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 Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, Morton Arboretum’s “Illumination” and play on at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. Jingle, jingle, everyone.
photo: BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Celebrate the Illumination of the Mag Mile
Start the holiday season off right with The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. The day’s festivities begin at Pioneer Court with activities for the fam, a visit with Santa and everyone can stay warm while they boogie to some sweet tunes from live performers. Then, the kiddos can celebrate the illumination of more than one million lights along the Magnificent Mile with a giant parade. There will be 40 impressive floats, energetic marching bands and of course, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. The grand finale is a wow-worthy fireworks display over the Chicago River. Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Light Procession begins at 5:30 p.m.; fireworks at 6:55 p.m. Magnificent Mile. Free. All ages. Event details.
Grow Curiouser and Curiouser with Alice in Wonderland
Chicago Kids Company – Theater for Children (CKC) presents Alice in Wonderland, a musical adaptation of the classic tale! Discover the magic of Wonderland alongside Alice. Meet characters who grow “curiouser and curiouser,” including the White Rabbit, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts. Oct. 23-Nov. 25., 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Beverly Arts Center. $12. Ages 2-8. Event details.
A Detective Game with Cat-titude
This interactive spy story provides the purrr-fect opportunity to show your little ones the mystery and excitement of live theatre. With the promise of pie and the smell of a rat close by, gather clues to help Three Little Kittens find their missing mittens and make new discoveries before Mother Cat comes slinking home. Now through Jan. 3, varied showtimes. Emerald City’s Little Theatre. $15; $8/children 1 & under. Ages 0-5. Event details.
Magic Tree House: A Night in New Orleans
Take your kids to a musical and watch beloved Magic Tree House characters, Jack and Annie, venture through the tuneful streets of 1915 New Orleans, where they discover 14-year-old Louis Armstrong and must set him on the trumpeting path to become the “King of Jazz.” This triumphant tale explores a world where possibilities are endless and stirs the soul of the Jazz Age. Sun., 1 p.m. Apollo Theater. Tickets start at $15. Ages 5 & up. Event details.
The Snoopy Snow Ball
Celebrate the season with this ultimate holiday experience, including a private performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place and a delectable lunch reception, just steps away at the Ritz-Carlton and a meet-and-greet with the Peanuts gang. Enjoy musical entertainment and dancing, live and silent auctions for grown-ups and crafts and activities for kids. Sun., 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. The Broadway Playhouse. $125/single tickets; $450/family of four. All ages. Event details.
Play on! Chicago Toy and Game Fair
Navy Pier is hosting the 13th annual Chicago Toy Fair! Preview and play with toys and games from around the world and meet toy and game Inventors! Check out the PAW PATROL Bus, Lifesize Tonka Truck, Giant Jenga, Settlers of Catan Tournament, Star Wars Lunch, GameTruck, Stage Events, Magic, Giant Bubbles, Contests, Giveaways, Maker Stuff, Game Café, Mascots, Laser Tag, Ride-on vehicles, Adventure Sandwich, Characters, ChronoBomb, Electronic Petting Zoo, Puzzle Hunts, Robotics, Young Inventor Challenge and so much more! Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Navy Pier Festival Hall. $10/adults; $5/children; free for ages 3 & under. All ages. Event details.
Saturday Kids Pokemon League
Pokemon fans have a place to learn how to play the game! Every Saturday they can learn with other Pokemon Trainers. They may use any cards they have, but must bring or purchase a ready-to-play 60 card deck. Don’t know how to play? Arrive at 10 a.m. for a learn-to-play session. At 10:30 players will be matched and play will begin. Trainers can earn incentives along the way for attendance, good sportsmanship and wins! Sat., 10 a.m. Cat & Mouse West Loop. Free; $10/fee if you drop off kids. Ages 7-12. Event Details.
Bundle up for this outdoor market that brings the cherished German and European tradition of the Christkindesmarkt in Germany, which began in 1545, to Chicago and adds a heap of local charm. Head to Daley Plaza, where 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 and many are run by native German speakers. Shop, eat, enjoy free entertainment, repeat – and be sure to say “guten tag” to Santa Claus. Nov. 20-Dec. 24; Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Daley Plaza. Free. All ages. Event details.
Bake Thanksgiving Desserts at the Palmer House Hilton
Enjoy the season with the entire family! The Palmer House is hosting fun-filled family baking classes led by Executive Pastry Chef Fabrice Bouet. Chef Bouet and the Pastry Team plan to show families how to create signature holiday treats. Today’s class focuses on Thanksgiving desserts with a tasting of the baked goods served with a tall glass of milk. Make reservations at Lockwood’s host stand, 312-917-3404. Price includes child-size apron, chef hat and sweets to take home. Sat., 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Palmer House Hilton. $20. All ages. Event details.
Secrets, Lies, and Super Spies: Fall Youth Circus
The Actors Gymnasium Youth Circus presents: Secrets, Lies, & Superspies. Leading a double-life can be tough, especially when all of your friends are doing it too! Join the world’s finest secret agents, who have no idea that their civilian best friends are actually their colleagues until a power-mad villain plots to turn them against each other. Will their friendship prevail or will the secrets and lies destroy them all? This mission- should you choose to accept it- includes: espionage, acrobatics, live rock music, comedic spyjinx, and DEADLY LASERS! Sat., 4:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. The Actors Gymnasium. $15/adults; $12.50/ages 12 & under. All ages. Event details.
Run! Jump! Fly! Adventures in Action
Kohl Children’s Museum is out to show kids that exercise is fun with their newest exhibit, Run! Jump! Fly! Adventures in Action. Visitors will engage in five different exercise simulations that include surfing, snowboarding, kung fu and rock climbing – all in a fun and immersive environment. Fri. & Sat., 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m. Kohl Children’s Museum. $11; free for children 1 & under. Ages 0-8. Event details.
Story time with Pout-Pout Fish Illustrator
Anderson’s Bookshop La Grange is playing host to Dan Hanna, Illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Pout-Pout Fish picture book series. In the newest installment, The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish, Mr. Fish is trying to find the perfect presents for his friends, but he just isn’t having any luck. He’s so busy shopping for everyone that he almost forgets the true meaning of the holidays —surrounding yourself with those he loves. Sat., 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Anderson’s Bookshop LaGrange. Free. All ages. Event details.
Hunt for Gnomes and Build Them Sweet Homes
Gnomes are invading Morton Arboretum for a game of hide-and-seek in the Children’s Garden. Can you find them all? Search for them throughout the week and then come back on the weekend to continue the hunt and create a keepsake, light-up gnome home of your own. Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Morton Arboretum. Hunt is free with general admission; home building is $7/member, $10/non-member. All ages. Event details.
Illumination: Tree of 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. Brand new experiences this year including dazzling lighting effects where a series of glowing orbs create a glittering vista. Visitors can sing to the trees to activate LED lights that rain down like shiny strands of tinsel. Nov. 20-Jan. 2, 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Morton Arboretum. $17-$20/adults; $11-$13/children. All ages. Event details.
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. Hosted by Room 363 and Little Luxuries store owners, you’ll find booths packed full of vintage, handmade and repurposed furniture, jewelry, home accessories, clothing, soaps and much more. Sat., 10 am.-6 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Naperville Central High School. $5. All ages. Event details.
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