‘Tis the season to stop lamenting those bygone hot summer days, leave Halloween behind, and start enjoying all the fun Chicago has to offer during the holiday season! Whether you live downtown or commute into the city, Chicago has good times for everyone now — so bundle up, come on out and let’s have some fun!
The Chicago Lights Festival is this weekend through Saturday, November 18. Festive lights lining the Mag Mile get turned on to brighten up the winter in conjunction with a parade. Get over to Pioneer Court to revel in all sorts of entertainment including live bands. Bring the kids, because Santa has arrived in town! Many shops and restaurants in the area offer special deals at this time. The only ones who may not be pleased about all this are residents of the area trying to commute in vehicles, as there are street closures necessitating detours.
Macy’s on State Street now has its Christmas windows on display through January 7. Their theme this year is “Reasons to Believe,” promoting their Believe campaign (in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation that grants wishes to children with serious illnesses). How can you help? Write a letter to Santa – even if you’re an adult – and money will be donated to this wonderful cause. Instructions are here.
Crowds gather to view these, and it’s hard to get up front and see. If the kid in you wants to get close to the windows, the best times to do this are before schools let out for winter break and before or after shopping hours, which are extended during the holidays.
No matter the weather, huddle with the crowds at Christkindlemarket at Daley Plaza in Chicago, open now through December 24. It will probably put your mind at ease to know the City of Chicago has beefed up security for this and holiday events in general throughout Chicago. So come gawk at the gorgeous tree and the charming shops. The food and drink will warm you and the shops will dazzle you with unique items, plus there is live entertainment.
Also during this exciting mid-November weekend, the ice skating rinks have just opened: You can now ice skate at the Millennium Park ice rink and the Maggie Daley Park ice skating ribbon. Skates are available for rent. Don’t miss your chance this year to do this! These skating rinks are like no place else anywhere; you’ll be surrounded by sparkling skyscrapers.
Thanksgiving weekend is coming right up. This includes the annual Thanksgiving Day parade. If you live right on State Street and plan to stay out partying the night before (“Black Wednesday”), be aware the parade preparations start in the wee hours of the morning on and around State Street. New residents in the area will no doubt be completely caught off guard by this.
Ear plugs could come in handy if you’re trying to get your sleep, because there’s always some guy with a bullhorn bellowing out instructions; this starts well before the parade and continues throughout. Bands line up and practice before the parade starts too. It gets very noisy. In the past, we simply gave in when the parade started, no matter how little sleep: Got up and sat in our pj’s by the window, coffee in hand, watched the parade, and then went back to bed for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner nap.
The annual Turkey Trot takes place the day after Thanksgiving in Lincoln Park. The cool thing about this is it’s for walkers as well as runners and people of all ages. There’s a Turkey Day Run 5K/8K and a Plymouth Rock Ramble kids race. These are followed by yet more fun activities including Corn Hole, Football Toss and Turkey Bowling. Thanksgiving costumes are encouraged. Dress as a turkey — but don’t be one: Sign up now or sponsor a participant, because proceeds go to feed Chicago’s hungry via the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Additionally, for those who don’t wish to cook and have no place to go for Thanksgiving or just want to do your own thing, there are loads of Chicago restaurants serving tasty Thanksgiving dinners. Click here for a list of just some of the excellent restaurants offering Thanksgiving feasts.
Check back soon for part 2 and learn about more Chicago seasonal events hosted with your delight and enjoyment in mind! If you subscribe to my blog (a free and easy process, right from this page), I will keep you informed so you can experience loads of holiday fun this year in downtown Chicago.