Resist the urge to stay snug as a bug in those turkey pants this weekend and close out November with a flurry of activity. Holiday lights tours on foot or in a trolley, ice skating with a view and a musical or two, we’ve done the work to find the cold-weather fun. Read on for our Editor’s picks for this weekend’s best in show.

photo: pdza Zoolights


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, new this year, get lost in a maze created with 30,000 lightbulbs. Fri.-Sun. Event details.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Pretend You’re in a Snow Globe at Chicago Children’s Museum
Get your chance to see what it’s like to be inside a snow globe when the glittery storm descends. CCM is also teaming up with the US Postal Service to unveil a new Forever Stamp showcasing Ezra Keat’s classic, The Snowy Day. Dance until the flurries start to fall and wait for the blizzard to rain down! 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.



Kick Your Holiday Spirit into Overdrive by Listening to Carolers at Chicago Botanic Garden
Not only is Chicago Botanic Garden hosting their annual Wonderland Express, an exhibit with garden-scale trains that wind past miniature replicas of Chicago-area landmarks, you can also hear the familiar songs of carolers this weekend. 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