ups will attest to.

Credit: D0213

Although these were all open when this article was published, as things can change from minute to minute, please be sure to call before going. Also, remember to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Chicago has an impressive collection of shopping outlets, restaurants, bars, entertainment establishments, and places to just hang with your friends to have some fun. Yet during the holiday season, other temporary storefronts seem to well, pop up, all over the city. So once you’ve seen all the holiday light displays, the huge downtown tree and tuned into several virtual productions of the season’s plays, don’t fret. There’s still plenty to do both in-person and virtually, through these temporary, holiday-themed, pop-ups that will let you keep celebrating into January.

8 Crazy Nights - A Hanukkah Bar

Dates: Through January 3rd are Reservations Required

Hours: Opens at 5:00 pm

I wasn’t sure if they were open this year as they are normally packed to the rafters, but I have learned they are, in fact, though they're limiting how many people can come in at one time and you must have a reservation to do so. I saw this posted on Facebook yesterday: “Hanukkah might be over, but 8 Crazy Nights- A Hanukkah Bar is far from it. Call 773.666.5450 or email to book your table or group before it's gone for good.”

Their fare is traditional Hanukkah foods including potato latkes, sweet noodle kugel, matzo ball soup, and brisket with boozy, vodka-infused jelly donuts for dessert. There are also novelty cocktails that go great with the food items on the menu.

Jack Frost's Winter Village

Dates: Through January 10th. Reservations are necessary.

Schedule: Open every day, 7 days a week, from 4 pm – 10 pm Monday through Friday and 2 pm – 10 pm Saturdays and Sundays through January 10, 2021.

Cost: Tickets are $21 per person which includes Jack’s Winter Walk and a Christmas donut. Children four and under enter in free.

Location: Goose Island

While you may not still need a Christmas Tree Jack Frost's Winter Village is still a wonderful place to come when you want a breath of fresh air. This new pop up is a two-acre spread with a large Christmas Tree Farm, a stunning light-filled walk that’s perfect for families, and lots of photo ops. Seasonal scenes can be found throughout, like the Grinch, full-size sleds to relax in, and giant nutcrackers and Starbucks cups to pose by. This is a great family destination that will be available through January 10th.

A Holly Jolly Christmas Pop Up

When: Through December 28

Where: The Loop

Price: $15 - $25

One of the best places to find a wide variety of socially distanced photo ops. This is a multi-room pop-up shop at Roosevelt Collection Shops, which is decorated with 13 Christmas-themed art installations that you can use as the backdrop for your annual holiday card photos or Instagram snapchats. Visitors can wander through a series of scenes (with themes like "Santa's Candy Land" or "Greetings from Snowmanland") during a timed reservation. They advise you to bring multiple outfits in order to take full advantage of the time you have available.

Santa Baby Pop-Up Bar

Dates: Through the end of December, Reservations are required

Location: North Clark Street

This favorite Wrigleyville pop-up is back this year and as usual, it’s decked out in all its finery. \The immersive Christmas pop-up has again taken over Deuce’s Major League Bar and covered the revamped patio head-to-toe and wall-to-wall with an exorbitant amount of Christmas decorations. You can even choose to enjoy your night in an igloo and these are first come first serve. But the decorations aren’t the only thing that will cause you to say "Wow" during your visit. There are an equally impressive collection of extraordinary drinks and snacks that make up an impressive Christmas menu.

The business is also giving back by collecting toys that will be distributed to Toys for Tots, The House of Good Shepherd, and St. John Cantius Church, and a portion of their proceeds will also go to these three charities along with Humble Design, a group that provides homes for families and individuals transitioning out of homelessness.

Frosty’s Christmas Pop-Up Hotel

Location: 221 N Columbus Drive, Chicago, IL 60601

Dates: Through January 3rd

If you want to escape to downtown Chicago for a quick vacation during the holiday season, this is the place to stay. Some rooms are decorated with special holiday themes and photo ops are provided throughout the hotel. You can even order a Holiday LED Necklace or your own Santa Hat! This 4-star hotel experience provides signature Frosty cocktails or meals in your room before or after your jaunt to local Chicago attractions like the nearby Magnificent Mile. Dogs and cats are welcome to stay.

Only registered guests are allowed to enter the hotel. COVID-19 guidelines including social distancing, requiring masks in all public areas, and special guidelines for cleaning rooms are observed at all times.

Chicago Makers Pop Up Shop

Location: Wicker Park

When: Through December 31

Time: Monday through Saturday, 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm, Sunday 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm

This is one of my favorite pop-ups since almost all of the craft fairs have been shut down this year. The pop-up shop is packed full of locally made items sourced from over 25 small businesses. Items include alcohol ink coasters, berry preserves, soy wax candles, chocolate bark, jewelry, clay pottery, and more. The market is known for having a strong roster of women and POC owned vendors. You can shop using social distancing, book a private shopping event for up to ten people when the store will be closed to only your party, shop virtually, or have your order delivered within a five-mile radius of the store for $5. Gifts can be wrapped for free.

Elf'd Up Christmas Bar

Dates: Through the end of January

Hours: Monday through Thursday. 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm, Friday to Sunday 11:00 am to 11:00 pm.

For the third year in a row, "Elf'd Up", has opened for the holiday season in Wrigleyville. This high-energy, holiday pop-up bar is a tribute to the movie Elf. It has movie-themed cocktails such as a blue Mr. Narwhal vodka cocktail garnished with a gumdrop tusk and "The World's Best Cup of Naughty Coffee" spiked with Jameson and maple syrup and food including spaghetti topped with maple syrup, chocolate fudge, and mini marshmallows brought by wait staff all dressed as elves.

Visitors can enjoy their food and cocktails seated among decorations which include over 200 elves, right side up and upside-down Christmas trees, hundreds of holiday lights, Jack in the Boxes, and even a snow machine. Each table will get its own condiment container filled with candy corn, candy canes, maple syrup, and other sweets.

Elf’d Up never charges a cover and offers all patrons complimentary fresh-baked elf-shaped cookies each night at 10 p.m. Children are welcome until 7:00 pm after which it becomes age 21 and over. While walk-ins are welcome, they do encourage reservations due to a limited number of people being allowed in at a time.

. . .

Chicago has a truly unique culture which can be seen no more clearly than during the holidays. Our "never say die" attitude has resulted in a host of fantastic pop-ups, both regular ones and some that have sprung up at the last minute to allow for revelers to enjoy the spirit of the season safely even in the midst of a pandemic. Don't miss out on these one-of-a-kind opportunities. Just be sure to follow all COVID-19 guidelines when you do for a healthy and happy holiday season.


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