Two Dozen Ways to Enjoy the Holiday Season in the Chicago Southland
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Chicago Southland. Trees are decorated, twinkling lights are everywhere and Santa is popping in here and there to see who has been naughty or nice. Make the most of this holiday season and get in the spirit with some of the fun activities and events in the coming weeks.
Christmas in the Commons
Saturdays and Sundays through December 22
This fun holiday market will feature goods and artisan products from a dozen vendors along with visits from Santa, ice skating rinks, food trucks, craft beer, trackless train rides, character visits, hot cocoa in souvenir mugs and more. You’ll also see a dazzling display of lights with the largest lighted Santa Claus in the United States.
Step Back Into a 1950s Christmas Exhibit
Wednesdays and Saturdays through January 4
Visit the 1950s Park Forest House Museum and step back to a simpler time. The home is decorated with period furnishings and will give you a taste of what a holiday home in the Chicago suburbs looked like more than six decades ago. The exhibit includes a forest green aluminum tree with a rotating musical base and a Hanukkah display honoring achievement of Jewish residents of Park Forest.
Festival of Lights Christmas Around the World Exhibit
Through January 6
M-Tu 6-8PM; W-Th 3-5PM; Sa 11AM-1PM
Get a glimpse at how Christmas is celebrated all over the world by viewing more than 30 decorated trees along with exhibits, Santa dolls, Nativity scenes, costumes and stories of worldwide holiday customs. Private group tours also available.
Saturdays and Sundays through December 22 and December 26-31
It’s back for its 38th year - Chicagoland’s largest and longest-running lights festival with over a million twinkling LED lights, a 41-foot-tall talking tree, Chicago Wolves Skating Rink, ice carvings, LED animal sculptures, zoo chats and more.
Holiday Lights in Homewood
Located on Martin Avenue between Chestnut Road and Kroner Avenue is this treasured downtown event - Holiday Lights. Merchants will have special holiday promotions, discounts, raffles and in-store events and musical trolleys will travel to unique stores, boutiques and restaurants. Santa will flip the switch for the annual tree lighting ceremony, and you can follow a parade of brightly decorated antique cars to Hickory Road for live ice sculpting demos, photos with Santa, hot cocoa, bonfire and holiday music.
Lights and Lagers
Enjoy some brew samplings and party with real reindeer. You’ll also be admitted to view the lights of Holiday Magic and can sip while you stroll and take in the beauty of the zoo at Christmas time. Tasting stations are set throughout the zoo grounds at the Seven Seas Underwater Viewing, The Swamp, Great Bear Wilderness Underwater Viewing and other spots.
Holiday on Pulaski
At this fun holiday event you can experience a laser light show and carriage ride while you view ice sculptures and write letters to Santa. Businesses will have special promotions and giveaways.
Kris Kringle Market
F 5-9PM; Sa 1-7PM
Have fun in two large heated tents with 75 vendors offering holiday crafts, food and more. A Kids’ Corner will have activities and crafts for kids. Listen to live music, enjoy the festive lights and take part in the beer and wine stroll along the Olde Palos Shopping Center.
Holiday Concert at South Suburban College
Slow down and get into the holiday spirit with a special performance at South Suburban College. The holiday concert will feature the SSC Symphonic Band, SSC Orchestra, SSC Voices and PAC Rats Theatre Company.
Lotton Art Glass Christmas Open House
F 10-7PM; Sa 10AM-5PM
Do some of your holiday shopping for family and friends in downtown Crete with a visit to Lotton Art Glass. See some of their magnificent masterpieces and watch some being made at their annual Christmas Open House. This is the 49th year in business for Lotton Art Glass and the shop will be open each Saturday in December.
14th Annual Holiday Happenings
Take an opportunity to visit with Santa, join in on kids’ arts and crafts and see the living nativity. The village tree lighting will happen along with a vendor and craft show, seasonal music and caroling and a holiday bake sale.
Crete Country Christmas
F 5-10:30PM; Sa 8AM-10:30PM
There’s a full weekend of Christmas cheer happening in Crete that will include ice sculptures, a light parade, crafts, food, live music and a huge bonfire.
F 6-9PM; Sa-Su 12-5PM
You’ll find loads of holiday cheer waiting for you at the Oak Park Avenue Metra Station in Tinley Park. A tree lighting, holiday market, entertainment, ice carving, photos with Santa, rides and parades are all part of the fun.
Breakfast with Santa Holiday Festival
The Matteson Community Center is the setting for a gathering with gift vendors, kids’ activities, photos with Santa, holiday entertainment, breakfast and an ugly sweater contest. A special tree lighting also takes place. Get tickets in advance at Village Hall or Matteson Community Center. Limited tickets available at the door.
Annual Candlelight House Tour
Head out to the Pullman National Monument Historic District in Chicago for the annual Candlelight House Tour. Tour begins in the Historic Pullman Foundation Visitor Center and then several restored homes will be open for viewing. There’s also a buffet of small bites and desserts and a silent auction.
Board the Polar Express in Olympia Fields for a ride to the “North Pole.” The Polar Express story will be read along the way and Santa will visit with each child. Upon arrival in Chicago, guests will have three hours to explore the city. On the ride back there will be caroling, goodie bags and games.
A Christmas Story: The Play
Relive the magic of the classic holiday film, A Christmas Story. Take a trip back in time to the 1940s in the Midwest through the eyes of Jean Shepherd, whose heartwarming story of a young Ralphie Parker’s Christmas wish will give you all the feels.
Paddy Homan & The Noble Call Christmas Concert
Sit back and enjoy a classic Irish Christmas with songs, stories and traditional Irish dancers at Chicago Gaelic Park.
There will be two time slots for a holiday hay wagon ride through the streets of Palos Heights as you sing Christmas carols. Ride leaves from Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens and upon return, there will be food and crafts. Early reservations recommendation
Reindeer on the Green
Have you ever wanted to meet a real live reindeer? This is your chance. Visit for hot cocoa and cookies around a nice warm bonfire and meet Donner and Blitzen.
Miracle on Martin
Make your way to downtown Homewood to do some shopping, meet Santa, enjoy kids’ crafts, s’mores and holiday carolers.
Peotone Christmas in the Village
Start with a breakfast at Peotone High School, get a picture with Santa and check out the craft and vendor fair. Stock up on your favorite cookies at the Immanuel United Church of Christ Holiday Cookie Walk, ride the Pony Train Express mini train, check out the petting zoo, take a free wagon ride, get your face painted and enjoy other fun activities. Many of the businesses will have special offers or raffles.
Christmas at the Brewery
Diners at the brewery will be treated to a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown Flossmoor, which will be all lit up for the holidays. Santa will be there for the picture taking with the kids, as well.
Lunch with the Grinch
The little ones will love this annual holiday tradition at Chuck’s Southern Comforts Cafe. Santa is making many appearances for breakfast with the kiddos, but where else can you have a meal with the Grinch? They’ll air the classic cartoon version and serve up some Whoville treats.