Kickoff Your Holidays


By Leentje De Leeuw

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Chicago offers so many magical holiday events it’s never too early to start planning for the festivities!  

Chicago Thanksgiving Parade

Thanksgiving is not only the busiest time of year at O’Hare, but there is plenty to do in the city as well. The traditional parade brings on the holiday spirit with marching bands, balloons, dancers, and more! This year’s parade will be taking place on November 25th from 8:00-11:00 am and will travel up State Street from Ida B. Wells Dr to Randolph. After the year we’ve all had there’s so much to be thankful for. Help Chicago ring in the season of giving with this magical parade!


Another holiday favorite of city-goers is the annual Christkindlmarket- a cultural dive into Christmas celebrated German-style. Right in the heart of Chicago you can find knick-knacks and collectibles, food and drinks, and live performances all perfectly curated to get you into the holiday spirit. Official dates still to come, help make the 25th anniversary of the Christkindlmarket the greatest festival yet!

CTA Holiday Train and Bus

One of the greatest Chicago traditions is the Chicago Transit Authority Holiday Train and Bus which bring feelings of joy and cheer to children and adults alike. Each car of the holiday train is decked out in decorations galore and it’s definitely a sight to see. Seasonal images and thousands of twinkling lights flash before your eyes as the train brings Santa to each stop on the route waving to his adoring public. 2020 brought interesting challenges with the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in no passengers being allowed on the train itself, but that didn’t stop this beloved tradition from making its way through the city. In a similar fashion, the 60-foot bus brings some holiday flare to Chicago’s neighborhoods. The winter wonderland on wheels makes its way through the city, escorting Santa throughout the neighborhoods while the sound of holiday music fills the air. Logistics on how this year’s train and bus will work have not been officially released, but we’re sure the CTA will ensure a magical experience for everyone who stops by to see the train.

ZooLights At Lincoln Park Zoo 

Year-round Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo brings entertainment and fun to families with activities and animals galore. The fun continues into the holiday season with the zoo’s Annual ZooLights. With tickets priced at just $5, this is a perfect inexpensive way to kick off the season. Starting November 19th and continuing through January, this year’s 27th edition of the festival will be complete with pop-up bars, interactive light displays, and an extravagant light maze. Kids will even get the chance to meet Santa himself and capture the moment with a picture. If you’re spending the holidays in the city you can’t miss the sweet treats and memories that will last a lifetime.

BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

Perhaps one of Chicago’s greatest traditions is the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. All at once, right before your very eyes, the trees, storefronts, and shops that line Chicago’s iconic Magnificent Mile light up, illuminating North Michigan Avenue. The festival brings Chicagoans together to celebrate the season in a beautiful way. Live performances create a high-energy environment and draw crowds in to marvel at the spectacular views of Michigan Avenue. Once the lights go on, the holidays are on! Don’t miss it on November 20th.

The holidays only come once a year, so make sure you don’t miss out on your chance to celebrate with all of Chicago in the most spectacular ways. Mark your calendars and prepare to get festive this season!

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