Magical Holiday Events for Kids in Chicagoland

Enjoy the most wonderful time of the year with these events!

Celebrate the holidays in Chicagoland with the whole family. You and your kids can enjoy the magical winter season with holiday lightsSanta visitsHanukkah events and more.

We highly recommend you get tickets to these popular experiences before they sell out! Here are some of our favorite holiday events, but find even more events on our calendar.

City

The Beatrix Holiday Party Tea Party

Nov. 4-Dec. 24, 2023 (Saturdays-Sundays)

Enjoy an interactive trunk and puppet show, which includes original music. A communal tea party follows the show. Recommended for ages 8 and under.

Christkindlmarket Chicago

Nov. 17-Dec. 24, 2023

Enjoy one of Chicago’s most beloved shopping traditions in-person and online with treats and gifts from Germany and beyond.

Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville

Nov. 17-Dec. 31, 2023

Enjoy a special edition of the Chicago German-American Holiday Market. Includes hot beverages, German food and gift shopping.

City of Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting

Nov. 17, 2023

See Millennium Park’s epic Christmas tree, a 45-foot Colorado blue spruce, lit up for the first time of the season. It will remain on display until the beginning of the new year.

ZooLights

Nov. 17, 2023-Jan. 7, 2024

  • Address: Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago
  • Cost: $7-$10/Tuesdays-Sundays, free/Mondays; fees for additional encounters and activities

Enjoy a twinkling winter wonderland complete with festive activities, such as visits with Santa, a holiday pop-up bar, sweet treats of all kinds and more.

A Christmas Carol

Nov. 18-Dec. 31, 2023

Join Ebenezer Scrooge as he journeys through his past, present and future to discover the importance of friendship and love — with plenty of jubilant musical numbers, spectacular costumes and hilarious “Bah Humbugs!” along the way. For ages 6-plus.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

Nov. 18, 2023-Jan. 1, 2024

This Chicago tradition began in 1942 with a single tree. Now, the museum features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree surrounded by 40 other trees and displays. Each surrounding tree is decorated to represent holiday traditions in other cultures around the world.

The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle

Nov. 18, 2023-Jan. 7, 2024

Enjoy this immersive event about the most beloved family holiday tale, The Nutcracker. You’ll see immersive projections and special effects, meet a life-sized Nutcracker, have photo ops and more. Use our code CHIPAR for 25% off tickets.

The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays

Nov. 21-26, 2023

This mind-blowing showcase, The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays, features the jaw-dropping talents of the most incredible illusionists on earth.

Light Up the Lake

Nov. 24-Dec. 31, 2023

  • Address: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
  • Cost: Features free and ticketed activities; $37.50/bundle: ice skating, wheel and axe throwing, $20/ice skating, $5-$12/axe throwing, $15-$18/Centennial Wheel

See Chicagoland’s largest indoor lighting experience. It features interactive light displays, ice skating, toasty fire pits, local artisan markets, heated Centennial Wheel, fireworks on Saturdays and more.

Chicago Union Station The Polar Express Train Ride

Dec. 1, 2023-Jan. 1, 2024

  • Address: Chicago Union Station, 500 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago
  • Cost: Value Departures: $55/ages 12-plus, $47/ages 2-11; Standard Departures: $67/ages 12-plus, $59/ages 2-11; Premium Departures: $80/ages 12-plus, $72/ages 2-11

Relive the magic of The Polar Express on a real train ride. Take the one-hour train ride to meet Santa Claus and have hot chocolate and Walker’s Shortbread. Each guest will receive a keepsake sleigh bell.

CKC Presents: Mrs. Claus! A Holiday Musical

Dec. 1-23, 2023

Families can join Mrs. Claus and the Elf Class of 2023 as they try to find Santa’s missing list in time to save Christmas. For ages 2-10.

Hyde Park Holly-Day in Chicago

Dec. 2, 2023

  • Address: Various locations in Chicago
  • Cost: Free

Families can enjoy a day full of holiday activities, including ice carving demonstrations, holiday crafts, ice sculptures, dance performances, costumed characters, live reindeer, Buddy the Elf, Brown Books & Paintbrushes and Soul Santa and Mrs. Claus. This event is sponsored by the University of Chicago.

Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

Dec. 2-3, 2023

  • Address: Northeastern Illinois University Auditorium, Steinberg Fine Arts Center, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago
  • Cost: $42.50/adults, $25/seniors, students and children under 12

See Chicago’s longest-running Nutcracker seen by thousands of fans featuring original choreography by Ruth Page. Exquisite dancing, stunning costumes and magical settings in the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of the Sweets, “The Nutcracker” promises holiday joy for children of all ages. 

The Art Deco Nutcracker

Dec. 2, 2023

Set in 1920s America, Kremnev’s “The Art Deco Nutcracker,” featuring Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, is a fresh, yet traditional take on the beloved holiday favorite with costume and set design inspired by the unique sophistication of the Art Deco era.

The Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Dec. 2-27, 2023

Journey to Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair with Christopher Wheeldon’s holiday masterpiece. Magic is on the horizon for young Marie and her mother, a sculptress creating the iconic Statue of the Republic. As they prepare for their annual holiday celebration, a visit from the charming but mysterious Great Impresario sets off a Christmas Eve dream of whirlwind romance and adventure.

Hershel and The Hanukkah Goblins

Dec. 3-23, 2023 (Thursdays; Saturdays-Sundays)

In this adaptation of the award-winning book, a troupe of actors arrive to find no one celebrating Hanukkah so they put on a show. Advanced registration is required.

Sensory-Friendly Night ZooLights

Dec. 6, 2023

During this sensory-friendly event, all blinking or moving lights will be slowed down, remain static or turned off. Also, the music will be turned down or off.

CKC Presents: Mrs. Claus! A Holiday Musical

Dec. 7-30, 2023

Families can join Mrs. Claus and the Elf Class of 2023 as they try to find Santa’s missing list in time to save Christmas. For ages 2-10

‘Twas the Night Before… by Cirque du Soleil

Dec. 7-10, 2023

Join Isabella, a curious girl who’s become jaded by the hoopla surrounding Christmas, as she is whisked away to an upside-down, inside-out world where she meets characters inspired by the original timeless poem. 

Holiday Party at Commercial Club

Dec. 9, 2023

All ages can enjoy a holiday party that will feature games, refreshments and a visit from Santa at Commercial Club. 

The Hip Hop Nutcracker

Dec. 12-17, 2023

This holiday performance is a re-mixed and re-imagined version of the classic and features hip-hop dance and Tchaikovsky’s timeless music together.

Rollin’ With Frosty!

Dec. 15, 2023

Families can enjoy a fun holiday roller skating event with Frosty to Snowman. Limited number of skates to borrow.  

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical

Dec. 19-31, 2023 (Tuesdays-Sundays)

The Grinch discovers there’s more to Christmas than he bargained for in this heart-warming holiday classic. It will feature the hit songs “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas,” among others.

North/Northwest Suburbs 

Lightscape

Nov. 10, 2023-Jan. 7, 2024

See thousands of twinkling lights while walking through the Winter Cathedral and a reimagined fire garden.

Christmas Town

Nov. 11-Dec. 23, 2023 (Fridays-Sundays)

Check out Santa’s Reindeer Barn with Santa’s entire sleigh team of reindeer, then visit with Santa Claus on Saturdays-Sundays. Kids will earn a “stable elf” diploma and take part in baby reindeer flight school training sessions. Online reservations are required.

Arctic Adventure

Nov. 17-Dec. 31, 2023

Enjoy a drive-through light experience at Six Flags Great America on select nights, where you’ll see whimsical lights and winter characters. There will also be Carousel Lights & Market where there will be photo ops, holiday treats and décor in Carousel Plaza and Orleans Place.

Santa’s Rock n Lights – Drive Thru Light Show

Nov. 17-Dec. 31, 2023

Enjoy more than 1,000 feet of dancing light tunnels, three larger-than-life 3D polar bears, 3D dinosaurs and hundreds of thousands of lights dancing to music for about a mile or more.

Sparkle Light Festival

Nov. 17-Dec. 31, 2023

Immerse yourself in millions of sparkling lights as you stroll through illuminated villages with custom holiday features. Visit Santa Claus, ice-skate with friends, enjoy free train rides on the “Holly Trolly” train, go tubing down the Alpine Slide, and more! Bundle up and indulge in festive food and drink as you experience the area’s premier outdoor light festival.

Vintage Holidays in Long Grove

Nov. 17-Dec. 23, 2023

An old-fashioned celebration comes alive in a picture-perfect holiday setting! Victorian buildings trimmed in lights, a covered bridge and cobblestone walkways lined with luminaries in beautiful historic Long Grove. There will be costumed carolers, strolling musicians, horse-drawn carriage rides, and Santa and Mrs. Claus on weekends.

Willow Hill Lights

Nov. 17, 2023-Jan. 6, 2024

Enjoy this drive-thru holiday lights show, which is back for its second year with bigger and better displays. It will feature a 1.6-mile route with more than one million lights, three drive-through tunnels and a 30-foot Christmas tree.

Happy Holiday Railway

Nov. 24-Dec. 17, 2023

Take a 40-minute train ride trip through the winter countryside on one of the museum’s trains. Sip on hot chocolate and enjoy treats while you await your visit from Santa on the train. Also, be sure to check out the holiday lights display at the boarding area, including the biggest and brightest Christmas tree in McHenry County. New this year is an animated light show and holiday song presentation during the trip.

Kohlights: A Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular!

Nov. 24-Dec. 16, 2023 (Fridays-Saturdays)

Kids can take control over the light display at different activity stations along the way at this holiday event. Kohlights is now an indoor and outdoor experience, so there will be access to all indoor exhibits as well.

for KING & COUNTRY: A Drummer Boy Christmas Concert

Nov. 25, 2023

See brothers Joel and Luke, Grammy award-winning duo for KING + COUNTRY for their Drummer Boy Christmas Tour. They’ll be performing Christmas classics such as “Little Drummer Boy” from A Drummer Boy Christmas, #1 hit single “Love Me Like I Am” from their recently released Billboard Top 200 album, “What Are We Waiting For?” and many more.

The Nutcracker

Nov. 30-Dec. 10, 2023 (Thursdays-Sundays)

Schaumburg Dance Ensemble’s vibrantly costumed and staged production of Tchaikovsky’s magical holiday ballet has enchanted audiences of all ages for nearly a quarter of a century. The Nutcracker brings to life a fantasy world of dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers and battling mice.

Holiday Bricktacular

Dec. 1, 2023-Jan. 1, 2024

Celebrate the holidays with themed builds, photo opportunities with life-sized Lego Santa and more. Visitors can try to find all the Lego presents throughout the attraction for their chance to win an exclusive holiday prize!

Salt Creek Ballet: “The Nutcracker”

Dec. 1-2, 2023

See Salt Creek Ballet’s The Nutcracker as it marches back onto the North Shore Center stage with an affordable full-length holiday production. It will be performed by a professional company with exceptional guest soloists.

NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet

Dec. 3, 2023

Experience the extraordinary international cast and Ukrainian Principal Artists performing at the peak of classical European Ballet. Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet features jaw-dropping acrobatics, larger-than-life puppets and stunning hand-crafted sets and costumes.

Duke It Out Nutcracker

Dec. 9, 2023

This Nutcracker performance, curated by Dance Chicago, pairs the classical (Tchaikovsky) and jazz (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) versions of the holiday favorite, performed by professional brass and woodwind quintets. This family-friendly performance is 60 minutes long.

North Shore School of Dance: The Nutcracker

Dec. 9-10, 2023

The story of Clara and her Nutcracker prince as they fight the Mice King and journey through the snow to the Land of Sweets, told by ballet dancers. A portion of the proceeds are donated to organizations and charity groups.

Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

Dec. 16-17, 2023

  • Address: College of Lake County James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts, 19351 W. Washington St., Grayslake
  • Cost: $26/adult, $23/seniors and military, $15/students

The Ruth Page Civic Ballet performances recreate Ruth Page’s beloved original full-length staging. With exquisite dancing, stunning costumes and magical settings in the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of the Sweets, “The Nutcracker” promises holiday joy for children of all ages.

South Suburbs 

Holiday Magic in Motion

Nov. 11, 2023-Jan. 7, 2024

Promenade visitors can stroll through a world of twinkling lights, see 11 illuminated displays, magical candy canes and see Santa.

Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Nov. 26, 2023

The magical production features lavish costumes, exquisite sets, including a Christmas tree that grows before your eyes, and choreography that takes the audience through the land of whirling snowflakes and a visit to the kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Kris Kringle Market

Dec. 1-2, 2023

Shop from vendors in two heated tents. Then head to the Kids Korner, see Santa and eat at the food court.

Christmas Express 2023

Dec. 2-3, 2023

Enjoy the 15th annual holiday train ride at New Lenox Train Station. Ride to Tinley Park with songs and entertainment. Tickets include a visit with Santa, breakfast or lunch, plus many activities.

Christmas in the Commons

Dec. 2-23, 2023 (Sundays)

See a holiday light display with a 50-foot-tall lighted Santa Claus and holiday activities to accompany the lights, including visits from Santa, horse-drawn wagon rides, synthetic skating rinks, visits from reindeer and more.

New York Voices Holiday Show

Dec. 9, 2023

The concert will have classic hits such as Let It Snow, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Silent Night and much more. Great for all ages.

Western Suburbs 

Christkindlmarket Aurora

Nov. 17-Dec. 24, 2023 (Thursdays-Sundays)

Address: RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway, Aurora

  • Cost: Free

Enjoy live entertainment, a unique shopping experience, family-friendly events and intercultural activities.

Illumination: Tree Lights

Nov. 18, 2023-Jan. 6, 2024

Surround yourselves with color while walking on the one-mile paved pathway. Enjoy seasonal music, captivating light designs and roasting s’mores on a fire at this outdoor event.

Light The Tree With Santa

Nov. 18, 2023

Families can join North Riverside Park Mall for the lighting of the tree in North Court with Santa to kick off the holiday season.

Naperlights

Nov. 23-Dec. 31, 2023

Put on a pair of 3D glasses and enjoy a magical holiday lights celebration, presented by Rotary Club of Naperville Sunrise. On Friday and Saturday evenings, Santa will be available to take pictures.

Winter Lights

Nov. 23, 2023-Jan. 7, 2024

Enjoy a half-mile walk to see the holiday lights through Central Park. See inspirational signs, colorful rainbow arches, cascading snowflakes and more.

Festival of Lights

Nov. 24-Dec. 30, 2023

See twinkling lights, an amazing selection of Christmas trees and wreaths and greenery at this holiday lighting event. Also, hot chocolate and holiday gifts are available to purchase in the Wild Side Gift Shop.

Holiday Magic

Nov. 24-Dec. 31, 2023 (Wednesdays-Sundays)

This annual event features more than two million twinkling LED lights and is Chicagoland’s longest-running holiday light experience! Advance tickets required.

Magical Christmas

Nov. 24-Dec. 23, 2023

See more than 3 million lights synchronized to holiday music at this one-of-a-kind drive-through experience. At the end of the drive-through, park your car and meet and take a photo with Santa Claus. Also, a 300-foot tube slide, entertainment and hot cocoa and funnel cakes for purchase. Online reservations are required.

Salt Creek Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Nov. 25-26, 2023

Enjoy a special presentation of The Nutcracker, including many celebrated guest artists. The Saturday performances will have Santa available for pictures. Sunday’s performance also includes special admission to the “Sugar Plum Party.”

Santa’s Naperville Workshop

Nov. 27-Dec. 21, 2023

Families can enjoy a unique visit with Santa Claus inside his magical workshop. Bring your own camera. Dress for the weather. Advanced registration is required.

Holiday Express

Nov. 30-Dec. 17, 2023 (Thursdays-Sundays)

See Santa and his elves at Blackberry Farm for pictures. Also, enjoy holiday displays, Gingerbread School House, Little Elf Hobby Shoppe, Candy Cane Village, a gift shop, Sugar Plum Playland and more. Special Needs Night is Friday, Dec. 1, from 5-8 p.m.

Holiday Lights

Dec. 2, 2023-Jan. 1, 2024

Enjoy Lombard Park District’s annual holiday lights display, which will offer magical light shows, tree decorations, a gingerbread house and more. Kids can visit with Santa every Friday-Sunday from 6-8 p.m. Also, holiday characters, cookies and hot cocoa.

Santa’s Workshop

Dec. 2, 2023

Bring your children to Wilder Mansion to their gift shop where kids can purchase inexpensive gifts for mom, dad, teacher, friends and more. Items are kid-priced and kid-friendly.

The Naperville Nutcracker

Dec. 7-10, 2023

This holiday performance is set to the beloved score by Tchaikovsky. With its beautiful costumes, gorgeous sets and impressive dancing, this production is guaranteed to fill the audience with cheer and delight!

Tree Lighting

Dec. 7, 2023

Join the Elmhurst Park District as they kick off the holiday season in Wilder Park and light community trees that surround the park. Kids can visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy holiday festivities.

Oswego Holiday Express

Dec. 8-10, 2023

Put on your pajamas and your warmest apparel and head to the “North Pole” on Oswego’s Holiday Express. Mrs. Claus will greet you, you’ll enjoy hot cocoa from the Village Grind and then meet Santa.

Sundaes with Santa

Dec. 10, 17, 2023

Enjoy making your own ice cream sundae with the big guy. Tickets include making sundaes with Santa, homemade hot cocoa, photo op with Santa and a goodie bag. Purchase advanced tickets.

Beyond the Nutcracker by School of Ballet 5:8

Dec. 16-17, 2023

It’s set to the renowned Tchaikovsky score where audience members are invited to join Emma, her Uncle Abrahms and the angel Anastasis as they embark on a journey through time and discover what Christmas is all about. 

Home for the Holidays in Oak Park

Dec. 16, 2023

Families and friends can head down to Lake Street and Marion Street for free sleigh rides, visits with Santa, hot cocoa and musical entertainment. Also, enjoy a free showing of The Polar Express at Lake Theater.

Salt Creek Ballet: “The Nutcracker” With New Philharmonic

Dec. 16-17, 2023

This magical full-scale production at the MAC features more than 50 dancers including guest artists. You will see this magnificent ballet performed to live music.

Winter Wonderland

Dec. 22-23, 26, 2023; Jan. 2, 2024

Test your skating skills at the Discovery Center Museum’s new indoor Sock Skating Rink and enjoy creating winter-themed crafts.


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Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano is a mom of one and Chicago Parent's Audience Development Coordinator. She tracks down the best events every week and shares the inside scoop with families in print and online. She enjoys reading, traveling and exploring new places with her son.
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