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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

Wreathing of the Lions

Chicago, Ill.

The traditional ceremony of wreathing the Art Institute's lions takes place on the steps of the museum at 10 a.m. After the ceremony, visit the Ryan Education Center for a craft project inspired by the Neapolitan Crèche and holiday-decorated Thorne Miniature Rooms. Plus, meet the Art Institute's mascot, Artie the Lion.

When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Free, regular admission for inside activities

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

Littlest Elves Workshop

Pilcher Park Nature Center | Joliet, Ill.

Drop in for music and painting fun. Pick an unfinished ceramic item, paint it, and it will be fired in time for the holidays.

When: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: Free; fee for ceramic items

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

Leftover Science

Discovery Center Museum | Rockford, Ill.

Turn cranberries into chemistry, engage in fruitcake physics, and find out what happens to whipped cream when it’s dropped in liquid nitrogen. Bring the family and kick off the holiday season with extraordinary demos and festive arts and crafts.

When: 11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
Cost: Free with admission

Flying Fox Animal Show

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum | Chicago, Ill.

Learn where bats live, what they eat and the vital contribution they make to the ecosystem. Dispel old beliefs and superstition and discover why we need bats and why they need us. Meet fruits bats and other mammals and experience their gentle nature up close and in person.

When: 1-2 p.m.
Cost: Free with museum admission

CSO at the Movies: Pixar in Concert

Chicago Symphony Orchestra | Chicago, Ill.

Includes music from 14 memorable Pixar films including Up, the Toy Story trilogy and Monsters University.

When: 8 p.m.
Cost: $50-$199

Black Friday

Pump It Up Chicago | Chicago, Ill.

Parents drop off kids for some time to shop.

When: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. or 1:45-3:45 p.m.
Cost: $12, $20 drop off

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

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