chicago christmas

Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Chicago

Chicago’s festive holiday season kicks off with the debut of the city’s 102nd Christmas tree in its new location in Millennium Park; caroling at Cloud Gate (a.k.a. “The Bean”); ice skating in two winter campus locations; and visits with Santa Claus at his new Millennium Park workshop-all making Chicago the premier winter wonderland for visitors.

These new and beloved holiday events downtown and throughout neighborhood communities lead up to a grand culmination along the Chicago River with the city’s first-ever, free New Year’s Eve celebration titled Chi-Town Rising. This epic countdown to 2016 will feature headliner musical acts on multiple stages and a dazzling countdown, marked by the rising of a star, symbolic of the city’s rise from the ashes following the Great Chicago Fire.

From its opening Day on November 13 at 11 a.m. you can enjoy performances by ice skaters from Ice Reach, a non-profit outreach organization dedicated to promoting participation and involvement in ice sports, and then get on the ice yourself to open the winter season in Millennium Park.

Now in its 13th season, skating remains free. Each year more than 100,000 skaters twirl beneath the twinkling tree lights while enjoying incredible views of the downtown skyline and “The Bean” above. Given its popularity, try to visit during off-times to avoid the large crowds and long lines for skate rentals.

102nd Annual Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting (11/24) will be at its new location in Millennium Park, a location recognized around the world for its architectural landmarks and cultural programming.

Santa Claus is in Millennium Park (11/24 – 12/20)

Welcome Center, 201 E. Randolph St.

Tuesday, November 24 from 6-8 p.m., immediately following the Tree Lighting Ceremony;

Thursday, November 26 (Thanksgiving) noon-3 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from November 28-December 20, noon-6 p.m.


Uniqlo’s Chicago flagship store opens on Oct 23, just in time for holiday shopping. The Japanese retailer will occupy the space above Topshop on the Magnificent Mile (830 N. Michigan), marking the company’s first Midwest location and the second-largest in the United States.

On Nov. 5, just south of the Chicago River on State Street, Block 37 (108 N State Street) welcomes celebrity chef Richard Sandoval’s Latinicity – a 22,000 square-foot market-style food hall dedicated to Latin food and cooking. A truly unique dining experience, Latinicity brings the flavors of Latin America, Spain and Portugal to life like never before.

Broadway In Chicago and Emerald City Theatre present A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz. (11/14/2015 – 1/3/2016)

Merry, Merry Chicago is the newest addition to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s (CSO) treasured collection of holiday programming designed for audiences of all ages. Guest conductor Stuart Chafetz leads this joyous musical celebration which features members of the CSO, guest artists The von Trapps-the great-grandchildren of Captain and Maria von Trapp, who are reinventing the legacy of their birthright for the modern age-and Chicago’s own Midwest Young Artists: Voices Rising children’s vocal ensemble, directed by Stevi Marks. (12/18 – 12/23)

Chi-Town Rising Presented by Corona Extra and hosted by Hyatt Gold Passport is a brand new tradition launching this New Year’s Eve. A mega-event in the heart of the city, featuring multiple music stages, exciting activities, celebrity guests, a massive glowing Chicago Star rising 350 feet in the air, and a midnight countdown culminating in a dazzling fireworks display the whole city can enjoy. All of the excitement will be broadcast live across the Midwest on NBC. (12/31)

A holiday tradition nearly a century old, Macy’s on State Street welcomes guests to see the 45-foot-tall Great Tree in the Walnut Room on the 7th floor and all the wonderful holiday window displays. Join a cast of holiday cheer-givers as they kick off the holiday season with the lighting of Macy’s Great Tree on November 7.

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