4 cultural events to celebrate the holidays in Chicago

The holiday countdown is on and this season kiddos can learn about a different culture or delve further into their own at a local museum or ethnic institution. From Polish shopping fun to a full on Swedish smorgasbord, there are plenty of cultural events around town for families.  

Polish Christmas Market

Maybe you are one of those amazing planners who carefully knocks holiday gift shopping off throughout the year and is done, yes, totally done, before December even begins? If so, bravo! For the rest of us holiday shopping mortals, the Polish Christmas Market could be fun for the kids while Mom and Dad chip away at the good ol’ gift list. The Polish-style shopping and merriment will create a lively atmosphere in the Lobby & Annex of the Copernicus Center on Dec. 9 (4 p.m. – 9 p.m.) and Dec. 10 (11 a.m. – 7 p.m.). From handmade ornaments to jewelry, there will be plenty of gifts for adults to snag. Kids can also play games and tell Santa what is on their wish lists. With free admission and parking, you can spend your hard earned cheddar on things that really matter … like pierogis. 

Copernicus Center

5216 W. Lawrence Ave. Chicago, IL 60630

Paddy Homan and The Noble Call Christmas Show

Lively Irish music and dance is sure to get the family in the holiday spirit! Head to the Irish American Heritage Center for the Paddy Homan and The Noble Call Christmas Show on Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. While the timing could be a bit late for tots, older kiddos and teens would enjoy the songs, stories and traditional Irish dancing. You might even be able to jump in with ideas for the performance! The Noble Call honors the Irish tradition of asking guests to chime in with faves. Tickets are $20 for IAHC members and $22 for general admission. You can buy them online or call 773-282-7035, ext. 10. Let the Irish merriment begin! 

Irish American Heritage Center

4626 N. Knox Ave. Chicago, IL 60630 

Miguel de León Christmas Concert

The National Museum of Mexican Art is a family favorite! The size of the museum is easy to manage with a multi-generational crew. Our family loves to work up an appetite taking in incredible (and often vibrantly colored) art and then head to one of many authentic Mexican restaurants in the Pilsen neighborhood. If you have little music mavens in your family, stop by for holiday tunes. The Miguel de León Christmas Concert on Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. will feature traditional holiday songs from Latin America such as “El Burrito Sabanero” plus more widely known classics such as “Jingle Bells,” “Felíz Navidad” and “The Drummer Boy.” If your holiday gift list keeps growing while your bank account keeps shrinking, this event could be a win, because museum admission and the concert are gratis! 

The National Museum of Mexican Art

1852 W. 19th St. Chicago, IL 60608


Julmiddag, a festive family dinner held at the Swedish American Museum in Andersonville, will feature food from Tre Kronor, one of my favorite spots. The annual event, slated for Dec. 17 at 5 p.m., is a tradition worthy of gathering three generations of a single tribe! For Swedish folks who don’t have extended family nearby it could be a great way to celebrate with a bigger crew. People who do not have a Swedish background but have an interest in the culture are welcome, too! In addition to a Tre Kronor smorgasbord, there will be a St. Lucia procession. Kiddos get decked out in white garb and glitter (provided at the event) and parade around the event while everyone sings traditional Swedish songs. Your little cuties can even talk with Tomten (Santa)! Purchase tickets by Dec. 13 at the museum or online. ‘Tis the season for a Swedish-style celebration! 

Swedish American Museum 

5211 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60640 

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