Although indoor holiday events such as the Museum of Science and Industry’s “Christmas Around the World” has gone virtual, there are still outdoor places to visit. Three of them open this Friday, Nov. 20.
Drive or walk past Chicago’s holiday tree in Millennium Park. The lights officially go on Nov. 20. But the annual holiday ceremony goes virtual at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 on the city’s YouTube channel. For more information visit DCASE .
The program includes Chicago Children’s Choir, Sones de Mexico Ensemble, Percy Bady and Friends and a tribute to Donny Hathaway’s This Christmas.
Maggie Daley Park’s Ice Skating Ribbon next to Millennium Park opens in time to see the Christmas Tree. Reservations needed to comply with Covid protocols. Visit maggiedaleypark/skating.
Illumination at Morton Arboretum
The arboretum’s holiday light festival will be a half-hour drive through experience starting Friday as earlier announced, but bring your own refreshments because the concessions have been canceled and buildings will be closed. Tickets are timed so visit Illumination for your time and date ticket.
Thousands of lights from Lincoln Park Zoo’s’ “Zoolights” and Macy’s Walnut Room “Great Tree” to Morton Arboretum’s “Illumination” and Chicago Botanic Garden’s “Lightscape” will once again be brightening the holiday season.
They just will be operating a little differently during the Covid pandemic. Protocols will be in place such as social distance requirements so timed tickets and reservations will be needed. Tickets are already available even though the events don’t start until November. However, events and times do sell out so best is to plan ahead.
Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum
Instead of walking through the Morton Arboretum, visitors will drive along a two-mile musical light and movement show that redefines the woodland experience. Some favorites will be back such as Symphony Woods and Woodland Wonder plus new, magical sights have been added.
The event goes from Nov. 20, 2020 through Jan. 3, 2021 with additional hours and days. For tickets and more information visit Mortonarb/illumination.
Last year, the first year of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape, the event sold out and its Night of 1000 Jack o’ Lanterns has also sold out so visitors should get their tickets now. The event runs from Nov. 13, 2020 through Jan. 3, 2021.
Lightscape is a one-way, mile-long walking loop past unusual and fun lighting movements accompanied by changing musical themes. The Cathedral of Light will be back but there are also new light designs.
Lincoln Park Zoo’s animal exhibits, landscaping, and buildings dress up for the holidays with thousands of colored lights thanks to ComEd and InvescoQQQ.. Tickets for the event, Nov. 21, 2020 through Jan. 3, are needed for all ages this year but are just $5. For information visit LPzoo/zoolights.
Walnut Room Great Tree
Right now, the holiday themed windows on the State Street side of Macy’s in Chicago are still a closely guarded secret. But visitors can make reservations starting Oct. 9 to dine in the store’s famed Walnut Room where they can see the Great Tree – beginning Nov. 7. Reservations are at OpenTable
Expect to see about 6,600 lights and more than 2,000 ornaments on the tree. P:lus past Great Tree photos can be seen on the store’s 7th floor.
As to the Walnut Room food, it is a three-course, fixed-price meal for $49.95 (adults, per person) with a variety of choices, “including Mrs. Hering’s chicken pot pie, cider glazed turkey and Frango ice cream pie . Youngsters’ meals are $19.95, include a 2020 Walnut Room holiday mug.
With everything you have to do, places to go, people to visit there might not have been time to fit in everything you hoped to see by Dec. 31. No worries. Some of the fun shows, exhibits and festivals will still be around in January, 2019.
Lyric Opera’s delightful “Cendrillon” (Cinderella ) runs through Jan. 20 and its exceptional “La boheme” continues at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, through Jan. 31. For tickets and more information visit Lyric Opera.
“Steadfast tin Soldier at Lookinggglass Theatre in the Chicago Water Works at 821 N. Michicagn Ave. runs through Jan. 13. For tickets and other information visit Lookingglass.
“Wonderland Express” is at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe (just east of Edens Expressway) through Jan. 6. (This is a time and date ticketed show) For tickets and other information visit . For parking check Chicago Botanic.
“Zoo Lights” at Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St.,, Chicago, is open New Year’s Day and continues through Jan. 6.
If you don’t want to be saying “Oops” this holiday season then 1. Don’t wait to get tickets to the shows you or your family want to see and 2. Do put those holiday events you want to go to on the calendar.
The good news is that there are numerous great holiday shows and happenings in the Chicago area. The problem news is that the many places to go, things to do and see make it hard to narrow down the choices to what is doable.
Tip: Be realistic when weighing what is manageable with kids, tired feet and meal breaks.
The following suggestions offer three Chicago area choices in each category – shows, shopping and spectacular lights and sights:
Where: In Goodman Theatre’s Albert Theatre at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
Why: Goodman’s production of Charles Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol” is a Chicago tradition that never gets old with new staging often added. But the show is also a talking point for families on what is important.
Where: Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr. (50 E. Congress Pkwy) at Michigan Ave.
Why: Going to the Joffrey’s “Nutcracker” is also a Chicago holiday tradition. It was beautifully re-imagined last year by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon as a visit by Marie and her mother to the 1893 World’s Fair. The mysterious Great Impresario turns the visit into an adventure. And it is all set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous music.
Where: Lookingglass theatre is in the Chicago Water Works at 821 N Michigan Ave, Chicago.
Why: Lookingglass productions are highly innovative, well acted and engrossing. This tale based on a Hans Christian Andersen story is being staged as an exciting spectable by ttalented, creative Mary Zimmerman.
Where: On line and at the museum, front entrance at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and the Modern Wing entrance at 159 E. Monroe St.
Why: Gift shop entrances do not need admission fees or tickets. The shops carry one-of-a kind gifts that won’t bust the budget. The Modern Wing has good glass items and the main gift shop has excellent jewelry and ties. Both shops have Frank Lloyd Wright items and gifts inspired by other artists. Also visitors like to take holiday photos with the wreathed lions in front.
Where: In Lincoln Park at 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago
Why: See the animals while strolling among 2,5 million lights thanks to Com Ed and Invesco. Also visit Santa, watch ice carving, sip warm spiced wine, snack on holiday treats and watch a 3D light show.
Why: the Garden’s event is called Wonderland Express but before going into the building that has trains zipping through Chicago landmarks, see trees and walkways lit by thouands of lights and visit the greenhouses’ topiaries and poinsettias. Then don’t worry about the “snow” falling on shoulders inside the exhibit building. It’s all about fun and winter wonders.