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Tree lighting and Christkindlmarket coming soon

To listen? No, not your neighbor’s leaf blower, the holiday season is approaching. It’s that time of year when pumpkin spice turns into peppermint mocha and everyone starts looking forward to the Chicago Christmas tree lighting and related Christmas events, most of which are starting this week.

As in past years, the big lighting event in Millennium Park will be accompanied by holiday music, entertainment and fireworks. This year’s 110th City of Chicago Christmas Tree is a 40-foot Colorado Blue Spruce donated by the De La Cruz family of southwest suburban Darien. And new this year, there will be a main stage right next to the tree with the ceremony hosted by WBBM-CBS Channel 2’s Irika Sargent and Joe Donlon.

17.00-18.00 pre-show; 6-6:30pm ceremony and tree lighting fireworks show on November 17 at 6:25pm on Washington Street at Michigan Avenue in Millennium Park. The tree will remain lit until January 7, 2024; More information at chicago.gov

A major part of the downtown holiday is the Christkindlmarket, hosted by the Midwestern German American Chamber of Commerce since 1996. Unique vendors and concessions including souvenir shopping, live entertainment, and mulled German wine (called Glühwein). Also annual souvenir Christkindlmarket mugs.

Open daily from 11 a.m. to Nov. 17 through Dec. 24 at Daley Plaza at 50 W Washington St., as well as locations in Wrigleyville and Aurora; Admission is free, for more information: christkindlmarket.com

Free ice skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park returns from November 17 through March 3, 2024 (weather permitting). Free skating lessons (reservations required) will be offered by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events most Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., teaching beginner and intermediate ice skating and hockey skills.

Skating is free with online ticketed reservations for sessions daily from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, 11 N. Michigan Ave. Guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult aged 21 or over after 18:00. Thursday through Sunday. Closings due to weather conditions will be posted on Millennium Park’s social media pages. Skate rentals ($16-$20) are available on site; More information at millenniumparkiceskating.showare.com

Let’s not forget the November holiday. This year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, in its 89th year, will feature marching bands, the return of giant balloons, floats, equestrian artists, performances by country music artists Reyna Roberts and Tayler Holder and more.

8-11 a.m. Nov. 23 on State Street from Ida B. Wells Drive to Randolph Street; Free with $70 tickets for VIP access www.chicagothanksgivingparade.com

Come for shopping, live entertainment and concessions at the Millennium Park Holiday Art Market, which features works by dozens of local artists, including jewelry, pottery, drawings and paintings.

17-18 November from noon to 20:00; Nov. 19 from noon to 5 p.m. at Chase Promenade North in Millennium Park; Admission is free, for more information: chicago.gov

"Eternity Came from the Sea" By Yorgo Alexopoulos, part of winter 2023 "Season of Light" at Art on the March.

The “Season of Light” for winter 2023 opens with two new projections on the south façade of the building known to Chicagoans as the Merchandise Mart. One of them is the work of moving image artist George Alexopoulos, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is titled “From the Sea Came Eternity.” It’s described as “a video procession of digitally manipulated paintings, photographs, and graphics that resemble landscapes and geometric shapes,” according to an announcement from Art on the March. The other winter projection is “Analogue,” a collaborative work prepared specifically for March by current SAIC students.

Both works will be performed nightly at 7:30 p.m. from November 16 through December 30 and are best viewed from the Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Wells Street and Franklin Street; More information at artonthemart.com

The annual parade has long kicked off the holiday shopping season and all the holiday lights on Michigan Avenue on Nov. 18, starting at 5:30 p.m. on Oak Street and culminating with fireworks on Wacker Drive and the Chicago River at 7 p.m. . are Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Plus famous performances from Sister Sledge, “Good Vibrations” by the Funky Bunch, Sugarhill Gang celebrating hip hop’s 50th anniversary, and “American Idol” alum Colin Stough.

For more information: themagnificentmile.com

Sing Christmas carols and music from many holiday traditions in Millennium Park’s Wrigley Square on select Fridays in December:

  • 1 December 18:30 with Northeastern Illinois University
  • December 8, 18.30, with Windy City Gay Choir
  • December 15, 18:30 with Chicago Theater Association

Millennium Park at Michigan Avenue and Randolph; free, for more information: chicago.gov

In addition to its own Christkindlmarket, the new tradition at Wrigley Field includes an ice rink, ticketed rides and other events within the ballpark.

Opens Nov. 21 at Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison St.; Tickets starting at $5 gallagherway.com

Parkway Bank Park in west suburban Rosemont opens the holiday season with the return of the Chicago Wolves Ice Rink on November 18, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., through January 28, 2024. Skating is free, on-site skate rental costs $8. Featuring visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, sleigh rides, carolers and ice sculptures, Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens will officially light up the park on Nov. 18 at 5:30 p.m. Additionally, the Sparkle Festival of Lights opens at nearby Impact Field. 17 November.

Beginning Nov. 18 at Parkway Bank Park, 5501 Park Place, Rosemont; Full skating schedule from Wednesday to Sunday rosemont.com/thepark

Thousands of lights line Chicago’s lakefront attraction, as well as ticketed outdoor ice skating ($20), the heated Centennial Ferris Wheel ($18) and other attractions. Winter fireworks at 9 p.m. on Saturdays and on Sunday, December 31st for New Year’s Eve.

Nov. 24 – Dec. 31, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave.; More Navypier.org

Next Sunday: Look for our annual guide to holiday displays and music in the Tribune on November 19 and our guide to all the major area light displays on November 26.

dgeorge@chicagotribune.com

OUR 2023 HOLIDAY GUIDES:

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