The run-up to Christmas is often such a blur of things to cross off a to-do list, people forget to enjoy the holiday season.
Well there’s still plenty of merriment to be made around Chicago into the New Year. If you’ve got guests in town or are looking for ways to keep the kiddos entertained during winter break, we’ve got you covered.
Here are some of the season’s highlights; for more information, just click on the links provided.
Dates vary: Millennium Park, Loop
Millennium Park will be a hub of activity this holiday season:
— Check out Chicago's official Christmas tree, a 55-foot blue spruce, through Jan. 9
— Ice skating is open, weather permitting, through March 5, both at Millennium Park and the nearby Maggie Daley Park's ribbon.
Through Dec. 31: Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville, Lakeview
Modeled after Germany’s traditional outdoor holiday markets, Christkindlmarket offers a taste of Europe in the Midwest. The Aurora location is new this year. In Wrigleyville, visitors can pop over to the adjacent (ticketed) Winterland at Wrigley Field.
Through Dec. 31: Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield
The zoo’s miles of lights and illuminated animal sculptures have been delighting visitors for more than 40 years. Additional features include a skating rink.
Through Dec. 29: Kohlights at Kohl Children's Museum, Glenview
Dubbed “mesmertastic,” the museum’s interactive display of light and color is a children's holiday wonderland. Displays include Lollipop Light Lane and the 360-degree Field of Beams.
The Nutcracker 2021 from Art on theMART on Vimeo.
Through Dec. 30: The Nutcracker, Art on the Mart, Merchandise Mart
View scenes from the Joffrey Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” projected onto the massive canvas of the Merchandise Mart.
Through Jan. 8, 2023: Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park
Enjoy a dazzling display of lights in the heart of Chicago, now extended through Jan. 8. Festivities also include ice carvings, photos with Santa and strolling carolers. New this year are a Chicago skyline display and a 165-foot-long Grand Light Tunnel. Admission is free on Mondays.
Through Jan. 1, 2023: Let It Shine Light Show
No need to worry about finding parking at Let It Shine — the show’s a drive-thru. There are two locations — one in Northbrook and one in Schaumburg — though the set-up for each is distinct from the other.
Through Jan. 1, 2023: Sparkle Light Festival at Impact Field, Rosemont
The Sparkle experience includes illuminated villages, a kids’ zone, two-story ice slide and free rides on the Holly Trolly.
Through Jan. 7, 2023: Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum, Lisle
Stroll along a mile-long path of trees lit up to show off their winter beauty, accompanied by the sound of festive music. New this year is Electric Illumination, a late-night experience for adults 18 and older, set to trance and progressive house music, with synchronized light displays (Dec. 16, 23 and 30 only).
Through Jan. 7, 2023: Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier
Navy Pier does holiday lights like no other — indoors. Highlights of the experience include a forest maze of more than 100 lighted trees, skating rink and train ride through Santa’s village for the youngsters.
Through Jan. 8, 2023: Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
The illuminated 1.25-mile path leads visitors through enchanting light installations, including a fire garden and perennial fan favorite, the Winter Cathedral.
Through Jan. 8. 2023: Amaze Light Festival at Odyssey Fun World, Tinley Park
The Amaze experience includes a million twinkling lights, a holiday market, food trucks, music, a stage show and more.
Through Jan. 8, 2023: Christmas Around the World, Museum of Science and Industry, Hyde Park
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the museum’s beloved tradition, which began with a single tree in 1942 and has now grown to 50 trees, decked to represent the holiday traditions of countries and cultures around the globe.
Through Jan. 8, 2023: Winter Flower Show at Garfield Park Conservatory, Garfield Park
This year’s theme is “Snow Day!,” with flowers arranged to create the illusion of a snow-covered garden. The centerpiece will be a 12-foot-tall tree made of more than 200 white poinsettia plants.
The Winter Flower Show at Lincoln Park Conservatory is open through Jan. 7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays. The theme is "Sugar Plum," with music from "The Nutcracker" enhancing the experience.
Events listed are subject to change. We recommend double-checking times and locations before you head out the door.