What Should We Do This Weekend? Chicago, IL December 12th – 14th, 2019

Major Ongoing Events this Weekend:


Twas The Night Before… by Cirque du Soleil

  • The Chicago Theatre
  • “‘Twas the Night Before… is an exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas classic as only Cirque du Soleil could imagine. This festive show about the wonders of sharing and friendship promises to spark lasting memories in the hearts of families this holiday season.”
  • Performances through December 8th.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

  • “The most wonderful time of the year deserves the most wonderful event of the year. For that, we invite you to join us in celebrating 25 years of ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. This one-of-a-kind, festive holiday experience offers a free, merry, family-oriented celebration of joy right in the heart of the city.
    ZooLights features hundreds of luminous displays and incredible seasonal activities, all under the glow of 2.5 million lights. We ensure that it will be the hap, hap, happiest season since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny Kaye.”
  • 4:30–9 p.m on November 29, 30, December 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31*, January 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic

  • “Now in our 38th year, visit Chicagoland’s Largest and Longest Running Lights Festival with over One Million Twinkling LED Lights, a 41-Foot Talking Tree, a Skating Rink, Ice Carvers, and Much More! “
  • “Nightly Activities: Holly Jolly Theater, Ice Carver, Magician , 41-foot “Talking Tree” , 20-foot Lit Orb (Photo Op) and more!”
  • Saturdays and Sundays, November 30th – December 31st.

Toys “R” Us Adventure Chicago

  • 830 N. Michigan Ave
  • October 24th – January 26th
  • “Toys“R”Us and Candytopia are excited to present an all-new, totally immersive, fill-up-your-photo-album super-experience! The Toys“R”Us Adventure is a vast indoor playland that celebrates all the whimsy, silly and FUN of toys. Explore over eight mind-blowing rooms and celebrate play with installations designed around brands you know and love.”

Portillo’s Pop Up Experience 

  • Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg
  • November 6th – December 31st
  • “Portillo’s Pop Up Experience is coming to town! Visit us at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois from November 6 until December 31 to spread holiday and Portillo’s cheer at our bun-believable Pop Up Shop! Take a ride on our onion ring tire swing or bask in the cheesy glory of our French fry room as you walk through a Portillo’s paradise! Our catering lounge is the perfect spot for you to relax and place your holiday catering orders after taking an a-bun-dance of pictures in our Chicago-style photobooths. The Portillo’s Pop Up Experience will also sell packaged Italian beef, French bread, peppers, and whole chocolate cakes as well as a variety of Portillo’s branded merchandise for holiday gift-giving. Tickets are free to enter.”

Santa HQ at Fashion Outlets of Chicago

  • Friday, November 11th – December 24th
  • Fashion Outlets of Chicago, Rosemont
  • “At Santa HQ, children will be “scanned” as they arrive and determined to be “naughty or nice,” enter an observatory where they will use special tablets to choose magical environments – the night sky or the inner workings of a clock on the wall, for instance – and be able to take an “ELFIE” (an image of the child as a dancing elf), among other attractions. Furry family members can join in the fun and be a part of family photos with Santa during Fashion Outlets of Chicago’s pet nights. Every Monday, from November 28 through December 19, families can bring their cat or dog to Santa HQ for photos with Santa from 6 to 8 p.m.”


  • Chicago: November 15th – December 24th
  • Wrigleyville: November 22nd – December 31
  • Milwaukee: November 15th – December 24th
  • “The smell of roasted nuts, fresh pretzels, bratwurst, and hot spiced wine, the sound of music, and the glimmer of sparkling Christmas ornaments, all in a cozy atmosphere – this is the authentic German-style Christkindlmarket experience. Visitors can explore vendors’ products from all around the world and enjoy the unique shopping experience while enjoying international food, beverages and performances at the outdoor market that is always free of admission. Children have the opportunity to participate in Kinder Club activities.”

Winterland at Gallagher Way

  • Wrigleyville’s Winterland event series has a host of family friendly activities for your family. Ice rink, curling & skating lessons, Santa Claus visits, and movie screenings. Christkindlmarket also is located there as well as a tree lot at Big Star, workshops and breakfast with Santa.
  • The Winterland Tree Lighting will be Monday, December 2nd at 6 pm!

Ice Skate in Millennium Park

  • November 15th – March 8th, 2020
  • Millenium Park, McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
  • “Skating is FREE and open to the public. Those skating with their own skates will need to pick up a FREE admission wristband.”
  • The Winter Workouts Program will offer free ice skating lessons for all ages and skill levels on select days.
  • “DJs spin the music while skaters spin on the ice on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays, 6-8pm (December 6 & 20, January 3 & 17, February 7 & 21, March 6). Admission is free. Skate rental rates apply.”

Cloud Gate Caroling

  • Fridays, November 29, December 6, 13, 20
  • Free Admission • 6–7pm
  • “All are invited to bundle up and belt out holiday classics during Caroling at Cloud Gate located on the park’s iconic Cloud Gate Plaza. The festive series is part concert, part sing-along with some of our city’s most entertaining choirs on Fridays from November 29 through December 20 beginning at 6pm.”

Ice Skate at Maggie Daley Park

  • The skating ribbon at Maggie Daley park is now open!
  • “In the heart of downtown Chicago, with the City’s skyline as a backdrop, a ribbon of ice winds through a rolling landscape providing an ice skating experience unlike any other. The skating ribbon is dramatically different from typical civic ice rinks, creating a multi-sensory activity that is integrated into the landscape. Skaters can experience “alpine in the city” as they lace up their ice skates and follow a path twice the length of a lap around a traditional skating rink. Complementing the ribbon are places to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and rent skates.”
  • Admission is free unless renting skates.

Visit the Giant Christmas Tree at the Museum of Science and Industry

  • “It began in 1942 with a single tree. Today, the Museum’s beloved annual celebration features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. On the weekends, you can also enjoy live holiday performances. It’s the one-of-a-kind experience that brings a whole world of holiday joy under one roof.”

Chicago Polar Express

  • Chicago Union Station
  • “Relive the magic of this classic holiday story with your family on a real train!”
  • Select dates November 23rd – December 29th

Fox River Trolley Museum Polar Express

  • “The Fox River Trolley Museum will operate three Christmas-themed events for 2019. Please refer to each event’s respective page for a detailed event description and purchase options. Please note different dates, prices, times and locations for events.”
  • Departing/ returning to the Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve in South Elgin

Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum

  • November 23, 2019–January 5, 2020
  • “See trees in a different light at Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum. Be surrounded by color as you walk a one-mile paved path amid interactive lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter. Enjoy seasonal music, marvel at ever-changing, captivating lighting designs, and warm up by a crackling fire with a cozy drink or roast marshmallows for s’mores. In this unparalleled spectacle of color, light, and sound, you will be awed and delighted to see returning favorites and surprising new sights, including Tree Fascination–a brilliant digital projection of immersive color and pattern on a grove of Eastern white and Scots pine trees. Illumination will highlight the many gifts of trees: natural beauty, increased feelings of peace and calm, homes for wildlife, and the air we breathe.”

Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden

  • November 22nd – January 5th
  • “You’ll wander into a festive world of wonder and light. Along a mile-long path, the night comes alive with color, imagination, and sound, from a playful choir of singing trees to a spectacular waterfall of light. At times, you’ll find yourself in the center of it all — stepping inside a cathedral of golden light, walking down an avenue of luminous linden trees, moving through colorful ribbons of light.”

Goebbert’s Winter Wonderland Light Show

  • Friday, November 22, 2019 through Sunday, January 5, 2020; Tuesday – Sunday (closed on Mondays)
  • “We have new songs, new structures and new designs for the 2019 Winter Season – the show is also 50% longer! Just as a reminder, all of our farm activities are closed during the winter. The only activity on the farm is the drive through Light Show.”

Santa’s Rock’n Lights

  • Lake County Fairgrounds, Grayslake
  • “Drive Thru Light Show… Almost a full mile of nearly 1,000 programmable elements and over 200,000 animated lights dancing to Christmas music rather than just the old fashioned still displays.”
  • November 22nd – December 31st

Naper Lights

  • November 26th – December 27th
  • Everyday from 4 – 9 pm
  • Downtown Naperville. 120 Water Street
  • “Water Street will be converted into a winter wonderland with a combination of holiday displays and music. There is no charge for visitors to Naper Lights.”

Naperville Santa House

  • “Take a magical trip to visit Santa on the Naperville Riverwalk at Jackson Avenue and Webster Street. Admission is free. Photos can be purchased for $8 each or two for $15. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to visit Santa this year!”
  • November 30th – December 22nd

Santa Claus at the Geneva Commons

  • November 29th – December 22nd
  • Visit Santa & Take a Photo!
    Greet Santa as he strolls through the Commons, giving out gifts and “ho-ho-ho”-ing to everyone he meets. Or visit Santa’s Station, located next to the mall office, for a visit, a photo, and treats for the kids.
    Friday, November 29
    5:30pm – 7:00pm
    Sundays, December 1, 8, 15, & 22
    Strolling Santa • 12:30pm – 1:30pm
    Visit Santa’s Station • 2pm – 5pm

Living Wheaton Christmas Festival

  • Mail your letter to Santa, visit the Merry Elf, and enjoy the roaming entertainment in Downtown Wheaton each weekend!

Bolingbrook’s Festival of Lights Light Show

  • The Promenade Bolinbrook
  • “250,000 LED lights twinkle, sparkle and dance to more than 20 different Holiday songs. The show will play nightly on the hour 5,6,7,8,9 pm. The last show will be on Dec. 31st. The 60 ft tree sits in the round-a-bout in the middle of the shopping mall.”

Morton Arboretum Gnome Hunt

  • Daily November 2019 through March 2020
  • “The animals may be hibernating, but we still have gnomes. Can you find all of the gnomes hiding in the Children’s Garden?“

Berwyn Letters To Santa

  • Berwyn Park District
  • You will find special mailboxes at Komensky and Piper schools, Proksa, Freedom, Smirz and Hessler parks, as well as throughout the Berwyn Depot District. IMPORTANT: PLEASE BE SURE TO INCLUDE A LEGIBLE RETURN ADDRESS AND THE NAME OF YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL OR HOME ADDRESS SO THAT SANTA CAN WRITE BACK!

Aurora Festival of Lights

  • November 29th – December 26th
  • Open 7 days a week from 5 – 9 pm
  • “One of the largest free outdoor drive-through holiday light displays in Northern Illinois, the Aurora Festival of Lights, returns for its 13th year in 2019 with even more dazzling displays that will delight both adults and children.”

Lombard Holiday Lights

  • Lights are on daily in Lilacia Park, 4:30-10:00 pm through January 5.
  • Friday, December 13 | 6:00-8:00 pm
    • Free visits with Santa and a magical Elf hunt! Complete a Victorian craft in Mrs. Claus’ Cupboard brought to you by the Lombard Historical Society.
  • Saturday, December 14 | 6:00-8:00 pm
    • Free visits with Santa, Rudolph and Friends. All participants will receive their very own Rudolph red nose when they visit Rudolph!
  • Sunday, December 15 | 6:00-8:00 pm
    • Free visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Downtown Long Grove Holiday Festivities

  • ” Festivities each weekend (Saturdays & Sundays through December 22nd) include complimentary horse-drawn sleigh rides, carolers, Victorian buildings trimmed in lights, and cobblestone walkways lined in luminaries, and special appearances by Santa.”
  • “The streets of downtown Long Grove come alive for the holidays beginning with horse-drawn sleigh starting Saturday, November 23rd.  Thereafter, the sleigh rides will continue every Saturday and Sunday  through December 22nd*.   Kids of all ages may encounter Santa Claus walking through the village, and on occasion, they can also formally meet the Jolly Old Elf and have pictures taken at the Long Grove Visitor Center.  Also helping set the festive mood each weekend will be holiday carolers.”
  • Sign up for sleigh rides in person at the Visitors Center.

Summerfield Zoo Christmas Town

  • Do you want to meet Santa’s reindeer and watch baby reindeer training sessions? Head to Christmas Town in Belvidere!
  • Visit Friday – Sunday until December 22nd.

City of Chicago Christmas Tree

  • The tree will be up until January 6th.
  • Millennium Park’s Wrigley Square, Michigan Ave. & Randolph St.



It’s that time of year again! The Moms of Western Burbs is kicking off our 3rd Annual Holiday Toy Drive for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago! These toys will be given to children during hospital stays, after tests, treatments, surgeries, etc to brighten their day! Take note of the links for our Amazon Wishlist & Target Wishlist from the image so you can shop from the comfort of home. The toys you buy online will get shipped directly to us. It’s that easy!!




9:00 AM: Adler Planetarium Free Day

  • “Countless galaxies, unfathomable distances, exploding stars, diamond planets, black holes, there’s no way around it, space is freaking awesome! Come learn more at the Adler Planetarium during our Illinois Resident Discount Days—where Illinois residents receive FREE Museum Entry to the museum. Museum Entry provides access to all exhibitions and experiences (excluding the historic Atwood Sphere Experience and sky shows.*)”

9:30 AM: Holiday Pajama Storytime w/ Fit4Mom

  • Naperville Yard Indoor Sports Complex
  • “Join us for a workout followed by holiday story time for the kids! Dress your little elves in their favorite holiday pajamas, moms feel free to wear something festive too (who doesn’t love holiday socks?!).”
  • First Fit4Mom class is free!

10:00 AM: Teddy Bear Clinic

  • DuPage Children’s Museum
  • “Bring your favorite stuffed toy to the Museum for a check-up from the team at DuPage Medical Group to ensure they are in the best of health!”

12:00 PM: Candy Cane Hunt 

  • Roselle Park District
  • “Join us for this sweet treat of an event – the Candy Cane Hunt! It is rumored that Santa will be hiding candy canes of all colors and sizes throughout the CRC, and kids will have to search and hunt to collect as many as they can find. Some candy canes will be “lucky canes” and will win your child a special prize! Hot chocolate and refreshments will be served. Each child must be supervised by a parent or guardian.”
  • Contact park district to preregister!

6:00 PM: Cloud Gate Caroling

  • Fridays, November 29, December 6, 13, 20
  • Free Admission • 6–7pm
  • “All are invited to bundle up and belt out holiday classics during Caroling at Cloud Gate located on the park’s iconic Cloud Gate Plaza. The festive series is part concert, part sing-along with some of our city’s most entertaining choirs on Fridays from November 29 through December 20 beginning at 6pm.”




9:00 AM: Cantigny Lego Train Show

  • Cantigny Park
  • Bring a new and unwrapped toy to receive free parking!
  • “The LEGO show has become a holiday tradition. This extraordinary event is produced by the Northern Illinois LEGO Train Club and is the group’s largest annual show in terms of display space and attendance.”

9:00 AM: Elmhurst Holiday Fun Day

  • Free showing of Polar Express
  • Elmhurst City Centre
  • “Join us for a free showing of The Polar Express! Doors open at the York Theatre at 9am. Movie begins at 9:30am. Free conductor hats to all the kids, Santa will be in the fountain plaza from 11am-1pm. Visit the Elmhurst History Museum booth to snap a Polar Express picture and pick up a “golden ticket” and coloring sheet.”

10:00 AM: Berwyn Candy Cane Hunt

  • Proksa Park
  • Free for children 12 and under

10:00 AM: Santa Comes To Firezone!

  • FireZone: 1100 National Pkway, Schaumburg
  • Fire fighter Gear demo
    *Pictures with Firefighting Santa
    *Holiday Treats
    *Free Christmas fire helmet
    *Please bring a toy to donate to our Toy Drive
    *Santa Drop In is on 12/14/19, from 10am-1pm
    *If tickets were not purchased prior to event, tickets at the door will be $15 per adult and $20 per child.

10:30 AM: Family Holiday Movie: Polar Express

  • Glen Ellyn Art Theatre
  • “The Glen Art Theatre will offer free children’s holiday-themed movies, at 10:30 am beginning on Nov 30th and continuing on every Saturday until Christmas.”

11:00 AM: Hinsdale for the Holidays

  • Burlington Park
  • “Head on over to historic Hinsdale for our annual Hinsdale for the Holidays celebration. There will be gingerbread cookie decorating, horse & carriage rides through downtown Hinsdale, & even Santa Claus will be there for a visit and photos with the family.”

11:00 AM: Sleigh Rides, Ice Sculptures, & Santa

  • 483 S. Spring Rd, Elmhurst
  • 11am-Noon: Watch LIVE Ice Sculpting!
  • 11am-2pm: Enjoy a horse drawn wagon ride thru the Spring Road area. Walk up and down Spring Road to see the Ice Sculptures sponsored by businesses.
  • Visit with Santa and warm up with hot chocolate and cookies.
  • Held at the Prairie Path Gazebo.
  • Admission is FREE!

11:30 AM / 1:00 PM: Stories With Santa

  • “Come enjoy stories with Santa and his LIVE reindeer in Downtown Glen Ellyn this holiday season. This is the day to take the family downtown for all to enjoy. The holiday celebration will be 1-3pm at The Glen Ellyn Firehouse located at Main and Pennsylvania.
    Starting at 11:30am, enjoy a kid buffet at Northside Bar & Grill (across the street from the Fire Station) while Classic Holiday Movies play for all to enjoy. The buffet is open until 2pm – eat before your Santa experience.

    Then come have your picture taken with Santa and LIVE reindeer. Santa and the reindeer will arrive at 1pm and stay until 3pm. Enjoy the moment…we have a photographer ready to take your special holiday picture! Also enjoy our guests from The Glen Ellyn Public Library while they read reindeer facts, many holiday stories and provide caroling for all to enjoy.”

2:00 PM / 4:15 / 6:30: Historic Holiday Express

  • Veterans Park Bensenville
  • “Climb on board the 1930’s passenger coach and travel to the North Pole while watching The Polar Express! Passengers will watch the classic film while enjoying hot chocolate–just like in the movie. Other snacks will be provided as well. In addition, expect a surprise guest appearance by Santa himself. A souvenir will be handed out at the end of the movie. Parents are encouraged to bring the kids in pajamas, and bring pillows and blankets. Chairs will be available for all the «big» kids. This train does NOT actually move. $10 per person, register at the DGLC.”

4:30 PM: Christmas On The Farm

  • Peck Farm Park
  • “Celebrate the holidays at Peck Farm Park! Gather around the fireplace inside the historic Peck House and listen to a story from Mrs. Claus, stay warm outside by the fire in George’s Circle, enjoy music of the season, and ice sculpting in the courtyard, and perhaps meet Santa Claus himself.”
  • Event admission is free.

6:00 PM: Frozen Meet & Greet

  • 108 S Bloomingdale Rd
  • “Stop by the Museum between 6 and 8:30 p.m. to meet your favorite Frozen princesses! Activities also include crafts, games, photos, autographs and story time. Activities are held both indoors and outdoors (weather dependent).No registration is necessary for this FREE event!”



9:00 AM: Cantigny Lego Train Show

  • Cantigny Park
  • Bring a new and unwrapped toy to receive free parking!
  • “The LEGO show has become a holiday tradition. This extraordinary event is produced by the Northern Illinois LEGO Train Club and is the group’s largest annual show in terms of display space and attendance.”

11:00 AM: Musical Brunch with Santa

  • Fitz’s Spare Keys
  • “Join us for a Musical Brunch with Santa featuring live Christmas music, meet and greet with Santa as well as a Buffet!Seating is based on a first come first serve basis. General standing room is available. To ensure your table is reserved, please arrive 30 minutes before the start of the event. Once the show starts, your seats will not be held.

    Doors at 10:30am | Meet Santa at 11am | Fitz’s Spare Keys | All Ages Welcome”

1:30 PM: Storytime With The Grinch

  • Blackberry Farm, Aurora
  • 45 min blocks from 1:30 – 5:30, ending at 6:15
  • “Visit with the Grinch and enjoy cookies and hot cocoa. There will be story time and photo opportunities. Each registered attendant is also invited to enjoy all Holiday Express has to offer, come early or stay after depending on your ticket time. You won’t want to miss the train, visit with Santa and all of the festive decorations! All ages 2 and up need to purchase a ticket.”

5:30 PM: Families Night Out for Families with Special Needs

  • DuPage Children’s Museum
  • “Family Night Out provides an evening of play and learning for children with special needs and their families, focusing on the autism spectrum and other sensory processing disorders as well as physical disabilities.

    Finding places for the whole family to play without stress can be difficult, but this after-hours event allows for a time to experience the Museum in a calmer, less crowded environment. Some lighting and sound will be muted, and additional sensory activities and cool down spaces will be provided.

    Admission is FREE, but registration is required.”

6:00 PM: A Perfect Holiday Spectacular Mess

  • Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet
  • What can possibly go wrong when a group of local performing arts students set out to put on a BIG show for a great cause? This very funny show has all of the charm of classic holiday variety TV shows of days past and great performances by young local singers, dancers, musicians and actors. Proceeds benefit the Dream Big Performing Arts Foundation, TLC Animal Shelter, Rockin’ The Cause and Hope and Friendship Ministries.






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