Macy's Christmas Tree Lighting & Holiday Windows: A Chicago Tradition for Over 100 Years

Macy's Christmas Tree Lighting & Holiday Windows: A Chicago Tradition for Over 100 Years
The 2014 Great Tree in the Walnut Room. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Yes, it seems every city has a Macy’s but only the Chicago Macy’s has the Walnut Room. The Walnut Room, located on the 7th floor of Macy’s State Street store, is the very first restaurant in a department store. It is a treasure to see at any time of the year with its sparkling Austrian chandeliers and Circassian wood imported from Russia but it really comes into its own during the holiday season where the 100-year-old-plus tradition of the Great Christmas Tree Lighting kicks off the holiday season for many.

Tomorrow, Saturday, November 8th is the big day.

Each year a celebrity is chosen to flick the “switch” that lights the 45-foot-tall tree. This year’s celeb lighter is none other than American Idol host Ryan Seacrest with the help of a 4-year-old Make-A-Wish child and past Idol champion and area native Lee De Wyze.

The Great Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony kicks off at noon, in the Walnut Room, with three holiday songs from De Wyze to set the mood.

Then the countdown to the 107th annual lighting of the Great Tree begins…

Three-two-one…6000 sparkling lights come ablaze, illuminating 3000 shinny silver ornaments adorning the tree, while casting a holiday glow throughout the Walnut Room.

Stick around for the light show, new this year, where the tree changes colors four times every hour–or check out other holiday events and activities inside and outside the store.

The day will be filled with both old and new traditions:

Marshall Field's Christmas window from the 1940's

Marshall Field’s Christmas window from the 1940’s

  • Holiday Windows. This year’s holiday windows will be unveiled at 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 8. The tradition of Christmas windows is even older than the tree lighting. It dates back, way back to 1897, when Field’s new display manager, a man named Arthur Fraiser, created his Christmas toy windows. This year’s windows “The Journey of a Christmas Wish” follow a small child on a fantasy voyage through Santa’s workshop.
  • SantaLand. Santa has been taking requests from believers at the State Street store since 1948 when it was Marshall Fields.  Santa arrives for the 2014 Season at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 8–ready to listen to requests and pose for pictures. Catch him in his plush holiday surroundings on the store’s 5th floor from November 8 to December 24.
  • FROZEN fans won’t be left out in the cold. A Family Fun Day offers FROZEN activities with face painting, balloons, basket-weaving, coloring and special activities including Olaf “Build a Snowman”. Also on-hand will be children’s favorite FROZEN characters. One day only, Saturday, November 8.
  • Holiday Arcade. New this year, is the Holiday Arcade featuring specialty toys and stocking stuffers on the 7th floor of Macy’s State Street Store. Highlights include a Build-A-Bear Shop, Boo & Grumpy Cat, Lionel Trains and Harry Barker–a special store with holiday gifts for your pampered pooch.
  • Santa Breakfast. Starting November 28 through December 24, the Walnut Room will be serving a Santa Breakfast buffet. Times vary and reservations are required or call 312 781 3139.
  • Dining Under the Great Tree. Along with the perennial favorites including Mrs. Hering’s 1890 Original Chicken Pot Pie and the Peach Nest Salad, Macy’s offers special holiday beverages (non-alcoholic and alcholic) and desserts such as: the popular Cinnamon Toast (hot apple cider, Amaretto, whipped cream and cinnamon) and the Holiday Yule Log (chocolate filled vanilla cake with bittersweet chocolate icing).  During the holiday period (November 1 through January 1, 2015) reservations are not accepted. Instead diners are given a pager which can be picked up on 7th floor of Macy’s State Street store near the main escalators. They can then shop, visit Santa or whatever else they want until they are paged to come to the dining room. For a full listing of holiday hours, click here or call the Walnut Room at 312 781 3139.
  • Thanksgiving Dinner.  For the first time ever, the Walnut Room will be offering a Thanksgiving Buffet Dinner from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27. Reservations are required for Thanksgiving Dinner and can be made through Open Table. The dinner buffet is $34.95 for adults and $16.95 for children 12 and under.

So, let the holiday season begin–ready or not.

Subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email

If you would like to keep in touch with what’s happening in Chicago, like us on Facebook or subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email. To subscribe, type your email address in the box below and click the “create subscription” button. Our list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Leave a comment

  • Advertisement:
  • Advertisement:
  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Meet The Blogger

    Carole Kuhrt Brewer

    Arts, entertainment and dining journalist..

  • Follow me on Twitter.

  • Recent posts

  • Categories

  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: