Millennium Park Campus Holiday Events

DCASE Homepage  >  Millennium Park  >  Events Calendar  >  Holiday Events


(events are subject to change)

Holiday Traditions

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony104th Annual Christmas Tree

November 17–January 6

104th Annual Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, November 17, 6pm

Millennium Park, Wrigley Square at Michigan Ave. & Randolph St.

Enjoy this holiday tradition, a glittering tree set among Chicago’s sparkling skyline and the iconic art of Millennium Park. Free admission.


Wreathing of the LionsWreathing of the Lions

Friday, November 24, 10am

Art Institute of Chicago entrance, 111 S. Michigan Ave.

Kick off the holidays at the 26th anniversary of this Chicago family favorite. After adorning the lions on the historic Michigan Avenue steps with their traditional holiday wreaths, move inside at 10:30 am for wreath-making fun inspired by the museum’s collection. The Wreathing of the Lions is a free event. Museum admission applies inside.


Ice Skating

McCormick Tribune Ice RinkMcCormick Tribune Ice Rink

November 17–March 11

Opening Ceremony, November 17, 11am

Open Daily, weather permitting

Millennium Park, at Michigan Ave. between Washington St. and Monroe St.

Now in its 17th season, the Chicago winter tradition offers lessons and special programming weekends and during the Chicago Public Schools’ winter break. Admission is free, and skates are available for rent. Grant support for Winter Workouts ice skating lessons is provided by McDonald’s Active Lifestyles Endowment, managed by the Millennium Park Foundation.


Maggie Daley Park Skating RibbonMaggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon

November 17-March 11

Open Daily, weather permitting

Ugly Sweater Skate, December 9, 10am–10pm

Skate with Santa, December 16, 10am–noon

Maggie Daley Park, 337 E. Randolph St.

Among the “alpine in a city,” lace up your skates and enjoy an ice skating experience unlike any other on a path of ice winding through the rolling landscape. Admission is free, and skates are available for rent.


Family Fun

Dance-Along Nutcracker®Dance-Along Nutcracker®

Sunday, December 3, Dance Lessons at 11am & 2pm; Performances at noon & 3pm

Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.

Sugar plum fairies and mouse kings of all ages and abilities are invited to point their toes to the familiar music of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic. Optional beginner lesson by Ballet Chicago precedes each performance.

The Dance-Along Nutcracker, created in 1985, is the property of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, the world’s first openly gay musical organization. Admission is free.


Gingerbread House Decorating PartyGingerbread House Decorating Party

Sunday, December 17, 10:30am–1pm & 1–4pm

The Park Grill at Millennium Park, 11 N. Michigan Ave.

Enjoy decorating a gingerbread house complete with candy, icing treats and a hot chocolate bar. Tickets on sale.



Holly DaysHolly Days

December 27–30, 10:30am–3pm

Art Institute of Chicago, Ryan Learning Center, 159 E. Monroe St.

Take inspiration from the exhibition Rodin: Sculptor and Storyteller and create a work of art with your family.

Admission to the Art Institute’s Ryan Learning Center is free and museum admission is always free for kids under 14 and Chicago residents under 18.



Caroling at Cloud GateCaroling at Cloud Gate

Fridays, November 24–December 15, 6–7pm

Millennium Park, at the Cloud Gate sculpture

Bundle up and belt out some holiday classics as local Chicago choral groups lead hundreds of celebrants in song. Free admission.


Do-It-Yourself MessiahDo-It-Yourself Messiah

December 18 & 19, 7pm

Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph St.

Celebrating its 42nd year, the Do-It-Yourself Messiah brings together a world-class conductor and soloists, an all-volunteer orchestra of local professionals and amateur musicians and you, with the other 1,500 audience members, in a thrilling performance of Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah. Tickets on sale.


Brandenburg ConcertosBrandenburg Concertos

December 20, 7:30pm

Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph St.

CMS’s presentation of the complete Brandenburg Concertos performed by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Don’t miss the performance that has become “a fixture of the holiday season in downtown Chicago” according to the Chicago Tribune. Tickets on sale.


Life Music Now: Concierto NavideñoLife Music Now: Concierto Navideño

Thursday, December 14, 10:30am & 12pm

Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington St.

Samuel del Real’s Latin Quintet will perform a series of international Christmas songs such as Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, El Burrito Sabanero, The Christmas Song, and much more. They will discuss the instruments that create these expressive sounds and where they originated. Admission is free.




Lurie Garden Bird Feeder WorkshopLurie Garden Bird Feeder Workshop

December 10, 1-3pm

Millennium Park, Lurie Garden at Monroe St. and Columbus Dr.

Learn about the birds that remain here in the winter months and help them find much needed food. Each family will make one bird feeder; recommended for ages 6 to 12 years old. Admission is free; advance registration requested.



Holiday Thorne Miniature RoomsHoliday Thorne Miniature Rooms and Neapolitan Crèche

November 18–January 7

Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.

The Art Institute's Thorne Miniature Rooms are once again decked out with tiny seasonal trimmings that offer a window into festivities from a Victorian Christmas to a traditional Chinese New Year. The spectacular Neapolitan crèche is one of the few and finest examples found outside of Naples. Free for children under 14 and Chicago residents under 18.


Chicago Architecture Biennial (Photo by: Steve Hall)Chicago Architecture Biennial

Through January 7

Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.

The Chicago Architectural Biennial is the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America, showcasing the transformative global impact of creativity and innovation in these fields. For this second edition, the Biennial features over 140 practitioners from 20 countries addressing the 2017 theme "Make New History." Admission is free.


Chakaia Booker ExhibitionChakaia Booker Exhibition

Through April 2018

Millennium Park, Boeing Galleries

Ranging height from 96 to 192 inches and weighing up to a ton, the exhibited works are created using rubber tires and stainless steel. Admission is free.

The Chakaia Booker exhibition at Millennium Park is co-curated by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and made possible by the Millennium Park Foundation. Exhibition support to the Millennium Park Foundation is made possible by the Boeing Endowment with additional support from the Richard Driehaus Endowment. The curatorial committee is managed by the Millennium park Foundation.


The Millennium Park Campus is the epicenter of holiday fun in Chicago. See the lighting of the city’s sparkling Christmas tree, skate at the iconic McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, and join in caroling at Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”) or the Do-It-Yourself Messiah at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance—all in Millennium Park, Chicago’s town square and the #1 attraction in the Midwest. There’s more skating and family fun just across the BP Bridge at the ice ribbon in Maggie Daley Park. The Wreathing of the Lions has been a tradition at the Art Institute of Chicago for more than 25 years; watch as cheery holiday wreaths are placed on the regal lion statues on the museum steps (where they’re up all season), then head inside for art-making activities. And you won’t want to miss the Dance-Along Nutcracker® at the Chicago Cultural Center—with dance lessons and live music for children of all ages and abilities under the world’s largest Tiffany stained-glass dome.

Millennium Park Campus holiday events and activities are produced by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events along with the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Architecture Biennial, Chicago Park District, Harris Theater, the International Music Foundation, Lurie Garden and The Park Grill & Plaza at Millennium Park.

 I Want To

 Additional Information