Since my kiddos are still small, we’re still figuring out what traditions/events are keepers for us. But breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. Claus (and their elves!) is a favorite, for sure. It’s not the holidays for us without a visit. This year, The Glen is offering a free breakfast and Santa’s reindeer will be there, too! I’m hoping my oldest, who freaks out at the sight of goats at petting zoos, won’t be too terrified.
We’re also hoping to try out some new traditions this year, like ice skating (with the characters) at MB Financial Park and ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. Hopefully it’s not too cold!
We’re not Swedish, but we feel that way when we attend the charming St. Lucia Fesitval of Lights in Andersonville. A candlelit musical procession leads to The Swedish Museum where festivities continue for only $1 or a canned food donation to Care for Real.
The Museum of Science and Industry is already one of our favorite museums in the city (hello, trains), but it becomes extra special during holidays when their huge holiday tree is lit up and adorned with ornaments relating to that years temporary exhibit. Seeing more than 50 trees uniquely decorated in a different culture is also a highlight. We love finding our favorite tree and snapping a pic.
It’s not a true holiday season until we visit the Daley Plaza’s Christkindlmarket. My husband might argue that the mulled wine in a (sometimes) boot is the most important element, but my kids bolt to the booth with the miniature glass animals to add to their collections. I’m superbly diplomatic — I cheerfully require both.
No matter how many times we go there is nothing more magical than the Chicago Botanic Garden at Christmastime, and it’s even better in the snow! I love seeing the lights twinkle under fresh snow and seeing the children’s face light up as they ooh and ahh over the lights. Wonderland Express is my most favorite holiday tradition and I love watching how my children’s reactions have changed as they have grown and how we can always spot something new.
Having a special girls-only outing to the Nutcracker is a favorite holiday tradition I started with my girls were small. In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s great fun to get dressed up and spend time together in beautiful places taking in fantastic performances. We’ve seen a different show each year, from storytimes and abridged shows to local performances and even Joffery’s version. It’s something we look forward to every year.
Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum has become one of our fave family traditions. It is probably because I totally heart anything pertaining to trees and my husband is a lighting pro. We bundle up and head out with friends for a one-mile walk that winds through 50 acres of the Arboretum’s tree collections that are decked out with innovative lights.The artistry of the lighting goes far beyond the traditional holiday variety, so there are always plenty of sights to ooh and ahh at along the way. I enjoy this event so much that I even waddled around when I was primed to pop with our son. This year I am looking forward to taking our toddler on a stroll through this wonderful world of lights.
I love the CTA Holiday Train more than what is probably acceptable in civilized society. Every year we check the schedule and try and catch this glorious, gilded, glowing miracle on tracks, and I scream like a tween at a Nick Jonas concert as it approaches and Santa waves and speaks through his loudspeaker. The inside decorations and holiday songs blasting on the speakers as we ride put me in the spirit like nothing else. It is a testament to what happens when you combine city life with the holidays, and the result is truly magical.
The Little Friends Holiday Parade of Lights in downtown Naperville is a fun time full of twinkling lights and festive cheer. My family bundles up, grabs some hot chocolate and waves our mittened hands at the floats and dancers and the jolly man from the North Pole. It’s an event that is big on joy but with a small-town feel. This year, the parade will be held on Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.