Fall & Winter Happenings in Chicago
By Dave Lifton
The Chicago Marathon brings elite distance runners from around the world to the Windy City. Cheer the athletes at the finish line in Grant Park or anywhere else along the 26-mile route.
This nighttime parade brings cultural institutions and artists from all over Chicago in creative and colorful costumes to State Street to celebrate the power of art.
Until October 31
The Bamboo Club in Wrigleyville transforms into a multi-level haunted house. The pop-up experience is for those aged 15 and over, and people under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Until October 31
Within a 90-minute drive of Chicago are many apple orchards and pumpkin patches. You can enjoy family-friendly activities like corn mazes, petting zoos and hayrides.
Until October 31
Horror film enthusiasts will find their way to the Music Box Theatre in Lakeview and the Logan Theatre in Logan Square, where they’ll have the opportunity to enjoy nightly screenings of timeless classics from the genre.
Día de los Muertos
Until December 10
Pilsen’s National Museum of Mexican Art’s 35th annual Día de los Muertos exhibit honors and celebrates the lives of lost loved ones through this time-honored tradition.
Until November 5
In Schiller Park, near O’Hare International Airport, 13th Floor Haunted House returns for its 10th year with a pair of post-apocalyptic scary experiences. In suburban Joliet, the former Joliet Correctional Center is transformed into a haunted prison with two prison-themed experiences, plus zombie laser tag and two bars.
November 10 – January 7, 2024
In suburban Glencoe, this annual light fest turns the Chicago Botanic Garden into stunning installations of color, light and music created by artists from across the globe.
Mid-November – January 7, 2024
One of the Museum of Science & Industry’s most popular exhibits fills the Rotunda with more than 50 trees in displays that portray international holiday traditions.
Mid-November – Spring 2024
Ice skating lovers have two outdoor options in the heart of Chicago. The McCormick Tribune ice rink is located underneath “The Bean” in Millennium Park, and Maggie Daley Park’s skating ribbon is a quarter-mile track with curves, inclines and declines. Skates and lockers are available for rental at both facilities.
Chicago Christmas Tree
Chicago’s official Christmas tree will be lit by Mayor Brandon Johnson during a ceremony at the Washington St. entrance to Millennium Park.
November 17 – December 24
One of Chicago’s favorite winter traditions returns to Daley Plaza. The outdoor market replicates those found in Germany and features holiday gifts from around the world, German food and beverages and plenty of holiday cheer.
November 17 – January 7, 2024
The Lincoln Park Zoo gets festive for the holidays. Stroll the grounds and see colorful displays that contain more than 2.5 million lights.
The 32nd annual festival kicks off the holiday season with a day’s worth of activities, concluding with a parade down Michigan Avenue, with 1 million lights in the trees being turned on. Mickey and Minnie Mouse are this year’s Grand Marshals.
November 18 – January 6, 2024
The trees of Lisle’s Morton Arboretum serve as canvasses for immersive light displays and along the one-mile path are concession tents with hot beverages and s’mores kits.
November 21 – December 31
This annual event brings Christmas cheer to Wrigley Field, with a Christkindlmarket outside the historic stadium and a skating rink and many other fun activities taking place inside the “friendly confines.”
With loads of balloons, floats, dancers and marching bands, the parade heads up State St. in the Loop to the delight of children of all ages.
November 24 – December 31
The main attraction at is the displays featuring more than 2 million lights. But there are other festivities, such as ice carvings, carolers and pictures with Santa Claus.