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Chicago’s Christmas Tree lighting ceremony returns to Millennium Park as in-person event

Crowds gathered at Millennium Park on Friday night for the lighting of the city’s official Christmas tree.

Chicago’s Christmas tree lighting, held Friday, Nov. 19, 2021 in Millennium Park, returned to being an in-person event.
After a year off due to the pandemic, people were once again invited to the annual lighting of Chicago’s Christmas tree in Millennium Park.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago’s holiday season officially kicked off Friday night with the lighting of the city’s official Christmas tree, in Millennium Park.

The 51-foot blue spruce, donated by the Benavides family of Logan Square, was decorated with an array of lights and ornaments. Noemi Benavides was celebrating her birthday on Friday as well. The tree had stood in their yard for 34 years.

Chicago’s Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Millennium Park was open to the public. Last year’s in-person celebration was canceled by the pandemic.
Chicago’s Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Millennium Park was open to the public. Last year’s in-person celebration was canceled by the pandemic.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

This year’s event marked the return to a full-on, in-person celebration for the first time since 2019. Last year’s ceremony pivoted to a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festivities, which boasted a fireworks display, also included a pre-show hosted by DJ DJ Selah Say, with additional entertainment provided by Mariachi Herencia de Mexico (performing their new single, a mariachi take on “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”), the cast of Chicago Opera Theater’s production of “Becoming Santa Claus,” a youth dance ensemble from the Kenwood School of Ballet, and special guests Dreezy Claus and Sister Claus.

Singer Brian McKnight performs at Friday’s Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Millennium Park.
Singer Brian McKnight performs at Friday’s Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Millennium Park.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A concert featuring Grammy Award-nominated Singer Brian McKnight, a performance by the cast of Cirque du Soleil’s “’Twas the Night Before...,” and the Chicago Soul Spectacular rounded out the musical extravaganza for the assembled crowds on the Great Lawn.

Friday’s celebration, emceed by WGN-TV’s Tonya Francisco and Amy Rutledge, marked the 108th annual City of Chicago Christmas tree lighting. The tree will be on display through Jan. 9, 2022, and the park will be open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

This year’s official Chicago Christmas tree, in Millennium Park, is a 51-foot blue spruce, donated by the Benavides family of Logan Square. It had stood in their yard for 34 years.
This year’s official Chicago Christmas tree, in Millennium Park, is a 51-foot blue spruce, donated by the Benavides family of Logan Square. It had stood in their yard for 34 years.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times