See what’s happening around town this month!
It’s time to break out that Michael Bublé album and immerse yourself in the magic of the holidays. Fortunately for us, nobody does holiday fun better than Chicago. With that in mind we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most festive events in Chicago this holiday season.
Randolph St. Market Festival | Chicago Plumber’s Hall (West Loop) | December 15th & 16th
Head to the Randolph Street Market Festival to find the most unusual and stylish mix of vintage and modern fashion, jewelry, decorative objects, housewares and hostess gifts available.
Memorable and exciting treasures in all price ranges await you at the Randolph Street Holiday Market.
Frosty’s Christmas Bar | Goose Island | Until January 6th
If you’ve ever dreamed of grabbing a drink with Santa, then boy do we have the bar for you. Frosty’s pop-up Christmas bar in Goose Island is the ultimate destination for festive fun, and lively libations, featuring wall-to-wall decorations across three levels, a holiday themed soundtrack and Singing Santa shows every hour on the hour.
Put on your favorite holiday sweater, grab a festive holiday punch from one of the four bars and get ready to dance the night away.
Plan your trip to Frosty’s here.
37th Annual Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party | Art Institute of Chicago | December 9th
Learn about select works and enjoy an array of family-friendly activities as you visit five stops within the museum’s galleries and the Ryan Learning Center.
Your tour will culminate with a stop by the historic Stock Exchange Trading Room for a tea party featuring delicious refreshments, live entertainment, and a gift bag for each child.
Head here for more information.
Ugly Sweater Party/Beginner Salsa Dancing | Duet Dance Studio | December 14th
If you’re looking to burn some calories, check out Duet’s Ugly Sweater Party to wear your ugliest holiday sweater and get your salsa dance on.
The event includes a 45-minute beginner salsa class, Duet’s student and teacher performances, as well as open dancing and mingling. Guests must be 21+ for this event.
Head here for more information.
Christkindlmarket | Daley Plaza (Chicago Loop) | Until December 24th
There are few events that evoke the holiday spirit more than the annual Christkindlmarket in the Chicago Loop. Shop iconic German items like nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, and hand-blown ornaments.
Along with traditional toys and holiday-themed items, you can find a bevy of delicious authentic German cuisine like sausages, potato pancakes, beer, and assorted sweets.
Head here for more information on Christkindlmarket.
A Christmas Carol | Goodman Theater (Chicago Loop) | Until December 30th
If you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit via theater, this is the event for you.
Head to Chicago’s Goodman Theater to catch the annual run of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This is an event for the whole family, with a message of hope, charity and kindness towards others.
Head here for more information.
ZooLights | Lincoln Park Zoo | Until January 6th
A tradition in Chicago, Lincoln Park ZooLights is something you do not want to miss this wintertime. This is a family-oriented holiday celebration, so you’re sure to enjoy at any age.
Enjoy the luminous displays as well as the holiday-season activities throughout the zoo. ZooLights is free, but be sure to check the schedule before you plan your visit since some nights are special themed events that may require a ticket.
You can find the schedule here.
Christmas Around the World | Museum of Science and Industry | Until January 6th
This holiday season head to the Museum of Science and Industry to explore holiday traditions from around the globe. The museum’s annual celebration features a four-story grand tree surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures across the globe.
On the weekends you can even enjoy live holiday performances and photos with Santa.
Head here for more information on the exhibit.
The Polar Express Train Ride | Chicago Union Station | Until January 1st
If you’re looking to recreate the magic of The Polar Express, look no further. This holiday season, head to Chicago’s Union Station to board The Polar Express Train Ride.
This is a magical one-hour trip through the neighborhoods along the Chicago River that includes all the bells and whistles. Literally, as each passenger gets to take home a keepsake sleigh bell.
For more information on The Polar Express Train Ride, head here.
Winter WonderFest | Navy Pier | Until January 6th
The ultimate destination for indoor family fun, Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest is a favored Chicago holiday tradition spanning across 170,000 square feet of attractions for the whole family, with rides, giant slides, ice skating, and lots of festive decor.
Buy tickets online or at the Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest box office until January 6, 2019.
Head here for more information on Winter WonderFest.
Written by Ari Bendersky
You know when you see someone jogging and it’s less than 20 degrees outside and you think: “that man must be insane?”
Then you think how much fun it would be to bundle up, lace up a pair of skates and hit the ice — yeah, not so crazy anymore is it?
Once you get moving, do a few laps around the rink, maybe fall a couple (or five) times and your body starts heating up, you realize just how great playing and exercising in the cold really is.
Get those skates, grab the kids or call some friends, and hit one of these great outdoor ice skating rinks in and around Chicago.
Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon
On the north end of the fantastically fun Maggie Daley Park, adjacent to Millennium Park, is the Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon that attracts locals and tourists to skate the town red in swirly, zig-zag fashion.
You can rent both figure and hockey skates ($12-$14 depending on the day of the week) and grab a hot chocolate.
Best of all, admission is free.
Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Open through March 4, the festive ice rink set between Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park is one of the most popular places to skate in the city.
You can pop by for a few twirls on the open rink before or after your lunch, dinner or drinks at one of the many nearby restaurants: Acanto, Cindy’s, Seven Lions or Park Grill.
You can rent skates — or get your pair sharpened — and admission is free.
Chicago Blackhawks Ice Rink at Winter Wonderfest
The magical, seasonal land that is Winter Wonderfest is set inside Navy Pier. In addition to numerous rides and attractions, you and the kids can spend some time on the indoor Chicago Blackhawks Ice Skating Rink.
Buy your tickets online for $27 (adults) and $12 (kids between 36 and 42 inches).
A temporary rink near the fountain inside Wicker Park, Wicker Ice will be around into February for anyone who wants to skate or play hockey.
Check out the Facebook page for a schedule of different events.
There’s no admission fee, but you do need to bring your own skates.
Midway Plaisance Park Ice Rink
Head to Hyde Park to skate in the midst of the Midway. The neighborhood’s sprawling swath of parkland just south of the University of Chicago dates back to the late 1800s.
The Midway Plaisance Park ice rink sits among 83 acres and includes a warming house.
You can free skate, take lessons and participate in pick-up hockey games.
McFetridge Sports Center
If you’re not a fan of the cold, but love to skate, pop over to Avondale’s McFetridge Sports Center.
While much ice time is reserved for hockey games, figure skating and synchronized sessions, free skates and “rat hockey,” a.k.a. pick-up games for adults and kids get time, too.
When you’re done, grab a bite at one of the area’s great eateries, like one of our favorite fried chicken restaurants or put back a pint at Metropolitan Brewing’s tasting room.
Part of the Skokie Park District, The Skatium is an indoor space with both a full-size rink for open skates, hockey games, figure skating and more.
There is a smaller rink that is also available to rent for private parties.
You’re just a few minutes from Old Orchard, where you can grab lunch or spend hours shopping.
The Peninsula Sky Rink
When you’re feeling a little fancy, there’s no better place to indulge than at the Peninsula Hotel.
Yes, you could do afternoon tea or have dinner at Shanghai Terrace, but when you want to go for a whirl, step out onto the Peninsula Sky Rink.
This 2,100 square-foot outdoor rink sits among towering pine trees in the shadow of the John Hancock building, four stories above Michigan Avenue’s bustling crowds.
Enjoy hot drinks and snacks while listening to festive music, but be sure to call ahead to ensure availability — the rink gets packed even on the coldest days.
Skating runs adults $15 and $10 for kids 12 and under. All proceeds benefit the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and also Hephzibah Children’s Association so your good time continues to deliver smiles.
Eldridge Park Lagoon
Up for a little adventure?
Head to Elmhurst’s Eldridge Park, where the lagoon gets used for ice skating — when the ice has gotten thick enough.
Staff will test the lagoon in six different locations and ensure it has a consistent three-day thickness of at least eight inches before opening the lagoon for skating.
So once you get the green light, it’s open season.
Admission is free and you’ll need to bring your own skates.
Park District of Oak Park
Being such a large and diverse city allows for Oak Park to offer a variety of places to ice skate.
You can hit a few places like Austin Gardens, Longfellow Park and Paul Hruby Ice Arena, which are open at various times. The first two are outdoor rinks while Paul Hruby is an indoor arena; admission for that is $7 and you can rent skates for $3.
Check the Oak Park district website for the schedules, which get updated quite frequently.
Watts Ice Center
With two lighted outdoor rinks set over three acres in Glencoe’s Watts Park, how can you not have fun in this winter wonderland?
Open through the first week of March, Watts Ice Center welcomes figure skating, hockey and good ol’ free skate.
Admission for kids under 3 and adults over 65 is free; otherwise kids between 3 and 17 will pay $6, while adults 18 to 65 pay $8. You can rent skates for $4.
Tell us what we missed in the comments! Where are your favorite places to ice skate in the winter?
The annual Chicago Air & Water Show makes its triumphant return to North Avenue Beach on August 19th & 20th for another weekend of aerial magic and water-front stunts.
In preparation for the big event, be sure you have your viewing spot settled. The beach might seem like the most rational place to watch the show, but it can get overwhelmingly crowded on the weekend.
Keep reading for some of the city’s best places to watch the show.
From the Roof
If you’ve been in need of a reason to visit a Chicago rooftop bar, this is it. There are quite a few rooftop hangouts in Chicago that will be offering prime views of this year’s show.
Photo Credit: J. Parker (Boka Restaurant Group)
Atop Hotel Lincoln is the J. Parker, a chic rooftop hangout with dazzling views of the city. Craft cocktails and seasonal small plates await you here; don’t miss the specialty cocktail, The Aviation, being served in honor of the Air & Water Show.
Perched above the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Cindy’s rooftop in the Loop features an open-air terrace with panoramic views of Millennium Park, the Art Institute, Lake Michigan, and beyond.
It’s not quite a rooftop setting, but the views don’t get much better than the 95th floor of the John Hancock building. For $175/person, your exclusive all-day admission treats you to premium seating, a gourmet buffet, an extensive bar package and one of the best views in the city.
From the Beach
While the main hub of the Air & Water Show is North Avenue Beach, there are a few Chicago beaches that offer great views, and might have a little more room to spare.
Photo Credit: Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
North Avenue Beach | Lincoln Park
If you’re looking to watch the show from home base, you’ll want to head to North Avenue Beach early on the 19th or 20th. Prime viewing spots are sure to be taken up early.
Oakwood Beach | South Shore
Looking to enjoy the show in a more relaxed, less-crowded setting? Oakwood Beach is the place for you.
Photo Credit: Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events
Montrose Beach | Lakeview
If you’re looking to take in the show with your furry friend, you should check out Montrose Beach. With a dog-friendly area, it’s the perfect setting for you and your pooch to enjoy the sights and sounds of this always-anticipated event.
Ohio Street Beach | Streeterville
Another popular spot to catch the show is Ohio Street Beach, where you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat-and-drink package at Caffé Olivia. For more info, head here.
From the Water
Take your beachfront view to the next level and hop on one of Chicago’s cruise lines!
All three of the Chicago cruise lines will be operating throughout the weekend for people to enjoy the Air & Water Show. To learn more about pricing and the schedules, check out the links above.
4-5 DO DIVISION ST. FEST & SIDEWALK SALE
1550-2200 W. Division St.
5 UNITED RUN FOR THE ZOO
Lincoln Park Zoo
10-12 RIBFEST CHICAGO
4100 N. Lincoln Ave.
10-12 ANDERSONVILLE MIDSOMMERFEST
5200-5500 N. Clark St.
10-12 CHICAGO BLUES FESTIVAL – Grant Park
11 DIFFA Gala (design industries foundation fighting AIDS)
11-12 PRINTERS ROW LIT FEST – Dearborn St. & Polk St.
11-12 WELLS STREET ART FESTIVAL – 1200-1600 N. Wells St.
11-12 OLD TOWN ART FAIR – Lincoln Ave. & Wisconsin St.
17-19 TASTE OF RANDOPLH – 900-1200 W. Randoplh
18-20 OAKLEY FESTA PASTA VINO – 24th St. & Oakley Ave
18-19 CHICAGO PRIDE FEST – 3600-3800 N. Halsted St.
18-19 Summer on Southport
20-21 GREEN MUSIC FEST – 2000 W. North Ave. Wicker Park
25 GREATER CHICAGO FOOD DEPOSITORY’S HUNGER WALK – Soldier Field
25 CHICAGO CARES SERVE-A-THON
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