Chicago’s Holiday Season

It cannot be denied that Chicago is certainly associated with brisk winter winds and plummeting chilly temperatures. That being said, the Windy City knows how to enjoy itself before hibernating for the more frigid winter months. The holiday season brings numerous Chicago traditions back to the city that Chicago locals anticipate all Autumn long. With warm holiday drinks, twinkling decorated street lamps, and seasonal snacks making their timely return, Chicago has something for just about anyone who is looking to feel the holiday spirit once the weather starts cooling down.

Whether you need to grab a few gifts for loved ones on the decked-out Magnificent Mile or if you’ve found yourself strolling through Millennium Park and spot Chicago’s very own stunning Christmas tree, the holiday spirit is strong among all areas of Chicago during the holidays. If you’re looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit yourself, Chicago is the perfect place to take advantage of all that the season has to offer. With many events taking place all over the city all month long, the events below are just a few of the Chicago traditions that make the holiday season actually one of the best times to visit the Second City.


Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

Lincoln Park Zoo

Thousands of dazzling luminous displays sweep the entirety of the Lincoln Park Zoo with the month-long Zoolights event. The free and truly unique event is made possible with over 2.5 million different gorgeous lights gracing the park with their presence which may be just one reason why the tradition dates all the way back to 1994.

All festive Zoolights attendees will have the honor of enjoying:

  • Thousands of dazzling light displays that are sure to impress.
  • Warm spiced wines and crisp beers.
  • Live ice-sculpture carving.
  • Musical light shows with 3D holiday spectacles.
  • Delicious holiday snacking with pleasant gift shopping all around.

For the Zoo Lights’ 25th year they’ll continue the festive traditions that have kept guests coming back again and again while also bringing new and exciting light shows for everyone to enjoy. One of Chicago’s best free events during the holiday season, the Zoolights will give everyone a one-of-a-kind holiday experience that they will remember for a lifetime.



Zoolights will take place all weekends in December as well as the first week of January.


Zoolights will be in full swing each day at 5 pm to close!


For a full calendar of the Lincoln Park Zoo’s holiday festivities check out:


Chicago Christkindlemarket

Daley Plaza

The Christkindlemarket is Chicago’s very own open-air German Christmas festival packed with countless reasons to pull out your favorite pair of gloves and journey to Chicago’s Daley Plaza in the Loop. Inspired by the Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany and then enhanced with local traditions and flair, the Christkindlemarket is easily the largest open-air market of its kind in Chicago. Holding the German and European tradition strong since 1996, this year will be the market’s 24th year of bringing smiles to any interested partakers.

All merry Christkindlemarket minglers will have the honor of enjoying:

  • Gift-shopping galore with many local vendors from Chicago.
  • Warm spiced wines and crisp beers served in collectable souvenir mugs.
  • Classic german tastes and drinks with bavarian pretzels, confections, German sausages, and much more!

Perfect for a family outing, a first or hundredth date, or an easy kick-back with your friends, the Christkindlmarket is perfect for getting even the grumpiest Scrooge into the holiday spirit.



November 24th – December 24th


Sunday-Thursday: 11am to 8pm

Friday & Saturday: 11am to 9pm


*** On Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, the market will only be open till 4 pm. ***


Chicago’s New Years Eve Bash

Chicago Riverfront

If you’ve found yourself in Chicago for New Years Eve this year you certainly have nothing to worry about in terms of assuring you have an amazing way to ring in the new year. With countless restaurants, venues, and bars happily opening their doors for the merry madness associated with the holiday, you will have many an option in terms of where you want to be once the clock strikes midnight.

Chicago’s “New Years Eve Bash” that takes place on the Chicago riverfront is an amazing way to make sure you get your fireworks fix on the night we all enter a new decade. 2020 will be celebrated with the Chicago river becoming illuminated by hundreds of firework shows dazzling the Chicago skyline. This stunning display is free for all to attend by simply heading toward the Chicago riverfront, however there are also many venues and restaurants bordering the river that will be having specials and packages designed specifically for viewing this spectacular fireworks display. If you’re looking for the perfect way to see the Windy City and also some fireworks before entering 2020, head down to the Chicago river for an amazing way to end the decade.



December 31, 2019

Fireworks will begin promptly at midnight.


Need Hotel Accommodations?


The Ivy Hotel

Located near the Magnificent Mile in Chicago’s Loop


The City Suites Hotel

In the heart of Boystown, accessible by the Red Line.


The Willows Hotel

Located at the edge of Lakeview and Lincoln Park, accessible via Brown Line train


The Majestic Hotel

Located in the heart of Wrigleyville, accessible via Red Line train