Here are a few entertainment suggestions the whole family will enjoy this holiday season throughout the Chicago area:
Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at Museum of Science & Industry: An annual tradition began in 1942, Christmas Around the World features a 45-ft Christmas tree covered in 30,000 lights, surrounded by 50 smaller trees and displays representing holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. Holidays of Light is a display that celebrates enlightenment including the Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah and St. Lucia Day. Nov. 15-Jan. 7 at the Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., included with museum admission.
Holiday Happenings at the Art Institute of Chicago: Christmas events begin with the annual “Wreathing of the Lions” (Nov. 23) and continue with Holiday Choirs (Dec. 3-7), Holiday Throne Rooms and Neapolitan Creche (Nov. 17-Jan. 8), the Annual Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party (Dec. 9, $25-$75), Lecture: Celebrating the Christmas Story in Art (Dec. 14, free with admission), Gingerbread House Decorating (Dec. 15, $55, $70) at Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan, included with admission except where noted.
Richard H. Driehaus Museum: The museum is adorned with vintage decorations for the season. Holiday Carolers on the Porch (Nov. 17), Gilded Age Traditions includes a visit to historic landmarks and tea at The Drake Hotel (Nov. 30-Dec. 15, $105), visit with Santa includes art projects, story time and sing-a-longs (Dec. 8-16, $15, $20), Holiday Cabaret with Beckie Menzie and Tom Michael (Dec. 14, $60) at Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie.
Holiday Breakfast at The Shedd Aquarium: Includes breakfast, a screening of “The Polar Express 4-D Experience” and a meet-and-greet with Santa. Follow these with a visit to the Polar Play Zone exhibit and the aquatic presentation. Sat-Sun, Dec. 2, 9, 15-16, 22-23 at Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr. $29.95-$54.95, children under 3 free.
Lincoln Park Zoo’s ZooLights: The zoo grounds are transformed into a land of twinkling lights Nov. 23-Jan. 6. There are also photos with Santa, 3D displays, strolling carolers, ice sculpture carving and musical light shows. Other events include a Holiday Market (Nov. 27, $10) features local artisans; Holidaze (Nov. 29), an after-hours event for adults with music and cash bar; Brewlights (Dec. 6, $40), an evening to enjoy seasonal and international craft beers; Chris White Trio (Dec. 9, $25) with a tribute to Vince Guaraldi’s “Charlie Brown Christmas”; Breakfast with Santa (Dec. 16) at Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark, Free unless otherwise indicated.
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic: The zoo is lit with more than one million twinkling lights, animated light displays and a video light show. Plus there’s entertainment in the Holly Jolly Theater, a train display, caroling to the animals, ice carving demonstrations, Santa and Mrs. Claus. Plus Chicago Wolves Skating Rink (to Jan. 27), Reindeer Run (Nov. 24, $25), a run/walk event throughout the zoo; Lights & Lagers (Nov. 30, $45), sample beers and stroll the zoo at Brookfield Zoo, 8400 W. 31st St., Brookfield, Free with admission unless otherwise indicated.
Morton Arboretum’s Illumination: Tree Lights: Enjoy a festive walk through the woods where tree lights respond to your touch and voice. The one-mile path is surrounded by trees decked out in bright LED lights with treelike sculptures that spread intricate designs of life. Nov. 17–Jan. 1 at Morton Arboretum, 4100 IL Route 53, Lisle, $12-$23.
Chicago Botanic Garden— Wonderland Express: A family-friendly, made-for-memoires experience featuring an exhibit of miniature trains in a mini-replica of Chicago and light show (Nov. 23-Jan. 6), a holiday market (Dec. 1-2), Chicago Brass Band (Dec. 8, $20, $23), Hanukkah Concert with Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, (Dec. 9, $20, $23) at Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook, Glencoe, $8-$13, children under 2 free (parking $25).
Lincoln Park Conservatory – Winter Flower & Train Show: Transforms the conservatory into a winter wonderland with festive plant arrangements and a model train exhibit. Nov. 23-Jan 6 at Lincoln park Conservatory, 2931 N. Stockton. Free.
Need more suggestions for holiday fun? Check out our complete Holiday Entertainment Guide.