Culture & Arts Videos, Festivals, Holidays

Best places to get your Christmas lights fix in Chi-Town

As if Chicago wasn’t already dazzling enough, the holiday season will take the urban light show up a notch. From the awe-inspiring Magnificent Mile Lights Festival to the animal-centered Lincoln Park ZooLights, the city abounds in opportunities to rekindle the Christmas spirit even if you’re well past the age of believing in Santa. Here is a list of the best places to be wowed.

(Note: Don’t forget your mittens; the lights might warm up your heart, but they won’t protect your hands from freezing.)


  • Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

When you live in a city famous for its grueling blizzards, you make the most out of every street celebration while you can still go outside without a face mask.

Last night’s ceremony is yet another proof of Chicagoans “go big or go home” approach to the holiday season. According to organisers, over 1,000,000 lights on 200 trees along North Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s largest shopping district, were lit up and a Disney-like world came into existence. The crowds were then treated with a mesmerising firework show over the Chicago river that literally turned the night into day.


  • Millennium Park Christmas Tree

The notorious “Cloud Gate,” aka “The Bean” just got some serious competition. Chicago’s 102nd Christmas Tree will be relocated from Daley Plaza in the Loop, its usual spot for 50 years, to Millennium Park. This way, locals and tourists alike will get the biggest bang for their (travel) buck: an ice-skating rink, a jaw-dropping sculpture and a 63-foot worth of lights. The tree, brought to life Tuesday, November 24, at 5.30 p.m., will rapidly become everyone’s selfie sidekick.


  • Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest

Unless you have relatives living at the North Pole, this is the closest you’ll get to Santa’s home. Scheduled for December 5, 2015 through January 10, 2016, the Winter WonderFest includes 24 rides such as a an indoor Ferris Wheel and a Reindeer Train Express. But the real show-stopper in addition to nearly 500 trees decorated with 25,000 ornaments is a 42-foot giant tree adorned with sparkling lights. (You might want to bring sunglasses.) And the best part? The general admission is $10, a small price to pay compared to the cost of a plane ticket to Alaska.


  • Lincoln Park ZooLights

What happens when a free admission zoo gets blanketed into a sheet of multi-colored lights? Well, even as an adult, you can’t help but think that Madagascar’s creators were onto something: animals have the ability to speak.

Sweet treats, live ice carving and rides on the Lionel Train Adventure are just a couple of things that keep the magic alive for little ones. There’s a better surprise for grown-ups: BrewLights, a beer-tasting event that allows participants to sample a dozen of different draft beers. The ZooLights  more than two million   will shine Friday to Sunday, from November 27 until December 13, and then nightly until January 13.


  • The Buckingham Fountain

Located in the heart of Grant Park, this architectural jewel seems, particularly at night, plucked from a Christmas postcard. Surrounded by skyscrapers and with more than 800 shimmering lights accompanied by music, the fountain offers a hypnotizing spectacle. While its powerful glow can be hard to capture on camera, it makes for an unforgettable memory. Fun fact: the fountain was featured in several movies including “Married…with children.”


Events, Festivals

7 Top Things to Do this November in Chicago

November is here — and so are the fun festivities leading into the holiday season. From exhibits to festivals, and special events to outdoor activities, here are the top things we’re most looking forward to this month in Chicago.


Bookmark these 7 best things to do this November…



BeerHoptacular is Chicago’s original craft beer festival with over 150 craft beers, now in its seventh annual celebration on November 4.


Ice Skating at Millennium Park

Grab some skates and hit the ice at Millennium Park’s rink, opening for the season beginning November 17 (weather permitting).

Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink


Holiday Chocolate Show

Visit the West Loop on November 11 for chocolate demos, samples and gifts, with proceeds benefitting local children’s charity.

Holiday Chocolate Show



One of Chicago’s premier winter events, Christkindlmarket is a traditional German holiday market held at Daley Plaza — this year opening November 17.


Saturday Night Live: The Experience

See an entire exhibit dedicated to the late night comedy show, Saturday Night Live — complete with memorabilia from SNL’s 40 year history, from Matt Foley to Mary Catherine Gallagher.


Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

An annual event celebrated the Saturday before Thanksgiving, nearly one million lights illuminate Mag Mile along Michigan Avenue — marking the unofficial start to the holidays.

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival


ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

An attraction for Chicagoans each year, ZooLights in Lincoln Park Zoo is open and free for all. Walk through the grounds of Lincoln Park, entirely lit by colorful Christmas lights and sounds of music.


What are you most looking forward to this November?




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Events, Festivals

5 Festive Events to Attend in Chicago This Thanksgiving Week


Here are your 5 to attend:

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season and what better way to get in the holiday spirit than to attend festive events around Chicago. Here are 5 events that are happening in Chicago this Thanksgiving week.


Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

Today – Sunday, January 7, 2018

Location: Museum of Science and Industry Chicago (5700 S. Lake Shore Drive)

Hours: Monday – Wednesday 9:30 am – 4 pm; Friday – Sunday 9:30 am – 5:30 pm

Price: Included with museum entry ticket

Make this holiday season a bit more international! The Museum of Science and Industry is holding its 74th annual exhibit. 50 Christmas trees will be on display this year, each decorated by volunteers from Chicago’s ethnic communities. Every weekend the museum will host performances from various ethnic communities. This weekend, the performances will feature countries such as Czech Republic, Philippines, Bolivia, India, Sweden, Puerto Rico, Spain, and the Middle East.



Today- November 30th 2017

Location:Washington and Dearborn Streets

Hours: 11:00 am

Price: Free

Chicago’s largest open-air market is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Inspired by a Nuremberg, Germany, market that was founded in 1545, this market features iconic German items like nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks and beer steins, as well as hand-blown ornaments and wooden handicrafts. Something to do!


McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Location: State Street

Hours: 8:00 am to 11 am

Price: Free

The Thanksgiving Parade is a holiday tradition featuring floats, celebrities, and musical performances. This year features David Arquette as Grand Marshall, The Harlem Globetrotters, Miss Illinois Crystal Davis, and everyone’s favorite Santa Claus.

The parade takes place on State Street. Beginning at Congress and ending at Randolph. The festival organizers have provided a map to see the exact route.



November 24–26, December 1–3, 8–23, 26–31; January 1–7, 2018

Location: Lincoln Park Zoo

Hours: 4:30pm – 9pm

Price: Free

Lincoln Park Zoo will be illuminated this holiday season by over two million lights. In addition to the lights, the zoo will have festive activities such as ice skating, holiday crafts, 3-D displays, and photos with Santa.


Randolph Street’s Holiday Market

Saturday December 16 & Sunday December 17: 10-5pm

Location: 1340 W. Washington

Hours: 10am – 5pm

Price: $8 Advanced Purchase/$10 at Gate. Kids under 12 are free.

If you have the urge to shop ‘til you drop, Randolph’s Holiday Market is the place to be! The market will have over 200 vendors with a mix of antique, vintage, modern items such as clothing, jewelry, art, decorative objects, housewares, and more.


Image credit: flickr