This coming weekend is known in Chicago as the official kickoff to the holiday season. Are you ready? Good. There’s enough fun happenings to make even the Grinch smile. Carry on your merry way to the Christkindlmarket and Morton Arboretum’s Tree Lights or figure eight your way around Millennium Park. Jingle, jingle, everyone.

Millineum Park Skating 3photo:  Millennium Park via Maria Chambers


Lincoln Park

Frogs: A Chorus of Colors
A Chicago favorite, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, will soon be hopping with 70 different exotic live frogs from around the globe. The ex-“ribbit,” Frogs: A Chorus of Colors, provides families a chance to go eyeball to eyeball in the fun, colorful, vibrant and vocal world of frogs. Fri.-Sun. Event details.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Chicago Theatre
Buckle up for a ride to The Island of Misfit Toys with a young Rudolph who, because of the appearance of his bright, shining nose, is ousted from the reindeer games in Christmas-town. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Guten Tag, Santa! Christkindlmarket Chicago is Back!
Bundle up for this outdoor market that brings the cherished German and European tradition of the Christkindlmarkt in Germany to Chicago and adds a heap of local charm. Fri.-Sun. Event details.


Millennium Park
The City of Chicago is proud to present the 103rd Anniversary of the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Millennium Park. The ceremony will feature a performance by STOMP along with a special appearance by Santa Claus. Fri. Event details.

Ice Skating 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

Near North Side

Moon Shot: A Race to Space
Witness seven actors squeeze onto a 21-square foot table, nearly as tight as NASA’s original Mercury capsules, to recreate the story of America’s Apollo 11 lunar landing. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Another Snowy Day with Beatrix Potter and Friends
Bring the tots out for A Snowy Day with Beatrix Potter & Friends, Will Bishop’s delightful trunk show for the toddler set, featuring mechanical suitcase sculptures with pulls and levers that little kids turn and crank to help tell every family’s favorite Beatrix Potter stories. Sat. & Sun. Event details.


Have a Charlie Brown Kind of Christmas
Christmastime is here…and Charlie Brown can’t seem to find the joy in the season. Join the Peanuts gang as they discover the true meaning of Christmas in this 1970’s tv classic turned musical. Sun. Event details.

West Loop

Randolph Street Holiday Market
With prices ranging from thrifty to extravagant, you’re sure to find something for even the pickiest of gift receivers this year. Peruse the market for smartly priced antique, vintage and modern goods – everything from embroidered hankies to estate jewelry to custom-made gifts. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Various Locations

Chicago & Schaumburg

Eat Good, Do Good at Texas de Brazil
In recognition of Marc Schulman, the founding chairman of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and president of The Eli’s Cheesecake Company, Texas de Brazil will donate the proceeds from Friday night’s sales of Eli’s Moscato Berry Tira Mi Su Cheesecake to Ronald McDonald House Charities. On Saturday, the restaurants welcome the jolly gent in red for a Breakfast with Santa that includes a buffet, gifts for all children and a surprise visit from The North Pole. Fri. & Sat. Event details.



Illumination: Tree Lights
Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum returns with more lights, sights and sounds that will transform a Chicago-area wintertime walk in the woods into a colorful, inspiring experience like no other. Fri.-Sun. Event details.


Get in the Spirit at the Washington Street Market
What began as an experiment pop-up holiday market in downtown Naperville 4 years ago with 10 vendors is now a full-blown festive event with over 50 artisans. You’ll find booths packed full of vintage, handmade and repurposed furniture, jewelry, home accessories, clothing, soaps and much more. Sat. & Sun. Event details.


Indoor Musical Picnic with Wendy & DB
Wendy & DB love to get kids singing, wiggling, jumping, dancing and just having a great time! Their original songs encourage children to use their imaginations, teach musical basics like melody and rhythm, and show kids how to have fun with words. Sat. Event details.


Visit Santa HQ at Fashion Outlets of Chicago
Santa HQ is a thoroughly modern, extraordinarily experiential visit with Santa. The experience invites guests to customize their individual experience by using augmented reality to view Santa’s Workshop and Observatory in magical ways. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

For more ideas on how to spend your weekend, check out our Family Events Calendar.

Tell us how you plan to spend your weekend kicking off the holidays in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers