Chicago is all lit up for the holidays

Don't miss chance to see these seasonal displays, which continue past Christmas Day

The magic of the holiday season doesn't end just because the calendar turns to Dec. 26. With the kids free from school and homework, winter break is a great time to take in some of the holiday festivities available in Chicago before they're gone.

Navy Pier lights things up

Light Up The Lake is being called the largest indoor and outdoor holiday experience in Chicago. With photo ops at every turn, the light displays on Navy Pier include a giant teddy bear, snowflakes, a decorated 40-ft tree and a tunnel of lights.

Open through Sunday, Dec. 31, Light Up The Lake features plenty of illumination, and much more.

Visitors can roast s'mores at an outdoor firepit, take part in workshops and enjoy live music on the weekends. Of course, the Centennial Ferris Wheel is always turning. Guests also can try axe throwing or take a spin on the Navy Pier outdoor ice rink. Ice skating is free for those who bring their own skates.

The light show will take to the skies Saturday, Dec. 23, and Sunday, Dec. 31, with a fireworks show at 9 p.m.

Visit for more details and ticket information.

Christmas Around the World

Each year the Museum of Science and Industry celebrates the world's holiday traditions with a collection of trees from dozens of countries and cultures. This year's Christmas Around the World exhibit features a 45-foot, fully decorated tree surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays. Every 30 minutes, guests are treated to an indoor snow shower.

In addition to the special holiday displays, museum guests can view "Antarctica" at the museum's Giant Dome Theater. Experience the snowy tundra of Antarctica on a five-story screen, including never-before-seen footage of the farthest reaches of Antarctica and the creatures that live there.

Photographs of real snowflakes are displayed in the museum's lower court and rotunda, offering guests a unique look at snow's true beauty, but from the warmth of the indoors.

Admission to Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light, open through Sunday, Jan. 7, is included with entry to the museum at 5700 S. DuSable.

Regular admission is $25.95 for adults, $14.95 for children 3 to 11. Advance tickets are strongly recommended. Visit for more information.

Lincoln Park ZooLights

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo continues through Sunday, Jan. 7. This year's exhibit includes modern LED light displays and a garden-themed light show on the zoo's south lawn.

Along with new displays are some returning favorites, including the twinkling light maze, the towering Ferris Wheel and the light tunnel on the zoo's main mall. Tickets are required for these attractions. Year-round attractions like the kiddie train and the endangered species carousel also are open to guests. And of course, the animal exhibits are open and included with admission.

Guests can enjoy an assortment of food and drinks throughout the zoo.

Hours through December are 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays and 4:30 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and Sunday, Dec. 31. The week of Jan. 1-7, hours are 4:30 to 9 p.m. The zoo is closed Dec. 24-25.

ZooLights will offer free admission Monday, Jan. 1. Admission every other day is $7 to $10. Get more information at

Winter at Wrigley

Have fun on Chicago's north side with Winterland at Gallagher Way featuring the Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville outside Wrigley Field as well as a bevy of activities inside the historic stadium through Sunday, Jan. 7.

Attractions include a 40-foot Ferris wheel at Christkindlmarket (open through Sunday, Dec. 31), an ice rink for skating and ice bumper cars, the Infield Express train, swings, the Umbrella Ride, The Edge, a fun slide and more.

Gallagher Way is located at 3635 N. Clark St, Chicago. Hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Christmas Eve), with special hours of 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 26-28, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 1-3 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 4.

Admission to Gallagher Way activities are free. Wrigley Field admission is $5, and attractions require tickets; packages are available. Entry is free for ages 2 and under. Visit for tickets and more information.

Winter in bloom

Chicago Park District's Garfield Park and Lincoln Park conservatories are all abloom this winter. Now through Jan. 7, both destinations offer to add a splash of color to the winter landscape.

"Celebrating Silver" is the theme at the Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., where the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance celebrates its 25th anniversary. Silver foliage, along with lush poinsettias in pink and white hues, are featured in this exhibit of winter flowers and plants.

The Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2391 N. Stockton Drive,, presents its winter flower show, "Wintergreen," featuring a giant tree silhouette brightly lit with thousands of green LEDs and unique poinsettias in gold, green and orange hues.

Conservatory hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays to Sundays, with Garfield Park open until 8 p.m. Wednesdays.

Entry to both shows is free, but registration is required. Visit

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean