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Chicago’s Ultimate Christmas Guide


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 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 16 –17.
  • Irish Christmas Market – Celebrate the holidays with Irish tradition at this festive event in Northcenter, running December 11 – 13.


Music Festivals


Photo Credit: WKQX

  • B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash – T-Swift, Fifth Harmony, The Backstreet Boys and more ring in the season with chart-topping music at Allstate Arena on December 7.
  • iHeartRadio Jingle Ball – T-Swift (again), Ed Sheeran, Camilla Cabello, Demi Lavato and more hit Allstate Arena with a pop music holiday bash on December 13.
  • The Nights We Stole Christmas – This holiday fest brings you three nights of rock, alternative, and indie at the Aragon Ballroom from December 1 – 3.




  • A Christmas Carol – Watch the classic Dickens story of Ebenezer Scrooge unfold at the Goodman Theatre through December 31.
  • 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


Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg for Lincoln Park Zoo

  • 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 7.
  • 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.


Bar Crawls


Photo Credit: Chicago SantaCon

  • TBOX – The most popular bar crawl in town returns to Wrigleyville. Dress up in your Christmas gear for Twelve Bars of Xmas on December 9.
  • Chicago Christmas Crawl – Hop around bars and pubs in Old Town on this Christmas-themed crawl on December 16.
  • SantaCon – Join hundreds of other Santas in Logan Square for an all-day holiday bar crawl on December 2.
  • Running of the Santas – Race your way from bar to bar downtown with a massive gathering of Santas on December 3.


Runs and Races


Photo Credit: Santa Hustle

  • Santa Hustle – Hop on this 5k that starts at Soldier Field and benefits the American Cancer Society on December 2.
  • Ugly Sweater Run – Also at Soldier Field, wear your favorite ugly Christmas sweater and join others in a 5k race that benefits One Warm Coat on December 16.
  • Santa Speedo Run – Strip down to your skivvies in the lovely Chicago cold on December 2 for a run that benefits the Chicago Diabetes Project.
  • Jingle Bell Run – Raise awareness for the Arthritis Foundation at this 5k race at Soldier Field on December 9.


Food, Beer and Wine Tastings


  • Christmas & Winter Beer Tasting – For just $20, enjoy samples of local and national seasonal beers at Delilah’s on December 2.
  • Holiday Cheers – Enjoy a scenic view at the Chicago Botanic Garden while tasting local beers, wines, and spirits on December 6.




  • Winter WonderFest – An amazing indoor winter wonderland with rides and activities awaits you at Navy Pier through January 7.
  • 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 7.
  • 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 December 26.


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

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