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.”


Photos courtesy of Brian Cassella of the Chicago Tribune and 

The long awaited Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier finally opened yesterday to celebrate the pier’s 100th anniversary. This high-tech DW60 wheel is the only one of its kind in the U.S., and features impressive safety features, including a fortified foundation that can withstand winds up to 115 mph!

After a glitch yesterday, the Centennial Wheel is back up and running until tonight at midnight. An estimated 8,000 people have ridden the new wheel thus far.

Navigating the hustle and bustle surrounding this opening day could be a challenge – to say the least – but not to worry. We’ve created this handy guide to ensure you get to savor every moment of your Navy Pier weekend.


Start with a Bike Tour with Bobby’s Bike Hike

Getting to the pier early is essential with the unpredictable volume this weekend will bring. Beginning at 9 a.m., Bobby’s Bike Hike will get you to the area and get your blood flowing.

Grab a Beer at the LandShark Beer Garden at Navy Pier

A quick beer will soothe any nerves about the 196-ft. journey you’re about to take into the sky on the Centennial Wheel. The LandShark Beer Garden is a Navy Pier classic.

Ride the Wheel

Hold on tight! This ride is not only taller and longer than its predecessor, it’s also faster.

Savor some Seafood

For a nice bite after, check out DMK Burger and Fish Bar. The Crabby Patty, a crabcake sandwich with Old Bay mayo and pickled onion on a house-baked bun, is a timeless lakefront treat.

Finish with Fireworks

As always, Navy Pier’s fireworks are some of the best in the world, and these 100th anniversary pyrotechnics are sure to cap off your day with a bang.



Here’s Where You Should Watch The Chicago Air and Water Show!

The Chicago Air and Water Show is this weekend and the hardest part is planning on where you should watch the show.

The show will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. While North Ave is the prime spot to watch it, there are other spots where you can still get a great view.

Get the list below:

  • North Avenue Beach – Get here early and expect big crowds
  • Oak Street Beach – The second best place to get front row seats
  • Ohio Street Beach – Located near Navy Pier. Perfect for a great show
  • Diversey Harbor – This place is close enough to all of the action
  • Belmont Harbor – This beach is further north than the harbor but you’ll get a clear glimpse
  • 360 Chicago at the John Hancock Center. General admission for adults is $19 a piece and kids are $13 each
  • Navy Pier – This place will be packed but get on the farris wheel and enjoy the show
  • Adler Planetarium – Perfect for relaxing
  • Montrose Harbor – A nice big picture of the show
  • Kathy Osterman Beach – Hollywood beach is not close but close enough

This will be one big weekend for Chicago! Summer weekends in Chicago are always busy and packed. You just have to make the best out of it.