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The Best Ways To Celebrate The Holiday Season In Chicago
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The Best Ways To Celebrate The Holiday Season In Chicago

Picture of Benita Gingerella
Updated: 11 December 2015
The weather outside may be frightful, but that doesn’t stop Chicagoans from celebrating the most wonderful time of the year. From ice skating to holiday parades, here are some of the top things to do around the city this holiday season.
Lincoln Park ZooLights | © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr
Lincoln Park ZooLights | © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr
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ZooLights

Animals and Christmas lights combine at Lincoln Park Zoo’s annual ZooLights, held from the end of November to the start of the new year. Along with the abundance of lights displayed throughout the zoo, ZooLights also includes photos with Santa, live ice carvers, an ice-skating rink and holiday crafts. Except for special select nights, ZooLights is free for all to attend.

Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312 742 2000

Caroling at Cloud Gate | © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr
Caroling at Cloud Gate | © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr
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Cloud Gate Carolers

Enjoy some caroling with one of Chicago’s most iconic sculptures as the perfect backdrop. Different choirs will be singing in front of the Bean for several days during November and December, spreading some holiday cheer to Millennium Park visitors.

Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312 742 1168

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival | © Natasha Jelezkina/Flickr
Magnificent Mile Lights Festival | © Natasha Jelezkina/Flickr

BMO Harris Bank’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

Michigan Avenue kicks off the holiday season with a parade and lighting ceremony down the Magnificent Mile. Mickey and Minnie Mouse host the parade, which features live musical performances, a special appearance by Santa, and a fireworks show over the river.

Thanksgiving Day Parade | © Andre N. McIntyre/WikiCommons
Thanksgiving Day Parade | © Andre N. McIntyre/WikiCommons

McDonalds Thanksgiving Day Parade

Not to be lost in the shuffle with all the other holiday events, McDonalds Thanksgiving Day Parade runs for a mile down State Street. The parade will have over 5,000 performers, including marching bands, staged performances, acrobatics and more.

Millennium Park Ice Skating | © ChrismetcalfTV/Flickr
Millennium Park Ice Skating | © ChrismetcalfTV/Flickr

Ice skating at Millennium Park or Maggie Daley Park

From late November to early March, two downtown ice-skating rinks, one at Millennium Park and one at Maggie Daley Park, are open to the public. The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park is just steps away from the Bean, while the narrow and winding Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley is a new take on the traditional ice-skating rink. Skating on each of the rinks is free; however, there is a charge to rent skates.

Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312 742 1168

Maggie Daley Park, 337 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312 742 3918

Chicago's Christmas Tree | © Daniel X. O'Neil/Flickr
Chicago’s Christmas Tree | © Daniel X. O’Neil/Flickr
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Chicago’s Official Christmas Tree

The city of Chicago has had a Christmas tree now for over 100 years. While the tree has been located in Daley Plaza for the past several years, this year the Christmas tree will be placed and lit in Millennium Park. Be sure to check out the official tree lighting ceremony, which will feature live performances and music, held on the last week of November.

Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312 742 1168

Macy's Christmas Windows | © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr
Macy’s Christmas Windows | © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr
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Macy’s Christmas Window Displays

Originally started by Marshall Field and Company, Macy’s on State Street has carried on the tradition of decorating its windows for the holidays. Each year, the store chooses a theme or story to tell through its intricate window displays. Past years windows have included ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Cinderella.’

Macy’s, 111 N State St, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312 781 1000


By Benita Gingerella