Holiday revelers are singing Christmas carols and silver and gold horns are strung along Macy’s on State Street. Ice skaters at the McCormick Tribune Plaza glide alongside the 60-foot glistening tree in Millennium Park as lights shimmer above. Soon, fireworks will sparkle over Lake Michigan to ring in the New Year.
It is the holiday season in Chicago and the city offers numerous activities that will keep the holidays merry and exciting through the New Year. The Chronicle has curated a list of the fun activities happening during the most wonderful time of the year.
Christkindlmarket opened Nov. 16 and will be open until Dec. 24 at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., where Chicagoans eat, drink and purchase festive merchandise.
Christkindlmarket is a German-American Chicago favorite, offering its annual souvenir mugs—perfect for filling up with a warm cup of hot cocoa or mulled wine—to nearly 1.3 million visitors each year. This year’s theme is “Ich liebe Christkindlmarket,”which translates to “I love Christkindlmarket,” represented with the 2018 mugs.
Maren Biester Priebe, general manager of German American Events, said the design of the mugs reflects the heart-shaped gingerbread typically found at the markets.
“[The mugs are] shaped in the form of a heart,” Priebe said. “Each location that we are featured in has its own special design, showing off the location itself in its own color of gingerbread heart.”
Another holiday icon, the 105th City of Chicago Christmas Tree, returned to Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Nov. 16, with the annual tree-lighting event.
According to the city of Chicago’s press release, the tree is a towering Norway Spruce from Elmhurst, donated by Deborah Orth and her family. Chicagoans can visit the trimmed tree until Jan. 6, 2019.
The Lakeview Menorah Lighting will take place outside Lincoln Hub, 1409 W. Addison Ave., to kick off the first night of Hanukkah, according to the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce.
Starting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2, visitors can see the lighting of the neighborhood’s official menorah, listen to music and eat traditional Hanukkah treats.
Macy’s offers its annual Holiday Windows at 111 N. State St., along with giving shoppers a break from their gift-buying to eat at the classic Walnut Room on the seventh floor by the store’s Christmas tree.
For an active event, skating at the Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, 201 E. Randolph St., is free with lessons on Saturdays and Sundays one hour before opening. Mondays through Thursdays the rink is open from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m., Fridays from 12 p.m. until 10 p.m., and weekends from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.
Lincoln Park Zoo’s 24th annual ZooLights runs until Jan. 6. The free event transforms Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., into a winter wonderland where visitors can observe their favorite animals.
In a Nov. 14 email interview with The Chronicle, Ellen Nicolau, events manager at Lincoln Park Zoo, said the zoo is excited to offer new events and additions to ZooLights this year.
“We are really excited to bring the classic tradition of holiday carolers Mondays through Thursdays on ZooLights nights caroling all over the zoo,” Nicolau said. Nicolau said last year the zoo reported its highest attendance ever—more than 600,000 guests.
Chicagoans can also head over to Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., for the Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest.
Lydia Jordan-Parnell, PR Coordinator at Navy Pier, said they are excited to welcome back the fest for its 18th year.
“It’s an incredible event that has really come to be a staple Chicago tradition,” Jordan-Parnell said.
This year, Jordan-Parnell said new additions include the ticket purchase for a ride on the centennial ferris wheel that offers a 360 degree-view of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, as well as an extension of sensory-friendly hours for disabled people on Dec. 10 from 3-5 p.m.
To end the holiday season, Navy Pier also hosts its annual fireworks show to ring in the New Year, and bring viewers a beautiful sight over Lake Michigan.