Beginning with Thanksgiving and lasting through Christmas and New Year's, the holiday season in Chicago is unlike any other and full of traditions. This time of year, the city is full of cheer, fantastic light displays, and celebrations that anyone can see or attend. Don't be a grinch this year; get out and celebrate with other locals!
Caroling at 'The Bean'
Millienium Park, North Michigan Avenue and East Randolph Street, Chicago
Fridays, November 23 to December 21, 2012
This newer tradition is only going into its seventh year, but it is quickly becoming one of Chicago's favorites. Its official title is "Caroling at Cloud Gate," but as Chicago native Drew Carlson puts it, "It's called Caroling at the Bean! No one goes by Cloud Gate, and some residents probably don't even know what it refers to."
This tradition was started by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and has established itself as a must-attend Christmas activity in Chicago. You can become part of this Chicago tradition every Friday beginning November 23 and ending December 21, 2012. Caroling begins at 6 p.m. at "the bean" and lasts for about 50 minutes. You can listen or join in the singing.
Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light
57th Street and Lakeshore Drive, Chicago
November 16, 2012, to January 6, 2013
Over the last 71 years, the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) has put on one of the mostheartwarming Christmas shows. In 1942, the tradition was born when the MSI put up a single tree in honor of the allies of World War II. Over the years, it has morphed into a phenomenal show of lights, concerts, and a 45-foot Grand Tree. This massive tree is adorned with 30,000 lights and 1,000 ornaments and takes center stage in the rotunda. Surrounding this beautiful Christmas tree are 40 smaller trees that have been decorated by volunteers. Each tree embodies a different culture's tradition, which helps residents learn more about their communities and neighbors. If that doesn't sound amazing enough, then you can enjoy some of the sprinkling snow that falls occasionally or catch a concert by a school choir on the weekdays. For the weekends, ethnic groups provide song and dance.
Macy's Holiday Displays
111 N. State St., Chicago
One of the most storied Chicago traditions began at Marshall Field's in the 1870s. Marshall Fields was the first store to ever spread the love of Christmas through display. From that moment, Chicagoans and tourists came each year to see what the store had created for its holiday displays. They also set up a 45-foot Grand Tree in the Walnut Room that is decorated with 25,000 lights and 1,200 themed ornaments. While they are losing some popularity among locals since Macy's bought Marshall Field's out in 2005 and changed the name of the store, the holiday displays are still an iconic Chicago tradition.
Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
2001 N. Clark St., Chicago
November 23, 2012, to January 6, 2013
This Chicago tradition is one that I take my family to every year. For almost 20 years, the Lincoln Park Zoo has amazed residents and captivated tourists. The zoo decorates every tree with lights and sets up large holiday-themed displays. They also have a few pathways that are formed into tunnels of lights.
Beware, it does get packed, and parking is tough. The lights kick off on November 23, 2012, and run every weekend until December 26, 2012, when they will stay on every night until January 6, 2013.
Janoa Taylor is a freelance writer with a background in business and finance. She offers a unique local perspective gained from years as a Chicago resident.