Chicago’s most-festive holiday events

Well, the weather outside may not be delightful, but that’s no reason to huddle inside during the holiday season. There’s simply too much to see and do between now and New Year’s Day. Not in a festive mood yet? These are some of the best holiday happenings that ought to lift your spirits.

Zoolights 2017

Where: Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago
Cost: Free
When: Nov. 25-26, Dec. 1-3, 8-23, 26-31, Jan. 1-7

You may have to make more than one trip to indulge in all of the offerings at this festival. A new feature is the 30,000 lights that will glow throughout the Light Maze. The 10 winter attractions include an ice-carving demonstration, holiday crafts and a visit from Santa through Dec. 23. Learn about African penguins each Sunday, and small mammals and reptiles each night. You’ll need to buy tickets ($3-$51) to participate in cookie decorating, a spin on the Endangered Species Carousel and a trip on a virtual submarine. The Illuminated Hot Chocolate Garden and S’Mores Station is one of several places to eat and drink.

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

Where: Lisle
Cost: Members: $9-$17 | Nonmembers: $12-$22
When: Nov. 28-Dec. 3, Dec. 5-10, 12-17, 19-23, Dec. 26-Jan. 1

Tickets are for a specific date and time; entry for each day starts at 4:30 p.m. The time on the ticket is the start of the person’s 30-minute entry period.

Illumination is an award-winning, 1-mile outdoor walking tour on a paved path through 50 acres of the arboretum’s tree collections. All along the path are places to sit, warming/concession tents and fire pits, and ideal vantage points to take tons of photos.

New this year is the Illu-medallion. Visitors who purchase and wear a glowing Illu-medallian can experience the display on a whole new level.

Most of the Illumination path is wheelchair-accessible. However, the path is not accessible by car and the display can’t be seen from the road.

Christmas Walk

Where: Downtown Geneva
Cost: Free admission
When: Dec. 1-3

The annual Christmas festival kicks off with the first candy cane of the season being presented to the mayor, the arrival of Santa Lucia (who lights the Great Tree) and an appearance by St. Nick. Over the weekend, you can sample tons of holiday food and fare, visit with reindeer, see a live performance of “A Christmas Carol” and view a replica of a Guinness World Record-breaking 51-foot-candy cane. Enjoy a free carriage ride on Saturday and Sunday.


Where: Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop, Naperville
Cost: Free admission
When: Through Dec. 24

The German holiday bazaar that’s now an institution in Chicago is already drawing crowds. More than half of the outdoor market’s vendors are from Germany. At both locations, you can buy holiday decorations, toys and other items from merchants around the world. There’s plenty to eat, too: bratwurst and other sausages, crepes (sweet and savory), cheese, desserts, döner kebab, doughnuts, potato pancakes, pasta dishes, pretzels, roasted nuts, sauerkraut, soups and spinach puffs. Vegetarians can enjoy a selection of cheese dishes, pretzels, salads, sauerkraut, spinach puffs, pretzels and soups. Alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages are also available.

Entertainment includes performances by Alpine Brass, Chicago Waldorf School student singers, Lakeshore Dynamics and The Pippins. The Christkind, a fairy-like being dressed in gold and white robes with a crown on her head (also the market’s namesake) will make an appearance on Dec. 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20 and 23.

Good news, dog lovers: Canines on leashes are allowed – but only in the market’s outside area.

Macy’s Christmas Window Displays

Where: Macy’s on State Street, Chicago
Cost: Free
When: Through Jan. 7

It’s the 50th anniversary of the iconic window designs that debuted when Macy’s was Marshall Field’s. This year’s theme for the display is “Reasons to Believe.”

One of the 6-foot-high, 10-foot-wide window scenes has a love theme, with Santa and Mrs. Claus facing each other underneath hanging hearts. Another window pays tribute to past stars such as Cinderella from 2005, Snow White from 2004 and the Marshall Field’s clock. Also making a return appearance is the 1996 “A Christmas Carol” display, a nod to the 40th year of the Goodman Theater’s production.

A North Pole computerized command center – where animated elves take order for Christmas gifts and a vortex is spinning gift boxes to be loaded onto Santa’s sleigh – is on display in another window.

If you’re looking for further advice and guidance on your parent’s move, we are here to help. Download our e-book, Making the Move: A Step-by-Step Guide for a Smooth Transition to a Senior Care Community, to learn more, or call Lexington Square today at 630.812.7241 to set up a conversation!

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