"Bundle up, get outdoors and explore" is our family's wintertime mantra. When dressed properly, being outdoors in Chicago is a joy, even in the dead of winter. During the holidays, when the streets are alight with colorful lights and charming decorations, exploring the city is even more fun. Here are five fun ways to celebrate the holiday season in Chicago outdoors.
Belt out your favorite Christmas carols in Millenium Park
Celebrate the holidays in Millennium Park, with festive Christmas Carols when Caroling at Cloud Gate returns on Friday evenings, November 28 through December 19 at 6 p.m. This free program showcases the best of the best Chicago choral groups and invites visitors to sing along, too. Hundreds of singers gather each week near the "Bean" to sing the joys of the season during these 50-minute caroling sessions.
Skate to your heart's content at an outdoor ice skating rink
Chicago Park District's outdoor ice skating rinks are located all around the city, welcoming both beginning and advanced ice skaters. Skating season runs through February 23 at most outdoor rinks, weather permitting.
Party with the animals
Lincoln Park Zoo's annual ZooLights festival features thousands of colorful light displays throughout the zoo as well as special visits with Santa Claus, live music, holiday crafts and large-scale ice carving. The festivities take place every weekend from November 28 to January 4 (closed Dec. 24 and 25); check the zoo calendar for related festival events.
Visitors can also ice skate at the Farm-in-the-Zoo ($5 admission; $5 skate rental or bring your own). For one night only, December 3, Louis Glunz Beer, Inc. invites zoo patrons to a special night of beer sampling during BrewLights, a new way to enjoy the zoo's famous ZooLights: From dark lagers to pale ales, a dozen varieties of beer will be available at several different taps throughout the zoo.
Tube down FROZEMONT
MB Financial Park in Rosemont is a 200,000 square-foot entertainment and dining complex whose 10 venues offer upscale international cuisine, live music and comedy, state-of-the-art film, bowling and more. This holiday season ushers in the brand-new FROZEMONT ice skating rink and a four-story tubing adventure "Polar Peak" - open to the public Friday, December 12. Visit MBParkatRosemont.com/Frozemont or call 847-349-5551 for a complete schedule of skating and tubing hours. Admission to the ice rink is free; Skates can be rented onsite for $8. Tubing tickets can be purchased online or onsite for $20 per hour.
See the holiday lights on an old fashioned horse and carriage
See the holiday lights while cuddled under a blanket in a turn of the century, antique horse carriage. Noble Horse offers has two pick up locations - Michigan Avenue (820 N. Michigan Ave.) or Old Town (1410 N. Orleans St.). They'll also provide a pick-up and drop-off service from your residence, hotel and restaurant. Bring along a thermos of hot cocoa for an extra sweet ride!