Places to go; people to see. You’re buzzing around town like a regular holiday busy bee. In between visits with Santa and keeping things magical with a bit of outdoor ice skating, don’t forget to pencil in time to leave the hive for family entertainment. We’ve made it easy by rounding up ideas that range from holiday lights at the zoos to playing with LEGOs.

photo: Lincoln Park Zoo ZooLights, credit Julia Fuller 

IN THE CITY

Lakeview

Experience Gallagher Way’s Winter Wonderland
Gallagher Way will be decked out with holiday flare bigger and brighter than ever before! You’ll find a mini Christkindlmarket, ice skating, Santa’s workshop, a 30-foot Christmas tree and more! Fri.-Sun. Event details. 

Lincoln Park

Have the Hap, Hap, Happiest Weekend at ZooLights
ZooLights features hundreds of luminous displays and incredible seasonal activities, all under the glow of 2.5 million lights. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Loop

Experience Chicago’s German Christmas Market at Christkindlmarket
Bundle up for this outdoor market that brings the cherished tradition of the Christkindlmarkt to Daley Plaza and adds a heap of local charm. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Mag Mile

Take a Holiday Lights Trolley Tour
This lightly narrated adventure shows the best of Chicago’s holiday lights, including the Mag Mile, Macy’s holiday windows, Millennium Park, Christkindlmarket and stops at Lincoln Park Zoo’s ZooLights. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Millennium Park

Figure 8 at Millennium Park’s Ice Skating Rink
Take a spin on the ice with a magnificent view. Once again this year, the rink will offer free ice skating lessons and this weekend you can listen to Caroling at Cloud Gate. Fri.-Sun. Event details

Museum Campus

Experience Christmas Around the World at MSI
Be enchanted by the trees and displays that are decorated to represent the rich multicultural heritage of Chicago, the crown jewel being the floor-to-dome Grand Tree with 30,000 twinkling lights and sparkly ornaments. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Navy Pier

Get Your Winter Thrill at Winter WonderFest
Being Chicago’s biggest and best indoor winter playground, Winter WonderFest 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

THE ‘BURBS

Aurora

Take the Family to Blackberry Farms’ Holiday Express
Take the family for a magical and memorable experience that will feel just like a visit to the North Pole amid thousands of twinkling lights, festive holiday decorations and merry holiday music. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

East Dundee

Have Magical Christmas Days at Santa’s Village
Santa’s Village will host “Magical Christmas Days” filled with holiday cheer, entertainment, shopping, festive treats, rides, and of course, visits with the Man in Red, Santa Claus himself. Fri.-Sun. Event details

Glencoe

Walk in the Glow of Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden
Wander into a festive world of wonder and light along a mile-long path, as the night comes alive with color, imagination, and sound, from a playful choir of singing trees to a spectacular waterfall of light. Fri.-Sun. Event details

Lisle

Return to an Old Favorite: Illumination at Morton Arboretum
Walk the mile-long path and gaze in amazement at the LED-lit trees through the winter woods.  Enjoy the light shows set to The Nutcracker music and glowing trees that respond to touch and sound. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Schaumburg

Holiday Bricktacular at LEGOLAND Discovery
Join the holly-jolly fun as LEGOLAND Discovery teams up with their Master Model Builder to transform into a winter wonderland with magical builds and activities! Don’t forget to stop by the LEGO Store for supercharged gift ideas. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

— Maria Chambers

RELATED STORIES:

Holiday Shows That Will Dazzle the Whole Family

ADVERTISEMENT

Pinkies Up! Holiday Teas to Plan Now

Holiday Train & Sleigh Rides to Jump Aboard Now

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