15 Unique Holiday Events in Chicagoland to Make the Season Extra Special

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Does scrolling through all of the holiday activities make you feel overwhelmed? We have narrowed down all of the amazing local holiday events and activities to create a list just for you! Keep reading for the most unique holiday experiences that Chicagoland has to offer this season.

The Most Unique Holiday Events and New Holiday Experiences for 2023

Christmas at Cantigny

December 1–30, 2023

cocoa cabanas at Cantigny Park's holiday events with a fire table and heater

Cantigny Park
1S151 Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60189

Cantigny Park creates a new holiday experience this year called “Christmas at Cantigny”. You’ll find a large ice skating rink, heated hospitality tent, cocoa cabanas available for rental, lights displays, and the stately McCormick House again open to the public after being closed since 2020. Parking is $10, ice skating admission is $7 with skate rental for $3, and admission to see the lights and McCormick House is $15 for adults and $5 for children.

Christkindlmarket Aurora

November 17 – December 24, 2023 | Thursdays through Sundays

family walking through Christkindlmarket to experience holiday events together
photo credit: Christkindlmarket

RiverEdge Park
360 N. Broadway
Aurora, IL 60505

Christkindlmarket is excited to have all their staple vendors back for 2023, and they have also added many new ones! They have interactive photo ops, including the new gingerbread sleigh, and a reindeer scavenger hunt for the whole family. Every Thursday you can watch glassblowing on site and get tickets for a workshop to design your own. The Christkindlmarket Aurora is the only location where the German tradition, the Children’s Lantern Parade, will take place. Click here to get tickets for the parade on December 10, 2023.

Sonny Acres Farm’s Christmas Festival

November 17 – December 31, 2023

Sonny Acres Farm
29W310 North Avenue
West Chicago, IL 60185

New this year, Sonny Acres Farm really went all out to create a holiday festival for families! Stroll through dazzling Christmas lights display at their Big & Bright Trail of Lights Festival, see the Christmas Story House replica complete with a leg lamp in the window, enjoy the Christmas Market with various vendors, and eat delicious treats from several food vendors. Santa is also there with a professional photographer to capture the moment. Tickets for the lights are $15 for adults, $10 for kids ages 4-17), and children under 3 are free. We especially recommend this experience for families with younger children. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle

November 24 – December 31, 2023

Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago
108 W Germania PIace
Chicago, IL 60610

This mesmerizing 30-minute immersive experience, set to Tchailkovsky’s music, weaves the classic tale of Marie and her toy nutcracker. Join them, on their magical adventure through the Land of Sweets, brought to life by renowned ballet dancers and innovative projection mapping technology. Tickets start at $29.99 and you can read Katie’s review here.

Self-Led Driving Tours of the Best Residential Christmas Lights

November 24, 2023 – January 1, 2024

Did you know that Kidlist organizes driving routes for the most amazing lights displays created by homeowners? We verify every single house and give you important details like visiting hours, descriptions, and photos, along with planned out routes so you can wow your family! Click here for the Driving Routes for the Best Christmas Lights.

WNDR Museum’s Winter WNDRland: Iced In!

November 24, 2023 – January 15, 2024

photo credit: Kyle Flubacker

WNDR Museum
1130 W. Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60607

WNDR Museum transformed into an icy winterscape so some of the most loved exhibits, such as Masterpiece and Lake Shore Drive will be transformed by a shimmering blanket of snow and ice, enveloping you in the enchanting embrace of the cold. Their interactive art makes for a special outing with friends and family. Tickets start at $32 and can be purchased at wndrmuseum.com.

Holiday Pop-Up Bars and Decked-Out Restaurants

pictured: Prancer’s Pub at Hyatt Lodge Oak Brook

There are so many impressive dining experiences popping up all over Chicago and the suburbs this year! It’s impossible to not get in the holiday spirit at one of these bars or restaurants. Many of them have family-friendly time blocks, so check out our round-up of all the options so you can stop by or make reservations.

Ice Skating at Parkway Bank Park in Rosemont

November 18, 2023 – January 28, 2024

photo credit: Village of Rosemont

Chicago Wolves Ice Rink
5501 Park Place
Rosemont, IL 60018

This NHL-sized outdoor ice skating rink is free if you bring your own skates and skate rental is $8. It’s extra special at night with lights strung across the rink and the surrounding trees glimmering around you. There are also endless food and entertainment options right when you are done. A full schedule of ice skating hours is available online at www.parkwaybankpark.com.

Candlelight Concerts

December 15, 2023

Arts Center of Oak Park
200 N Oak Park Avenue
Oak Park, IL 60302

Fever is hosting a Holiday Pop Classics and Modern Favorites concert with music from the Listeso String Quartet. Have you been to a candlelight concert yet? I went to Radiohead and didn’t quite know what to expect, but it was so unique and we loved it! A great idea for a date night or friends night out. Click here for tickets.

Blue Man Group Chicago Holiday Performances

December, 2023

photo credit: Blue Man Group

Briar Street Theatre
3133 N Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60657

Over the holidays, Blue Man Group expands their performance schedule, including early performances on New Year’s Eve at 1pm and 4pm that are great for kids and offer extras, such as party hats, noisemakers, and pre-show face painting. Tickets start at $49 and you can learn more about taking kids to Blue Man Group from Kidlist Katie who shares tips and inside info to the show. Head to www.blueman.com/chicago for the holiday performance schedule.

Winterland at Gallagher Way

November 21, 2023 – January 7, 2024

photo credit: Gallagher Way

Wrigley Field
3635 N Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60613

In addition to being a site for Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville, Winterland has rides and games, including a ferris wheel, ice rink, tilt-a-whirl, carousel, train, swings, umbrella ride, flying dragons, teacups, fun slide, and more. On select Mondays, kids 12 and under receive a free hot chocolate voucher at the entrance. Admission to Wrigley Field is $5 and attractions require tickets, which are additional and vary in price. You can save money by purchasing ahead of time through the Gallagher Way website.

Sparkle Light Festival

November 17 – December 31, 2023

Impact Field
9850 Balmoral Avenue
Rosemont, IL 60018

You will be blown away by the millions of lights that transforms Impact Field into a holiday wonderland. Visit Santa Claus, ice skate, enjoy train rides on the “Holly Trolly” train, go tubing down the Alpine Slide, and enjoy festive food and drinks. General admission is $24 for adults and kids 13 years old and up and $18 for children 2-12 years old. Tubing hills and small ice skating rink are extra. For more information, visit SparkleRosemont.com.

Visit a Live Nativity

Various dates and times

If you are looking for an experience focused on the meaning of Christmas, visiting a live nativity is a great way to do that. There are many options with volunteer actors and some even have live animals, snacks, and warm drinks! Check out our full list of churches with a live nativity.

Light up the Lake at Navy Pier

November 24 – December 31, 2023 | 12:00pm – 9:30pm

photo credit: Light Up the Lake

Navy Pier
600 E Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

This year for Light Up the Lake, Navy Pier has created a re-imagined experience both indoor and outdoor. There is a large outdoor ice skating rink, axe throwing, and options to ride the centennial wheel. Tickets start at $15 to ride the Centennial wheel, $10 for axe throwing, and $20 for ice skating. Click here for tickets and more information.

Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical

December 19 – 31, 2023

Cadillac Palace Theatre
151 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601

Broadway in Chicago really knows how to make performances special and this looks like a great one! Tickets start at $31.50 plus fees. And if The Grinch isn’t your thing, you can also check out all of the holiday and nutcracker performances at every theater in Chicagoland and see all of your options there.

For more family fun, check out our giant 2023 Holiday Guide!

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