Billed as North America’s largest film festival for children, the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival showcases the best in culturally diverse, non-violent, value-affirming new cinema for children and offers interactive workshops.
Feed your mind
November 1 - 10, 2019
(begins Oct. 26)
Chicago Humanities Festival is a series of talks and events that explore the human condition and feature exciting thinkers, artists, and performers. The 2019 theme is “power.”
A ticket to Laternenfest & St. Martin’s Parade gets you a lantern kit to assemble so you can carry it in the parade at dusk, with singing, crafts, a bake sale, and an optional dinner, at 1726 W. Berteau Avenue.
November 9, 2019
7.6 miles north
JASC Holiday Delight celebrates Kodomo Matsuri with Japanese food, classical dance, Taiko drumming, a craft sale, a silent auction, and Santa at Japanese American Service Committee. Free.
November 9 - 10, 2019
7 miles north
See short plays with science-fiction and fantasy themes during Paragon at Otherworld Theatre.
Watch cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs at Wine & Food Experience, which showcases “the best food, wine, beer and spirits from local & national chefs and mixologists” in the United Club at Soldier Field.
November 16 - 17, 2019
7.5 miles north
Lycée French Market has vendors of fine and decorative arts, French foods, and a French bistro at 1929 W. Wilson Avenue.
Classic Christmas play
November 16 - Dec. 29, 2019
A Christmas Carol is Charles Dickens’ holiday classic about Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and three Christmas ghosts.
Days of the Dead includes live music, a monster ball, panels, celebrity signings, contests, and after parties, at Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare.
November 22 ‑ 24, 2019
29 miles NW
See postage stamp exhibits and shop from 75 dealers at Chicagopex at the Westin in Itasca. Free.
Light show in the garden
November 22, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020
24 miles north
“The night comes alive with color, imagination, and sound, from a playful choir of singing trees to a spectacular waterfall of light” at new event Lightscape. You walk on a one-mile path that includes “an avenue of luminous linden trees” at Chicago Botanic Garden.
Chicago Toy & Game Fair features new toys and games, tournaments, costumed characters, and stage entertainment at Navy Pier, adult $16.34, child $9.17.
November 23 - 24, 2019
2.5 miles west
Randolph Street’s Holiday Market offers affordable antique, vintage, and modern goods indoors at 1340 W. Washington Boulevard in November and December. Children age 12 and younger are free. Free parking.
Muscle car show
November 23 - 24, 2019
17 mile NW
Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals is an indoor showcase of 500 high-horsepower cars that includes “unveilings” and activities for children (age 12 and younger free) at the Rosemont convention center.
Holiday train ride
November 23 - Dec. 29, 2019
1.4 miles SW
Take a one-hour train ride through downtown Chicago as you drink cocoa on the Polar Express, which travels round trip from Union Station at Jackson Boulevard.
Christmas lights - arboretum
November 23, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020
27 miles west
See colorful tree lights and projections on a one-mile walk at Illumination, with fire pits to warm you up along the way at Morton Arboretum.
Bundle up and prepare to belt out holiday classics when asked to sing along with the choir at Caroling at Cloud Gate outdoors in Millennium Park. Free.
Model trains & holiday flowers
November 29, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020
3 miles north
Model trains wind their way among 700 poinsettias and a Christmas tree during the Holiday Flower Show at Lincoln Conservatory. Open daily. Free.
Made in Chicago
November 30, 2019
2.3 miles west
Shop 70 vendors of locally made clothing, housewares, jewelry, food, and drink at Made in Chicago Market in Chicago Journeymen Plumbers (Plumbers Hall). Held in April, August, and November. Free.
November 30, 2019
32 miles NW
Your dog can dress for a costume contest, hunt for treats, and get photographed with Santa indoors at Jingle Paws by the Schaumburg Park District. Bring your dog’s vaccination records.
November 30 - Dec. 29, 2019
1 mile south
Joffrey Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker features brilliant costumes, fanciful scenery, entrancing storytelling, and Tchaikovsky’s famous score played by the Chicago Philharmonic at Auditorium Theatre. This version by Christopher Wheeldon is set in 1892, with a World’s Fair theme.
Christmas lights - Brookfield Zoo
November 30 - Dec. 31, 2019
14 miles SW
Holiday Magic has a million twinkling lights, a train display, carolers, ice carvers, a magician, a talking tree, zoo chats, and singing to animals at the Brookfield Zoo. Dates in 2019: Nov. 30; Dec. 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 26-31.
Taste wine and cookies, and bring home three dozen chef-made cookies at Cookies & Cheer at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park.
Outdoor adventure films
1.8 miles SW
Watch “gritty, profound, shocking, visceral, and inspiring independent films that manifest the spirit of adventure” at Adventure Film Festival Tour at Music Box Theater, a benefit for children’s outdoor experiences.
Christkindlmarket is an open-air European holiday market featuring traditional art, handmade gifts, German foods, choirs, and carolers on Daley Plaza. Free.
1 mile east
Festival Hall at Navy Pier becomes an indoor Winter WonderFest for the holidays, with music, skating, carnival rides, and entertainment. You need ID if you are age 18+, otherwise you need a parent. Children shorter than 3 feet are free. Closed Dec. 25.
Christmas lights - Lincoln Park Zoo
2.5 miles north
ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo features millions of holiday lights, ice carving, music, carousel & train rides, food, and gift shopping (plus photos with Santa some days). Free. Closed Dec. 24 & 25.