Beating the winter break blues

Fun ways to extend the holiday celebration abound in the city, suburbs and beyond

The next few days will be filled with a frenzy of activity, from last-minute shopping and wrapping to meal planning and baking. After celebrating Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with family and friends, folks will wake up the morning of Dec. 26 wondering, “What now?”

With kids on winter break and adults enjoying a few days off work, we’ve compiled a short list of destinations that will keep everyone entertained for an afternoon — or a couple of days, for those willing to travel a little farther. For other options closer to home, see the Holiday Happenings listing on Page 36.

Skate & Sparkle

Spend the day in nearby Rosemont and enjoy all sorts of holiday fun.

The Chicago Wolves Ice Rink at Parkway Bank Park is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Jan. 8. The rink will be open until 1 a.m. New Year’s Eve, with fireworks at midnight. (Bring skates or rent a pair for $8.) Before or after skating, grab a bite to eat, do some shopping, bowl a few frames or see a show at one of the 200,000-square foot entertainment district’s 15 dining and entertainment venues. Parkway Bank Park is located at 5501 Park Place. Convenient parking is free with validation from any of the park’s venues. Visit for more information.

The Sparkle Light Festival is just a short drive away at Impact Field. Guests can immerse themselves in millions of sparkling lights as they stroll through illuminated villages, ride the two-story ice slide, enjoy free train rides and celebrate with a menu of festive food and beverages. Tickets start at $25. Visit for hours and other information.

An indoor wonderland

Light up the Lake at Navy Pier offers the largest indoor light display in the Chicago area. Guests can wind their way through a maze of more than 100 8-foot birch trees, engage with an interactive light display, relax at the Reflecting Pond, view oversized light sculptures and take a spin on the Alpine ice rink (bring skates or rent them for free).

Tickets also include a ride on the 200-foot Centennial Wheel, weather permitting, offering 360-degree views of the decorated city and frosty Lake Michigan.

Holiday treats and beverages will be available from a variety of vendors.

Light up the Lake continues through Jan. 7 at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with early closings at 5 p.m. Christmas Eve, 8 p.m. New Year’s Eve and 7 p.m. New Year’s Day.

Tickets are $15 to $27, with packages available. Visit

O tannenbaum

Find out how families from across the globe decorate their Christmas trees in “Christmas Around the World,” which is celebrating its 80th anniversary, at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Pose for a photo in front of the four-story Grand Tree, learn more about global holidays throughout the year that honor light and enlightenment at the “Holidays of Light” exhibit and see the Lego brick “Twelve Days of Christmas” sculpture display in The Art of the Brick.

Stop by all the old favorites, too, like the U-505 submarine, the baby chick hatchery, Yesterday’s Main Street and Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle.

“Christmas Around the World” and “Holidays of Light” are included with museum entry and run through Jan. 8.

The museum is at 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through Dec. 23 and Dec. 26-30. See website for holiday hours. Admission is $12.95 to $49.95. Visit

Northern lights

Hop in the car for a quick 90-minute drive to Milwaukee for its 24th annual Holiday Lights Festival.

Visitors will enjoy sparkling interactive displays at Pere Marquette Park, Zeidler Union Square and Cathedral Square.

Hop on a Jingle Bus tour for a 40-minute ride through three lighted parks, Community Spirit Park” at Cathedral Square Park, “Santa’s Celebration Square powered by We Energies” at Zeidler Union Square and “Christmas Chalet” at Pere Marquette Park. Tours are $5 a person and run from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays. Purchase tickets in advance on the website listed below.

Stay overnight and enjoy one of the performances, parties or special meals planned for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. See the world famous Harlem Globetrotters, enjoy a toast at The Pfister Hotel’s signature cocktail lounge on the 23rd floor, start the year with a champagne brunch and more.

The event runs through Jan. 1. Visit

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean