Looking for fun things to during the Christmas holiday season in Chicago with kids? Below are the best family Christmas activities in Chicago that are guaranteed to get the whole family into the holiday spirit!

You can find more even more things to do for both kids and adults during Christmas in Chicago here.

Christmas Activities in Chicago For Kids

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Chicago Illinois

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, will celebrate 31 years with a live parade (the largest nighttime parade in the US) when one million lights are illuminated on the trees along The Magnificent Mile. The parade is on Michigan Avenue from Oak Street to Wacker Drive.

When: Saturday, November 19, 2022.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light


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The Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at the Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S Lake Shore Drive) annual celebration began in 1942 and features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 40 trees and displays which represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe.

The Art of The Brick exhibit is also getting into the holiday spirit with the debut of new pieces themed around the 12 Days of Christmas.

When: November 16, 2022 – January 4, 2023.

Cost: Here is a link to the official website for prices, times and more information.

Tip:  If you are visiting a few museums, consider purchasing a Chicago CityPASS or Go Chicago Card to save money on entrance fees.

Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier

Immerse yourself in the magic of interactive light displays, a whimsical skating rink, journeys through the birch tree maze, visits with Santa, and more at Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier.

Where: Festival Hall at Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

When: November 25, 2022 through January 7, 2023.

Cost: Prices vary depending on day. Tickets start at $15.

Winterland at Gallagher Way

Winterland at Gallagher Way (3635 N Clark St) is returning for 2022 and will be bigger than ever. In addition to the Gallagher Ice Rink (now inside the ballpark) and Santa’s Workshop, there will be new family-friendly experiences inside iconic Wrigley Field.

Gallagher Way is also the site for the Wrigleyville location of Christkindlmarket, an authentic German-style outdoor market until December 31. Pick up some ornaments or holiday gifts and try various food and warm drinks including hot chocolate.

When: November 18, 2022 – January 8, 2023

The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party

The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party is returning for its seventh season. Four adorable Beatrix Potter favorites come to life in this interactive trunk and puppet show, complete with original music. The show is ideal for toddlers and younger kids (ages 2 to 6).

When: November 19 – December 24, 2022 (select dates)

Where: Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave. in the West Loop

Cost: Tickets start at $43.25 (including fees), and are on sale now at chicagochildrenstheatre.org.

Ride the CTA Holiday Train and Bus

christmas train Chicago CTA holiday train

The CTA Holiday Train is a holiday tradition unique to Chicago. As the train pulls into each station, Santa waves to riders from his sleigh on an open-air flatcar carrying his reindeer and decorated holiday trees. Each car of the train is wrapped with holiday and seasonal images. Thousands of twinkling lights outline the shape of the train and windows, with even more lights running across the tops of the cars.

Chicago CTA holiday bus

The CTA Holiday Bus is 60-foot bus turned into a winter wonderland with holiday music playing and Santa waving and from the roof-hatch of the bus. The exterior of the bus features Chicago’s skyline one snowy evening with “Ralphie the Reindeer” leading the way, his nose aglow and Santa’s sleigh in tow. Festive strings of lights outline the bus and its windows, along with sparkling snowflakes that light-up at night.

When: The CTA Holiday Train runs from late November to late December. Check transitchicago.com/holidayfleet for its schedule.

Cost: Regular CTA fare. See transitchicago.com for prices.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ at Lincoln Park Zoo is a cheerful, family-friendly holiday event in the zoo. Zoolights features hundreds of luminous LED displays and seasonal experiences, all under the glow of millions of lights.

When: November 19, 2022 – January 1, 2023.

Cost: Monday tickets are free. Tuesday-Sunday tickets are $5.

Walk the Illuminated Light Trail at Lightscape

Lightscape is an after-dark, illuminated trail with thousands of twinkling lights at the Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL). Despite the name the garden is technically not in Chicago but it is in the suburbs about a 30 minute drive from the city. Book early – tickets have sold out the last few years!

When:  November 11, 2022 – January 8, 2023 (select dates).

Cost: Price varies depending on date. Tickets for adults start at $30 and tickets for kids 3-12 start at $14. Children 2 and under are free. See https://www.chicagobotanic.org/lightscape for prices and to purchase tickets in advance.

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum holiday lights Chicago suburbs

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum (4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL) is another great light show in the suburbs. This one-of-a-kind, interactive spectacle of color, light, and sound that has been delighting audiences since 2013. Be surrounded by color as you walk a one-mile paved path amid interactive lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter.

When: November 19, 2022–January 7, 2023 (select days)

Cost: Tickets range between $7-$19 for members, $13-$24 for guests. See their website for more information and to purchase tickets in advance.

As you can see there are many family friendly things to do in Chicago during Christmas and the holiday season.

Planning a trip to Chicago? Check out my Chicago guides and itineraries:


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