Your Essential Guide to the Holidays in Chicago

A Christmas tree display in Chicago, IL.

The holidays are upon us, and there’s no place to spend time with family and friends like Chicago, IL. From amazing shopping experiences to jaw-dropping lights displays, you can always find something festive to do in the Windy City. Whether you've celebrated in Chicago before or you're new in town, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating your Chicago Christmas itinerary.

Finding festive things to do around Chicago can make the holiday season feel hectic, but there’s no need to fret—we’ve rounded up a selection of fun ideas to keep you and your loved ones busy until the new year!

Holiday Lights in Chicago


Beautiful lights displays are quintessential to Chicago’s holiday season. In fact, Chicago residents take so much pride in their lighting skills that local news channel ABC7 hosts the Great Chicago Light Fight. Homeowners throughout Chicagoland submit their takes on twinkling holiday lights each year in hopes of winning the competition. In addition to cruising around Skokie, Jefferson Park, and other Chicago neighborhoods to enjoy homemade light shows, you can find several public displays across the city.

City of Chicago Christmas Tree


What better way to celebrate Christmas than viewing a 51-foot Christmas tree decked in lights? Chicago’s official tree can be spotted in Millennium Park during the holiday season into early January. In addition to getting you in the holiday spirit, the tree display is a great photo opportunity for you and your loved ones.

Lincoln Park Zoo


Hosted at Lincoln Park Zoo, ZooLights offers an entire experience with great food, drinks, and lights. Until January 2, 2022, you can discover the magic of the lights throughout the zoo and additional events held during December. Lincoln Park Zoo also offers free admission on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Chicago Botanic Garden


Lights are fun to look at, but they are even better in an immersive environment. Lightscape transforms the beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden into a bright wonderland. Once the sun sets, take a relaxing walk with your loved ones down this remarkable light path you will never forget. This event lasts until January 2, 2022, so grab your tickets soon.

Ice Skating in Chicago


Are you truly in the holiday spirit if you don't take a spin around an ice skating rink? Whether you are a pro or need to stay close to the wall, ice skating is a great way to have fun during the holidays. Experience the best rinks in the country, conveniently located in well-known Millennium Park. 

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink


Through March, you can show off your ice skating skills at McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. First opened in 2001, the rink is nestled next to The Bean, and features free admission. Don’t have your own ice skates? Rentals cost $13 - $15. 

Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon


Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon allows you to glide through an immersive Van Gogh light experience. On the ice, you can appreciate the beauty of Van Gogh inspired designs on a rink that loops through the park.

Chicago Holiday Events


Aside from extraordinary lights and amazing ice skating opportunities, you can still find even more events around the city to make yourself feel jolly. Delicious foods, tours, and shopping experiences await if you know where to look for them! Bundle up and discover other holiday activities that Chicago has to offer.



Chicago residents and visitors alike love visiting the German Christmas Market, Christkindlmarket. Explore German-inspired food, drinks, gifts, and activities at this free event’s two convenient locations: Wrigleyville and Downtown Chicago. 

Holiday Tours


A holiday tour gives you the chance to bundle a variety of Chicago sights and experiences. Whether you prefer a flight of brownie or beer samples or a dazzling holiday light tour, you have countless options available.

Shopping in Chicago


Make shopping an event for yourself or with others by going to the Magnificent Mile (also known as N. Michigan Avenue). Perfect for window shopping or last minute gifts, the area also features the annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.

Indoor Activities You’ll Love in Chicago


Ready to escape the cold? Take advantage of the varying indoor activities offered around the city. Indoor events are perfect for spending time with family and friends for the holidays without cold, runny noses, bulky winter coats, and braving the snow and wind. Learn more about fun indoor activities in Chicago below!

Purchase Tickets to the Theater


There is no better way to cozy up than attending an impressive theater performance. Catch a production of The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, and other holiday shows in Chicagoland!


Museum of Science and Industry


Learn about holiday traditions from around the world at The Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light event. You can even grab a photo with Santa!


Swing by Winter Wonderfest on Navy Pier


Located on Navy Pier, Winter Wonderfest for all the best indoor attractions. This family-friendly event will be sure to keep you entertained with an indoor ice skating rink and the famous Centennial Wheel.

Create Room for the Holidays with Safeguard Self Storage


As you make a list of all the things you plan to do this holiday season (and check it twice), allow Safeguard Self Storage to take a load off your holiday schedule. If you need a place to store gifts, ice skates, or other festive belongings to keep your Chicago home uncluttered, visit our brand-new Edison Park self storage facility.

We offer a variety of unit sizes and features to help you create space during and after the holiday season. Explore our available units and rent or reserve your Chicago self storage unit today!

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