Get out there and play
Lions and tigers and… Christmas lights? Oh my! Bundle up and head to the Brookfield Zoo for its 27th Annual Holiday Magic this Saturday and Sunday for ice-carving demonstrations, caroling to the zoo animals and a visit with Santa Claus.
Take a ride around the zoo on the Jingle Bell Tram, watch live music, dance performances and magic shows and stop by the Formal Pool for a new Laser and Light Spectacular every hour on the half hour between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. nightly. For a complete performance schedule, visit the Web site. Kids can share their Christmas list with Santa and Mrs. Claus through Dec. 21 in the Candy Cane Corner. Hitch a ride on the Elf Express and take a picture with a zoo animal (for a small fee). Admission to the Hamill Family Play Zoo and the Children’s Zoo is free during Holiday Magic.
Holiday Magic is held every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 21 and Friday-Wednesday, Dec. 26-31 from 4-9 p.m. The Brookfield Zoo is located at First Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield. Admission is , kids 3-11 and seniors, kids 2 and under are free. Activities, excluding rides and photos with animals, are free with paid admission. Parking in the main lot is per car, .75 per bus. For information, call (708) 688-8000 or visit czs.org.
Get out there and play some more
Play in a winter wonderland this weekend at the Bank of America Winter WonderFest. The fest, which runs through Jan. 4, has 170,000 square feet of opportunities for your family to get in touch with the holiday season, including more than 750,000 sparkling lights and holiday-themed rides and activities.
Kids can hop around the eight large-scale inflatable games and test their agility on the Arctic Wonder Obstacle Course. If taking a ride is more your kids’ speed, they might jump in their very own flying dragon on the Ice Dragons ride or pick their favorite animal to ride on the Kringle Carousel. Other activities include the Extreme Ice Trail Ropes Course and the Winter Wind Glider.
The little ones (less than 46 inches tall) won’t feel left out with a visit to Winter WonderFest Junior, where they can take a ride on the Ferris Wheel Jr. or play in the Tinsel Tunnels. Kids can burn off some energy around the Chicago Blackhawks Indoor Ice Rink. Admission to the ice rink is free when you bring your own skates. Skates may be rented for a fee.
If you’re feeling a little Bah, Humbug-ish, you better watch out. The Holiday Spirit Patrol will be roaming the festival in search of“un-holiday like behavior.” Scrooge-like behavior might land you in the Holiday Court where you’ll have to plead your case to the judge.
The Bank of America Winter WonderFest is held from Dec. 5-Jan. 4. Check the Web site for hours and a complete list of activities. Navy Pier is located at 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. Admission is free, but some rides and activities require a wristband. Wristbands range from – based on skate rental. Parking is free with the purchase of four premium wristbands. For more information, call (312) 595-7437 or visit winterwonderfest.com.
Decorate, bedazzle and accessorize your canine this Saturday for a barking good time at the Chicago Botanic Garden during the Sixth Annual Reindog Parade. Your registered four-legged friends can march along with your family in the parade, led by a giant rawhide bone, carried by Santa Claus.
Registration is held in front of the Visitor Center. Costumes will be judged by local celebrities in categories such as‘best dog/owner look-a-like,’‘best horticultural interpretation’ and‘best puppy.’ Judging begins at 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m., with prizes awarded at 1:30 p.m.
The Reindog Parade is part of the Wonderland Express exhibit in the Regenstein Center and throughout the garden’s grounds with 750,000 lights, a 40-foot tree and a garden-scale train display. Look for famous Chicago landmarks hidden in the train display.
The Sixth Annual Reindog Parade is held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe. Event hours are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Reindog registration forms are available on the Web site, chicagobotanic.org/dog. Dogs must be on leash at all times and must leave the garden by 2 p.m. Registration is in advance, ending 5 p.m. Dec. 5 and at the door. Admission is free, parking is per car. The Wonderland Express exhibit runs 10 a.m.-7 p.m. through Jan. 4. The Chicago Botanic Garden closes at 3 p.m. Dec. 4 and 24 and all day Dec. 25. Exhibition tickets are , kids 3-12 and seniors, members, member kids 3-12 and seniors. Admission is free every Tuesday through Dec. 23. Parking is per car, free members. For more information, visit chicagobotanic.org/wonderland.
Piece of the prize
This week, three Chicago Parent readers will win a Discovery Channel Store Dinosaur Ball Pit. This product, intended for children 6 months and up, retails for .95. For more product information, visit shopping.discovery.com. Read the ChicagoParent.com review, here. To win, visit our discussion board.