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Light Up the Holidays Festival

Light Up the Holidays Festival and Parade | Joliet, Ill.


There will be family activities at several locations including a tree lighting ceremony, parade, museum free day, ice carving, craft activities and musical performances. Visit website for a complete list of events.

When: Visit website for schedule of events
Cost: Free

Gingerbread House Workshop

Gingerbread Festival |

Includes story time with the Gingerbread Man, a procession and tree lighting ceremony on Friday, complimentary carriage rides, visits with Santa and Gingerbread Boy and Girl and a gingerbread house contest, Gingerbread Man Hunt and more
When: Check website for schedule
Cost: Free

Turkey Trot Hike

Trailside Museum of Natural History | River Forest, Ill.


Families take a special post-holiday hike on the scenic Forest Preserve trails around Trailside Museum with a naturalist. Registration required. No strollers.

When: 1-2 p.m.
Cost: Free

It's A Wonderful Life with "Zuzu"

Hollywood Palms Cinema | Naperville, Ill.


Karolyn Grimes, 'Zuzu' from "It's A Wonderful Life," shares her experiences on her favorite iconic Christmas movie. Meet 'Zuzu' and watch "It's A Wonderful Life" on the big screen.

Cost: Free

Ice Rink Opening and Holiday Tree Lighting

MB Financial Park at Rosemont | Rosemont, Ill.


The NHL-sized ice skating rink opens to the public for free ice skating at 11 a.m. followed by skating appearances and photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus, ice carving and free horse-drawn sleigh rides throughout the afternoon and evening. Rosemont’s Mayor Stephens will arrive at 5:30 p.m. to join in the opening day celebration and introduce a special performance by United States Figure Skating Synchronized Skating Team. Following the performance, Mayor Stephens will welcome Santa Claus to join him in the MB Financial Park tree lighting ceremony, illuminating the winter sky with a breathtaking display of holiday lights.

When: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: Free

Weekly Toddlers Play

St. Nicholas Ukranian Catholic Cathedral School | Chicago, Ill.


This free event is open to any child aged six months through four years, and is centered around the school’s commitment to addressing the holistic needs of a child. Children take part in music and movement activities that get everyone up on their feet and dancing together.

When: 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Cost: Free

Battle of the Bulge LEGO Display

Cantigny Park | Wheaton, Ill.


See the key moments of the epic World War II battle recreated in LEGO bricks.

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; closed Mondays
Cost: Free; $5 parking

Sox vs. Cubs: The Chicago Civil Wars

Harold Washington Library Center | Chicago, Ill.


Features both teams’ historical development and details, statistical information, photographs, memorabilia, souvenirs and other materials. In addition, several video presentations—two of which are designed like the classic Cubs’ and White Sox’s scoreboards—offer compelling testimonials from some players, fans and local sports broadcasters. The exhibit also features a playful component which includes interactive “Color Your Mascot” and “Create a Cartoon” coloring sheets, as well as vintage cartoons following the  “up and down” seasons of both teams.

Cost: Free

Caroling at Cloud Gate-Millennium Park

Chicago, Ill.


Hear a variety of choral groups and join them in a holiday sing-along at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park. Runs Fridays from Nov. 28-Dec. 19.

When: 6 p.m. Fridays
Cost: Free

Christkindlmarket Chicago

Christkindlmarket Chicago | Chicago, Ill.


Discover a traditional centuries-old holiday market in the heart of downtown Chicago. Christkindlmarket features German and international vendors who display hand-crafted ornaments, toys and unique gifts as well as traditional German foods, sweets and beverages. School groups, professional singers and dance groups perform. Special events include appearances by the Christkind and the annual Children’s Lantern Parade, which celebrates St. Martin’s Day. Nov. 21-Dec. 24.

When: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Cost: Free

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