Holiday Calendar Chicago 2015: Tree lighting, parade, zoolights & more

Holiday Calendar Chicago 2015: Tree lighting, parade, zoolights & more
Christkindlmarket Chicago

There’s a lot more than turkey this Thanksgiving in Chicago.

A host of activities are lighting up the holiday calendar starting with the official Chicago Tree Lighting Ceremony on Tuesday. This year’s big tree will tower over Michigan Avenue in Millennium Park as it is reflected in the “Bean.” It should be a beautiful sight and a don’t miss event.

Here’s a rundown of other not to be missed events for your holiday calendar:

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Chicago’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held in Millennium Park in 2015 for the first time ever, starting a brand new Chicago tradition.

The lighting ceremony will take place, as always, on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving which falls on November 24 this year.  The holiday tree will be located in Millennium Park near the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Washington Street.

The ceremony kicks off with a program at 5:30 p.m. followed by the official lighting at 6 pm.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at the Museum of Science and Industry features a 45-foot Grand Tree center-stage in the Rotunda decked out in 30,000 lights.  The big tree is surrounded by more than 50 smaller trees representing cultures from around the world–putting the spotlight on the true spirit of the season. Now through January 3, 2016

Sherlock Holmes


Hurry if you want to see Sherlock Holmes. It opens Tuesday (November 24) at the Oriental Theatre (in what they are hoping to be a pre-Broadway run) and goes through Sunday, November 29. Should be fun to see David Arquette (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Scream) as Sherlock.


You’re sure to be seeing lots of Santa’s but the official city Santa will be holding court at the Millennium Park Welcome Center starting November 24 at the city’s official tree lighting ceremony. He will be available for early requests following the lighting ceremony from 6 pm. to 8 pm. He will return on Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 26) from noon to 3 pm. and Saturdays and Sundays from November 28 through December 20, noon–6 p.m.  201 E. Randolph St.

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

Be ready to get up early in the morning for the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade which steps off at 8 am., Thanksgiving Day (November 26,) from State St. and Congress to Wacker. This year’s full-scale extravaganza will showcase giant character balloons, marching bands, festive floats, cultural groups, equestrian groups, theatrical performances, celebrity guests including the parade’s Grand Marshal, David Arquette and more. To get the best spot for viewing, it is recommended that you get there by 7 am.


Christkindlmarket Chicago

Christkindlmarket Chicago

Everybody’s favorite Christkindlmarket turns Daley Plaza into a European holiday village complete with timber houses filled with imported treasures and delicious German food. Daily now through December 24, Daley Plaza, Washington and Dearborn.

Caroling at Cloud Gate

Caroling at Cloud Gate aka, the Bean starts the Friday after Thanksgiving and continues on Fridays through December 18 in Millennium Park. Join the chorus or just listen and catch the holiday spirit.


ZooLights illuminates the grounds of Lincoln Park Zoo with more than two million lights, including larger-than-life lighted animal designs. The free event offers a winter wonderland of festive activities and holiday treats. Santa Claus will be taking requests at the Helen Brach Primate House. Other activities include train rides on the brand new Lionel Train Adventure through a snowy birch forest; ice skating; and ponies. November 27–January 3, 2016–16 (Select Dates), Lincoln Park Zoo.

Wreathing of the Lions

The season begins with a roar at the 24th Annual Wreathing of the Lions, a cherished Chicago tradition at the Art Institute of Chicago. Immense evergreen wreaths will adorn the necks of the majestic lion statues that stand guard at the entrance. Wreathing festivities commence at 10 am. Friday, November 27 and will include a live performance by Funkadesi, complimentary hot chocolate, and an appearance by the Art Institute’s mascot, Artie the Lion. The first 50 people in line after the event will receive free admission to the museum at 10:30 a.m. Inside visitors can create wreaths of their own at the Ryan Education Center.

Grant Park Turkey Trot

Too much turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving? No worries, you can work it off at the Grant Park Turkey Trot: 5K & kids dash, November 28.

Randolph Street Market

Shopping is fun at the Randolph Street Market which offers a festival atmosphere in which to shop.  From vintage gifts to home decor, furniture, jewelry, men’s toys, art, mink stoles, gourmet chocolate and even ugly Christmas sweaters–you may be able to do all your holiday shopping at this one stop event. Plus you can partake in spirits including Bloody Mary, CH Distillery Vodka, beer and wine at the Market Bar or enjoy music or sample homemade holiday goodies such as Cakepuff patisserie sandwiches, sweet potato cream cheese pie, peach cobbler, homemade caramels, and more.  The market is also offering free Metallic Body Tattoos for the holiday party season. Upcoming holiday markets are November 28 & 29, and December 12 & 13. 1340 W Washington Blvd.


Winter Wonderfest
Navy Pier turns into a Winter Wonderland with rides, slides, ice skating and holiday décor as their warm INDOOR playground  comes alive with 170,000 square feet of festive holiday fun. December 4through January 10, 2016.

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