50 fun holiday events for kids in Chicago

Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier

 

Celebrate the holidays in Chicago with the whole family! Read some of our picks below and find the most updated list on our calendar. Don’t forget to check out other kid-friendly holiday events in the North/Northwest Suburbs, South Suburbs and Western Suburbs.

Corduroy

 

When: Nov. 9-Jan. 5

 

Where: Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St.

 

Based on “Corduroy” and “A Pocket for Corduroy,” books by Don Freeman, the play is recommended for ages 3 and older. A small bear’s quest for a missing button leads to the friendship of a lifetime.

 

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

 

When: Nov. 14-Jan. 5

 

Where: Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive

 

This Chicago tradition began in 1942. The museum’s 45-foot Grand Tree takes center stage in the Rotunda, surrounded by more than 50 smaller trees decorated by volunteers from Chicago’s ethnic communities to represent their various cultures and holiday traditions.

 

Christkindlmarket Chicago

 

When: Nov. 15-Dec. 24

 

Where: Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St.

 

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.

 

Holiday Tea at Pavilion

 

When: Nov. 16-Jan. 1

 

Where: The Langham Hotel, 330 North Wabash Ave.

 

The tea includes sandwiches such as the Caramelized Butternut Squash, Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna, milk chocolate spice and fruit cake scones, and desserts including the Gingerbread Sandwich Cookie with white chocolate ganache and crystal sugar.

 

A Christmas Carol

 

When: Nov. 16-Dec. 29

 

Where: The Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.

 

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!

 

Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish – The Musical

 

When: Nov. 20-Dec. 29

 

Where: Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.

 

The musical tells the story of a rag doll named Eleanor who lives in the magical world of The North Pole. Despite her love for her family there, including Santa, Mrs. “Cookie” Claus, Clara Claus, and the elves, Eleanor’s very merry Christmas wish is for a best friend and home of her own.

 

The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

 

When: Nov. 22-23

 

Where: North Michigan Avenue, from Oak Street to Wacker Drive

 

The annual BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival rings in the holiday season with two days of free, family-friendly activities. Parade steps off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

 

City of Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting

 

When: Nov. 22

 

Where: Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St.

 

Enjoy the family fun with live music, performances and a special appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus.

 

Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville

 

When: Nov. 22-Dec. 24

 

Where: Gallagher Way, 3637 N. Clark St.

 

Enjoy a special edition of the Chicago German-American Holiday Market. Includes hot beverages, German food, and gift shopping – just like at Daley Plaza.

 

The Polar Express

 

When: Nov. 23-Dec. 29

 

Where: Union Station, 210 S. Canal Street

 

Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers on the Amtrak train will relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away on The Polar Express for a magical one-hour trip through the tunnels, rail yards, and neighborhoods along the Chicago River.

The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

 

Holiday Lights Tour

 

When: Nov. 29-Dec. 23.

 

Where: Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Bus Company, Various pick-up and drop-off spots around Chicago

 

Festively named trolleys transport passengers through a lightly narrated 2 1/2-hour tour showcasing the sparkling lights of The Magnificent Mile, the iconic Macy’s Holiday Windows, historic State Street and Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest.

 

‘Twas the Night Before…

 

When: Nov. 29-Dec. 7

 

Where: Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State Street

 

A new spin on the beloved Christmas classic as only Cirque du Soleil can imagine. This vibrant acrobatic spectacle about the joy of sharing and friendship promises to spark lasting memories in the hearts of children and adults alike.

 

Wreathing of the Lions

 

When: Nov. 29

 

Where: The Art Institute of Chicago 111 S. Michigan

 

The traditional ceremony of wreathing the Art Institute’s lions takes place on the steps of the museum at 10 a.m. This year’s ceremony features the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, followed by an art activity in the Ryan Learning Center from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

 

ZooLights

 

When: Nov. 29-Jan. 5 (Check website for select dates)

 

Where: Lincoln Park Zoo, 2200 N. Cannon Drive

 

ZooLights celebrates wintertime fun with more than two million lights to illuminate the zoo. This free event transitions Lincoln Park Zoo into a twinkling winter wonderland. The event is complete with visits from Santa himself, ice sculptors, holiday crafts and activities, and sweet treats of all kinds.

 

Caroling at Cloud Gate-Millennium Park

 

When: Nov. 29-Dec. 20

 

Where: Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St.

 

Hear a variety of choral groups and join them in a holiday sing-along at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park.  Santa comes at 5 p.m. and caroling starts at 6 p.m. Select dates, visit event website for more information.

 

Teddy Bear Tea

 

When: Nov. 30-Dec. 29 (Saturdays & Sundays)

 

Where: Hotel Zachary, 3630 N. Clark Street

 

The Alma Room welcomes families and littles with their best stuffed friends to enjoy a festive tea service featuring Rare Tea Cellars. Children and adults can indulge in a pot of house-made hot chocolate, tea sandwiches and delectable sweet treats before a guest storyteller arrives.

 

The Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker

 

When: Nov. 30-Dec. 29

 

Where: The Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive

 

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.

 

Hanukkah Workshop

 

When: Dec. 1

 

Where: Kids Clay Room, 2646 N. Halsted Ave.

 

Kids ages 4 and older make and glaze Hanukkah-themed projects using clay, clay tools and glazes.

 

Chicago Kids Company presents Mrs. Claus! A Holiday Musical

 

When: Dec. 5-23

 

Where: Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St. & Stahl Family Theater, 5900 W. Belmont Ave.

 

Join the new Elf Class of 2019 as they team up with Mrs. Claus to try to find the missing “list” in time for Santa’s long journey. Recommended for ages 2-10.

 

Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier

 

When: Dec. 6-Jan. 12

 

Where: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

 

Enjoy 170,000 square feet of holiday fun features indoor ice skating, entertainment, rides and inflatable slides. There are also thousands of glistening lights, plush holiday decor and holiday trees.

ZooLights

 

Holiday on Southport at Sheil

 

When: Dec. 6

 

Where: Sheil Park, 3505 N. Southport Ave.

 

Enjoy the annual Holiday Party with a visit with Santa, arts & crafts and community spirit.

 

Home Alone in Concert

 

When: Dec. 6-8

 

Where: Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.

 

This beloved comedy classic features renowned composer John Williams’ charming and delightful score performed live by Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

 

The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party

 

When: Dec. 7-29 (Saturdays & Sundays).

 

Where: The Station, 100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago

 

Dress up and enjoy a spot of hot cocoa with Chicago Children Theatre’s favorite friends from the English Lake District. Then, spend an enchanting hour with Peter Rabbit and other beloved Beatrix Potter puppet characters as they delight audiences in this highly interactive trunk and puppet show.

 

Hyde Park Holly-Day

 

When: Dec. 7

 

Where: Harper Court, 5235 S. Harper Court

 

Enjoy ice sculpture carving, cookie decorating, crafts and activities for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, photos with Soul Santa, costumed characters, live reindeer and more.

 

Gingerbread Bungalows

 

When: Dec. 7

 

Where: Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E. Upper Wacker Drive

 

Build a gingerbread house inspired by Chicago’s bungalows. Tour the CAC to learn more about this iconic housing type, then learn tips and tricks to building a gingerbread house from expert pastry chef Gale Gand. This workshop is recommended for ages 5 and older.

 

Santa at the Driehaus Museum

 

When: Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15

 

Where: Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St.

 

Art projects, lively story time, and sing-a-longs provide fun for the entire family. Don’t forget to have your picture taken with Santa Claus. Tickets include Museum admission.

 

Christkindlmarket Beverly

 

When: Dec. 7

 

Where: Olivia’s Garden, 10730 S. Western Ave.

 

Located inside the heated greenhouse, the one-day market includes food, visits and pictures with Santa, face painting and shopping.

 

Santa Suite

 

When: Dec. 7-22, weekends

 

Where: Swissotel, 323 E. Wacker Drive

 

Enjoy elf-guided tours of the Suite, where Santa will be seated on his chair lift and capture memorable photos with little ones looking to make their wishes come true this holiday season.

 

Cookies with Santa at Vittum

 

When: Dec. 7

 

Where: Vittum Park, 5010 W. 50th St.

 

Come out on a cold wintery day and enjoy cookies with Santa. Recommended for ages 1-12 years.

 

Do-It-Yourself Nutcracker

 

When: Dec. 7

 

Where: Indiana Boundary Park, 2500 W. Lunt Ave.

 

Wear your tights, slippers and holiday best for this interactive presentation of the holiday classic where the audience joins the dancers on stage.

Holiday Tea at Pavilion

 

Spaghetti with Santa

 

When: Dec. 7

 

Where: Maggiano’s Little Italy, 111 W. Grand Ave.

 

Kids can meet with Santa and visit the “Candy Bar” and the whole family will enjoy a buffet including bruschetta, Caesar salad, spaghetti, marinara sauce, ziti with butter, meatballs, and cookies.

 

Young Families Celebrate Chanukah

 

When: Dec. 8

 

Where: Chicago Children’s Museum, 700 E. Grand Ave.

 

Join jBaby Chicago and PJ Library to celebrate the Festival of Lights. Enjoy full access to the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier with a fun Chanukah twist.

 

Dance-Along Nutcracker

 

When: Dec. 8

 

Where: Chicago Cultural Center 78 E. Washington St., Chicago

 

Before the show, Ballet Chicago teaches basic ballet positions and movements. Then audience members are encouraged to wear their tutus and dance alongside professional dancers from Ballet Chicago.

 

Holiday Craft Workshop

 

When: Dec. 9

 

Where: Eugene Field Park, 5100 N. Ridgeway Ave.

 

Kids ages 6-9 are invited for a fun-filled evening of holiday arts and crafts at the Chicago Park District park.

 

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

 

When: Dec. 10-15

 

Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St.

 

The story of two showbiz buddies putting on a show in a picturesque Vermont inn, and finding their perfect mates in the bargain. Full of dancing, romance, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written, including “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,” “Happy Holiday,” “Sisters,” “Blue Skies,” and the unforgettable title song.

 

Santa’s Secret Workshop (Preschool)

 

When: Dec. 10

 

Where: Horner Park, 2741 W. Montrose Ave.

 

In this workshop, Santa’s little helpers will make a super secret present for someone very special, then learn to wrap it and make a card/gift tag. Recommended for ages 3-6.

 

Deaf Teen Holiday Party

 

When: Dec. 13

 

Where: Sauganash Park, 5861 N. Kostner Ave.

 

Enjoy a fun-filled night of holiday games and activities for deaf and hard of hearing teens.

 

Holiday Party at Commercial Club

 

When: Dec. 13

 

Where: Commercial Park, 1845 W. Rice Street

 

Enjoy a holiday movie, visit from Santa, arts & crafts and marshmallow roasting, music and refreshments.

 

The Nutcracker and Pre-Ballet Holiday Show

 

When: Dec. 13

 

Where: Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St.

 

Hyde Park School of Dance presents its annual performances featuring more than 175 dancers. Prior to each performance, the Pre-Ballet Holiday Show showcases 70 of HPSD’s youngest ballet students in performance.

 

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

 

When: Dec. 14-29

 

Where: Strawdog Theatre Company, 3829 North Broadway St., Chicago

 

This new stage adaptation of the classic children’s holiday book. Live music will help tell the fantastical story of Hershel of Ostropol defeating a series of goblins over the eight days of Hanukkah.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

 

Santa’s Secret Workshop (Tweens/Teens)

 

When: Dec. 14

 

Where: Horner Park, 2741 W. Montrose Ave.

 

In this workshop, Santa’s little helpers will make a super secret present for someone very special, then learn to wrap it and make a card/gift tag. Recommended for ages 9-13.

 

Merry, Merry Chicago!

 

When: Dec. 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

 

Where: Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago

 

Ring in the holidays with Symphony Center’s annual spectacular featuring Members of the CSO, the Chicago Symphony Chorus and special guests performing festive favorites.

 

Santa’s Secret Workshop (Early Elementary)

 

When: Dec. 14

 

Where: Horner Park, 2741 W. Montrose Ave.

 

In this workshop, Santa’s little helpers will make a super secret present for someone very special, then learn to wrap it and make a card/gift tag. Recommended for ages 6-9.

 

Skate with Santa

 

When: Dec. 14

 

Where: Maggie Daley Park, 337 E. Randolph St.

 

Come skate with Santa. All participants must provide ice skates or rent ice skates at the time of the event.

 

Community Holiday Party at West Lawn

 

When: Dec. 14

 

Where: West Lawn Park, 4233 W. 65th St.

 

The community is invited to come and enjoy a holiday party with activities for ages 3-12.

 

Spa Chemistry: Holiday Gifts

 

When: Dec. 14

 

Where: The Laboratory Collective, 2349 W North Ave.

 

Grab safety goggles to imagine, create, calculate, and design unique, scented products perfect for giving this holiday season. Pizza and fun provided.

 

Breakfast with Mr. & Mrs. Deaf Santa

 

When: Dec. 15

 

Where: Archer Park, 4901 S. Kilbourn Ave.

 

Open to all children who have all types of hearing loss with their hearing siblings and families and hearing children of Deaf or Hard of Hearing parents will meet and eat with Santa.

 

Holiday Ornament Making at Mayfair

 

When: Dec. 16

 

Where: Mayfair Park, 4550 W. Sunnyside Ave.

 

Kids ages 3-6 will make decorative holiday tree ornaments to take home.

 

Too Hot To Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah

 

When: Jan. 18-19

 

Where: Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive

 

Celebrated soloists Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke, and Karen Marie Richardson — joined by famed Detroit pianist Alvin Waddles and over 100 Chicago musicians and singers — as they put a blues, jazz, gospel and rock twist on Handel’s classic oratorio.

 

House Music with Santa at West Pullman

 

When: Dec. 19

 

Where: West Pullman Park, 401 W. 123rd St.

 

This event features arts & crafts, fun & games, music and a picture with Santa. Recommended for ages 6 and older.

 


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This article originally published on ChicagoParent.com on Nov. 19, 2018. It has been updated with the most recent information.

 

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