2011 Christmas time in Chicago! I've already seen a couple 'Christmas' commercials with pink elves selling cell phones and car insurance. I guess that means it's that time of year to start thinking about December 25th.
There are so many things to do that are free or frugal in Chicago this season....and I know I have left so many out too! And, for out-of-towners, if you plan a vacation to Chicago this season, you will get to enjoy the many amazing free things to do here in the Windy City! Even many hotels during Christmas season offer great deals to get you in town and shopping on Michigan Avenue! As for dining, remember to check online for extra special deals like these!
Here's my 'must do' list for free Christmas and Winter events for 2011!
- Magnificent Mile Lights Festival - Be downtown on November 19th at 5:30 PM for the nation's largest evening holiday event! Lights, floats, free music, family fun and Disney characters - it's a great event to bring your whole family!
- Millennium Park Ice Skating: Bring your skates because there's a free ice-skating rink with a great view of Chicago's iconic skyline!
- Michigan Avenue: So many shoppers and festivities during the pre-Chistmas season! All the trees along the street are decorated and lit up! It's perfect at night during a light snow flurry strolling with someone you love looking at the lights and decorated windows!
- Free Christmas Carol Opera - take the kids and family to "The Christmas Carol" at Northeastern Illinois University on Nov 18 & 19th at 7:30 PM, the Classic Story is set to music by Chicagoan Ronald Combs.
- HOLIDAY CTA TRAIN!!! It's like Christmas on, well, a train! It's bright, cheery and costs the same as your regular train fare. Here's the dates Santa will be on the "el"!
- Cloud-Gate or "The Bean": Take fun pictures for your Christmas cards at the Bean with snow and mittens! It'll be a great Christmas card picture! Get creative! Located in Millennium Park.
- The Signature Room in the John Hancock Tower: To see Chicago from a bird eye's view, go up to the Signature Room rather than paying $17 to go to the observation deck (which is actually 2 floors below the Signature Room). Tip: The Women's bathroom has the best view of the city!
- Eli's Cheesecake Dock Sales: Near O'Hare, Bring your favorite cheesecake to the Holidays to share with friends and family for 50-90% off! With big discount on all their gourmet cheesecakes - you'll want to buy them all! Join their mailing list to stay in touch with their sales! Website
- Polar Days (at Northerly Island) - (Winter) Free wintertime and snowy fun offered throughout the winter on specific days. Ice Sculptures, free hot cocoa, Siberian Huskies, and more! Check Chicago Park District Page for details on days!
- Macy's on State Street - The Macy's (aka Marshall Field's) is a delight inside and out! At Christmas it's always decorated to the nines, with marvelous storybook window displays, and of course the designer tree is an annual tradition to see and take pictures; located on Macy's top level in the famed Walnut Room.
- The Home Alone House is the house of Home Alone character Kevin MacAllister (Macaulay Culkin) to the north of the city at 671 Lincoln Avenue, Winnetka (rail: Winnetka, Metra Commuter line from Ogilvie Transportation Center). I'm sure I don't have to remind you that this is a private home and not to disturb the residents.
- Christkindlmarket, German Christmas Market in Daley Plaza: An outdoor German Christmas Market that features German food, wine, German music (Brass Bands playing Christmas Carols), small houses filled with German ornaments and Christmas traditions. Bring the kids to come see Santa for free! Walk around and absorb the authentic German culture and music in the heart of Chicago,...splurge for the Hot spiced Gluhwein, because you'll probably be freezing. I mean, it's outdoors during December,...it's going to be cold! (Runs for one month, Nov 24 - Dec 24).
- Klingon Christmas Carol? - A seasonal favorite from Commedia Beauregard? Well, it could be, and you could find out for half price! Runs Nov 16-Dec 31.