Oh what fun it is to live in Chicago in December! The holly-jolly mood is in full swing, with a full line up of activities to keep us cheerful. From lit up zoos to holiday shows, it’s going to be non-stop from now through the New Year. Sit back and enjoy the festive sleigh ride with these weekend picks from our Editor.

photo: Lincoln Park Zoo


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.

Millennium Park

Skate with a Pretty Sweet 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

NOW OPEN! Get Your Winter Thrill Fill at Navy Pier
Get your thrill fill at Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest, which has rides for all ages. Being Chicago’s biggest and best indoor winter playground, it features 170,000 square feet filled with rides, giant slides, indoor ice skating and holiday decor that is sure to get you into the holiday spirit. Fri.-Sun. 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 lightsFri.-Sun. Event details.

Wicker Park

Mix Up Movie Night with a Bit of Science
While parents have a night out, kids can spend their evening with The Laboratory munching on pizza, watching Big Hero 6 and bringing the movie alive by using motors, simple circuits and friction to make their own robotic creations. 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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. . . and check out our Events calendar for even more suggestions.