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Countdown to Christmas is on!

Holiday weekend features tree lighting, tree cutting, Christkindlmarket and more


Last updated 11/26/2019 at 4:49pm | View PDF

When the parade has been watched and the turkey has been eaten and everyone's gotten a good night's sleep, what's next?

A plethora of activities exists for keeping family members, friends, even out-of-town guests busy over the long weekend. Many of these ideas - from taking in a performance of "The Nutcracker" at Hinsdale Central to visiting Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo - are listed in Holiday Happenings, which starts on Page 30.

For those who are looking to venture a little farther - and willing to spend a little time on the highway - there are even more options for festive fun.

Friday night lights

Watch as the switch is flipped on more than 80,000 holiday lights at Light Up the Park at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, at Parkway Bank Park in Rosemont.

Enjoy a variety of family friendly activities before and after the tree lighting. Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus (3 to 7 p.m.), relax during a free horse-drawn sleigh rides and listen to strolling carolers (5 to 8 p.m.). The Chicago Wolves Ice Rink also will open for the season (11 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Guests may bring their own skates or rent them for $8.

Special holiday activities continue through Dec. 29.

Parkway Bank Park is at 5501 Park Place.


To market, to market

Nothing says holidays in Chicago like this giant open-air Christkindlmarket inspired by a similar seasonal tradition in Nuremberg, Germany.

Guests can shop handcrafted items like nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, beer steins and glass ornaments. When hunger strikes, nibble on potato pancakes, hot pretzels, schnitzel, döner and chocolate-covered treats. And no trip to Christkindlmarket is complete without a steaming mug of Glühwein, a traditional hot spiced wine (there's also hot cocoa for the kids).

Reserve a "Stammtisch" table online and order food and a beverage package from one of the market's vendors.

When the weather is decent, the market is very crowded in the evenings, so stop by in the afternoon for a more pleasant shopping and/or dining experience.

The market has two Chicago locations: one in Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., and one at Gallagher Way, 3635 N. Clark St.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at Daley Plaza and 3 to 9 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays at Gallagher Way. The markets are open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Christmas Eve and closed Christmas Day.


Northern lights

A playful choir of singing trees, immersive ribbons of light, a garden of fire, a sparkling tunnel of light and a stunning festive finale - plus the opportunity to toast marshmallows over a fire - are sure to put visitors to Chicago Botanic Garden in the holiday spirit.

Direct from London, Lightscape is making its U.S. debut at the garden. More than 1 million people in 2018 were delighted by the show across the U.K.

The mile-long path bring the night alive with color, imagination and sound.

Strollers are allowed. Side-by-side strollers are acceptable, but for best path experience, single or front-to-back strollers are suggested.

The exhibit is open Wednesdays to Sundays (plus Mondays, Dec. 23 and 30 and Tuesday, Dec. 31) from 4:30 to 10 p.m., with timed entry between 4:30 and 8 p.m.

Tickets range from $17-$23 for adults and $10-$13 for children ages 3 to 12, depending on the date and time of the visit (children younger than 3 are free) plus $10 parking. Prices are higher for same-day tickets and parking.

The event runs through Jan. 5.

Visit or call (847) 835-5440

O Christmas tree

Richardson Christmas Tree Farm in Spring Grove provides a great opportunity to renew the tradition of going out into the woods, choosing the perfect tree and harvesting it to bring home.

More than 50,000 trees of many varieties and sizes are spread over 75 acres. The spacious, heated sales barn has indoor restrooms and friendly people available to offer assistance.

On weekends, enjoy a free wagon ride to and from the fields. Handsaws are provided. Cut trees are then baled in plastic netting to be more manageable for the ride home. Enjoy a free hot chocolate or coffee during the wait while shopping for fresh wreaths, garlands and other decorations.

Dogs are welcome if they are on a leash and play well with others.

The farm is at 9407 Richardson Road, about an 80-minute drive from Hinsdale. Trees are available Nov. 29 through Dec. 23 and cost $75.

Call (815) 675-9729 or visit

Author Bio

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 630-323-4422, ext. 104


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