Things to Do in Chicago in December

Things to Do in Chicago in December
With average high temperatures in Chicago below 40°F, be prepared to spend time indoors. In December, Chicago, like the rest of the nation, turns it focus to celebrating and getting ready for the upcoming holiday. Leave those hiking boots at home and get ready to experience Chicago during the bright lights, gift searching days of December.

View Chicago Christmas Tree

Most major cities have a Christmas Tree and a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Chicago is no exception. The tree stays up all through December. The Lighting Ceremony starts the Christmas season for Chicago citizens. Prominent public officials, locals, and visitors gather around to witness the lighting of the Chicago Christmas tree. Usually, the official ceremony occurs in late November, but depending on the calendar may take place in the first few day of December.


After the viewing the Chicago Christmas Tree, stock up on Christmas gifts at the German inspired Christkindlemarket. In regional areas of German-speaking countries, the Christkind plays a large part in the tradition of Christmas. In some, the Christkind replaces Santa and brings the gifts on Christmas Eve. The festival originated around 1595. For the last twelve years, the previous year's Christkind of the Nürnberg's Christkindlemarkt travels to open the Christkindlemarket in Chicago. Venders sell a variety of gifts though most cost less than $25. Admission is free. The authentic German food draws in visitors from all over the Chicago area and seventy percent of the vendors speak German as well as English. The Chicago Christkindlemarket tradition began in 1997.

German American Services, Inc.
401 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 3330
Chicago, IL 60611-4212
(312) 494-2175


The Lincoln Park Zoo dresses up for the holiday with an abundance of colorful Christmas lights. Admission is free to the zoo year round. The start of Zoolights often coincides with the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and continues throughout December. The zoo opens in the evenings to permit optimum viewing of the Christmas lights. Admission to the zoo is free, including the Zoolights.

Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 742-2000

Christmas Around the World

Christmas Around The World and Holiday of Lights celebrates different Christmas traditions from all over the world as well as the history of the Museum of Science and Industry, which hosts the event. The museum's main tree stands 45 feet tall and is traditionally decorated. Each year, the event changes slightly. In 2008, the museum hosted 50 Christmas trees, decorated by members of different ethnic groups in their traditional cultural style. The event is appropriate for children of all ages. Expect to learn about how different cultures celebrate the holiday and such things as the names of elves and Santa's title from around the world. The different displays mostly reside on the main level, but the whole museum is open. The displays are included with regular admission.

Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 684-1414

Article Written By Amy L. Gouger

Amy L. Gouger holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from East Stroudsburg University. Previously a technical agent, she now serves as a ghostwriter and contributor to various online publications.

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