Chicago Area Christmas Events 2012

Christmas time is one of my favorite times of the year! I love all the fun activities, the shopping, the excitement, and the good cheer. Here are some fun events coming up or going on right now to celebrate the holiday season. As always, it’s a good idea to call or check the website to verify information or ensure that changes have not been made. Most of these events involve a fee, but the events at the bottom of the list are free. 
  • Saturday, December 15 with seatings at 8:00 am, 9:00 am, & 10:00 am
  • $10/person if paid by December 5, $15/person day of event.
  • Breakfast, Santa, Christmas crafts; unlimited bounce time, mini golf, mini bowling, & NASCAR races from 7:00 am-11:00 am.
  • Through January 6, 2013
  • See website for hours.
  • $15/adult, $10/child for non-residents. $13/adult, $9/child for Chicago residents.
  • 50 Christmas trees decorated to represent various cultures and holiday traditions, falling “snow”, live performances.
  • Open daily through January 6; closed Christmas Eve & Christmas Day.
  • 9:00 am-4:00 pm
  • Free for members. General admission applies: $12/adult, $9/child 2-17, children under 2 free. $8/$6 on Wednesdays.
  • Morton Arboretum also offers Breakfast with Santa and Holiday Shopping & Santa Dinner.
  • Every Saturday & Sunday through December and daily December 26-31.
  • 4:00 pm-9:00 pm
  • Free for members. General admission and parking fees apply: $15/adult, $10.50/child 3-11, children under 3 free. $10/parking.
  • Holiday lights, animated light displays, a laser light show, ice carving, magic shows, holiday themed performances and more.
  • Brookfield Zoo also offers Breakfast with Santa and Brunch with Santa events.
  • Daily through December 31.
  • Monday-Friday Noon-7:00 pm (last admission 5:00 pm), Saturday-Sunday 10:00 am-7:00 pm (last admission 5:00 pm). December 24-25 10:00 am-5:00 pm (last admission 3:00 pm), December 26-31 8:00 am-7:00 pm (last admission 5:00 pm).
  • $15.75/person 3 & up online, $21 in person. Children under 3 free.
  • Winter-themed speed challenge, scavenger hunt, add to the Winter Wonderland, receive a limited-edition winter factory brick, photo opportunities with Santa and Snowman LEGO models.
  • December 19-December 23
  • Noon-4:00 pm
  • Reservations accepted and encouraged. No fee for event, just pay for your food.
  • The Grinch will be walking around with gifts for kids and he will be available for pictures.
  • December 26-31
  • 10:00 am-7:00 pm Dec 26, 27, 30
  • 10:00 am-8:00 pm Dec 28, 29
  • 10:00 am-5:30 pm Dec 31
  • Online pre-purchase tickets: $8/adult, $12/child 3-17, children under 2 free. Regular prices: $10/adult, $15/child.
  • Carnival rides, giant snow globe, holiday obstacle course, holiday train rides, inflatables, mini golf, roller rink, rock climbing wall, live entertainment, and much more.
  • December 11
  • 6:00 pm
  • $18/person
  • All-ages show with zoo demonstrations, break dancers, children singers, comedians, improvisational comedy troupes, freestyle rappers, traditional bands, bell choirs, a Charles Dickens-inspired play with The Polyphonic Spree serving as the actors, tap dancing grandmas, and more.
  • Through January 6, 2013
  • Weekdays 9:30 am-4:00 pm, weekends 9:30 am-4:30 pm. December 26-January 2 9:30 am-7:00 pm. Closed Christmas Day.
  • General admission applies. See website for admission options.
  • Open daily through January 6.
  • Through December 15th: Sunday-Thursday 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Friday-Saturday 10:00 am-10:00 pm
  • December 16-January 6th: Sunday-Thursday 10:00 am-8:00 pm, Friday-Saturday 10:00 am-10pm
  • December 24: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
  • Closed Christmas
  • December 31: 10:00 am-6:30 pm
  • January 1: 10:00 am-8:00 pm
  • Free admission. Wristbands required for attractions and rides.
  • Ice skating, ferris wheel, carousel, Reindeer Express Train, Winter WonderStage, and lots more.
  • Through January 6. Closed Christmas Day.
  • 10:00 am-6:00 pm daily. Early closings on the following days: 4:30 pm on December 12, 2:00 pm on Dec. 18, 3:00 pm on Dec. 24.
  • $12/adult, $10/child 3-12, children under 2 free. Tuesdays are half-price. $20 parking for non-members. Members get free parking and tickets are $10/adult, $8/child.
  • Caroling and family drop-in activities are available on select days.

Free events

Festival of Lights & Trees at Cosley Zoo, 1356 N. Gary Avenue, Wheaton

  • Daily through December 31.
  • Free
  • Lights come on at 3:00 pm and zoo closes at 9:00 pm.
  • Cosley Zoo also offers Santa’s Craft Corner.
  • December 15, 10:00 am-7:00 pm (most activities take place 10:00 am-3:00 pm)
  • Free
  • Make & Take Gingerbread Man for kids, meet the Gingerbread Man, dog sled demonstrations, face painting, free carriage rides, Santa’s Hut, and more.
  • Daily through December 31.
  • 5:30 pm-11:30 pm
  • Free; park in the lot or across the street & tune your radio to 87.9 AM
  • Christmas lights in sequence to holiday songs and Top 40 hits.
  • Odyssey Fun World is also offering a Breakfast with Santa event. See website for price and more information.

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo2001 N. Clark Street, Chicago

  • Every Friday, Saturday, & Sunday through December and daily December 26-January 6.
  • 5:00 pm-9:00 pm
  • Free admission
  • Free photos with Santa through December 23, craft projects, animal encounters, 3D displays, ice carving, musical light show, and more.
  • Donation boxes will be available to collect coats and winter clothing.

Do you know of any other fun holiday events? Let me know in a comment or by emailing me at and I’ll add them to the list. 

Do you and your family have any special events you’ll be attending this holiday season? 

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