Places to go; people to see. You’re buzzing around town like a regular holiday busy bee. 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 zoo to a date with Harry Potter.

photo: Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest via Heidi Zeiger Photography


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 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.

Let the Joffrey Ballet Take Your Breath Away
Tony Award®-winning choreographer Christopher Weeldon’s Nutcracker focuses on our very own city at the turn-of-the century. Brilliantly reimagined for a new generation, this version of the epic tale centers on the 1893 World’s Fair. 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.

Giggle the Night Away at Potted Potter
This Harry Potter parody takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all 7 Harry Potter books (and a real life game of Quidditch) into 70 hilarious minutes. Even if you don’t know the difference between a horcrux and a Hufflepuff, Potted Potter will make you roar with laughter. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Millennium Park

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

Navy Pier

Get Your Winter Thrill Fill at Navy Pier
Chicago’s biggest and best indoor winter playground, Winter Wonderfest, features 170,000 square feet filled with rides for all ages, giant slides, Blackhawks indoor ice skating rink and holiday decor that is sure to get you into the holiday spirit. Fri.-Sun. 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
Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo features over one million LED lights, making it the area’s largest lights fest. 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.


Take Your Train Lovers to Chicago Botanic Garden
Step inside and let The Wonderland Express transport your family into a garden paradise filled with 750,000 lights. Watch as garden-scale trains wind past miniature replicas of Chicago landmarks and an English countryside. Fri.-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.


Build Family Memories at LEGOLAND® Discovery’s Holiday Bricktacular
Young brick fans are invited to LEGOLAND’s annual Holiday Bricktacular to participate in heaps of holly jolly fun with special displays, building challenges, photo opps and more! Sat. & 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