Christmas is one of Chicago's best seasons. From the annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival to the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza, which serves delicious hot spiced wine from a boot-shaped mug, Chicago is full of holiday events and things to do. Here are some of the best things to do and see in Chicago this holiday season:
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony - Chicago kicks off its holiday season with its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Daley Plaza on November 24 at 5 pm. (weather permitting).
McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade - This annual favorite attracts almost a half a million spectators and starts off on State Street at 8 am. on Thanksgiving, November 25, and includes marching bands, holiday-themed floats and gigantic inflatable helium balloons (similar to what you see in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City). Can't make it out to the parade? No problem. WGN Channel 9 will broadcast the parade live.
Lincoln Square Christkindlmarket - More than 30 merchants will sell German crafts and foods, including sausages, jam-filled doughnuts called krapfen, potato pancakes and apple streusel at Lincoln Square's annual Christkindlmarket that also includes visits from St. Nicholas and ornament and cookie decorating. Dates are December 3 - 5 and admission is a $3 donation.
Ice Skating at Millennium Park - Come out and skate for free under some of Chicago's most impressive skyscrapers, including the famous Bean. This outdoor skating rink is open daily through March 13, 2011. Skate rentals are available for $10. Tip: Afterwards have lunch or dinner at the Park Grill located behind the rink.
Christkindlmarket Chicago - The Christkindlmarket is Chicago's largest open-air market and includes European arts and crafts, as well as brats, spiced wine and other German specialties. The Christkindlmarket is open daily through December 24 at Chicago's Daley Plaza.
Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music at the Music Box Theatre on Southport Avenue - If you love Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, then you won't want to miss this sing-a-long to subtitles November 26 - 28. The movie's biggest fans usually get there early and in costume no less. Advanced tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children under 12. The price goes up when purchasing at the door: $15 for adults; 49 for kids.
CTA Holiday Train - The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) rolls out its annual Holiday Train when Santa and his elves walk through various train cars passing out candy canes. According to the CTA: Interiors of the cars will be decked out with thousands of multi-colored lights, red bows, garland, and red and green overhead lighting. The Holiday Train will travel all CTA rail lines in November and December. The train generally operates from about 1 pm to 9 pm on weekends and 3 pm to 7 pm on select weekdays. Additionally, the Holiday Train will operate continuously around the Loop on Wednesday, November 24, from about 4:00 pm to 5:15 pm, around the time of this year's tree-lighting ceremonies in Daley Plaza.
Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier - Navy Pier's winter festival that includes a castle, ice skating, and holiday entertainment December 3 - January 2, 2011.
Lincoln Park Zoo ZooLights - The lights have been turned on at the Lincoln Park Zoo for the zoo's annual holiday ZooLights. Each year the zoo decorates its grounds and trees with mult-colored lights and animal figures. The lights turned on Thanksgiving weekend and go through January 2, 2011.