Chicago’s Ultimate Christmas Guide
Everything you need to celebrate the season we’ve all been waiting for
Christmas in Chicago is nothing short of magical. With holiday cheer spread across every street, every neighborhood, and every building, it’s pretty hard not to be excited.
There are so many things to do in the city during the holidays, it’s almost impossible to keep up. Everyone knows that when you’re in full holiday zone, you make it your mission to hit up every. single. event.
For those holiday-holics that are trying to pack the next few weeks full with non-stop activities, we’ve got you covered! Here’s our ultimate guide to Christmas in Chicago.
Markets and Shopping
- Christkindlmarket – Visit the most popular outdoor holiday market around and enjoy food, drinks, crafts, and more. The market runs through December 24.
- Randolph Street Holiday Market – Voted one of the best for holiday shopping, get antiques, jewelry, clothes, and housewares. Visit on December 15 –16.
- Irish Christmas Market – Celebrate the holidays with Irish tradition at this festive event in Northcenter, running December 8– 10.
- B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash – Cardi B, Camila Cabello, Mike Posner, and more ring in the season with chart-topping music at Allstate Arena on December 7.
- iHeartRadio Jingle Ball – T-Swift (again), Calvin Harris, Shawn Mendes, Dua Lipa, and more hit Allstate Arena with a pop music holiday bash on December 12.
- A Christmas Carol – Watch the classic Dickens story of Ebenezer Scrooge unfold at the Goodman Theatre through December 30.
- The Nutcracker – See award-winning choreography from the Joffrey Ballet tell the tale of the Nutcracker from December 1 – 30.
- For more shows, head to our Holiday Show Roundup here.
Holiday Light Displays
- ZooLights – Head to Lincoln Park Zoo for a magnificent light display that the whole family can enjoy on select dates in November and December, ending January 7.
- BrewLights – Kind of like ZooLights, but for adults only. Sample delicious beers and wines under twinkling lights on December 6.
- Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic – Stroll through over one million LED lights, train displays, ice carvers, and more at Brookfield Zoo on Saturdays and Sundays in December.
- Illumination – Walk through a winter woods of illuminated trees at the Morton Arboretum through January 1, closed on select dates.
- For more holiday lights, check out our list of the best holiday decoration displays in Chi here.
- TBOX – The most popular bar crawl in town returns to Wrigleyville. Dress up in your Christmas gear for Twelve Bars of Xmas on December 8.
- Chicago Christmas Crawl – Hop around the bars in Old Town on this Christmas-themed crawl on December 15.
- Southport Holiday Stroll & Cocktail Crawl – While partaking in the holiday stroll, also sample over 15 different holiday-themed cocktails.
- For a full list of all the bar crawls happening in Chicago, head here.
Runs and Races
- Ugly Sweater Run – If you want to choose when and where to run, you can do a virtual race instead. Encouraged to do December 19 however, for it’s National Ugly Sweater Day.
- Lakefront Chill 5k – On December 15, come run to celebrate the completion of the Lakefront Trail Separation Project, on December 15.
- Jingle Bell Run – Raise awareness for the Arthritis Foundation at this 5k race at Soldier Field on December 8.
Food, Beer and Wine Tastings
- December Wine Tasting: New Zealand & African Wine – On December 29, indulge on 8 different types of wines, along with food pairings and snacks.
- Chicago Wine Fest – Presented by Chi Life Events, this wine festival has over 30 wines to taste as well as cheese plates to snack on.
- Wine & Spirit Warehouse -For something free and casual, try Wine & Spirit Warehouse’s weekly wine tasting.
- Winter WonderFest – An amazing indoor winter wonderland with rides and activities awaits you at Navy Pier through January 6.
- Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party – Spend an afternoon on an art scavenger hunt at the Art Institute and drinking tea with Artie the Lion on December 10.
- Wonderland Express – See an extravagant model train display and listen to carolers at the Chicago Botanic Garden through January 6.
- Polar Express Train Ride – Experience the Polar Express on Amtrak with cookies, beverages, and visits from Santa at Union Station through January 1.
- Christmas Around the World & Holidays of Light – Check out this exhibit at the Museum of Science & Industry by learning about holiday traditions from across the globe through January 6.
Anything we missed? Got a tip on an awesome holiday event in the city? Let us know!