Make the Season Extra-Special with 9 of Chicagoland’s Most Unique Holiday Experiences

WinterIndoor Places to GoOutdoor Places to Go

Are you scrolling through all the holiday activities and feeling overwhelmed? We have narrowed down all of the amazing local holiday experience choices and created a list just for you! These are what we found to be the most unique holiday experiences that Chicagoland has to offer this season. These are some of our team’s favorite activities, and hopefully they will be a hit with your children this holiday season, too!

Unique Holiday Experiences 2022

Caroling at The Bean

Photo courtesy of the city of Chicago

Fridays, November 25 – December 16, 2022
Did you know you can join the crowd in front of Cloud Gate on Fridays to sing carols all together? What a great way to get in the festive spirit! Songbooks will be distributed at this event and a large print version is available- just ask the people handing out the books. Then you can ice skate at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink or head over to the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park to make the night even more special!

Holiday Light Displays

There are so many light shows and displays created by organizations, businesses, and homeowners! Click here to view out Holiday Lights Guide to find a driving route or get tickets to a show near you.

Experience a Live Nutcracker Performance

Dates and Times Vary
Take your family to see a Chicago or local production of the Nutcracker. There are plenty of local theater performances, or you can head downtown and make a day of it in the city.

Visit a Live Nativity

Dates and Times Vary
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 in the west and southwest suburbs, all with volunteer actors, some with live animals and even snacks and warm drinks! See our full list of churches with a live nativity in the west and southwest suburbs of Chicago. 

Outdoor Ice Skating

It’s always hard to tell if the weather is going to be favorable to ice skating over the holidays, but we have an Ice Skating Guide that covers indoor, outdoor, and refrigerated rinks! Some of the most unique places to ice skate are Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon, McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park, Sky Rink at the Peninsula Hotel, The Forge: Lemont Quarries, and Parkway Bank Park.

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo

Friday through Sunday, November 25-27; Wednesday through Sunday, November 30, December 1-4, 7-11, 14-18; Monday through Saturday, December 26-31.
Enjoy the zoo in a different way this holiday season with a giant light display, 41-foot-tall talking tree, more than two million LED lights, live entertainment, professional ice-carving demonstrations, drop off letters for Santa, ice skating, and photo-ops. Click here for our insider’s guide to Holiday Magic.

Light up the Lake at Navy Pier

November 25 – January 7
Navy Pier kicked off their first indoor winter lights festival last year. Tickets are $27 for adults and $17 for kids age 3-12 and includes a ride on the Centennial Wheel. Inside Light up the Lake are 600,000 lights, an ice rink with skates available to rent, a reflecting pond, a light memory game, winter wonderland forest, kiddie train rides and more. My family has tickets to check it out in a few weeks! We can’t wait.

See a Performance at Drury Lane

Drury Lane Theatre knows how to make things special. This year they are performing Elf the Musical, A Christmas Carol, and Cinderella over the holidays. They also offer all kinds of dining experiences, including brunch, tea, and dinner.

Sparkle Light Festival

Open most days until January 1, 2023, with tickets reserved for either 4:30-6:30pm or 7:00-9:00pm
New this year, the Sparkle Light Festival offers families the opportunity to take countless holiday photos, enjoy a warm cup of hot chocolate, and soak up holiday fun with their loved ones. See all the amazing light displays, try the alpine slide, ride the children’s train and more. Read all the details from our visit to this new attraction.

Family Holiday Fun Guide

Looking for more local ideas that your family will enjoy this holiday season? Head over to our full guide to holiday fun for families!

Half-Priced Tickets for Local Shows and Activities

We also have discounts and deals for your family so you can have a great time AND get a good discount on local attractions and events. Click here for our half-price ticket page.

For more family fun, check out our giant 2022 Holiday Guide!

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