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. Spend a day with the Peanuts gang for A Charlie Brown Christmas show 
Broadway In Chicago and Emerald City Theatre present the Charles Schulz classic from November 11, 2016 through January 8, 2016. Through a pageant and a spindly tree, Charlie Brown and friends discover the true meaning of Christmas.

2. Ice skate at the McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink.
Enjoy free ice skating daily from November 18, 2016 through March 5, 2017 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 only $10.

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 November 17, 2016.   

4. See Minnie, Mickey and friends lead Chicago's spectacular grand parade at The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.
As the nation's largest evening holiday celebration, you'll find a two full days of family friendly activities. Friday, November 18, will kick off the fun with a spectacular light show to celebrate the festival's 25th anniversary. A grand tree-lighting parade down Michigan Avenue, exciting concerts and fireworks over the Chicago River on November 19. 

5. Visit Santa Claus in Millennium Park
On November 18, get the holiday started with the Lighting Ceremony of Chicago's official Christmas Tree in Millennium Park (a brand new location at Michigan & Washington), then meet with Mr. Claus that evening, plus weekends at the Welcome Center through December 18.

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 light 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 25, 2016 through January 1, 2017.

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 25 - December 16) in Millennium Park.

9. Watch the Wreathing of the Lions at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Enjoy the 25th annual family tradition on November 25, 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 2, 2016 through January 8, 2017 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. Watch a holiday aquatic show among twinkling lights at Shedd Aquarium.
The annual holiday-themed showcase returns with an exciting performance featuring dolphins, beluga whales and penguins set to a soundtrack from around the world (November 27, 2015 - January 2, 2016).

13. Hop a ride at the Winter Flower & Train Show at Lincoln Park Conservatory.
Wind your way through a miniature village and colorful floral displays while riding on an old-fashioned steam engine, available daily from November through January 2016.

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 13.


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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