Holiday Happenings on the North Shore 2022 | Chicago North Shore Moms

Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

The holidays are here, and we’re here for it! This holiday you can find that holiday cheer by attending one of the MANY event offerings on or near the North Shore. And don’t forget to check out our curated Holiday Shopping Guide. Be sure to check the links for any last minute changes and ticket sales. No matter how you celebrate, Happy Holidays from Chicago North Shore Moms.

Markets & Bazaars

Christkindlmarket November 18th – Dec 24th Aurora, Chicago and Wrigleyville. The Christkindlmarket Chicago is the most authentic traditional holiday market of its kind outside of Europe, offering a unique shopping experience, family-friendly events & intercultural activities.

Main Dempster Mile Small Business Saturday November 26. The tradition continues! Spend $100 on the Mile on Small Business Saturday and get a mystery gift bag filled with fun surprises! Come support small businesses and get great deals! SHOP SMALL – SHOP LOCAL!

Holiday Happenings @ Plaza del Lago December 3. Plaza del Lago will kick the event off with a special character pancake breakfast at Convito Café from 9:30-10:45 (reservations needed call 847-251-3654). Come enjoy some pancakes and meet your favorite characters from Frozen. Stay for a day of holiday fun, shopping and dining while carolers roam around the Plaza from 1-2 pm. There is more fun downtown Wilmette with visits from Santa, a giant snow globe, the movie ELF and the annual tree lighting.

Jingle Mingle Holiday Market @ The Westin Chicago North Shore December 10. FREE Admission! 30+ Vendors! (including jewelry, fashion accessories, home décor, clothing, toys, tasty treats and more!) Prizes and Giveaways!

Grove Heritage Association Holiday Market @ The Grove Redfield Estate December 8 through 11. Start your holiday season at The Grove! Shop for holiday gifts, decorations, personalized ornaments and gourmet foods from some of your favorite vendors.

Kids Only Holiday Shop @ Gorton Center December 7 only. 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 and 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. Register for your timed slot.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” & Winter Market @ Village Green Lake Bluff December 3. More information coming soon to their website.

Light Shows and Drive-Thrus

Lightscape Chicago at Chicago Botanic Garden November 11th – January 8th, 2023. This magical one-of-a-kind lightshow marries the beauty of the outdoors with the artistry of illumination. It’s a must-see for the whole family. We love this!

Willow Hill Lights Drive-Thru Holiday Lights Show @ Willow Hill Golf Course. November 19 through January 1, 2023. This is the 2nd annual show on this Northbrook golf course, located near the Northbrook Wholefoods.

Shine Lightshow @ Northbrook Court north lot November 18 through January 1, 2023. Let It Shine is Chicagoland’s premier drive-thru Christmas light show experience. Guests are invited to safely stay in their cars and immerse themselves into a wonderland of light displays, all synchronized to fun holiday classics.

Light Up the Lake @ Navy Pier November 25 through January 7, 2023. Chicagoland’s largest indoor lights experience is back at Navy Pier for the holiday season. From November 25 to January 7, you can experience the magic with interactive light displays, a whimsical skating rink, journeys through the Winter Wonderfest Forest, visits with Santa, and more. Plan your visit to Navy Pier’s Festival Hall and make Light Up the Lake your new holiday tradition.

Zoo Lights @ Lincoln Park Zoo November 19 through January 1, 2023. The most wonderful time of the year deserves the most wonderful event of the year! Celebrate the holidays with ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ. This festive, one-of-a-kind holiday experience offers a merry, family-oriented tradition in the heart of the city. Ticket cost is $5.

Kohlights a Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular @ Kohl Children’s Museum November 25 through December 29. It’s more than just a walk through the festive holiday lights in Kohl Children’s Museum’s newest outdoor activity: Kohlights. This immersive experience allows kids to interact with light and color as they explore hues and patterns in this safe and interactive holiday light installation. The show must “glow” on! Enjoy the full lightacular experience, Nov 25-27, Dec 2-4, Dec 9-11, 16-23, and 26-29. This year’s experience is even bigger and brighter than before.

Sparkle Light Festival in Rosemont @ Impact Field now through January 1, 2023. Sparkle Light Festival at Impact Field in Rosemont is the premier holiday destination for families this winter.  Guests can immerse themselves in millions of sparkling lights as they stroll through illuminated villages with custom holiday features.  While visiting Sparkle Light Festival, guests can take a ride on the 2-story ice slide, enjoy free train rides, and celebrate the holidays with a menu of festive food and beverages.  Sparkle Light Festival also offers interactive children’s activities, letters to Santa and more.

Gingerbread & Holiday Yummy Workshops

Gingerbread Workshop @ West Ridge Center December 7th: Start with a box house and cover with our handmade frosting. Embellish with candy, cookies and goodies.  Voilà, you made a gingerbread house!

Gingerbread House Family Workshops @ Taste Buds Kitchen Bannockburn Saturdays and Sundays beginning November 26 through December 18, 2022. Celebrate the season with holiday bonding and gingerbread fun with our signature gingerbread house decorating class!

Gingerbread House Workshop @ Wilmette Community Rec Center December 3 and 4. Waitlist only.

Gingerbread House Decorating Event @ Gorton Community Center December 11.

Family Gingerbread House Decorating @ Community Rec Center Wheeling December 16. Each family will receive one gingerbread house, frosting, and candy for decorating.

Dreidels and Donuts @ West Ridge Center December 12th: This festive family event features a holiday-themed craft and in the spirit of the traditional Hanukkah sufganiyot, jelly donuts will be served.

Polar Express

Polar Parade (home visit from Santa!) December 16th: To request to have your home included on Santa’s route and receive a special gift from the North Pole, click the Register button (1 gift per household).

North Pole Express @ Glenview Train Station November 26. All aboard the North Pole Express! Take a voyage to the North Pole on the Metra Train. The train ride starts at the Glenview Metra Station, taken to Fox Lake and then back to Glenview.During the train ride, everyone is offered crafts and activity books and ‘The Polar Express’ by Chris Van Allsburg is read aloud. Drinks and snacks are also provided.

Chicago Union Station Metra Polar Express NOT RUNNING DUE TO STAFF SHORTAGES

Winnetka Winter Express @ Winnetka Golf Club December 9. 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.


Breakfast with Santa @ Wilmette Golf Club December 10 and 17. Children will also have the opportunity to decorate delicious hot chocolate. The family style breakfast includes pastries, fruit, pancakes, bagels and lox, sweet potato hash, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage. Registration is required for all adults and children planning to attend. Fee is per person. Children 2 and under are free, however they still need register.

Alvin the Elf’s Winter Carnival @ Skokie School in Winnetka December 3. Alvin the Elf is coming in from the North Pole to throw Winnetka a Winter Carnival! Children will enjoy fun carnival games, cookie decorating, real reindeer, light refreshments, and more. Santa himself might make a special appearance, so don’t forget to bring your letters to give to the big guy himself!

Holiday Hoopla @ Community Rec Center Wheeling December 4. Celebrate the holidays with us at the Wheeling Park District! Join us at the CRC for a variety of kids crafts, games, photos with Santa, and a special performance from Those Funny Little People. Goodie bags will be available for the first 300 children attending the event.


Ballet Makkai Nutcracker @ John & Nancy Hughes Theatre Lake Forest December 10 and 11 only. The Ballet Makkai Youth Company and students from the Irina Makkai Classical Ballet School perform The Nutcracker. Let your visions of Sugar Plums become reality with this family holiday favorite. Join Clara at her party where she receives the gift of a lifetime, battles giant mice, and travels through a Winter Wonderland to visit the Land of Sweets. See your favorites candies come to life and dance, full of colorful costumes and exciting choreography, the Ballet Makkai Nutcracker is fun for the whole family.

Junior Claus @ Citadel Theatre December 20 through December 24. With a tuneful score, a flexible cast of beloved Christmas characters old and new and a Pixar-esque tone, Junior Claus is a comedic holiday adventure for the whole family.

Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol @ Writer’s Theatre November 29 through December 24. An avowed holiday skeptic, Aunt Trudy has been recruited to channel her late husband Joe’s famous Christmas cheer over a Zoom call with family. But as Trudy becomes more absorbed in her own version of the Ebeneezer Scrooge story, the puppets take on a life of their own, and the family’s call transforms into a stunning cinematic adaptation of Dickens’s classic ghost story.

Salt Creek Ballet’s The Nutcracker @ North Shore Performing Arts December 2 and 3. he Nutcracker is the perfect way to introduce young children to the power and beauty of classical dance.

Christmas Light Displays the month of December

Lights on Magnolia in Rolling Meadows. Cross streets are Algonquin Rd. and Magnolia in Rolling Meadows. Bring a donation of non-perishable food which will go to All Saints Food Pantry. Tune in to 98.3 FM radio for the music.

Sauganash Neighborhood Lights. When using GPS put in the corner of Leroy and Albion in Chicago. It’s off Devon just west of the Edens Expressway.

Storozhuk Family Light Show. 860 Woodhollow Lane, Buffalo Grove, IL. Tune in to 88.7 FM radio for the music.

***These are residential neighborhoods so please be respectful. Do not block driveways, park in any driveways, double park in the street or illegally park in front of hydrants.***

Meals with Santa

Breakfast with Santa Northbrook Neiman Marcus December 3: Neiman Marcus Northbrook invites you and your family to join us for BREAKFAST WITH SANTA. Children will receive a special holiday gift bag.

Breakfast with Santa at Coarse Italian December 11, 17 & 18: Bring the whole family to meet Santa and enjoy an appetizing breakfast buffet provided by Coarse Italian. Call 847-657-3200 to make your reservation. 11 am-12 pm.$38.95 for adults • $19.95 for children 13 and under (plus tax and gratuity) Children under 2 years are free.

Breakfast with Santa at Oaken Bistro + Bar in Lake Forest December 11 & 12: All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast Buffet with an appearance by Santa! All reservations include 1 free framed photo with Santa. Additional photos are available for purchase and there will also be a kid’s holiday craft table.

Santa is Coming to Madame ZuZu’s Highland Park December 18: Come to Madame ZuZu to take your holiday polaroids with Santa in front of the starburst! We will have Christmas activities, peppermint hot cocoa and lots of great shopping! We can’t wait to celebrate the holidays with you and make memories together.

Breakfast with Santa at Allgauer’s on the Riverfront Northbrook December 3, 10 and 17: Enjoy a scrumptious breakfast buffet at Allgauer’s on the Riverfront’s annual Breakfast With Santa. Kids will be able to decorate their own holiday cookies and meet Santa Claus! Reservations 847-664-7999


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