Christmas in Chicago | PenCities Chicago

Christmas in Chicago
December 10, 2017

It’s Christmas – and the Windy City sure looks pretty. Here is LUXE’s festive round-up of unmissable Yuletide pursuits, whether you want to glide across ice, catch a nutty performance, gawp at light shows or indulge in some wintry-wonderland shopping and merrymaking. Just add gingerbread, glögi and glühwein for the ultimate mistletoe time.

Nestled on the deck of The Peninsula’s Shanghai Terrace restaurant, the Sky Rink is a glittering, 2,100-square foot ice-rink. Additional reasons to slide here include a Swiss chalet serving indulgent snacks, hot chocolate and glühwein, backdropped by snow-flecked pine trees, a festive soundtrack, and the sparkling Chicago skyline. Hotel, restaurant and spa guests can whizz around on rented skates, the full proceeds of which will be donated to local charities. You’ve got until the first week of March to get your skates on (weather permitting).

Christkindlmarket – inspired by the 1545 Nuremberg original – is Chicago's enormous, open-air holiday market. Year on year, it’s abrim with quaint German trinkets, beautiful artisanal gifting goodies, plus comfort snacks, sweets and cockles-warming bevvies. You’ve got until Christmas Eve to get your Christkindl on; look lively.

ZooLights sees the city’s beloved Lincoln Park Zoo coming alive (and alight) at night with a dazzling display of festive illuminations; you can also expect an array of family thrills, including ice-carving demos, hot beverages and ice-skating. It’s beastly... in the best way.

For more family-friendly activities – we’re talking a toboggan tunnel, snow-tubing, ice-skating, mini golf and various carnival rides – hit up Winter WonderFest, a huge, indoor winter wonderland at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. This particular wonder is open until 7 Jan, 2018; huzzah.

If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise – when you see Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum, that is. Take a walk in the forest and marvel at these spectacular light projections, set to the score of The Nutcracker by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Watching the trees respond as kids hug or sing to them is pure magic.   

Science can be fun – as the Museum of Science proves with its Christmas Around the World extravaganza, when the museum comes to life with holiday tunes, indoor snowfall and more than 50 illuminated trees. Each tree celebrates a different country; this moving tradition began in 1942, as a recognition of the fellow nations fighting alongside the US in WWII. Inspired by the museum’s current exhibit ‘Robot Revolution’, this year’s display will feature more than 40 interactive ‘bots!  


Sky Rink (until Mar, 2018) / The Peninsula / 108 E Superior St / Near North Side / +1 312 337 2888 /

Christkindlmarket (until 24 Dec) / Daley Plaza / 50 W Washington St / Loop / +1 312 494 2175 / 11am-8pm Sun-Thu, till 9pm Fri-Sat /

ZooLights (until 7 Jan, 2018) / Lincoln Park Zoo / 2001 N Clark St / Lincoln Park / +1 312 742 2000 / 4.30-9pm daily /

Winter Wonderfest (until 7 Jan, 2018) / Navy Pier / 600 E Grand Ave / Near North Side / +1 800 595 7437 / 10am-8pm Sun-Thu, 10am-10pm Fri-Sat /

Morton Arboretum (until 1 Jan, 2018) / Lisle / +1 630 968 0074 / 4.30-9.30pm Tue-Sun /

Christmas Around the World (until 8 Jan, 2018) / Museum of Science and Industry / 5700 S Lake Shore Dr / Jackson Park / +1 773 684 1414 / 9.30am-4pm daily /