Into the midnight hour of December eve, it's never too late to choose Chicago for making holiday traditions of your own! With an abundance of events, shopping and family-fun happenings, you'll never run out of things to do this holiday season in Chicago.

In the spirit of holiday gift-giving and seasonal sales, through December 15, 2014 the Chicago Fall Escape offers a great last minute hotel deal! Enjoy a $150 Chicago hotel statement credit when you use any eligible American Express Card to book a qualifying stay on this site at one of the participating hotels listed here.


Millennium Park Ice Skating

Ice Skating in Millennium Park
Open through Mar. 9, 2014, at the McCormick Tribune Plaza at Millennium Park
Kick off Chicago's winter season with a fun-filled day of ice skating. The rink draws more than 100,000 skaters annually, and is free and open to the public. Skate rental is available for $10.

Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo

Through Jan. 5, 2014, Lincoln Park Zoo
Enjoy ice carving demonstrations, visits with Santa, warm drinks, cool crafts and more as you stroll through Lincoln Park Zoo decorated with more than two million beautiful lights. All new this year is Ice Skating at Lincoln Park Zoo! Whizz past the goats and cows at the rink in Farm-in-the-Zoo before heading to the Kovler Lion House to visit Santa Claus himself. Snacks and festive winter warming drinks are available for purchase and will keep the whole family happy.

Caroling at Cloud Gate
Annual event held on Fridays, last performance Dec. 20, in Millennium Park
Now in its eighth season, Caroling at Cloud Gate has become a cherished tradition in Chicago, with hundreds of singers gathering each week in the park. Enjoy the beautiful voices of a variety of choral groups and participate in a holiday sing-along on Fridays at 6 PM now through December 20.

Matzah to Menorah: A Holiday Jazz Celebration
Dec. 5, Spertus Institute
On the eighth and final night of Hanukkah, join tenor Alberto Mizrahi, harmonica/piano whiz Howard Levy and jazz ensemble Trio Globo in celebrating the festivities of the evening with "the jazziest way to say Happy Hanukkah!" This soulful celebration of music will delight jazz enthusiasts and first time jazz-goers alike. Chicago Tribune Jazz Critic Howard Reich was so impressed by last year's performance that he insisted Spertus present an even more impressive line-up, filled with Grammy-winning and engaging performances through the evening. Buy your tickets here.

Annual event: Held November 26  to December 24, 2013 in Daley Plaza
Experience a traditional German Christmas inspired by the famous Nuremberg Christmas market dating back to 1545. Visitors will find Chicago's iconic Picasso sculpture surrounded by red and white crested huts glowing with warmth and overflowing with curios. Daley Plaza is transformed at this outdoor market offering exquisite handmade gifts, unique ornaments and German delicacies like brats, goulash, potato pancakes, cookies and Gluhwein (a warm spiced wine).

Winter Wonderfest

Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier
Dec. 6, 2013 - Jan. 12, 2014, Festival Hall
Experience the winter season inside 170,000 square feet of family-friendly holiday fun, including the indoor ice skating rink, rides, indoor Ferris wheel and more! No matter the weather outside, stay warm and active at this gigantic playground for families. During the 13th annual Winter WonderFest presented by Bank of America, banish the winter blues with rides, attractions and live entertainment for all ages - all within Navy Pier's Festival Hall. Buy your tickets here

Shopping along The Magnificent MileTM (Michigan Avenue) or State Street
No city does shopping like Chicago. Whether it's along the famous Magnificent Mile or on State Street (that great street), you will find everything you need for the holiday season! Be sure to peek into the decorated famed windows of Macy's on State Street for a holiday treat.

Macy's on State Christmas Traditions
Annually early November to early January at Macy's on State Street
Themed and decorated windows along State Street unveil a story of Christmas cheer. While walking along State Street, take the time to marvel at the 45-foot Great Tree decorated with over 1,200 themed ornaments and 25,000 dazzling lights in the famed Walnut Room.


Adler Season of Wonder

Season of Wonder at Adler Planetarium
Runs through Jan. 5, 2014
Season of Wonder, a tradition for all ages, celebrates the magic of the winter season as only the Adler can. Featuring a sky show that explores the spectacular sights of the winter night sky, seasonal programming, a family snowflake-themed story time and a one-of-a-kind immersive experience in The World's Largest Snow Globe, ‘tis the season to wonder, observe and discover at the Adler. Admission required.

Christmas Around the World & Holidays of Light
Annual event running through Jan. 5, 2014, at Museum of Science and Industry
A Chicago tradition since 1942. The Museum's 45-foot Grand Tree takes center stage in the Rotunda with more than 30,000 lights and 1,000 ornaments, surrounded by more than 50 smaller trees beautifully decorated by volunteers from Chicago's ethnic communities to represent their various cultures and holiday traditions. View the trees, enjoy intermittent falling "snow" and savor the performances on the Holiday Stage by school choral groups and ethnic song and dance groups. Admission required. This year's colorful theme is inspired by the Museum's new temporary exhibit-Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives, presented by D23: The Official Disney Fan Club-which celebrates the innovation of Walt Disney's legacy with more than 300 artifacts from Disney's 90-year history. Admission required.

A Holiday Fantasea at Shedd Aquarium
Show runs through Dec. 24, 2013  
A festive favorite, Shedd's themed, multi-species aquatic show, A Holiday Fantasea, returns featuring your favorite marine mammals. Set among the twinkling lights in the Abbott Oceanarium, Pacific white-sided dolphins leap, beluga whales breach and sea lions and penguins saunter, showcasing their natural behaviors set to a celebratory soundtrack from around the world -- and Santa makes a special appearance! Admission required.


Nutcracker Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet's "The Nutcracker"
December 7-27, 2012 at The Auditorium Theater
The Tchaikovsky masterpiece, featuring the full Joffrey Company, local children's choruses, and more than 120 young dancers, creates a winter wonderland of beauty, magic and sugarplum delight! Purchase your tickets here

Elf The Musical
Nov. 26 - Dec. 15, 2013 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre
This endearingly hilarious tale of Buddy, a human who is raised as an elf, comes to Chicago this Christmas season. As a child, Buddy mistakenly crawled into Santa's bag of gifts and was transported to the North Pole. His enormous size and poor toy-making skills make him face the truth, so with Santa's permission, he goes to New York City to find his family. While on his adventure, he spreads the true meaning of Christmas! Purchase tickets here.

A Christmas Carol
Nov. 16 - Dec. 28, 2013 at The Goodman Theatre
For three decades, Charles Dickens' classic story, paired with the Goodman Theatre's  actors and miraculous stagecraft have made A Christmas Carol a perennial holiday favorite and beloved Chicago tradition. Audiences delight in the "Bah, Humbugs," the arrival of the ghosts, the music and dancing and Scrooge's joyful discovery of life and love. Bring the whole family, or make it a holiday season date night! Purchase tickets here.