The Siberian American: Seven Things You Must Do in Chicago During the Holiday Season

Monday, November 28, 2016

Seven Things You Must Do in Chicago During the Holiday Season

During our year in Chicago, one of the things I was most looking forward to is spending the holidays in the city. It didn’t disappoint. I am always in love with Chicago, but it’s absolutely magical during the holiday season. I made it a goal to experience the season to the fullest, and today, I’m sharing my list, so you can, too!

Going to Chicago during the holidays? Here are seven things you have to do!

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival kicks off the holiday season in Chicago and is similar to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. The difference is the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is held the weekend before Thanksgiving. The parade, which ends in a tree-lighting ceremony, is in the evening, followed by a stunning fireworks show over the Chicago River. The festival has plenty of fun activities for the kids and great shopping for adults!

I have always wanted to visit Germany during the holiday season to see the Christmas markets, but Christkindlmarket in Chicago is the next best thing! I’ve been told by Germans that Christkindlmarket is exactly like the markets in Germany. Most of the vendors actually fly in from Germany for the market. I love the unique, hand-crafted items, amazing German food, and, of course, the mulled wine.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
I love visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo any time of the year because it’s free, but it’s even better during ZooLights. Just like on regular days, the entrance is free. It’s so fun to look at all the gorgeous lights and enjoy the light shows while drinking some delicious mulled wine. One of my favorite parts was watching sculptors make amazing ice sculptures. Don’t forget to stop by the gorilla house on the way home to watch them go to sleep!

See the windows at Macy’s on State Street
The Macy’s on State Street is famous for its gorgeous Christmas displays, and they are worth seeing. My favorite last year was the blue mythological window.

Eat at the Walnut Room
Eating at the Walnut Room with the giant Christmas tree was high on my holiday season list, and it turned out to be one of my favorite things we did during the holiday season in Chicago. Click here for a full guide to the Walnut Room.

Go Ice Skating
Ice Skating at the rink in Millennium Park is a perfect holiday season activity. The park is gorgeous during the holidays and has a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline. The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink opens the same day as the tree lighting ceremony.

Christmas Around the World at The Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry is always worth visiting, but it is even better during the holiday season when they have their “Christmas Around the World” exhibit. It features over 50 Christmas trees, each one decorated with holiday traditions from a different country. The trees were beautiful, and I loved seeing all the traditions from other countries.

Have you ever been to Chicago during the holiday season?


  1. I love Chicago. I always find it magical. I can only imagine how much extra magic there is around Christmas.

  2. Chicago during the holidays truly is magical! I've luckily been able to do all of these things except eat at the Walnut Room and go to the museum for that exhibit! The Mag Mile Lights Festival was so much fun when I went especially since it was unusually warm that weekend!

  3. Columbus (Ohio) has a zoolights festival, too. We've been and loved it :)

    There is a music educators trade show in Chicago during December and K plays to go next year. I'm totally tagging along because I want to see Chicago at Christmastime!

  4. So this just seals the deal for me that I need to get up to Chicago during Christmas one year! I'd love to visit the Christmas Market, especially if Germans say that it's pretty legit! The Christmas Around the World Exhibit sounds fantastic too, and I'd love to see all of those Christmas trees decorated!

  5. SO many fun things to do there at Christmas! I've heard it is one of the most festive cities to visit this time of year!

  6. I love how the holidays have such fun events in different cities.

  7. So many great things to do. Oh one day I do hope to visit Chicago, I know I would love it.

  8. As if I didn't already want to visit Chicago, now it's a must!

  9. ooooh!! i doubt we will ever get to go to Germany for the Christmas markets, so you've totally convinced me to go to Chicago for Christkindlmarket. that sounds amazing! much closer lol

  10. OK ok, we have to go, I get the message 😉 Seriously though this just seems so festive!

    1. Hehe, I totally think you should go! Christmas is a great time of the year to visit. :)

  11. Great list! We live about 20 minutes from the city and you're right, at Christmas time it's just magical!! I have the Walnut Room on our list this year and I hope it happens!


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