Planning a Chicago family vacation this holiday season? With this hot list of annual traditions, we've got you covered. From festive events in Chicago to Christmas activities for kids, here are 15 things to do with children in Chicago this holiday season.

1. Laugh along with Ken Ludwig's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas show. 
Broadway In Chicago and Emerald City Theatre present this hilarious take on the classic holiday poem from November 10-December 31, 2017 at the Broadway Playhouse.

2. Ice skate at the McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink.
Enjoy free ice skating daily from November 17, 2017 through March 4, 2018 on this beautiful outdoor 16,000-square-foot rink in Millennium Park. There's no admission, so bring your own skates, or rent a pair for $12 weekdays; $14 on weekends and holidays.

3. Enjoy Christmas Around the World & Holidays of Light.
This annual cultural celebration at the Museum of Science and Industry showcases a spectacular 45-foot Grand Tree, encompassed by 50 beautifully decorated trees representing Chicago's diverse ethnic communities and their holiday traditions. With song and dance routines — plus indoor "snow" — this exhibit celebrates the season, opening on November 16, 2017.   

4. See Minnie, Mickey and friends lead Chicago's spectacular grand parade at The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.
At the nation's largest evening holiday celebration, held November 18, 2017, you'll find family-friendly activities, live shows and a grand tree-lighting parade down Michigan Avenue, ending with fireworks over the Chicago River. 

5. See the Lighting of the City of Chicago Christmas Tree in Millennium Park
On November 17, 2017, get the holiday started with the 104th annual lighting of Chicago's official Christmas tree in Millennium Park, at Michigan Avenue and Washington Street.

6. Window shop at Macy's on State Street.
Peer into the large windows at Macy's and catch a glimpse of the renowned seasonal displays, which are decked out with holiday cheer from November to January. 

7. Marvel at the illuminated wonderland at ZooLights.
Head over to Lincoln Park Zoo for a free lights festival, where families can do holiday crafts, take pictures with Santa, watch live ice carving and enjoy animal encounters. This festive event takes place November 24, 2017 through January 7, 2018.

8. Belt out some holiday songs with Caroling at Cloud Gate.
Enjoy classic holiday tunes while watching and singing along with a variety of choral groups in front of a Chicago icon — "The Bean" — every Friday (November 24-December 15, 2017) in Millennium Park.

9. Watch the Art Institute of Chicago Wreathing of the Lions.
Enjoy the 26th annual family tradition on November 24, 2017, when the majestic lion statues at the Art Institute of Chicago don festive wreaths, and families can warm up with complimentary hot chocolate and live music.

10. Enjoy thrilling rides at Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier.
From rides and slides and ice skating to glorious décor, this INDOOR holiday event from December 1, 2017 through January 7, 2018 offers 170,000 square feet of playtime.

11. Explore and learn at Chicago Children's Museum.
Escape the chilly winter weather in this wonderland of interactive exhibits, exciting activities, themed play areas and seasonal fun.

12. Have breakfast with Santa at Shedd Aquarium.
On select dates in December enjoy breakfast with Santa, hot chocolate and a showing of THE POLAR EXPRESS 4-D Experience..

13. Check out the Holiday Flower Show & Model Trains at Lincoln Park Conservatory.
Watch model trains wind their way through a miniature village and colorful floral displays daily from November 24, 2017 through January 7, 2018.

14. Escape to a tiny world with the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute.
Get a glimpse into a miniature world with this exhibit featuring 68 rooms painstakingly decorated in historical furnishings dating back to the 13th century.

15. Watch the candle-lit procession at the St. Lucia Festival of Lights.
This Swedish event in Andersonville features a candle-lit procession of white-robed "Lucia Girls," as they sing and walk down Clark Street. Don't miss this beautiful holiday event on December 12, 2017.


For more holiday ideas across the city, visit or browse the Events Calendar to find out what's happening during the dates of your stay. 


Related Listings

Navy Pier
600 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 595-5300

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 443-3600

Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 684-1414

Lincoln Park Zoo
Cannon Dr. at Fullerton Parkway
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 742-2000

Lincoln Park Conservatory
2391 N. Stockton Dr.
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 742-7736

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Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

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Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 744-6050

Chicago Children's Museum
700 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 527-1000

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 939-2438

Macy's on State Street
111 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 781-1000

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