The holidays are a magical time of year in Chicago. Bring your group to share in some of the city’s beloved seasonal traditions that include everything from a festive international celebration at the Museum of Science and Industry to dazzling animated lights displays at Lincoln Park Zoo.
1. Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light
A holiday tradition since 1942, the Museum of Science and Industry celebrates its annual Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light celebration from mid-November through the first weekend of January. You’ll be awed by the glittering four-story Grand Tree surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays representing the holiday traditions of cultures from around the globe. On the weekends, catch live international music and dance performances. Make an advance prepaid group reservation for 15 or more to qualify for special discounts, tours, and experiences.
2. Millennium Park
Millennium Park is a winter wonderland in the heart of downtown Chicago. The City of Chicago Christmas Tree, which stands at Michigan Avenue and Washington Street, will be lit on Nov. 20. To the joy of holiday revelers, the towering tree will be illuminated every night through early January.
3. Wreathing of the Lions
The Wreathing of the Lions has been a tradition at the Art Institute of Chicago for more than 25 years. On Nov. 27, watch as the museum unveils the cheery holiday wreaths that have been placed on the shoulders of the regal lion statues on the museum steps. Designed by famed Chicago sculptor Edward Kemeys, the bronze African lions were installed at the Art Institute in 1894. Over the years, they have become beloved Chicago mascots.
The awesome Lightscape returns to the Chicago Botanic Garden in north suburban Glencoe from Nov. 13 – Jan. 3, 2021. This mile-long, illuminated trail comes to life at night with vivid color and sound. See a playful choir of singing trees, walk through the sparkling Cathedral of Light, and marvel at an inspiring installation by local artists. Purchase tickets in advance for groups of 15 or more.
Ooh and aah at the dazzling animated lights displays during ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo from Nov. 21 – Jan. 3, 2021, where more than two million lights transform the zoo into a glittering winter wonderland. There’s also craft cocktails, an Enchanted Forest, and a Light Maze. A $5 general admission fee will be charged this year, with Holiday Experience attractions costing an additional $3 each. Five free nights are scheduled for Nov. 24 and Dec. 9, 17, 21, and 29. Timed-entry tickets are required and groups are limited to a maximum of 10 people.