Phoenix 101: How Chicago will Celebrate the Holiday Season During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Katie Anthony | The PhoenixChicagoans can still get their holiday fix with some socially distanced and remote celebrations.

The holiday season is approaching and with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in the U.S., The Phoenix took a look at how Chicagoans can still celebrate. Here are how some of the city’s beloved events are carrying on despite the pandemic. 

107th Annual City of Chicago Christmas Tree 

The City of Chicago will conduct a virtual tree lighting Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m., according to the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). The event will be broadcast through DCASE’s Youtube channel.

The event will be held entirely online. It will have holiday greetings from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city’s First Lady Amy Eshleman along with an acknowledgment of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, according to a DCASE press release

The event will feature music by the Chicago Children’s Choir, Sones de México Ensemble, and Percy Bady and friends, along with a tribute to Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas.” in honor of the 50th anniversary of the song. These performances will be recorded at The Epiphany Center for the Arts. 

Those who wish to view the tree in person can visit Millennium Park at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Washington Street Nov. 20 through Jan. 7. The hours for the park are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visitors must wear masks while at the park and maintain a distance of at least six feet, according to DCASE

The Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park 

While DCASE has announced there won’t be skating at Millennium Park’s McCormick Tribune Ice Rink this season, there will be skating at Maggie Daley Park. Those who wish to skate will have to reserve a time in advance, regardless of if they bring personal skates or rent skates from the park. 

In addition, masks must be worn at all times and no more than two people can skate together at one time. Those who wish to skate can begin reserving time slots from Nov. 20 to Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 to Dec. 6 with more dates getting released on Nov. 25. 


The Christkindlmarket will be online this year, according to an Oct. 30 press release by German American Events LLC. The marketplace will run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 and those who wish to purchase goods from the market can go to its website and shop any of the 47 vendors participating in the virtual market. 

The market is holding some in-person and virtual events, details of which can be found here

The Christkindlmarket is an annual Christmas market in Chicago, inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany. The Chicago market began in 1996 and is typically held at Daley Plaza, according to its website.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

The Lincoln Park Zoo Lights — an annual holiday light display at the Lincoln Park Zoo — will still take place this year despite some changes. Zoo Lights will open Nov. 21 and go until Jan. 3. In order to access the event this year, all attendees must have a ticket, including infants and children. Tickets cost $5 per guest except on free nights — Nov. 24 and Dec. 9, 17, 21 and 29. On these nights, guests will still be required to present a ticket but tickets will be free. 

In addition, groups can’t exceed 10 people. Those who have a zoo membership will have early access to reserve tickets and have access to two free members-only nights on Nov. 20 and Dec. 1. 

For more information on other events taking place in Chicago, check out DCASE’s holiday programming.

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