Christmas Traveler site banner

Christmas In Chicago


Chicago city skyline at nightChristmas in the Windy City! Chicago lights up for the holidays - quite literally. The season kicks off with the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, as thousands of bulbs illuminate the trees along North Michigan Avenue and fireworks glow in the night sky. Daley Plaza is bright and active as home to the annual Christkindlmarket. And over 50 decorated trees fill the Museum of Science and Industry for their Holidays of Light celebration. Add ice skating and holiday theater and you have the makings for a fantastic holiday get-away.

Chicago Hotels: See special offers.

Things to Do

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

The Wintrust Magnificent Mile Lights Festival starts off the holiday season with a Tree-Lighting Parade down Michigan Avenue. Saturday, November 18, 2023 from 5:30 to 7:00

Lights Up the Lake at Navy Pier

Lights Up the Lake is a huge indoor/outdoor holiday experience. There's an outdoor ice skating rink, fire pits, holiday workshops, and artisan's market. November 24 - December 31, 2023. The 2023 Winter Fireworks at Navy Pier are November 25 and December 2, 9, 16, and 23 at 9:00pm, plus December 31 at Midnight.

Christkindlmarket Chicago

Chistkindlmarket, a traditional German holiday outdoor market, held in Chicago's Daley Plaza, is a holiday season tradition. It's a great place for gift shopping, plus there are traditional German food and beverages to enjoy. Drinking hot spiced wine from a souvenir mug at the Christkindlmarket should be on everyone's to-do list.

Christkindlmarket is held at Daley Plaza, between Washington, Clark and Dearborn Streets, November 17 - December 24, 2023.

City Tree Lighting

The city's official Christmas tree is located in Millennium Park, near the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Washington Street. The 2023 tree lighting is November 17 starting at 6:00pm (a pre-show begins at 5:00 and the actual lighting takes place around 6:25).

Millenium Park Ice Skating

Ice skatesThe McCormick Tribune ice rink is open from mid-November to early March (weather permitting). Located on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at the Museum of Science and Industry

The Christmas Around the World exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry as been a holiday tradition since 1942. See the museum's 45 foot Grand Tree in the Rotunda, surrounded by over 50 smaller trees, all decorated to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the world. November 18, 2023 - January 7, 2024.

Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botantic Gardens celebrates the holiday season with Lightscape. The holiday display of lights is reinvented each year to include favorites and new experiences. November 10, 2023 - January 7, 2024.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

Lincoln Park Zoo lights up for the holidays. The event includes light displays, photo ops, and interactive programing. And, of course, you can see visit with the animals too. November 17, 2023 - January 7, 2024.

Morton Arboretum

Morton Aroboretum celebrates the holidays with "Illumination: Tree Lights", turning the arboretum's woodlands into a winter wonderland. Visitors can walk a mile-long path through the woodland light show. November 18, 20238 - January 6, 2024

Holiday Shows

The Nutcracker

The Joffrey Ballet performs the Christopher Wheeldon's re-imagined version of The Nutcracker at the Lyric Opera House, December 2 - 27, 2023. This version of The Nutcracker is set at Chicago's 1893 World's Fair. Hotels near the Lyric Opera House

The Do-It-Yourself Messiah

The Do-It-Yourself Messiah is holiday tradition has been around for over 30 years. The audience, seated according to voice range, sings the choral parts along with a full orchestra and professional soloists. December 17, 2023 at the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago - 55 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago.

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol has been performed for over thirty years. The 2023 season production is November 18 - December 31 at Goodman's Albert Theatre. The lavish production is fun for the entire family.

It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago

The American Blues Theater presents It's a Wonderful Life December 8 - 31, 2-23 at The American Blues Theatre, 5627 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago. The American Blues Ensemble's 1940s radio broadcast-style version of It's a Wonderful Life has been entertaining theater-goers for years. More information.

Chicago Hotels

The Palmer House Hilton -  One of Chicago's oldest hotels, with big, grand lobby. A short walk to Daley Plaza and the Christkindlmarket. Steps from Millennium Park (with ice skating) and State Street Shopping. See Rates.

Hotel Allegro Chicago - Modern hotel in the theater district. Close to the Goodman Theatre (A Christmas Carol) and close to Daley Plaza (Christkindlmarket). View Rates.

Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers -  Located on the water, near Navy Pier. Within walking distance of Millennium Park and the Loop. Rooms have great views of the lake, river, or city skyline. View Rates.

See More Chicago Hotels - A full listing of Chicago hotels. To find the hotels closest to a particular place, go to the Chicago hotels page and scroll down to the "Landmarks and Attractions in Chicago" list in the left margin. Click on a place and the closest hotels will be mapped and listed for you.