Holiday Events on Chicago’s North Shore | Chicago North Shore Moms

Holiday Events on Chicago’s North Shore

We’ve curated a list of North Shore holiday events, light shows, light displays, brunches with santa, local ways to give and gift ideas from local businesses throughout the North Shore! We’ll continue to add great resources, so bookmark this page and refer back often!

A special thank you goes to our Holiday Events Guide community champions who have made this comprehensive guide possible for your busy family: Billie Diamond with @properties, Sommet Nannies, Gearhead Outfitters and Shelley Malkin with CrossCountry Mortgage.

Santa Sightings and Meals with Santa

The Holiday in the Park & Parade November 25, 2023. This bright cheery holiday event culminates in Jackman Park where Santa and his helpers will greet children will a gift. Attendees can enjoy FREE hot cocoa and tasty treats while supplies last, free kiddie train rides, hayride and photo op in the new snow globe.

Snacks with Santa @ West Ridge Center, November 30, 2023. This heartwarming event is tailored to children aged 3 to 8 and designed to create cherished memories and spread the joy of the holiday season.

Breakfast with Santa @ Chevy Chase Country Club, Wheeling December 2, 2023 10-noon. Spend the morning at Chevy Chase Country Club enjoying a delicious buffet breakfast while carolers entertain you. All children have the opportunity to meet with Santa and have photos taken with him. Reserve your spot today as this event sells out. ADULTS: $29.95; KIDS (4 -13): $16.95; KIDS (0 – 3): FREE; All prices subject to a 22% service fee and 7% tax.

Breakfast with Santa @ Neiman Marcus Northbrook Court, December 2, 2023 8:30am. Neiman Marcus Northbrook invites you and your family to join us for BREAKFAST WITH SANTA. Children will receive a special holiday gift bag. Adults $60/ Children 3-12 $50 General Admission – Your ticket includes Breakfast, Service Charge and Tax.Eventbrite Fees will be added on to final cost. Click on the event link for menu information and to purchase tickets.

Breakfast with Santa @ Egg Harbor Cafe Deerfield December 8, 2023

Breakfast with Santa @ Egg Harbor Cafe Lake Forest December 13, 2023

Breakfast with Santa @ Egg Harbor Cafe Glenview December 19, 2023

Breakfast with Santa @ Egg Harbor Cafe Evanston December 20, 2023

Santa’s Sleigh Ride with Lake Bluff Park District (Almost full), December 9, 2023 various times. Kids can help the elves in our Community Room make ornaments for the big tree, then take a fun Christmas trolley with Santa around Lake Bluff.

Breakfast with Santa @ Grace United Methodist Churce Lake Bluff December 2, 2023 @ 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 AM. Santa visits Lake Bluff every December to have breakfast with little children and their families. Meet Santa, tell him your wishes and enjoy all-you-can-eat pancakes, sausage, juice, milk and hot coffee. $0-$10 per person.

Letters for Santa Drop Boxes

“Ho ho ho!” The official U.S. Postal Service address for Santa Claus is 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888. But if you’d like to take your little people to an “official” Santa Claus mailbox, try these in-person locations:

Wheeling Community Recreation Center: The Wheeling Park District invites children to drop off letters to Santa’s mailbox from November, 24, 2023 – December 10, 2023. Santa’s mailbox will be place at the entrance of the Community Recreation Center. Santa is very busy during the holiday season, however, if there is a stamped self-addressed envelope included Santa himself will respond by Christmas. If you prefer to mail your letter, it may be mailed to: Santa Claus, c/o Wheeling Park District, 100 Community Blvd, Wheeling, IL 60090.


Winnetka: 540 Hibbard Road through 12/20. Don’t forget to include names and a return address to ensure the elves know where to send Santa’s response!

Highland Park’s West Ridge Center: Santa’s Mailbox has been officially installed at West Ridge Center! Children are invited to post a letter to Santa, include a return envelope (stamped with their home address), and in time, Santa will send along a reply. Best hurry though-the Mailbox goes back to the North Pole on December 15!

Polar Express

Chicago Union Station Metra Polar Express December 3, 2023 – December 31, 2023.THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is a magical re-creation of the classic children’s story led by a cast of talented actors on board a real train. Have your golden tickets ready for the Conductor! Passengers are served hot chocolate and Walker’s Shortbread by dancing chefs, enjoy a reading of the classic book by Chris Van Allsburg, and receive the First Gift of Christmas after Santa boards the train to greet families. Performers engage passengers in caroling and fun holiday activities on the heartwarming trip back to the station. Lap Infants under the age of two ride for free with an Adult Guardian. Prices are around $55 or $47 to $ per person.

Holiday Happenings

Chicago North Shore Moms has a robust calender of local events for your planning. All you have to do is visit and browse the dates that work for your schedule. Bookmark the calendar for easy viewing and enjoy!

Light Shows

Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

Lightscape @ Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe November 10, 2023 – January 7, 2024. From radiant first-time installations to beloved classics like the Winter Cathedral, this year’s reimagined trail takes our fifth annual holiday celebration to the next level. Book in advance to secure your preferred slot; popular dates and times go fast! Prices vary, a non-member family with 2 adults and 2 children under 12 is around $120.

Kohl Children’s Museum Kohlights, Glenview November 24, 2023 – December 16, 2023. 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, right-sized for young kids. The show must “glow” on! NEW THIS YEAR: Kohlights is now an indoor/outdoor experience, with access to all indoor exhibits as well. Non-member tickets are $37/person for anyone over 12 months of age.

Willow Hill Lights Northbrook November 17, 2023 – January 6, 2024. This is a drive-thru holiday light show and is the 3rd annual show on this Northbrook golf course, located near the Northbrook Wholefoods. $40 per car.

Shine Lightshow @ Northbrook Court north lot. DATES ARE STILL TBD. This is a drive-thru holiday light show.

Zoo Lights @ Lincoln Park Zoo November 17, 2023 through January 7, 2024. 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. Pricing: Mondays: Free; Most weeknights: $7; Fridays, Saturdays, and Premium Dates (November 22, December 31): $10

Sparkle Light Festival in Rosemont @ Impact Field November 17, 2023 through December 31, 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.

Santa’s Rock ‘N’ Lights, Grayslake @ Lake County Fair Grounds, November 17, 2023 – January 1, 2024. This is a drive thru over one mile of spectacular lights dancing to music. Check event listing for pricing.

Holiday Magic @ Brookfield Zoo November 24-26, and 30 and December 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, 21-23, and 26-31. Light up the festive season with family and friends at Brookfield Zoo’s 42nd annual Holiday Magic®. Chicagoland’s longest-running lights festival returns from 3 to 9 p.m. More than two million LED lights transform the park into a winter wonderland. While strolling pathways, zoogoers can gaze up at a 41-foot-tall lit tree choreographed to seasonal tunes, stop at the 20-foot-tall orb and 3D gingerbread house to take memorable photos, walk through the 600-foot-long “Tunnel of Lights,” and more. The cost for a non-memeber family of four with 2 adults and 2 children between the ages of 3-11 is around $115.

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL November 18, 2023 – January 6, 2024. Explore 50 acres of the Arboretum’s majestic trees during this one-of-a-kind spectacle of color, light, and sound. Exciting new features and immersive installations in this festive experience will delight all ages along a new path that is fully ADA compliant for guests with limited mobility. Pro tip: call ahead to get advice on how to get the closest parking. This event hosts parking that requires you to take a brief shuttle from the lot to the area of Illumination. The cost for a non-member family of four with 2 adults and 2 children under age 12 starts at $130.

Photo courtesy of Morton Arboretum

Light Displays the month of December

***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. All displays are for outdoor viewing purposes only.


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. All displays are for outdoor viewing purposes only.

Holiday Plays and Musicals

Grinchmas @ Highland Park Country Club, December 2, 2023. This one-of-a-kind interactive event will include breakfast, a themed craft, photo opportunities, facepainting, games and more! Registration is per person and all children must be accompanied by a paid adult.

Elf Junior Presented By Citadel Theatre Education Musical Theatre Academy December 16 and December 17, 2023.

Eleanor`s Very Merry Christmas Wish @ Citadel Theatre, Lake Forest December 20 – December 31, 2023. A holiday musical with heart, humor and eight original songs, Eleanor`s Very Merry Christmas Wish – The Musical tells the story of a ragdoll who lives in the magical world of the North Pole surrounded by Santa, Mrs. Claus, Clara Claus and the elves Twinkle, Sprinkle and Sparkle. She loves her North Pole family but Eleanor’s wish is for a best friend and home of her own.

The Nutcracker with Highland Park’s Ballet Makki. December 9, 2023 and December 10, 2023. Click here for Saturday tickets and click here for Sunday tickets. Tickets cost $30 per person.


Shine Bright: A Hanukkah Workshop @ West Ridge Center, December 4, 2023. Enjoy a Hanukkah themed story, read by the published author herself, along with some fun crafting, music, and tasty treats!

Gingerbread & Holiday Yummy Workshops

Gingerbread House Family Workshops @ Taste Buds Kitchen Bannockburn Saturdays and Sundays beginning November 25, 2023 –  December 17, 2023. Celebrate the season with holiday bonding and gingerbread fun with our signature gingerbread house decorating class!

Holly Jolly Gingerbread Party @ Giggles Play, December 9, 2023.

Get in the holiday spirit at Giggles and cross gingerbread house decorating off your list. Each session includes 2 hours of play, decorating and a festive photo-op 🎄

Gingerbread House Workshop @ West Ridge Center December 14, 2023. 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. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Fee is per gingerbread house.

Family Gingerbread House Decorating @ Community Rec Center Wheeling December 15 only. Fun with the whole family! Each family will receive one gingerbread house, frosting, and candy for decorating. Each child will receive a gingerbread craft activity. Registration Deadline: 12/13

North Shore Holiday Shopping

Candy Cane Holiday Bazaar November 8, 2023 and November 9, 2023. Stop by the Park Center lobby to shop for fun holiday gifts or stocking stuffers! Find heirloom crafts, handmade gifts and beautiful artwork, all created by East Wing Senior Center crafters and talented vendors. Enter the raffle to win great prizes!

Grove Heritage Association Holiday Market November 16-18, 2023. Start your holiday season at The Grove! Shop for holiday gifts, decorations, personalized ornaments and gourmet foods from some of your favorite vendors who have participated in past shows. Admission is payable at the door.
NEW! Stop by our heated pavilion at the Market on Saturday, 11/18 and Sunday, 11/19, 10 am-4 pm each day for

Christkindlmarket Chicago and Wrigleyville November 17, 2023 – December 24, 2023. 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.

Grove Heritage Association Holiday Market November 16, 2023 – November 19, 2023 @ The Grove in Glenview. Shop for holiday gifts, decorations, personalized ornaments and gourmet foods from some of your favorite vendors who have participated in past shows.

Downtown Evanston’s Small Business Saturday November 25, 2023. Use the Downtown Evanston Shopping Passport as a guide to local shopping. When you spend $100 or more at local businesses you will receive a $25 Evanston Gift Card and other giveaway and be entered into a raffle to win a free night at Hyatt House Chicago/Evanston.

CNSM VIP Shopping Night @ Gearhead Outfitters Highland Park November 29, 2023. Chicago North Shore Moms and Gearhead Highland Park invites you to a special VIP shopping event at Gearhead Outfitters in Highland Park on Wednesday, November 29! Between the hours of 5-7pm receive 20% off* your purchase! Beverages and snacks provided! See you there!

Holiday Bazaar @ The Women’s Club of Evanston December 18 and December 19, 2023. The WCE Holiday Bazaar showcases 50 carefully-curated vendors who hand-make or hand-design unique finds for your holiday shopping. Free admission.

Handmade Holiday Marketplace, Evanston December 2, 2023. Art Makers Outpost is excited to be hosting our Third Annual Handmade Holiday Marketplace. These markets will take place on three separate dates and each event will feature unique vendors selling their own HANDMADE wares.

Holiday Happenings @ Plaza Del Lago, Wilmette December 3, 2023. Enjoy this day-long family-friendly event with activities, performances, shopping, dining and Holiday festivities between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. throughout Wilmette! Grand Finale Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5 pm in front of Village Hall.

Local Ways to Give

Annual Blanket Drive with Willow House and Penny’s Purpose November 1, 2023 – December 15, 2023. Please support our friends at @ThePennysPurpose by donating a new, homemade, or gently used blanket to their Annual Blanket Drive. The blankets provide warmth and comfort to our families and others in need, as part of the founder’s mission to honor her late mother’s memory through the gift of giving. Blankets will be accepted Nov. 1st through Dec. 15th. For more information, visit

Winter Clothing Drive with Highland Park through December 1, 2023. Share the warmth this winter! As cold weather approaches, the City and the Park District of Highland Park are partnering with the Community Care Collective of Chicago’s 33rd Ward to collect much-needed items for asylum seekers arriving in Chicago. Visit this link for more information. Items can be dropped off at these locations:

  • Recreation Center of Highland Park: 1207 Park Avenue West
  • Highland Park City Hall: 1707 St Johns Avenue

Gratitude Generation This local organization knows how to give back to our local communities from making pupsicles for shelter dogs to clothing drives and more. Check their calendar!

Fight2Feed on Thanksgiving Day in Chicago: Traditions are important to keep alive especially through unprecedented times and Holidays. Fight2Feed is back for the 10th year with their Thanksgiving Meals.

Families Helping Families Chicagoland is hosting a gift wrapping event to benefit children and families in need! It’s Sunday, December 10th at the Northbrook Hilton. Session 1 and Session 2

Mimi’s House Family Advocacy Center urgent need for winter clothing and boots as well as diapers and wipes.

Chicago North Shore Moms Thanks Our Community Champions!

Gearhead Outfitters

Gearhead Outfitters was founded in 1997 by owner, Ted Herget, who desired to bring the active mountain lifestyle to his hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas. Gearhead Outfitters exists to help customers live active, fulfilling lives by creating an exceptional shopping experience for guests. Through the relaxed environment, specialized inventory and personalized customer service, Gearhead Outfitters strives to build relationships with customers and serve the local communities


Highland Park
621 Central Ave
(847) 266-8600

4724 N Lincoln Ave.
(708) 722-4099

1600 Sherman Ave.
(847) 475-7100

Billie Diamond with @properties, Glencoe

Billie Diamond is a real estate broker with @properties in the Glencoe office. For the past 19 years, she has used her expertise and passion for real estate throughout Chicago and the North Shore with the purpose of turning what can be a stressful and confusing process into a pleasant and hopefully fun experience. She does this with both a positive and enthusiastic attitude, and an expertise in the market and roster of go-to specialists for all the little (and big) things that come up. Billie strives to provide the highest level of service, putting her clients at ease, and helping them avoid hidden costs that can quickly turn what looks like a great deal into a bad one.

Sommet Nannies

Sommet Nannies is a professional nanny placement agency that specializes in connecting college-educated caregivers with busy, professional families. Our nannies are energetic, dynamic, and uniquely suited to meet the growing needs of the modern family. While helping families find nannies is the foundation of our business and the service we are most known for, we also offer assistance with other household staffing needs, such as household managers, personal assistants, executive assistants, housekeepers, and private chefs.

Shelley Malkin

Shelley Malkin is the Vice President of Lending at CrossCountry Mortgage. Now a 24-year veteran in the mortgage industry Shelley is still passionate about customer service. Shelley’s clients appreciate her constant communication during the process and after closing, her responsiveness and knowledge, and her attention to detail and thorough explanations all of which make the experience straightforward and effortless for her clients.

Long-term relationships are formed during the purchase or refinance transaction because to Shelley it is not simply a transaction. Shelley is truly your lender for life. She consistently ranks in the Mortgage Executive Magazine’s top 1% of mortgage originators and is a licensed mortgage originator in Illinois and many other states. Shelley can guide you through the financial process of buying a home and refinance.

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