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The Chicago Traveler

Chicago Holiday Displays

by Matt B on December 22nd, 2007

One of my favorite things about this time of year is seeing all the beautiful holiday displays around the city. Not only do people dress up their homes, but many of the city’s attractions are stunningly dressed in lights. You can’t help but get in the holiday spirit when seeing these twinkling lights.

Brookfield Zoo: Want to see some real reindeer? Get up early on Saturday or Sunday, and you and the kids can have breakfast with Santa at the Brookfield Zoo. After your meal, say hello to the animals, including the reindeer, polar bears, and penguins. At night, the zoo is decorated with bright, vivid displays, including a laser presentation. Carolers and ice sculptures all add to the experience. (link) (map)

thomas the trainChicago Botanic Garden: This landscape is beautiful all by itself, but it’s a work of art when 750,000 lights are scattered across it. Stop inside the Regenstein Center, and check out the 10,000-square-foot (929-square-meter) Thomas the Train exhibit. (link) (map)

Chriskindlmarket: This German-inspired mini market at the Daley Center offers homemade crafts, holiday decorations, jewelry, artwork, Bavarian food, and, of course, glogg. In the middle of it all stands a 90-foot-tall (27-meter) Christmas tree, lit up with thousands of lights. (link) (map)

Lincoln Park Zoo: The light display here is one of the most dazzling, with about 1.5 million lights covering the zoo grounds. Don’t miss the East Gate entrance tunnel or the “fire-breathing” dragon. And our favorite jolly old elf will be hanging out at the Kolver Lion House, where kids can make crafts or nab a temporary tattoo. (link) (map)

macy's great treeMacy’s: Despite my personal feelings about Macy’s replacing the historic Marshall Field’s name, the grand Christmas traditions still carry on. This is the 100th year for the Great Tree, standing at 45 feet (14 meters) and decorated with 15,000 lights. (This year, the tree is decorated by Martha Stewart.) The State Street windows are also a local favorite and have a “Nutcracker” theme this year. (link) (map)

Magnificent Mile: Tourists and locals alike can appreciate the one million beautiful lights along Michigan Avenue, the city’s shopping mecca. One of the most picturesque spots is the Fourth Presbyterian Church at Chestnut Street. (link) (map)

Museum of Science and Industry: If you don’t want to be out in the cold weather while enjoying the sights, check out the Museum’s Christmas around the World exhibit. The building’s main floor is decorated with more than 50 trees adorned by Chicago’s various ethnic communities. General admission is $11 for adults, $7 for kids ages 3-11. (link) (map)

navy pierNavy Pier: This city attraction is a popular tourist destination year-round. The WinterWonder Fest at Navy Pier is all indoors and features an ice rink, thousands of ornaments on hundreds of trees, a climbing wall, virtual reality rides, and plenty of other ways for you and your kids to burn off all those holiday sugar cookies. $15 for a day trip, $18 with ice skate rental. (link) (map)

Parcell Family House: If you have to visit one neighborhood home this year, make it the Parcells’. With more than 50,000 computerized (eco-conscious LED) lights, you know this family loves the holidays. They even have their own website with a live feed! But even though you can view the brightly lit trees and snowmen from your computer, nothing beats seeing it in person. Stop on by between 5 and 10 p.m. nightly. (link) (map)

Promenade Bolingbrook: Most of us are familiar with the work of Carson Williams, an electrical engineer from Mason, Ohio. (See the video below.) Well, that same guy choreographed the synchronized LED lights at this swanky shopping destination. 250,000 lights dance to the tunes of Trans-Siberian Orchestra in a 15-minute presentation, playing on the hour from 6-9 p.m. (link) (map)

Photo credit: FotoSpawn, circulating, yuan2003

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POSTED IN: Museums, Architecture & Attractions, Art, Collectibles and Hobbies, Shopping

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