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. Read on to hear how to make your weekend merry and bright!

Morton Arboretum Illuminations 2014photo: Morton Arboretum Illumination: Tree Lights



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


Celebrate 20 Years of Blue Man Group
Easily one of the most recognizable performances groups out there, the Blue Man Group performs high-energy percussive shows mixed with a little of their own brand of comedy. They’ll have you tapping your toes and laughing along as they go on a journey into sound. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Lincoln Park

Kick Off the Holidays Early with It’s a Wonderful Life
Be transported back to the “Golden Age of Radio” and experience the story of George Bailey like never before. The heart-warming production includes 1940s-style commercials from local sponsors, holiday carols, telegrams from the audience read live on the stage, the “Soldier Spotlight;” when one serviceman or servicewoman is honored. 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.

Illuminate Your Weekend with Chicago’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony
The City of Chicago is proud to present the 104th Anniversary of the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Millennium Park. The ceremony will feature a performance by Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol with a special appearance by Santa Claus. Fri. Event details.

Navy Pier

Eric Carle Brightens Chicago Children’s Museum
Chicago Children’s Museum newest exhibit, Very Eric Carle, introduces, reacquaints and inspires visitors to the work of renowned author and illustrator, Eric Carle. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

River North

Take the Littles for Tykesgiving at RPM Italian
Nibble+squeak, a community of parents with pipsqueaks who love to eat, is hosting their very first Tykesgiving celebration. Enjoy RPM Italian’s modern approach to Italian dining in a welcoming and worry-free environment for the littles. Sat. Event details.


Get Excited for the Holidays with ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
The date was December 24, aka the night before Christmas, and per the usual, not a creature was stirring. But not all is good up north because Santa’s list has seemingly evaporated into the chilly thin air. It’s up to a pair of dancing mice, a spunky girl and an Elf-B-I agent to save the day. Fri. 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 in your family about the real reason for the season. 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. New this year, become a part of the illumination experience by wearing programmed interactive pendants that light up in sync with the exhibit. Fri.-Sun. 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 this weekend, check out our Family Events Calendar

Share your weekend plans in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers