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Chicago Winter

Experience the Magic of the Holidays in Chicagoland: Unmissable Events and Festivities

November 24, 2023

Experience the Magic of the Holidays in Chicagoland: Unmissable Events and Festivities

The holiday season is upon us, offering the perfect opportunity to explore and enjoy the vibrant spirit of Chicagoland. Whether you're a long-time resident, considering a move to the suburbs, or just curious about the area, the array of holiday events and activities provides a wonderful glimpse into the diverse communities of this region.

We recommend diving into the festive season with these top holiday events. They're spread across Chicago, offering a blend of local and visitor experiences. After participating in these events, why not savor a meal at a nearby restaurant, indulge in some shopping, or take a leisurely drive through local neighborhoods to envision life in these vibrant areas?

Must-Visit Holiday Events in Chicago

Christkindlmarket (Daley Plaza): Beginning November 17 and lasting until Christmas Eve, this European-style market is a hub of unique shopping, cultural activities, and family fun. Last year, it ranked as the third-best holiday market worldwide and the top one outside Europe.

Lincoln Park ZooLights (Lincoln Park): Starting November 17 and running through January 7, 2024, this event dazzles with new displays and interactive experiences. Don't miss the garden-themed light show and the holiday-themed bar for some cozy s’mores.

Light Up the Lake (Navy Pier): From November 24 through New Year's Eve, enjoy a magnificent indoor/outdoor light display, ice skating, holiday workshops, and more. Remember, bringing your own skates lets you skate for free!

Thanksgiving Parade (Various Locations): Starting at 8:00am, the parade features giant inflatable balloons, diverse cultural performances, and appearances from notable figures. Catch a great view under the “L” by the Harold Washington Library.

Polar Express (Union Station): This magical hour-long train journey to the North Pole offers hot cocoa, shortbread, and caroling. A sensory-friendly train will run on December 31 at 2:00pm.

Holiday Delights in the Suburbs

Happy Holiday Railway (Union): Join Santa on a 40-minute train ride from the Illinois Railway Museum, featuring an animated light show and holiday song performances.

NaperLights (Naperville): This free winter wonderland in downtown Naperville runs daily from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day and boasts over 150,000 lights and holiday figures.

Warm Bevy Walk & Open House & Window Decorating (Evanston): On December 14, explore downtown Evanston's shops and restaurants, offering warm beverages and special deals.

Carriage Rides & Caroling (Long Grove): Starting November 17, experience horse-drawn carriage rides and holiday carolers in the historic downtown area.

Holiday Magic @ the Zoo (Brookfield): Beginning November 24, the Brookfield Zoo lights up with over two million LED lights, a 41’-tall tree, and animated displays.

Lightscape at the Chicago Botanical Garden (Glencoe): This after-dark experience from November 10 through January 7, 2024, features stunning light installations and interactive experiences.

It’s a Wonderful Life Pop-Up Bar (Brookfield): On December 9, Joe’s Saloon hosts its 3rd Annual event, inspired by the classic film, with movie-themed drinks and trivia.

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