Navy Pier is just as wonderful in the winter as it is in the summer. You can pull right in, park your car in the indoor lot, and enjoy a day jam-packed with activities, dining, shopping, and fun — without having to endure the chilly weather outdoors. For the 17th year in a row, families from near and far will head to Navy Pier to celebrate the season minus the gloves, hat and mittens at Winter WonderFest (open December 1, 2017-January 7, 2018).
Featuring an ice rink, climbing wall and 170,000 square feet of entertainment for all ages, this fun fest is back! As in years past, a glittering forest of nearly 500 trees decorated with 25,000 ornaments hung on a mile of wire will greet guests. Here is our insider's guide and top tips for Navy Pier's Winter WonderFest.
- Ride the Centennial Wheel. This year, each admission purchase includes a ride on the 200-foot Centennial Wheel. Introduced in May 2016, the iconic ride gives riders a panoramic look at Chicago in an enclosed, temperature-controlled gondola, and it narrates the experience with state-of-the-art entertainment systems.
- Arrive early or weekdays to beat the crowds. Festival hours are 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Special hours will be in effect on December 4-6 and 11-13 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m), December 24 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), December 26-28 (10 a.m. – 10 p.m.) and New Year's Eve (10 a.m. – 8 p.m.). The fest is closed on Christmas Day.
- Purchase your tickets in advance. Avoid having to wait in line to purchase wristbands by purchasing online in advance and save one dollar. General admission tickets cost $28, with special $13 pricing for children and seniors. For full ticketing information and advance ticket purchase, click here.
- Leave your coats in your car. Parking is conveniently indoors at Navy Pier, so avoid having to drag your winter gear around all day by leaving your coats in your car. Coat check is also available for $5.
- Check out the special promotions. Visit Special Offers page before you go for daily discounts on admission and parking.
- Skate a Figure Eight on the Chicago Blackhawks Rink. Carve out some time during your visit to enjoy a twirl around this popular indoor ice skating rink.
- Visit with Santa. He's making his list at Navy Pier from December 1-24.
- Tube down Chicago's warmest hill. No mittens are required at dual lane 15-foot-high Wintertube “snow” hill!
- Find fun--especially for the littlest ones. Bouncy houses, slides and carousels ensure that even your littlest ones have a blast at the fest.
- Make your own holiday sugar cookie. At the Create A Cookie Cottage, kids can decorate freshly baked sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles.
The Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier takes place in Festival Hall and will run from December 1, 2017 to January 7, 2018. For more details and complete calendar of events at Navy Pier, visit navypier.org.
Photos courtesy of Navy Pier