It’s holiday time in the city! Ring-a-ling, everyone—this is your chance to make the most of the wintry fun around town. This weekend, you can take in one of many shows, ice skate with a view, have a blast at Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest, and make the trek out to Lisle for a dazzling lights show. December will be gone before you know it, so read on and get moving!

photo: Nelly Aran via


Lincoln Park

Watch ZooLights Illuminate the Night Sky
One of the nation’s only free-admission zoos flips the holiday switch with ZooLights. With the light displays throughout the grounds your fam can stroll through the twinkling winter wonderland created by over 2 million lights, take photos with Santa, enjoy food and drinks, watch ice carving demos, partake in carousel rides and go-’rounds on the Lionel Train Adventure. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Millennium Park

Skate with a Pretty Sweet View
Take a spin on the ice with a magnificent view at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Navy Pier

Get Your Winter Thrill Fill at Navy Pier
Get your thrill fill at Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest, which has rides for all ages. Being Chicago’s biggest and best indoor winter playground, it features 170,000 square feet filled with rides, giant slides, indoor ice skating and holiday decor that is sure to get you into the holiday spirit. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

River North

View Art on theMART
Merchandise Mart is making things special for Chicagoans this holiday season. As part of their holiday program, they are conducting Art on theMART with six winter holiday images that will each animate for a minute and a half. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

South Loop

Spend a Night in Awe at Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker
The question isn’t if you are going to see this holiday spectacular. It’s when. This is the third year of Tony Award®-winning choreographer Christopher Weeldon’s Nutcracker, and the focus is on our very own city at the turn-of-the century. Brilliantly reimagined for a new generation, this new version of the epic tale centers on the 1893 World’s Fair. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Various Locations

Say Guten Tag, Santa! Christkindlmarket is Back!
Bundle up for this outdoor market that brings the cherished German and European tradition of the Christkindlmarkt and adds a heap of local charm. You’ll see the market’s signature wooden cabins topped with festive red-and-white-striped canopies, each packed with handmade gifts, food and drinks from around the world. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Find Your Jolly at Mrs. Claus! A Holiday Musical
This Holiday Classic will put you in the holiday spirit in no time. Join the new Elf Class of 2018 as they team up with Mrs. Claus to find the missing “list” in time for Santa’s long journey. Fri. Event details.

A Dazzling Holiday Trolley Ride
The coolest way to watch the winking and blinking of holiday lights is by trolley. Hook up with Chicago Trolley Co. for its annual Holiday Lights Tour. The lightly narrated two-and-a-half-hour adventure shows the best of Chicago’s holiday lightsFri.-Sun. Event details.



Brunch with Santa at the Zoo
Save up your appetite and head to Brookfield Zoo for a delectable all-you-can-eat holiday brunch buffet featuring an appearance by Mr. and Mrs. Claus, who will be available for photos. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Experience Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
Chicagoland’s largest lights festival, Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo features over one million LED lights. Indoor exhibits remain open for viewing of animals. Guests can take part in singing to animals and special Zoo Chats. Sat. & Sun. Event details.


Illumination at The Morton Arboretum
Returning for a 6th year is the crowd pleasing Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum.  Walk the mile-long path and gaze in amazement at the LED-lit trees through the winter woods.  Bright light shows set to The Nutcracker music and glowing trees that respond to touch and sound will amuse and stimulate the senses of all ages! Fri.-Sun. Event details.


Figure 8 with Aladdin at Parkway Bank Park
Take an icy spin with the family at The Chicago Wolves Ice Rink with Aladdin and Jasmine. Sun. Event details.


— Maria Chambers


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. . . and check out our Events calendar for even more suggestions.