From ice skating and Christmas markets to sparkling shows on Broadway in Chicago, Illinois has got you covered (in snow)
WHY NOT SPEND CHRISTMAS IN CHICAGO THIS YEAR?
Have you had your fill of UK-based festivities? Looking to spend Christmas a little differently?
Then the US state of Illinois, an LGBTQ+ friendly travel hotspot, might just be for you.
Intrigued? Here are our top picks of how to spend Christmas in Chicago and the wider state of Illinois…
Christmas at Broadway in Chicago
A fan of the theatre? Why not check out one of the productions at Broadway in Chicago below…
A Christmas Carol at Albert Goodman Theatre (17 to 23 November, from $66 to $111 per person).
How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Chicago Theatre (16 to 22 November, $63 to $79 per person).
And of course, The Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker performance – famous in Chicago during the holidays.
Christmas film showings
Running from 7 December – 24 December 2018 in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, it’s the 35th annual Chicago Music Box Christmas Double Feature and Sing-A-Long – showing White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life at the vintage theatre, after carol singing with the Music Box organist. Sounds lovely, eh?
Advance tickets priced at $13.50 for a single feature and $20 for the double feature (approximately £10 and £15). Day of tickets priced at $15.50 and $24 (approximately £12 and £18).
Christmas in the country
Galena’s enchanting 19th-century downtown comes alive with Christmas charm, with its wreath-lined streets and 100 shopfronts offering an eclectic mix of boutique shopping stores, cosy cafes and antique shops. Galena is a feast for the senses with the Galena Canning Company selling old-fashioned jams, jellies, salsa and tasty BBQ sauces and many other markets in the town with fresh, locally grown produce for sale.
Bald Eagle Watching
Starting in early December, bald eagle watching at Starved Rock National Forest, Grafton and Alton are among the best places in the USA to catch a glimpse of these gorgeous creature, as literally tens of thousands of birds come for the fish in the cold Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. A once in a lifetime experience, truly.
Heritage in Springfield
As the home of the late President Abraham Lincoln, Springfield’s historical tourist attractions include the Lincoln Home and the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, as well as the Dana-Thomas House built by American architect, interior designer, writer, and educator, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Feel a sprinkling of Christmas magic as each are decorated with themed Christmas trees, orange and clove garlands and accompanied by a small quartet playing Christmas carols. Lovely.
Ice skating under the twinkling lights of the iconic Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink becomes one of Chicago’s tourist hotspots during the holiday period. Entry to the ice rink is free, skate hire costing $12, from Monday to Thursday, and $14 between Friday and Sunday.
(A particularly great idea when followed by one of the city’s world-famous, hearty and warming deep-dish pizzas…)
Views over the cityscape
360 Chicago at the John Hancock Building offers panoramic views over the city from a cosy viewpoint whilst warming up with a cup of Irish coffee from the Observatory’s café.
The new glass-roofed Odyssey Lake Michigan river cruise vessel provides fantastic perspective and fine dining experiences on the Chicago River. Choose one of their Winter Holiday events such as a three-course Lakefront Holiday Dinner Cruise (priced from $99.90 per person, approx. £76).
Floor-to-dome Christmas tree
From 15 November 2018 until 6 January 2019, the Chicago Museum Of Science and Technology will host Christmas Around The World and Holidays Of Light, featuring a four-story central tree and more than 50 holiday-themed trees and displays organised by the museum’s volunteers to showcase the city’s Christmas traditions and cheer!
Chicago Christmas markets
The city’s largest open-air festival is this year’s 23rd annual Christmaskindlmarket, which welcomes holiday season visitors to this German-American hybrid of festive stalls selling speciality handicrafts, with a diverse range of pop-ups offering delicious festive food and beverages. Perfect!