Whether you’re planning to visit Chicago with your group in fall or winter, you’ll find fun seasonal celebrations happening throughout the city. Autumn is all about Halloween and spooky spectacles, from a fantastical evening parade to ghost tours. While winter brings sparkly holiday fun like Christmas caroling in snowy Millennium Park and wandering through a dazzling lights display at Lincoln Park Zoo. Here are 11 fun Chicago holiday ideas for groups to get your planning started.
With events ranging from a nighttime arts parade to an authentic Day of the Dead celebration, autumn is an awesome time to visit Chicago with your group.
Arts in the Dark
Harnessing the imagination of Chicago’s creative community, renowned institutions that include the Art Institute of Chicago and Lookingglass Theatre Company combine forces to produce a magical evening Halloween parade in downtown Chicago. Marvel at the large-scale puppets, costumed performers, elaborate floats and art-filled performances as the procession moves north along Columbus Drive from Balbo to Monroe Street in spectacular fashion.
Dia De Los Muertos
Experience an authentic Day of the Dead celebration at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen. The museum and nearby Harrison Park will converge to create a homage to dearly departed loved ones. Traditional make-your-own ofrendas (altars), live music, face painting, and art activities transform the park’s soccer field into a festive community gathering place similar to one you would find in Mexico on Día de los Muertos.
Nightly Spirits Chicago Ghost Tour
Nightly Spirits’ two-hour Chicago Ghost Tour appropriately begins at The Red Lion Pub in Lincoln Park, reputedly one of the city’s most haunted bars. A guide takes ghost hunters through dark alleyways and around creepy buildings as they tell tales of murdered Prohibition-era gangsters and ghosts that refuse to leave their dwellings. The approximately one-mile tour includes stops at two or three bars to sample spirits of a different kind. The purchase of drinks is not included or required. Customized private group tours are available.
Christmas Around the World & 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. You’ll be awed by the sparkling four-story Grand Tree surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays representing the holiday traditions of cultures around the globe. On the weekends, catch international music and dance performances, along with build-an-ornament workshops, and photos with Santa. Make an advance group reservation for 15 or more to visit the museum and receive a discount on admission.
Millennium Park & Maggie Daley Park
Holiday Lights Tour
Beginning in late November, hop aboard a festively decorated trolley and join the Holiday Lights Tour hosted by Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co. The 2.5-hour tour kicks off near the spectacular Christmas tree in front of the towering 875 North Michigan Avenue building (formerly the John Hancock Center), then travels through the Loop past the quaint Christkindlmarket and by the glittering ZooLights display at Lincoln Park Zoo. A free cupcake from Sprinkles makes the trip even sweeter. The trolley makes two stops so visitors can hop off and explore the sights. Private group charters are available.