Snow, wreaths and lights are all signs the holiday season has officially begun. Thanksgiving is around the corner, and Chicago is decking the halls with decorations and fun-filled holiday events. The Phoenix compiled a list of seasonal and holiday favorites on and off campus for you to enjoy.
DON’T FORGET THANKSGIVING
People are often so focused on Christmas that they tend to forget Thanksgiving during the holiday season, but Chicago has a few events that serve as friendly reminders to give thanks in November.
Celebrate Thanksgiving by watching the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade. Not to be confused with the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York, this parade marches down State Street on Thanksgiving from 8 a.m to 11 a.m. You can catch the best view of the parade from the east side of State Street, between Congress and Harrison where the parade units come into formation and start their march. From the corner of Van Buren and State, viewers will see the parade balloons “limbo” under the El. Note: The further north you go, the bigger the crowds will be. The parade broadcasts live on WGN 9 Chicago or nationally on WGN America.
Worried about eating too much on Thanksgiving? Work off those extra calories by running, jogging or walking in the 38th annual Turkey Day Run Chicago on Thursday, Nov. 26. Registration fees for the 5K range from $15 to $45 depending on age, runner membership and the date of registration; the longer you wait to register, the higher the registration fee. Runners are also asked to donate two or more non-perishable food items in support of the Greater Chicago Food Depository to ensure no Chicagoans go hungry on Thanksgiving.
ON CAMPUS HOLIDAY FUN
Once classes resume after Thanksgiving break, Loyola hosts a series of events to get students in the holiday spirit.
Dec. 1 is Giving Tuesday on both the Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses. Giving Tuesday is a celebration of philanthropy and the spirit of giving during the holiday season. Stop by the Damen Student Center or the Schreiber Center Lobby from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to make holiday cards for children in the hospital, take photos in the #unselfie photo booth and discuss with other students why gifts from donors to Loyola are so important.
In addition to Giving Tuesday, Damen Student Center plans to host its third annual tree lighting on Dec. 2 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event takes place in the Atrium and features Christmas tunes, chocolate fountains, pictures with Santa, ice skating at an indoor rink (set up specifically for this event) and the lighting of a 25-foot tree. The tree lighting is free for Loyola’s students.
The holiday celebrations continues Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. with Joyola! in Mundelein Auditorium.
Joyola! is a performance by student musicians of holiday classics and seasonal favorites. The recital will feature songs such as “Carol of Bells,” “Christmas Time Is Here” and “Sleigh Ride” performed by Loyola’s Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Women’s Chorus, University Chorale and Chamber Choir. Tickets for Joyola! can be purchased online for $6 for Loyola students, $7.50 non-Loyola students and seniors, $8 for alumni, faculty and staff and $10 for general admission. Tickets purchased at the door are priced as general admission.
Students can wrap up the last week before exams at Polar Palooza — after studying, of course. Polar Palooza is Dec. 5 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Dec. 6 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. This free winter celebration is at the Loyola Red Line stop and plants to feature local musicians, ice skating, a Christmas tree lot, local vendor booths, food, drinks, face painting and cookie decorating.
OFF CAMPUS HOLIDAY FUN
The holiday fun doesn’t stop on campus, though. Chicago has events throughout December and January to get you in the holiday spirit.
Any German food lovers or Christmas fanatics? Christkindlmarket in Nuremberg, Germany, began in 1545 and inspired the Christkindlmarket Chicago, which has brought a piece of Germany to Chicago since 1996. Christkindlmarket is Chicago’s largest open-air Christmas festival. The market is set up in Daley Plaza and entrance is free. Vendors sell traditional German and other European food, drinks, handcrafted trinkets and more.
Each year, a collector’s mug is sold at Christkindlmarket. A typically boot-shaped mug has become a tradition for regulars, but in 2013 and 2014 the boot was replaced by a plain mug. The beloved boot mug is making a comeback this year for its 20th anniversary and will cost $7.
The market will be open Nov. 20 through Dec. 24 Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with special hours on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Light up the night at the City of Chicago’s 102nd annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Nov. 24. Traditionally held in Daley Plaza, the tree lighting ceremony was moved to Millennium Park to create a central winter location for Chicagoans. The ceremony is free and begins at 6 p.m.
Stop by for some caroling at the bean from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Fridays from Nov. 27 to Dec. 18. Local Chicago choral groups, including Oakdale Youth Choir, Lutheran Choir of Chicago, Wicker Park Choral Singers and Chicago Choral Artists, will sing holiday classics in a part concert, part sing-along performance. Seating is not provided, so bring a lawn chair and a blanket to enjoy the tunes.
The annual performance of A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre is another way to get in the holiday spirit. The show runs from Nov. 14 to Dec. 27. Tickets range from $26 to $70 depending on seat location and can be bought online or at the box office.
Say “bah humbug” to Christmas or don’t celebrate? No worries, there is still plenty to do throughout the winter season in Chitown.
How about ice skating at Millennium Park? The rink is opened from Nov. 13, 2015 through March 6, 2016 (weather permitting). Admission to the rink is free, but skate rentals cost $12. Hours vary day-to-day, so check the website before you make any plans. You don’t have to be coordinated to have a good time, and free lessons are available if needed.
Take a stroll down Michigan Avenue for the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on Nov. 21. The night will be packed full of family fun, live music, holiday shopping and a visit from Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The event will conclude with a firework display over the Chicago River.
Be sure to check out the ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. Entrance to the zoo is free. Each year, Lincoln Park Zoo celebrates the season with luminous light displays and holiday-season activities throughout zoo grounds. The fun begins Nov. 27. and ZooLights will shine Friday through Sunday until Dec. 13, when the lights will be on nightly (except Dec. 24 and 25) until Jan. 3.
Similar to ZooLights, BrewLights is a night out at Lincoln Park Zoo for those 21 and over. The event is Dec. 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. tickets are $50 if purchased Nov. 9 through Dec. 1 and $60 the day of the event. The tickets include entry, ZooLight activities, music, rides, photo ops and a dozen different draft beer samples.
The PNC Bank Winter WonderFest takes place annually at Navy Pier. With slides, ice skating, photo ops and more than 24 rides, this is a winter event you don’t want to miss. General admission tickets that include selected rides can be purchased for $9 online or $10 at the door. Activity tickets that include admission, access to all rides and skate rentals can be purchased online for $23 or $25 at the door. WonderFest is open from Nov. 5, 2015 to Jan. 10, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Christmas Eve and Jan. 4 through Jan. 7, is it open from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Christmas Day.