Oh what fun it is to live in Chicago in December! The holly-jolly mood is in full swing, with a full line up of activities to keep us cheerful. From lit up zoos to holiday shows, it’s going to be non-stop from now through the New Year. Sit back and enjoy the festive sleigh ride with these weekend picks from our Editor.

photo: Mrs. Claus! A Holiday Musical


Lincoln Park

Look on as ZooLights Illuminate the Night Sky
Lincoln Park Zoo is flipping the holiday switch to their ZooLights so your family can stroll through a twinkling winter wonderland with over 2 million lights. Take pics with Santa, enjoy food and drinks, watch ice carving demos and, new this year, get lost in a maze created with 30,000 lightbulbs. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

The Loop

Say Guten Tag to Santa at Christkindlmarket
Bundle up for this outdoor market that brings the cherished tradition of the Christkindlmarket to Chicago 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.

Mag Mile

Take a Dazzling Holiday Trolley Ride
Watch the winking and blinking of the holiday lights via trolley by hooking up with Chicago Trolley Co. for its annual Holiday Lights Tour. See the best-of-the-best displays, stop by Lincoln Park Zoo’s ZooLights and throw down a Sprinkles Cupcake, while you’re at it. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Millennium Park

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

Have a Fancy Exchange of Cookies
Fairmont is kicking off the holiday season with its annual Cookies and Cheer Luxury Cookie Exchange. This modern-day cookie exchange takes the stress out of holiday baking, with each guest taking home three dozen gourmet cookies, wrapped in custom packaging. Fri. Event details.

Morgan Park

Get Jolly with Mrs. Claus! A Holiday Musical
This short and sweet one-hour musical adaptation is a great intro to holiday theater for even the littlest ones. They’ll feel like part of the action as they help elves try to find Santa’s missing list just in time for Christmas — with a little help from lovable Mrs. Claus. Fri. Event details.

Navy Pier

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

South Loop

Hustle with Santa at a 5K
If you’re a Christmas lover, enjoy holiday music, devouring candy and cookies and joining in on an epic after party, then grab your favorites for the Santa Hustle® 5k! The swag is bound to make your jingle tingle! Sat. Event details.

Wicker Park

Experience The Nutcracker with a Twist
This creative reinvention of The Nutcracker has an original spin: It focuses on Clara’s journey to save her family, reeling from the wartime death of her brother, from the Rat King. Both funny and heartwarming, it will remind everyone about the real reason for the season. Fri.-Sun. Event details.



Bask in the 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 and guests can take part in singing to the animals and listen in on special Zoo Chats. Sat. & Sun. Event details.


Light Up Your Weekend at 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.

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

Share your weekend plans in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers