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

Photo Credit: Christkindlmarket Chicago
  • 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 14 – 15.

Music Festivals

  • Photo Credit: Jingle Bash
  • B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash –  Katy Perry, Camila Cabello, Marshmello, Normani, Monsta X, and more ring in the season with chart-topping music at Allstate Arena on December 7.
  • iHeartRadio Jingle Ball – Jonas Brothers, NF, Niall Horan, Why Don’t Me, and more hit Allstate Arena with a pop music holiday bash on December 18.



  • A Christmas Carol – Watch the classic Dickens story of Ebenezer Scrooge unfold at the Goodman Theatre through December 29.
  • The Nutcracker – See award-winning choreography from the Joffrey Ballet tell the tale of the Nutcracker through December 29.
  • The Santaland Diaries –  The Goodman Theatre hosts an adults-only show through December 29.
  • Q Brothers Christmas Carol – Catch this hip-hop version of A Christmas Carol at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre through December 23.

winter wonderfest
Photo Credit: Winter WonderFest

View the Ultimate Guide to Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest

Are you trying to learn more about Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest? View our complete guide to Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest!

View Our Guide to Winter WonderFest


Holiday Light Displays

Lincoln Park Zoolight
Photo Credit: Lincoln Park Instagram
  • 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 5.
  • 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 5, closed on select dates.

Bar Crawls

Chicago Christmas Crawl
Photo Credit: Chicago Christmas Crawl Instagram

Runs and Races

Photo Credit: Santa Hustle
  • Ugly Sweater Run – If you want to choose when and where to run, you can do a virtual race instead. Encouraged to do December 20, however, for it’s National Ugly Sweater Day.
  • Jingle Bell Run – Raise awareness for the Arthritis Foundation at this 5k race, starting at the Chicago History Museum on December 14.

Food, Beer and Wine Tastings




  • Winter WonderFest – An amazing indoor winter wonderland with rides and activities awaits you at Navy Pier through January 6.
  • Polar Express Train Ride – Experience the Polar Express on Amtrak with cookies, beverages, and visits from Santa at Union Station through December 29.
  • 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 5.


Anything we missed? Got a tip on an awesome holiday event in the city? Let us know!