Christmas in Chicago is typically magical—and this year doesn’t need to be different. Celebrating the holidays is not canceled; it’s only re-imagined due to coronavirus. Check out the Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker projected onto the Merchandise Mart’s 4-million-square-foot façade, see some magical holiday lights in the city, and beyond or shop the iconic Chriskindlmarket from the comfort of home—with a glass of mulled wine, of course. While Christmas in Chicago 2020 may not be the same as years past, these events can keep you safe without getting rid of the holiday magic we all know and love.
See The Nutcracker
Watching Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Auditorium Theater has been one of our Chicago traditions for years. Although we won’t be seeing the performance in the traditional sense this year—there is an exciting way to watch it come to life in 2020, socially distanced, of course. Starting on November 12, Art on theMart is projecting The Nutcracker from the Joffrey Ballet onto the Merchandise Mart’s 4-million-square-feet façade set to Tchaikovsky’s famous score.
Go Ice Skating
One of our favorite winter pastimes is lacing up our skates and hitting the ice. The Maggie Daley Park ice skating ribbon is one of our favorite spots to do that. It has incredible views of the downtown skyline, and the best part is admission is free. However, reservations are needed this year. The rink opens on November 20, 2020.
See the Lights
Everybody may need just a little sparkle in 2020. Check out The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival starting on November 22, 2020. There will not be a parade to keep things safe this year, and there will be a virtual broadcast this year. Viewers can expect unique performances and surprises from Disney characters during an hour-long performance that ends with illuminated lights all along the Magnificent Mile.
ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo is another holiday tradition we make a point of going to every year. From November 21 to January 3, visitors can enjoy over 2.5 million lights. This year will be a ticketed event of $5 per person; however, there will be five free nights.
Check out the City’s Official Christmas Tree
Chicago’s official Christmas Tree is in its 107th year and lights up Millennium Park. The 45-foot Blue Spruce will be on view from November 20, 2020, to January 7, 2021, and can be the perfect Christmas card photo opportunity if you ask us!
Visit Christkindlmarket Virtually
Christkindlmarket is going virtual this year rather than being held in its traditional location of Daley Plaza. From November 1st until December 31st, shop online from the comfort of home for ornaments, artisan-made gifts, sweets and more—while enjoying a glass of mulled wine, of course.
Make a Yummy Dessert Created by Iconic Chicago Hotels
It’s no secret that we have been cooking and baking a ton this year. With more time at home, especially for the holidays, we are making it a point to create some chocolatey confections everyone will love. Here are just a few of the special treats we’ve perfected in the past year, some created or served up at iconic Chicago hotels. This DoubleTree by Hilton’s Signature Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe would make the perfect treat for Santa. These Palmer House Hilton’s brownies were served up at the 1893 Columbian Exposition World’s Fair, or these Signature Hilton Cake Pops would be extra dreamy for a Sugar Plum Fairy-themed Christmas.
Visit the Home Alone House
Kevin! Visit the actual home of Kevin McAllister in Winnetka (ahem, where they filmed the classic movie Home Alone). We imagine it must be even more beautiful, all decorated with lights for Christmas. It is a private home, so there are no tours.