Experiencing a Chicago Christmas season can almost be a surreal experience. The city is swept with Christmas decorations and the sounds of the holiday. Plus, a white Christmas is almost always guaranteed. The spirit of the season takes many forms in Chicago. There are festivals galore, there are carolers, plays, and of course ice skating. If you find yourself having a Chicago Christmas this year, be sure to get the full experience.
The Christkindlmarket is an absolute must experience. All of the fun and entertainment takes place in Daley Plaza downtown in the loop. It is inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, which has been around since 1545. This festival is a celebration of German and European traditions. These traditions include food, drink, music, and entertainment of all kinds. Over the span of the celebration, there are multiple parades, theatre performances and of course the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Live musical performances and festive holiday music kick it off, while everyone anticipates 6pm. This is when the holiday season officially commences-the switch is flipped and the lights begin to dazzle on Daley Plaza.
Ice skating is one of the best winter traditions, in my opinion. The Chicago Christmas season brings out rinks all over the city, the most popular being the Millennium Park Ice Rink which is outside along Michigan Avenue. There are so many more to choose from though, especially if Millennium is packed.
Festive music and fantastic views of skyscrapers accent gliding over the slick surface. The Chicago Park District operates a handful of rinks as well.
One of the most unique rinks in the city can be found at the Peninsula Hotel. However, this rink comes with a price. You must be a guest of the hotel, or The Peninsula Spa Chicago and its Shanghai Terrace restaurant.
This 2,100 square foot ice skating rink is located on the 4th floor and overlooks the Magnificent Mile.
If you decide to take on the Peninsula Hotel during your Chicago Christmas experience, the optimal time would be November 22nd. This is the date of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. This festival claims the title of being the nation’s largest evening holiday celebration. This family-friendly event is packed with entertainment. Activities are available for the entire family, top musical acts take the stage, some of the best shopping around, and most important of all the tree-lighting parade. This parade is led by none other than Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. If the trek is worth it for them, just think about what you will experience.
For a slightly more educational experience, that is still packed with entertainment, be sure to stop by the Museum of Science & Industry. Their exhibit, Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light, is a glimpse into cultural traditions from around the world. Their massive 45-foot grandmaster Christmas tree takes center stage, while 50 smaller trees fill the room around it. Each tree is decorated by volunteers of different ethnic groups. The purpose of this is to view the traditions of cultures from around the globe. It really is a beautiful sight to see how a basic tree can transform in so many different ways.
The Chicago Christmas season is a phenomenal time to visit one of the Chicago theater companies’ performances. The Goodman Theater will be featuring the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol.
The Harris Theater and Auditorium Theater will also have holiday productions.
If you are in the mood for a little holiday cruise (approximately 45 minutes from downtown), then the Vernon Hills Winterland Holiday Light Show is a must stop. The Village of Vernon Hills partners up with the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens for this extravagant show. It is is held on the grounds of the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens. From November 28th-January 3rd the grounds are open to drive through while viewing thousands of twinkling lights, animated displays and holiday decorations. The Cuneo Mansion & Gardens is also open to walk through for a magical view of Christmas’ past.
After partaking in all of these activities, you may need to just reside at home for awhile. There is no reason that you cannot bring the Christmas spirit into your home. Whether you are just looking for a tree with some bulbs, or you want to go all out and make your own Chicago Christmas wonderland, there are places to help you obtain your goal. One of the most unique ways to bring in the winter wonderland, while still retaining the warmth of your home, is with a Snowing Christmas Tree. This is literally an artificial that snows upon itself in a spectacular fashion definitely the most unique decorations that you can have in your home.
The Kris Kringle Haus is a holiday emporium that focuses on European and American decoration and collectibles from glass ornaments to German-made Steinback Nutcrackers. For a truly unique wonderland in your home, a self-snowing Christmas tree and European designed decorations will be matched by nothing else.
Chicago Christmas Season experiences are nothing short of phenomenal.