Chicago Holiday Events Calendar 2012: Tree Lighting on Daley Plaza, Mag Mile Lights Fest, Zoolights and more.

Chicago Holiday Events Calendar 2012: Tree Lighting on Daley Plaza, Mag Mile Lights Fest, Zoolights and more.
Chicago's Mag Mile lit up for the holidays.

CHICAGO, IL. Wednesday, October 24, 2012. It seems holiday events kick off a little earlier each year.  Even before we have fully recovered from Halloween, it’s tree lighting, holiday fests, bazaars, entertainment and more with the holiday event calender growing fatter than Santa’s sack.

Here is our list of don’t miss annual holiday events for November, December and early January 2013.  Watch for detailed information on many of the events listed below in upcoming Show Me Chicago posts. For those interested specifically in Holiday Theater here’s a link to Show Me Chicago’s Guide to Family, Adult and Kids Theater for the 2012 Season.

Macy’s Great Tree Lighting, Saturday, November 3, noon. 7th floor, Walnut Room, State Street Store.

The Symphony in Lights Show, The Promenade Bolingbrook, Premiere Show and Holiday Festival (with Santa) on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Light show continues nightly at dusk to 9p.m. through December 31, 2012.

Millennium Park Ice Rink opens on Friday, November 16 through mid-March 2013, weather-permitting.

Vienna Boys Choir, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue, select dates from November 16 through December 31, 2012.

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival®,  North Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Water Tower, 
Saturday, November 17, 2012.

Christmas Around the World, Museum of Science and Industry, November 17 through January 8, 2013.

A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre, Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of hope and redemption celebrates its 35th anniversary production at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre with performances November 17 through December 29.

The 99th Annual Official City of Chicago Holiday Tree Lighting, Daley Plaza, Tuesday, November 20 (NEW DATE). Ceremony 4:30p.m. followed by lighting at 5:30p.m.

Santa House, Daley Plaza opens Tuesday, November 20 at 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm, (NEW DATE) with special hours on Wednesday, November 21 from 11:00a.m. to 8:00p.m. and Thanksgiving Day from 11:00a.m. to 4:00p.m.  Regular visiting hours and house tours start Friday, November 23 and continue every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December 14  from 11:00a.m. to 8:00p.m.  The house will be open daily December 17 through December 24, 2012.

The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade, takes place on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22, 8-11 a.m. on State Street between Congress Parkway and Randolph Street in downtown Chicago.

Zoolights, Lincoln Park Zoo, Opens November 23 and continues every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through December 23. Following December 25, open nightly from December 26 though January 6.

Caroling at Cloud Gate will be every Friday at Cloud Gate (aka the Bean) in Millennium Park, November 23 through December 21.  6p.m.

Wonderland Express, Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe, November 23 through January 6, 2013.

Annual Wreathing of the Lions, Art Institute of Chicago, November 23, ceremony 10a.m. various activities inside the aic from 10:30a.m. to 3p.m.

Julmarknad (Christmas Bazaar), Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark Street, December 1 and 2.

The 7th Annual Amahl and the Night Visitors at Harold Washington Library Center, Saturday, December 1, 2p.m. and Sunday, December 2, 2p.m., Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 South State Street, tickets $25 adults, $10 children, available at door.

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo, 1st Avenue between Ogden Avenue & 31st Street, Brookfield, Saturdays and Sundays, December 3 through December 18, daily December 26 through December 31, 4 to 9p.m.

A Chanticleer Christmas. Symphony Center Presents A Chanticleer Christmas on Tuesday, December 4, 7:30 p.m. and Wednesday, December 5, 7:30 p.m.  at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St.  Tickets $39–$61.

One of a Kind Show and Sale at The Merchandise Mart December 6 through December 9.

Joffery Ballet Nutcracker, the Auditorium Theatre, December 7 through December 27, 2012.

The 12 bars of Christmas Pub Crawl, December 8.  This annual celebration turns the Wrigleyville neighborhood upside down with partygoers dressed in various costumes…mostly Santa related as they crawl from bar to bar. If you are trying to get anywhere else that day you may want to avoid Clark St. from about 3500 to 4000 North as the street is nearly unpassable.   Tickets, $37.50, kicks off from Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison.

Do-It-Yourself Messiah 2012, Harris Theatre, December 17 and December 18, 7p.m.

Dance Along Nutcracker, Preston Bradley Hall in Chicago Cultural Center, December 9 at noon and 3p.m.

Christkrindlmarket, Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop (between Dearborn, Washington and Clark Street), November 21 through Dec. 24, Open Daily Sun – Thu 11am – 8pm Fri – Sat 11a.m. – 9p.m. Special Hours: Thanksgiving Day: Nov. 22nd 11am – 4pm Christmas Eve: Dec. 24th 11a.m. – 4p.m.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes, Akoo Theatre, Rosemont, December 14-30.

The Music Box Christmas Show takes place December 14 through December 24 at the Music Box Theatre with Santa, sing-alongs and classic holiday movies. 3733 N. Southport Avenue.

Welcome Yule!, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue, December 14, 15 and 16 and December 21, 22, and 23. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Infants will not be admitted.

Filed under: Chicago events


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  • Too soon!

  • In reply to Kim Z Dale:


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    Welcome Yule is at the CSO Dec. 14, 15 and 16 as well:

  • In reply to Carrie Fuller:

    Thanks, got it.

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    Celebrate the season and Midwest Young Artists' 20th year of creating the leaders of tomorrow through musical education by attending our 20 Years Young Anniversary Celebration Concert on December 28th at Symphony Center, Chicago. David Hyde Pierce will emcee the concert and perform with special guest Nathan Gunn, along with the Midwest Young Artists Symphony & Alumni Orchestras, Big Band, and alumni Big Band. Take the family to witness an inspirational live music event! The concert begins at 5pm and there is an optional dinner party afterwards at the University Club Chicago. The concert will benefit both MYA and the Alzheimer's Association, dinner proceeds will support MYA, a top rated 501 c3 non-profit school. Tickets are available online at:

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