7 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in Chicago
During the holidays, the city of Chicago dresses in her very best. When the streets are alight with colorful lights, charming decorations, and a sprinkling of snow, exploring the city is even more fun. Here are our favorite ways to celebrate the holidays in Chicago.
7 Fun Chicago Holiday Events
1. Hamilton for the Holidays
This year when the stately lion at the Art Institute don their festive wreaths and bows, you can party with the Chicago cast of Hamilton and then head to the Ryan Learning Center for some art-making fun!
2. Belt out your favorite carols in Millennium Park
Celebrate the holidays in Millennium Park, with festive carols when Caroling at Cloud Gate returns on Friday evenings November 25 through December 16 from 6 to 7 pm. This free program showcases the best of the best Chicago choral groups and invites visitors to sing along, too.
3. Enjoy a holiday inspired cocktail near the grand tree at the historic Palmer House Hilton
The 18-foot tall tree at Palmer House Hilton, decorated with 7,000 lights among its 15,000 branches and located in the grand, historic lobby, is a holiday must-see. Enjoy a holiday cocktail from the hotel’s Lobby Bar. The Hot Toddy features warm Seedlings apple cider cooked with cloves and cinnamon and Calvados brandy. Hot Buttered Rum is made with Myers Dark Rum, homemade vanilla ice cream mixed with butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and brown sugar topped off with vanilla hand-whipped cream and sprinkled cinnamon. Mulled Red Wine is warmed with orange and lemon zest, nutmeg, star anise, cloves, vanilla bean, brown sugar and honey. Or keep it non-alcoholic and opt for the premium hot chocolate or spiced hot apple cider.
4. Skate to Your Heart’s Content at an Outdoor Ice Skating Rink
Chicago Park District’s outdoor ice skating rinks are located all around the city, welcoming both beginning and advanced ice skaters. Skating season runs through the end of February at most outdoor rinks, weather permitting.
5. Enjoy the Holiday Lights from the Warmth of a Trolley
Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Bus Company’s Holiday Lights Tour will take you to see the best of the best holiday decorations in Chicago. From the famed John Hancock Plaza tree to the lights along the Magnificent Mile, from historic State Street to the Christkindlmarket, you’ll see the best holiday displays from the comfort of a warm trolley.
6. Party with the Animals
Lincoln Park Zoo’s annual ZooLights festival features thousands of colorful light displays throughout the zoo as well as special visits with Santa Claus, live music, holiday crafts and large-scale ice carving. The festivities take place every weekend from November 25 to January 1 (closed December 24 and 25); check the zoo calendar for related festival events.
7. Spend the Holidays around the World
At the Museum of Science and Industry’s annual Christmas Around the World exhibit, you’ll find more than 50 trees and crèches, each festooned with traditional ornaments and decorations by members of Chicago’s ethnic communities.
You may also enjoy:
- Chicago for the Under 5 Set
- 10 Reasons to Visit Chicago During the Holidays
- 4 Great Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Chicago
- Palmer House Provides the Center for a DIY Chicago Food Tour
- Read about all of our family vacations to Chicago
Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.
Amy is an avid traveler and enjoys exploring the world with her two travelin’ kids, ages 5 and 13. Based in Chicago, Amy has voyaged as far…