Resist the urge to stay snug as a bug in those turkey pants this weekend and close out November with a flurry of activity. A holiday lights tour, ice skating, day-off camps than you can possibly cover in a weekend, we’ve done the work to find the cold-weather fun. Read on for our Editor’s picks for this weekend’s best of the best.

photo: The Morton Arboretum


Lincoln Park

Watch ZooLights Illuminate the Night Sky
One of the nation’s only free-admission zoos flips the holiday switch with ZooLights. With the light displays throughout the grounds your fam can stroll through the twinkling winter wonderland created by over 2 million lights, take photos with Santa, enjoy food and drinks, watch ice carving demos, partake in carousel rides and go-’rounds on the Lionel Train Adventure. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Mag Mile

Have Sunday Funday in the Clouds at 360 CHICAGO
Sure, sleeping ’til noon on a Sunday is swell, but what’s even better is 360 CHICAGO’s Sunday Funday. Infuse a little excitement into your life by taking the family to the observation deck on the 94th floor for a little magic, a little music and a whole lot of amazing Chicago views. Sun. Event details.

Museum Campus

Game Day at Shedd Aquarium
Thanksgiving weekend is full of games and fun. Spend the morning exploring how animals at Shedd Aquarium stay healthy through play. Go behind the scenes to get an up-close look at the aquarium’s play experts, the sea otters! With tips from the animals, test your play skills in an obstacle course. Sun. Event details.

Near North Side

Black Friday Camp at enerGEEwhiz
This 3-hour camp includes an hour enerGEEwhizz fitness class on the proprietary equipment, lunch, and 90 minutes of education and a craft segment. This camp offers the perfect opportunity for mom and dad to get holiday shopping done or simply recover from Thanksgiving Day excitement. Fri. Event details.

North Center

Windy City Ninjas Day-Off Camp
Register your kids today for Windy City Ninjas’ Black Friday Camp! Kids will test their mad ninja skills while building strength, agility and self-confidence . . . all while having a blast. Campers will learn proper techniques from trained instructors, engage in structured obstacle circuits, tackle new obstacles, enjoy free play time and participate in competitions and races. Fri. Event details.

River North

View Art on theMART
Merchandise Mart is making things special for Chicagoans this holiday season. As part of their holiday program, they are conducting Art on theMART with six winter holiday images that will each animate for a minute and a half. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Various Locations

Say Guten Tag, Santa! Christkindlmarket is Back!
Bundle up for this outdoor market that brings the cherished German and European tradition of the Christkindlmarkt 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.

A Dazzling Holiday Trolley Ride
The coolest way to watch the winking and blinking of holiday lights is by trolley. Hook up with Chicago Trolley Co. for its annual Holiday Lights Tour. The lightly narrated two-and-a-half-hour adventure shows the best of Chicago’s holiday lights. Fri.-Sun. Event details.



Reindeer Run at the Zoo
Grab your glow sticks and running shoes and head to Brookfield Zoo for its first ever Reindeer Run. With a two-mile course entirely inside the park, families and friends can fun-run or walk along the pathways decorated with one million LED lights for the zoo’s annual Holiday Magic festival. Sat. Event details.

Downers Grove

Gingerbread Fest
Downers Grove’s Gingerbread Festival offers something for all ages to enjoy: story time, tree lighting ceremony, gingerbread man hunt, gingerbread house contest, visits with Santa in his gingerbread house, pictures with the gingerbread boy and girl perusing town, breakfast with Santa, complimentary carriage rides, a holiday window display contest and more Sat. Event details.


Illumination at The Morton Arboretum
Returning for a 6th year is the crowd pleasing Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum.  Walk the mile-long path and gaze in amazement at the LED-lit trees through the winter woods.  Bright light shows set to The Nutcracker music and glowing trees that respond to touch and sound will amuse and stimulate the senses of all ages! Fri.-Sun. Event details.


Light Up the Park at Parkway Bank Park
Parkway Bank Park invites you to help kick off its winter programming with the opening of the Chicago Wolves Ice Rink. The Light Up the Park tree lighting event will feature a spectacular display of more than 80,000 lights illuminating the park. Free activities for the evening include ice skating, strolling carolers, sleigh rides and a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus. Fri. Event details.

— Maria Chambers


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The Heat Is On! Local Hot Spots Where Winter Doesn’t Exist

Drop the Drumstick: Stay on the Move Thanksgiving Weekend

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