Holidays downtown are filled with glittering ornaments, twinkling lights, little elves — and of course Santa himself! Not to be missed is the massive city Christmas tree that illuminates the Loop's Daley Plaza. In a holiday tradition since 2009, the winning tree is selected in contest that draws submissions from Chicago-area residents.

Be there for all the magical moments, from photos and laughs in the UL Santa House to the warm cheers coming from the Christkindlmarket shops and drink tents.

Daley Plaza
50 W. Washington Street (at Dearborn Street)
Chicago, Illinois 60602


Join old St. Nick for a festive holiday kick off in the heart of downtown November 16, 2018. The City of Chicago and UL, the city's official safety partner, proudly present the official start of the season with the 105th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Gather around Daley Plaza with locals and visitors of all ages for the switch of the lights, and then stop in for a visit with the jolly man himself at the UL Santa House.

At 6:00pm the merriment begins and Daley Plaza comes alive with song with live performances leading up to the launch of the lighting ceremony at 6:30pm.

With a flip of the switch, the tree shines brightly for the enjoyment of everyone all season long. Give a cheer and let the holidays begin!


No need for a trip to the North Pole! Santa and his crew have set up their Midwest headquarters right alongside the great tree in the plaza. Step into the colorful workshop and find out if you made the Naughty or Nice list. 

Make plans to stop by the UL Santa House throughout the season from November 25 to December 24, 2014. Be sure to bring along your camera for a souvenir photo.

Daily hours:

  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 11:00am - 8:00pm

Special hours:

  • November 16 (Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony): 6:00pm - 8:00pm
  • November 27 (Thanksgiving Day): 11:00am - 4:00pm
  • December 22 to 23 (Christmas Week): 11:00am - 8:00pm
  • December 24 (Christmas Eve): 11:00am - 4:00pm


With the annual holiday shopping favorite Christkindlmarket Chicago also open on Daley Plaza from November 21 to December 24, 2014, you can easily spend hours outside in this downtown winter wonderland.

Experience a traditional German Christmas inspired by the famous Nuremberg Christmas market dating back to 1545. Surrounded by downtown skyscrapers, it's a uniquely Chicago version where you'll find the city's iconic Picasso sculpture surrounded by red and white crested huts glowing with warmth and overflowing with curios.

The transformation into an outdoor holiday bazaar is complete with exquisite handmade gifts, unique ornaments and German delicacies like brats, goulash, potato pancakes, cookies and Gluhwein, a warm spiced wine. Get the full listing of Christkindlmarket events and vendors at

Daily hours:

  • Sunday to Thursday: 11:00am - 8:00pm
  • Friday and Saturday: 11:00am - 9:00pm

Special hours:

  • November 27 (Thanksgiving Day): 11:00am - 4:00pm
  • December 24 (Christmas Eve): 11:00am - 4:00pm

For more holiday celebrations across the city during the festive winter months, check out our featured Events or browse the Events Calendar to find out what's happening during your stay.

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