2021 Holiday Family Fun Guide | Chicago North Shore Moms
Chicagoland Holiday Lights, Trees & More!

Chicago Botanic Gardens

Kohl Children’s Museum Kohlights, Glenview
Nov 26th- Dec 31st
Kids take charge in the area’s newest holiday light display. It’s more than just a walk through the festive holiday lights in Kohl Children’s Museum’s newest outdoor activity: Kohlights. Children can control and change the lights, so it’s a different lightacular experience every time.  Learn while you play with light and color as you create new hues and patterns in this safe and interactive holiday light installation. The show must “glow” on!


Goebberts Holiday Light Show, Pinegrove Nov 20th- Jan 3rd
Enjoy a gorgeous and fun Light Show from the comfort of your vehicle! We have partnered with Epic Light Shows to bring you a spectacular and amazing light display, set to music and featuring over 1 million lights!

Christkindlmarkets Market, Downtown Chicago and Wrigleyville Nov 19th- Dec 24thThe German Christmas Market is back in person, providing a safe outdoor experience in Chicago for the whole family. Please find our Health & Safety Information here. The authentic Christkindlmarkets in Downtown Chicago and at Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville are a unique ADMISSION-FREE experience. The smell of roasted nuts, fresh pretzels, bratwurst and hot spiced wine, the sound of festive music, and the glimmer of sparkling Christmas ornaments, all in a cozy atmosphere – a visit to the market takes all  your senses on a journey!

Six Flags Holiday in the Park, Gurnee,
Nov 26th- Dec 30th Holiday in the Park Lights is back! ‘Tis the season for a stroll through the park!  Enjoy twinkling lights, spectacular shows, delicious snacks, and holiday shopping.

Six Flags

Willow Hill’s Winter Magic, Northbrook
Nov 20th- Jan 2nd
Willow Hill Golf Course is proud to present its first annual Willow Hill’s Winter Magic drive-thru Christmas lights event! This family holiday event features over one million lights adorning displays of characters (like snowmen and penguins), beautifully lit Christmas trees (50 of them!), drive through light tunnels, and so much more.

Amaze Light Festival,
Rosemont, Nov 19th- Jan 2nd
Create memories that will last a lifetime at Amaze Light Festival located at Impact Field in Rosemont. Enjoy one of the largest holiday lighting events in the country, with spectacular themed light shows, festive music, and so much more. Don’t miss out on this truly amazing experience!

Christmas Around the World at MSI
Nov 25th- Jan 2nd
Explore rich holiday traditions from around the globe while creating your own traditions with loved ones in Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light.  It began in 1942 with a single tree. Today, the Museum’s beloved annual celebration features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. It’s the one-of-a-kind experience that brings a whole world of holiday joy under one roof.

Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo
Nov 26th- Dec 31st
Now in our 40th year, get ready to visit Chicagoland’s longest-running lights festival featuring over two million twinkling LED lights within the Brookfield Zoo!  *Brookfield Zoo is requiring advanced, timed reservations for Holiday Magic.

Brookfield Zoo

Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretom
Nov 20th- Jan 2nd
The ninth annual Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretumreturns as a walking experience. Explore 50 acres of the Arboretum’s majestic trees during this one-of-a-kind spectacle of color, light, and sound.

Light up the Lake 
Nov 26th- Jan 2nd 
Brighten the winter season with Chicagoland’s biggest indoor, temperature-controlled light garden, featuring large-scale light-sculpture displays; an Alpine ice rink, authentic holiday beer garden, kiddie train rides, Santa’s Merry Main Street and gift market—and, of course, a visit with Santa. Nov. 26 through Jan. 2, in Festival Hall.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights 
Nov 20th- Jan 2nd
Chicago’s favorite holiday tradition is back and better than ever in 2021 with our new Pepper Family Wildlife Center at the heart of the zoo, a new holiday lights experience on our Main Mall, and an exciting new light show on our South Lawn. Also new this year: sensory-friendly visit times and an impressive 18-foot holiday tree sure to inspire festive oohs and aahs.

Chicago Botanic Gardens Lightscape
Glencoe, Nov 12th- Jan 2nd
The popular holiday event is back, with a new path and exciting new delights! We’ve got inventive new installations and all your favorites too. Hum along to the melodic tunes of the singing trees. Surround yourself in the twinkling glow of the Winter Cathedral, and find new features that shine with all the colors imaginable. This holiday season, set a merry mood with friends and family. *Book early to guarantee your preferred dates. Tickets sold out last year!



North Shore Community Events!

We’re starting in Evanston and jingle-belling all the way North along Lake Michigan with Chicago North Shore community’s best holiday bets for you and your family!


Holiday Light Celebration | December 4, 5-7:30pm
Celebrate with the community at the annual holiday tree lighting at Fountain Square!  Enjoy performances by Evanston Children’s Choir, Purple Haze Acapella and special characters from The Actor’s Gymnasium. At 5:30pm, Mayor Biss, Santa and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance to light the tree at Fountain Square. There will be hot chocolate and other treats available for purchase at the event.

Small Business Saturday – Holiday Shopping Passport, Nov 27th – Dec 18th
Shop unique, shop local this holiday season! Starting on the nation wide Small Business Saturday, pick up or download a Shopping Passport with special offers from local businesses. When you spend a minimum of $100 (or more) at local shops, you’ll receive a holiday gift from Downtown Evanston! More details coming soon to our Small Business Saturday.


Santa’s Mailbox! Nov 19-Dec 3rd
Mail your LETTER TO SANTA at the magical North Pole Mailbox located in Mallinckrodt Park! Include a self addressed, stamped envelope so that Santa can write you back. LAST DAY TO DROP OFF YOUR LETTER IS DECEMBER 3! Don’t miss out on this special holiday tradition!

The Wilmette Center for the Arts:The Nutcracker, Dec 3-5th
Enjoy this magical holiday tradition as young actors and dancers perform our rendition of the classic Nutcracker story. Toy soldiers, mouse kings and sugar plum fairies will take to the stage for 4 shows this season.

Dec 1-5th
Our Wilmette Park District Tradition is back in person! Start with a box house and cover with our handmade frosting. Embellish with candy, cookies and goodies. Be sure to bring your imagination and a box or tray to carry your confection home. Adults are welcome to make their own or work alongside their child, or register for the popular Adult Gingerbread House Workshop! TAKE HOME KITS AVAILABLE TOO! 


Holiday Festivities & Lighting,
Dec 4th, 4:00-8:00 pm
Annual Tree Lighting, Menorah Lighting, Holiday Market and Santa on a Firetruck! At 4 PM, Santa is coming to town! He’ll be riding on a fire truck through the village, starting at Assembly Hall. Watch from home or wave from Assembly Hall!  After, little ones can create a craft while parents mingle, enjoy a cash bar, and shop the holiday market.

Gingerbread House Decorating Party,
Dec 12th, 24:00pm

Northbrook & Deerfield 

Festival of Trees,
Northbrook, Nov 20th
On November 20th, Stepping Stones Network’s 3rd annual Festival of Trees benefit will auction off 24 one-of-a-kind, holiday themed trees of all sizes crafted by talented local designers. The proceeds from these uniquely decorated trees will support the beloved women and children that Stepping Stones Network serves.

Turkey Shoot Free throw Contest,
Northbrook, Nov 21st, 1-4pm
Join us for the inaugural contest. Register for the individual or team competition. Teams can consist of one child and one parent or guardian, two children of any age combination or two Adults. Each participant shoots 15 free throws, in the team competition the scores are added up to determine the winners. First place in each division receives a turkey. Second place in each age division receives a pie.
Individual Age Divisions: 6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15, 16-18, 18+

Deerfield, Dec 4th 12-2:00 PM
Come celebrate the magic of December at Jewett! This program will be hosted “Open House” style with something for everyone! Activities include: Winter, Christmas, and Hanukkah crafts, visit with Santa, additional photo opportunities, Bingo and storytime. Adults are free with a paid child.

Deerfield, Dec 11th, 10:30-12:30pm
Don’t be a Cotton-Headed Ninny-Muggins, instead join us and Buddy the Elf for a festive brunch! Celebrate the holiday season with delicious food, fun-filled activities and everyone’s favorite elf, Buddy!


Santa’s Mailbox,
Winnetka Park District, Nov 24th
Elves will sneak into Winnetka to drop off this magical mailbox at the Winnetka Park District so children can mail their letters to Santa. The elves will pack up the mailbox Sunday, December 19 to take back the letters to the North Pole for Santa. Don’t forget to include names and a return address to ensure the elves know where to send Santa’s response!

Turkey Day Skate!
Nov 25th, 10:30-2pm
Burn off a few calories before Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy a special skate day at the Winnetka Ice Arena. Skates may be rented for $4.

Nov 28th, 5pm
Celebrate with Family Friends and Neighbors!  6-FT. MENORAH LIGHTING, DOUGHNUTS, GIVEAWAYS, DANCING, MUSIC & MORE!  Station Park (Elm Street Metra Station)

Tree Lighting,
Dec 3rd 4-6pm
Join us for this Annual Holiday Tradition at Dwyer Park on (Dwyer Park is located behind the post office at the corner of Elm and Birch) From 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm there will be music and local choirs singing carols for your entertainment. Free hot chocolate, hot apple cider and cookies will be given out while you are enjoying this festive night! The tree will be lit at 6:00 pm sharp with a visit from Santa, Mrs Claus and an Elf coming right after! Candy canes will then be passed out and there will be an opportunity to visit with Santa!  **Remember to please bring a mask so Santa doesn’t catch a cold!

Candy Cane Lane,
Dec 3rd, 8am-9pm
Do visions of sugar plums dance in your head? Use that creativity and register your organization, club, neighborhood, or family to decorate your very own tree.

Fireside Photos with Santa,
Dec 4th, 10-2pm
Santa’s sleigh will make one final stop in Winnetka before the big day! He is scheduled to land at Crow Island Woods to give families the opportunity to take a socially distant picture! Families will be able to spend five minutes with Santa for a holiday greeting and take a picture to cherish this memory for years to come. Staff will be available to take photos with your camera or phone. Pictures will be taken around the fireplace located in the shelter at Crow Island Woods.

Red Invitation Event,
Dec 5th, ALL DAY!
Shop local this holiday season and come away with unique gifts for everyone! Even when it’s snowing, Winnetka, Northfield and Glencoe can’t stop/won’t stop opening doors in support of small businesses. Find the perfect gift while supporting your community in the process! Check out these holiday shops this season. Participating shops in Winnetka, Northfield and Glencoe are offering unique sales and special holiday promotions throughout the day!

Winnetka Winter Express,
Dec 10th, 5:00-
All aboard! Next stop, Winnetka Golf Club! Yes, you heard that right. Come out and watch Polar Express from your car. The movie starts at 5pm. Please arrive an hour early. During the movie, each child will receive hot chocolate, a cookie, popcorn, and a letter they can write to Santa. Ages: All Fee: $50 per car Registration Residents: Registration begins Monday, November 22 at 8:30am Non-Residents: Registration begins Monday, November 29 at 8:30am   Register Online  

Ugly Sweater Skate,
Dec 11th, 1:40-12:55pm
Wear your ugliest holiday sweater and take a few laps skating to festive holiday music. Be sure to stick around for the Holiday Skating Exhibition following the skate.

Holiday Sing,
Dec 24th, 6-6:30pm
Join families, friends, and neighbors for the 25th annual Holiday Sing. Bring your singing voices, candles (or flashlights), and gather around Village Green to sing everyone’s favorite holiday songs. This event lasts approximately 25 minutes. Ages: All Fee: Free!



Highwood for the Holidays,
November 27th, from 2-5PM
Held at City Hall Park (17 Highwood Ave), with a Santa appearance at 4PM!  Enjoy the Holiday Season at Highwood for the Holidays by participating in holiday choo-choo train rides, make-your-own-ornament station for kids, festive music, and of course, arrival of both Santa and Mrs. Claus on a firetruck followed by visits with Santa!  This Highwood for the Holidays also falls on Small Business Saturday, where guests can participate in a “Shop Local, Win Local” receipts raffle. Anyone shopping in the area can turn in their receipts from any Highwood business to be entered to win a $50 gift card!

Elf Invasion Run/Walk,
Dec 4th 9am
RUNNERS SIGNUP: https://runsignup.com/Race/IL/Highwood/ElfInvasion5KRunWalkStroll
For those who love to channel their inner elf, but are too young or not able to participate in the Annual Elf Invasion Pub Crawl, Celebrate Highwood is welcoming all-ages of elves to grab their best elf wear and running shoes and come out for its Inaugural Elf Invasion 5K Fun Run, Walk & Stroll. Starting at 9AM from Enjoy Highwood Park at the southeast corner of Walker and Waukegan Avenues (just north of The Bent Fork Bakery), this festive cold weather Fun Run courses through Downtown Highwood and through Historic Fort Sheridan.

Elf Invasion Pub Crawl,
Dec 4th, 7pm
Get “Elfed Up” at the 3rd Annual Elf Invasion Pub Crawl as attendees visit five of the City of Highwood’s most popular establishments to enjoy live music, food & drink specials, and raffle prizes at each participating venue.

Highland Park

Dreidels and Donuts,
Dec 1st, 4-4:45pm

This festive family event features a holiday-themed craft, and in the spirit of the traditional Hanukkah sufganiyot, jelly donuts will be served. Open to all. Registration is per person. Children must be accompanied by a paid adult.

Light the Night,
Nov 6th, 3 – 5 PM
Join Mayor Rotering and the City Council for the lighting of over 200 trees for the 2021 holiday season. Family-friendly activities include Santa, music and more, including a community dance mob! Information about performances is coming soon.  Ready to put on your dancing shoes and join the community dance mob? You have plenty of time to learn both dances with the videos below. Be sure to arrive at 3 PM and be prepared to dance – you never know when the music will start!

Family Skate Night,
Dec 22nd, 5-7pm
Skating coaches are available to assist new skaters. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration is required. Skate rentals are available for $3 at the front desk on the night of the event.

Campfire Trivia,
Dec 3rd, 6:30pm
Test your all-around knowledge with a friendly game of trivia. Form your own team or create one that night. Stay warm with the heat from a campfire, hot cocoa, and that fuzzy feeling of knowing the correct answers! S’mores and hot cocoa are be provided. The winning team also receives a prize. All participants, including children and adults, must register for the program. Bring warm clothes and be prepared to be outside.

Sugar Plum Shopping Spree,
Nov 27th, 10-5pm
Downtown Highland Park Alliance is proud to host their annual Sugar Plum Shopping Spree conjunction with Small Business Saturday. Shoppers are invited to get their holiday shopping done while enjoying seasonal special deals, holiday treats, and incentives, including the opportunity to win a $250 gift card at their Downtown Highland Park business of choice.  With every purchase made at participating Downtown Highland Park businesses on the Sugar Plum Shopping Spree map, shoppers will be entered to win a gift card of their choice business by filling out a raffle ticket. The more purchases, the more opportunities to win! The winner will be announced on December 1st. Look for the sign at right to spot participating businesses.

Heart of the Holidays,
Nov 27th-December
Celebrate the heart of the holiday season in the heart of the North Shore! Every Saturday from Thanksgiving until Christmas, 2:00 – 4:00 PM in Port Clinton Square, enjoy festive entertainment, delicious treats and more as you browse the unique shops and restaurants of Highland Park’s Central Business District. Joining us each week will be Ravinia Brewing Company, with cider and festive beers available for purchase.
-November 27: The Heart of the Holidays begins with seasonal music, a visit from Santa, roaming carolers, and more on Small Business Saturday, with holiday cookies.
-December 4: Celebrate Hanukkah with the music of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Quartet and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) from That Little French Guy.
-December 11: Sing along to your favorite holiday songs – and some others! – with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons-inspired quartet, The Four C-Notes, with roasted chestnuts.
-December 18: Join us for an ice carving demonstration from World Class Ice Sculpture, roaming carolers, and holiday treats.

Lake Forest

November 27, 2021 – January 10, 2022
In addition to the central business district and Market Square holiday decorations, this year eight Lake Forest community and neighborhood parks will be decorated with holiday trees and lights, which will remain on for the entire season.

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,
Citadel Theater Nov 19th through Dec 23rd

Kids Only Holiday Shop,
December 8th, 2-6pm
A community favorite, our Kids Only Holiday Shop allows children ages 4-10 to conduct holiday shopping without mom or dad!  Santa’s Helpers will escort your child through the boutique, visiting local vendors and talented artisans who feature items all $10 or under (and that includes tax). Give your kids the gift of independence and let them experience the joy of giving. Wonder Wrappers will be on hand to make sure each purchase is wrapped and ready for under-the-tree.

Lake Forest’s COCOA CRAWL,
Nov 27th 12:00-3:00 pm
Bring friends and family and join for a very special celebration – grab a cup of hot cocoa and treats and jump on board the Holly Trolley for a swing through the wonderful businesses in downtown Lake Forest – what better way to celebrate ‘Small Business Saturday’!!  Be sure to stop first at the “Cocoa Crawl Station” in Market Square to grab a cup of cocoa and delicious fresh, warm mini donuts courtesy of Market Square, then hop on the festive ‘Holly Trolley’ sponsored this year by Realtor Andra O’Neill of @properties – there will be trolley stops throughout downtown Lake Forest and you can hop on and off to visit participating businesses and enjoy shopping discounts, nibbles and sips, and some good old-fashioned fun.

Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony,
Market Square, Nov 26th, 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm
The Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony is back for 2021! Don’t miss this holiday tradition for the entire family! Enjoy an afternoon and evening of live entertainment, warm drinks, carolers, LFDA dancers, and Santa! This free community event is held at Historic Market Square in downtown Lake Forest.

Lake Bluff

It’s a Wonderful Life… In Lake Bluff
December 4th
Gather in Lake Bluff for holiday cheer! 2-5 pm Holiday Market & Entertainment
5 pm Caroling & Lighting Ceremony

Santa Ride, December 12th 10am-1pm 
Santa will make an early appearance in Lake Bluff on December 12th! He will be riding up top on one of the Lake Bluff Fire Department Engines beginning at 10:00 a.m., so when you hear the Village warning siren, be sure to look for Santa coming your way!




Holiday Favorites on the Screen!
Growing up, we always saw a movie in the theater on Thanksgiving weekend- when all the new holiday releases hit the theaters!  Times have changed, and these days we’re mostly streaming, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set the scene at home for a little post-turkey couch fest.
Though few and far between, these are the best of the screen for kids Thanksgiving themed viewing.  (Check back for the Holiday list to follow!)

Encanto– This brand new Disney Pixar film is only in theaters this Thanksgiving and looks like it gives allll the family matters feels.

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving– This classic is a must do every year.  Apple TV & Amazon

Free Birds– Kids love these goofy birds trying to keep turkey off the menu!  Amazon, Netflix

Adams Family Values– Leave it to Wednesday Addams to shout out historical truths during the Thanksgiving play!  Amazon

Winnie the Pooh Season of Giving- Winnie and friends keep it calm and kind in every special and this is no different.  Perfect for before bed.  Apple TV or Amazon

Frozen 2- Though brief, this film has a fall/Thanksgiving scene and sets the feel for changing seasons and holiday togetherness. Disney +

Clifford the Big Red Dog– Nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but it’s new and adorable for when you need a break over the long break!  Paramount or in theaters

We’re Back– These cookie dinosaurs time travel and land in the middle of the Thanksgiving Day Parade! Amazon



Ice Skating!
Coming SOON!!!
Thank You to our Sponsor!

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