Get your calendars ready, Chicago, for a blizzard of events planned for the 2011-12 holiday season. The activities kick off on November 5 with the 104th lighting of the Great Tree at Macy's and continue through January 8, 2012. Highlights, dates and times are listed below.
Macy’s on State Street: 104th Great Tree Lighting.
November 5, 12:00p.m.
Join Giuliana and Bill Rancic of the Style Network to kick off the holiday season in downtown Chicago with the lighting of Macy’s Great Tree in the famous Walnut Room at noon. The event will include a short performance by the award-winning Chicago Mass Choir.
Millennium Park: McCormick Tribune Ice Rink Opens.
November 18 through March 11, 2012 (weather permitting).
Kick off Chicago’s winter season with a fun-filled day of ice skating. The rink, now in its 11th season, is free and open to the public. Skate rental is available for $10.
Magnificent Mile Lights Festival®.
November 19, 11a.m. through 9p.m.
The holiday fun begins at 11a.m. with a day full of live musical performances, celebrity entertainers and family friendly activities along Lights Festival Lane at Pioneer Court. Mickey and Minnie Mouse serve as grand marshals of the evening parade, magically illuminating more than one million lights on 200 trees along The Magnificent Mile®. The parade, which features more than 30 spectacular floats, balloons and marching bands, begins at 5:30pm and is followed by fireworks over the Chicago River at 6:55pm.
Daley Plaza: Chicago Christmas Tree and Lighting Ceremony.
November 23, 4:30p.m.
The 98th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will feature live performances and festive holiday music begin at 4:30p.m. The holiday season officially commences at 5:00pm, when the switch is flipped and the lights begin to sparkle in Daley Plaza.
Daley Plaza: Santa House.
November 23 through December 24.
Bring your list to Daley Plaza for your visit with Santa Claus. Enjoy interactive activities and have your picture taken at the Santa House. The Santa House is a replica of Santa’s workshop where children can experience the wonder of the North Pole this holiday season.
Daley Plaza: Christkindlmarket Chicago.
November 23 through December 24.
Experience a traditional German Christmas inspired by the famous Nuremberg Christmas market dating back to 1545. Visitors will find Chicago’s iconic Picasso sculpture surrounded by red and white crested huts glowing with warmth and overflowing with curios. Daley Plaza is transformed at this outdoor market offering exquisite handmade gifts, unique ornaments and German delicacies like brats, goulash, potato pancakes, cookies and Gluhwein (a warm spiced wine).
McDonald's® Thanksgiving Parade.
Ronald McDonald, Santa and a cast of thousands march down State Street as over 400,000 people are expected to line the route from Congress Parkway to Randolph Street. The parade will feature the crowd-favorite gigantic helium balloons, marching bands, entertainers, decorative floats and more.
Millennium Park: Caroling at Cloud Gate.
November 25 through December 16 – Fridays, 6:00p.m .
Chicagoans and visitors alike are invited to Cloud Gate in Millennium Park to hear the beautiful voices of different Chicago choral groups and participate in a holiday sing-along at 6:00p.m. After the holiday sing-along, everyone is encouraged to skate at Millennium Park's McCormick Tribune Ice Rink.
Art Institute of Chicago: Wreathing of the Lions.
November 25, 10:00a.m.
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of this Chicago family favorite tradition as the lions along the Museum’s Michigan Avenue entrance are adorned with evergreen wreaths. Performances by Wooten Choral Ensemble add melodic cheer outside during the ceremony and inside the museum immediately following. Families can stop by the Ryan Education Center to create wreaths inspired by the many treasures in the collection. The first 50 people to arrive and attend the event will receive free admission to the museum.
Art Institute of Chicago: Family Activities.
November 25 through December 31.
Families can pick up a free holiday-themed self guide to the museum; participate in free art-making workshops every weekend where kids can make their own masterpiece to take home; or drop by for seasonal melodies during the daily Midday Music series.
Art Institute of Chicago: 30th Annual Treasure Hunt and Tea Party.
December 11 at 10:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., or 1:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale November 1
Navy Pier: Winter Wonderfest.
December 2 through January 8, 2012 .
New this year, an added week of family fun at the 11th annual Winter WonderFest. Enjoy indoor fun with 170,000 square feet of rides, inflatable slides, stunning lights and holiday décor, entertainment and more.
Filed under: Chicago events
Tags: Art Institute Wreathing of the Lions, Caroling at Cloud Gate, Christkindlmarket, Daley Plaza: Chicago Christmas Tree and Lighting Ceremony, Daley Plaza: Santa House, McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, Navy Pier: Winter Wonderfest., Thanksgiving Day Parade, the lighting of the great tree at Macy's Chicago, The Mag Mile Lights Festival