Chicago weekend events for kids


There's a lot going on in this world-class city we live in, and the options can be overwhelming. So every week, we'll pick our not-to-miss events. Chances are, you'll see us there, kids in tow. If none of these suit your schedule, browse our full calendar to find events near you.

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Christkindlmarket Chicago

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.


Illumination: Tree Lights

Illumination brings lights and nature together to transform a wintertime walk in the woods into an awe-inspiring experience. Walk a mile-long path to marvel at trees illuminated in colors and interact with lighted trees that respond to voice or touch. On the Illumination trail, sing to trees to make them change color and hug trees to see how they respond, then warm up at a toasty fire pit. Or stop at the warming tent to grab a snack and a warm beverage. New in 2014: Symphony of Light: Enchanting lights dance in synchronized patterns to seasonal music from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Meadow Lake Magic: Light-patterned trees and a series of lit orbs dot Meadow Lake; expanded Tinsel Colonnade with multi-colored strings of LED lights hanging from the trees like tinsel. Kid-friendly interactive stations and a scavenger hunt to find the “Glow Man.” Plus, hear local bands every weekend.


The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

The event is held along North Michigan Avenue between Oak Street and Wacker Drive. Festivities run all day and the lighting procession begins at 5:30 p.m. The day begins on Pioneer Court with family-friendly interactive activities, Santa Claus and top musical entertainment. The evening’s grand marshals, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, lead a parade of more than 40 floats, helium-filled balloons, marching bands and top musical performers as they illuminate more than one million lights along The Magnificent Mile. Event concludes with a fireworks display over the Chicago River.


Chicago Toy & Game Fair

This fair offers families, teachers, toy and game enthusiasts the chance to preview new toys and games, meet Toy and Game Inventors, have a picture taken with Star Wars characters and more.


Family Matinee Series: Downtown Sounds

Focuses on composers such as George Gershwin, Bedřich Smetana and Ottorino Respighi who wrote music about their favorite places, portraying city streets and bustling neighborhoods as well as tranquil settings with different melodies and rhythms. Featured works Gershwin’s An American in Paris; Smetana’s The Moldau from Má vlast; Resphigi’s Fountains of Rome and more. WTTW’s Geoffrey Baer will narrate the “Downtown Sounds” program.


The Wizard School Scavenger Hunt

Go in search of art that echoes characters, places, and enchanted objects in the famed Harry Potter books and movies. Be prepared to track down flying owls, Hagrid-like giants, centaurs and unicorns like those you'd see in the Forbidden Forest, dragons that seem straight out of the Triwizard Tournament, and eerie figures as scary as any Death Eater or Dementor.


Fall Open House

Celebrate the autumn harvest by making a fabulous fall project, enjoy a seasonal hike, snack around the glow of a campfire and take a festive hayride around the lake.


Hansel and Gretel

Broadway In Chicago and Emerald City Theatre will perform Hansel & Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical Treat, with music and lyrics by Justin Roberts and a book by Emerald City Theatre Artistic Director Ernie Nolan. The classic story of Hansel & Gretel reimagined as a rock musical for all ages will run Nov. 22-Jan. 4, 2015.


Lapidary Activity Day

See demonstrations by artists from the West Suburban Lapidary Club including: beading, silversmithing, cabochon cutting, wire wrapping and faceting. Free hands-on activities andjewelry cleaning.



Settlers' Day

Visit with costumed living history demonstrators, representing American history from French fur trading days, pioneer times, and the Revolutionary and Civil War periods.  Activities include joining an imaginary wagon train, guided history hikes, trying your hand at a two-person buck saw, and making a craft.


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