Chicago Holiday Tours, Pop-Ups, Performances, Happenings & More

Holiday Tours To Celebrate the Season 

Bobby’s Bike Hike Chicago Holiday Tour, a festive food and walking tour of Downtown Chicago begins at the end of November and runs through Christmas Eve.

Visitors will see the lights of the Magnificent Mile, the ice-skating rink and Christmas tree in Millennium Park, enjoy a warm and filling deep dish pizza, experience the German-inspired festivities of Christkindlmarket, and toast to a joyful season over a seasonal beverage! This 3 hour Chicago holiday tour is perfect for families, friends, holiday parties, and anyone looking to celebrate the season in an exciting new way. All food & non-alcoholic beverage samples included in ticket price. Pricing begins at $75 per adult/$65 per youth (age 4-11) on Fridays/Sundays and $70 adult/$60 youth on Mondays/Thursdays. All children 3 and under ate $10/$9 when sharing with an adult. 

Special Events Spreading Holiday Cheer

Glessner House, a National Historic Landmark in Chicago, is a cultural center and museum showcasing revolutionary design and celebrating the cultural arts from the late 1800s to the present day. Filled with original artifacts and unique family history, Glessner House prepares to celebrate the holidays with the following special programming: 

  • Children’s Gingerbread House Decorating Party (December 2, 2023) – At Glessner House’s seventh annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party children are invited to create their own mini-gingerbread house to take home.  All supplies are included.  Glessner House will have lots of helpers, so no previous decorating experience is necessary but all children (recommended for ages 3-13) must be accompanied by an adult. Ticket pricing is $25 per pair (one child with accompanying adult) and there are two seatings, from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. and from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
  • We Wish You a Mattie Christmas!  (December 3, 2023) – The tree is decorated and the stockings are hung, so Frances Glessner is planning a very special Christmas luncheon with the assistance of her favorite cook, Mattie Williamson, and you are invited! Join the Glessner team in the dining room for a delicious four-course feast based on the menu for a supper served by the Glessners on Christmas night, 1898. Menu items include sausage and cheeses, chicken timbale, turkey sandwiches with cranberry relish, pickles, olives, and celery, plum pudding, eggnog ice cream, mulled wine and more. During the meal, Mattie will share recipes, ideas on menu planning, preparing the perfect guest list, how she acquired the ingredients, and how parties in the Glessner home were different from those in the surrounding Prairie Avenue mansions. The butler, Frederick, will provide information on the 1898 supper, including the guests who attended, and the musicale that served as the centerpiece of the evening’s entertainment. Ticket pricing is $60 per person, with seatings at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., with each seating limited to 26 guests.
  • Christmas Candlelight Tours (December 9-10, 16-17, 2023) – These special one hour docent-led tours will highlight Christmas customs as observed by the Glessner family. The house will feature elaborate decorations of the late 19th-century including a 10-foot tree decorated with period ornaments, toys and holiday crafts, Christmas music performed on the Glessners’ Steinway piano, and the dining table set for an eight-course Christmas feast. After the tour, enjoy complimentary hot cider and cookies. Ticket pricing is $20 per person; each hour-long time slot is limited to eight (8) attendees.

Classic Performances 

A Christmas Carol, the classic holiday tradition that has been running for over four decades in Chicago, returns to the Goodman Theatre with Jessica Thebus directing and Larry Yando reprising his role as the miserly Scrooge. Tickets start at $30 and performances run through December 31, 2023. 

DR. SEUSS’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL is the record-setting Broadway holiday sensation which features the hit songs “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas” from the original animated special. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the Holiday loving Whos. Magnificent sets and costumes inspired by Dr. Seuss’ original illustrations help transport audiences to the whimsical world of Whoville and help remind us of the true meaning of the holiday season. Recommended for ages 5+ , performances run 85 minutes with no intermission at the Cadillac Palace Theatre from December 19-31, 2023. Ticket prices begin at $32. 

The Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker by two-time Tony Award®-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, returns to the Lyric Opera House from December 2 – 27, 2023. This version is set during Chicago’s World Fair in 1893, where the young immigrant Marie and her mother, a sculptress creating the Fair’s iconic Statue of the Republic, host a festive Christmas Eve celebration. After a surprise visit from the creator of the Fair, the mysterious Great Impresario, Marie embarks on a whirlwind adventure with the Nutcracker Prince through a dreamlike World’s Fair that highlights the rich cultural heritage of Chicago and the wonder of the season. A ballet in two acts set to Tchaikovsky’s classic score, The Nutcracker features an award-winning creative team, including Tony Award®-nominated set and costume designer Julian Crouch, Caldecott Medal Award-winning author Brian Selznick, Obie and Drama Desk award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist, Tony Award®-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz and Tony Award®-winning projection designer Ben Pearcy/59 Productions. The production was adapted in 2021 by Wheeldon to fit the larger Lyric Opera stage and features live music performed by the Lyric Opera Orchestra, conducted by Scott Speck, Music Director of The Joffrey Ballet. Tickets start at $40.

Holiday Pop-Ups: 

A full-blown tribute to the beloved Christmas movie “Elf”, Elf’d Up is back by popular demand for the 6th year. Elf’d Up is decorated from floor to ceiling with over 1,000 elves of all shapes and sizes, a 10-foot Christmas tree, an upside-down Christmas tree, wreath chandeliers, strands of festive colored lights, specific tributes to the movie-like figurines, wall quotes, snowflakes, Schylling Jester Jack in the Boxes, cut-outs of Buddy the Elf and Miles Finch and more. Each table comes equipped with condiment carriers filled with the “four main food groups”– candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.

Though there are some non-alcoholic drinks on the menu, it’s heavily skewed in favor of Christmas-themed cocktails, so more of an adult atmosphere – for adults who love Buddy the Elf, of course! They have food too, including specialty holiday menu items like Buddy’s Breakfast Pasta which includes spaghetti, topped with maple syrup, chocolate fudge, and mini marshmallows.

Jack Frost Christmas Holiday Pop-Up is turning up the holiday cheer again this year, this time in the heart of Fulton Market! From November 25, 2023 – January 5, 2024, enjoy two acres of winter wonderland with daytime activities like bumper cars and ice-skating, perfect for families. In the evening, adults can indulge in the festive atmosphere by sipping on boozy hot cocoa as you walk through the Christmas tree forest, try your hand at axe-throwing and explore the Christmas market. Challenge your friends to ice curling and snap some epic Christmas pics at the famous holiday photo-ops.Tickets start at $15; hours typically run from 2.00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. on weekends and 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. on weekdays but times may vary for holidays and booked events.

8 Crazy Nights, the original Hanukkah bar in Chicago, is back by popular demand for the  fifth year in a row. Where pop-up Hanukkah bars are concerned, The Graystone Tavern is renowned for having the “one and only” in the region. What began in 2019 in Wrigleyville has quickly become a TRADITION!

In addition to all the customary blue and white lights and decorations throughout the indoor area, Graystone has also weather-proofed its beer garden for those who wish to take their celebration outdoors. And, for die-hard original Hanukkah bar Chicago fans, there is a special food menu to please everyone’s palate.

It includes a Brisket Platter, Challah Bread, Matzo Ball Soup, and Latkes, not to mention the vodka-infused, homemade Boozy Jelly Donuts! What’s more, Graystone Tavern’s bartenders offer some pretty remarkable, Hanukkah-themed cocktails like Mazel Tov, Dreidel Bomba, and Hanukkah Harry’s Hot Chocolate. Finally, besides the amazing scrumptious food and Hanukkah-themed drinks, they have spaces set aside for board games like Mitzvah Match, Schmear Build-A-Bagel card game, and Jewish Guess Who? to name a few. 

Chicago Inspired Gifts

Gifting Inspirations for this Holiday Season

Chicago 1893: The City Beautiful Tile Game brings you back in time to the eve of the World’s Exposition of 1893, where you can imagine yourself as the architect and compete with friends and rivals to build neighborhoods, rails, parks, boulevards, monuments and try to install your Alderman in the most influential Ward in the city.  Whoever can build the most impressive modern amenities and conveniences for a vibrant city will bask in the glory of establishing Chicago as the model for “The City Beautiful!” (Suitable for ages 14+. 2 – 6 players, designed by local business Transit Tees in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. I’ve attached a press release below of this, their newest game.

Transit Tees has many other Chicago-themed games too, including:

  • LOOP: The Elevated Card Game Renovated Edition – The hit transit card game LOOP now has a standalone expansion! The new LOOP: Renovated Edition contains all new event cards, plus some new wild cards and a full set of station cards. It can be played on its own, or combined with the original edition of LOOP to double the fast-paced, chaotic fun! Ride the rails of the elevated trains in Chicago’s famous Loop! Match the line colors and stations to make your way around town, but beware of the everyday perils of signal delays, broken escalators, and unexplainable smells as you get where you’re going! (LOOP: Renovated Edition is a 10-20 minute game suitable for ages 9 and up. One deck can support a game of 2-7 players, but when combined with the original edition of LOOP you can play with up to 14 people!)
  • El The Chicago Transit Adventure Board Game – Welcome to Chicago! There’s lots to do in The Windy City, and you have a full itinerary. Make your way around the city using the famous elevated “El” trains to visit places of interest and return to the State/Lake station before anyone else. Strategize your optimal route by utilizing trains and buses, but be prepared for detour. Keep an eye out for stations undergoing renovation, and be sure to carry enough Transit Tokens to pay for your fare! And of course, you’re not the only person riding the trains. Other travelers might just throw your plans for a Loop! Pack your bag, gather your friends, and set out on your Chicago Transit Adventure! Suitable for ages 13+. 2 – 8 players. 

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago shared the MCA Store Holiday Gift Guide for 2023. A one-stop shop for the gift-giving season, notable gifts include a crewneck sweatshirt featuring Pez Dispenser by Jean-Michel Basquiat, an LED neon light centering the artwork of Keith Haring, and Campbell’s Soup Cans skate decks inspired by Andy Warhol. In addition, the guide includes limited-edition keepsakes from MCA exhibitions Faith Ringgold: American People and entre horizontes: Art and Activism Between Chicago and Puerto Rico.

  • Shoppers will also find a section within the guide dedicated to Chicago artists, highlighting innovative designs from creators based in the city. Patrons can purchase pieces from watchmakers Jason Peterson and Diana Pietrzyk as well as accessories from jewelry designers Jessica Jensen, Lindsay Lewis, and Kelly Jacobson.
  • The Christkindlmarket celebrates its 27th season at Daley Plaza, its fifth year at Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville, and its second time at RiverEdge Park in Aurora.  This year, Christkindlmarket is introducing its first ceramic beer stein with a holiday-themed design ($20), as well as location-specific $8 souvenir mugs with unique designs at each market (for example: the Chicago mug shows off downtown landmarks like the City Hall building and Daley Plaza’s Picasso sculpture while the Wrigleyville mug shows off Hotel Zachary, the intersection sign of Clark & Addison, and much more.)
  • These mugs are hotly anticipated collector’s items for locals who have turned Christkindlmarket into a holiday tradition since 1996. Modeled after the 16th-century holiday markets in Germany, the free-admission outdoor bazaar is a hub for traditional German fare, delightful warm beverages and handcrafted gifts for purchase, and charming holiday vibes the entire family can enjoy. And now in its third year, another popular favorite is back – the annual Christkindlmarkt ornament, hand-painted and glass blown in Europe, portraying a market scene with holiday elements on its ice blue background ($41 at all info booths).
  • For more about the mugs:
  • While last year’s souvenir mug combined elements from all three locations, visitors can now get location-specific ones with unique designs at each market. The Chicago mug is mint green on the
  • outside and features a wine red on the interior. It shows off downtown landmarks like the City Hall building and Daley Plaza’s Picasso. The Aurora mug is a combination of mint and dark green and includes elements like the Paramount Theatre and bald eagles that can be found along the Fox River. The Wrigleyville mug is mint green and grey colored and shows off Hotel Zachary, the intersection sign of Clark & Addison, and much more. What all three mugs have in common is its
  • special shape, a round base with a tapered top. Each mug sells for $8 on its own but can also be purchased with a hot beverage from various vendors, ranging from mulled wine to hot chocolate.
  • For more on Chicago shopping, visit Choose Chicago.

Chicago Holiday Hotel Packages For A Festive Stay

Holiday Season

At Aloft Chicago Mag Mile guests can experience holiday magic by booking the Christkindlmarket Package which includes breakfast for two and one 2023 Christkindlmarket souvenir mug at check in (people come from all over to collect these mugs!). While strolling to the Christkindlmarket, the hotel’s prime location makes it easy to squeeze in some holiday shopping along the festively decorated Mag Mile. This package is valid through December 26, 2023.

The Blackstone’s Stay Like A Kennedy Package (Through January 1, 2024) invites guests to experience an enchanting escape filled with festive extravagance. The Suite of Presidents will transform into an immersive homage to the lavish 1960s Kennedy White House décor. Complete with historical accents that transport guests to the captivating Kennedy Christmas, the Stay Like A Kennedy package invites travelers to sip hot cocoa spiked with JFK’s favorite scotch and craft personalized Christmas ornaments while classic holiday tunes serenade you from a vintage record player. Embrace an over-the-top escape filled with festive enchantment and create cherished memories at The Blackstone, where history and luxury meet in the heart of Chicago’s iconic Cultural Mile. Rates start at $550 per night. 

  • From January-March 2024, the Presidential Suite will transform into The Winter of Jazz package, welcoming guests to experience the whimsical historic atmosphere of The Blackstone through an immersive musical stay. The package includes an in-room hot cocoa bar, a collection of iconic albums, and beautiful vintage decor, celebrating a timeless era of smooth tunes.

The Four Seasons Chicago’s festival holiday packages include a festive-themed welcome amenity, an in-room visit from the festive ice cream cart, nightly valet parking for one vehicle, and a USD $50 donation to the Chicago Cares Festive Drive. Package valid for selective bookings between November 20, 2023 – January 2, 2024.

At Hilton Chicago, discover the true meaning of Christmas in Chicago. Inspired by the all-new original holiday movie premiering November 5, the Santa Summit suite is made with Hallmark devotees in mind. Be surrounded by Santas of all shapes and sizes and get cozy in your Santa-themed bed — cookie kit included.

Hotel Zachary’s Winterland Package includes 2 complimentary drink vouchers for cocktails in Alma, 2 throwback Federal League stocking hats, 2 Christkindlmarket holiday mugs, and admission to Winterland inside Wrigley Field with skate rental for two. (Skating is open daily, except select holidays, from November 21, 2023 to January 7, 2024, weather permitting.) 

At InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, St. Nick’s best friend is back and he’s visiting Chicago to ensure the kiddos have been nice! This winter, stay steps away from all the holiday festivities and shopping on the Mag Mile while your family interacts with The Elf on the Shelf. The Elf on the Shelf Family Package includes overnight accommodations, an elf on the shelf doll (parents responsible for moving the doll) and breakfast at Center Court. The doll is also available for purchase if you’d like to bring your new mischievous friend home!

The Langham, Chicago announced its 2023 holiday season accommodation, dining, and activities offers. Reservations are available for booking now:

  • ‘Santa’s Toy Stories’ Holiday Tea at the Pavilion – Celebrate the magic of the season and childhood memories by delighting in the timeless tradition of afternoon tea with loved ones. Indulge your taste buds with delectable pastries and tea sandwiches while creating a personalized Letter to Santa during this quintessential ‘Santa’s Toy Stories’ themed tea experience. Offered daily from November 24, 2023 – January 7, 2024; reservations can be made via Tock
  • ‘Oh Christmas Tree’ Package – Celebrate the spirit of Christmas in your home away from home. This special package includes luxurious one-bedroom suite accommodations with a lavish in-suite Christmas tree; deconstructed champagne cocktails inspired by the season; bespoke cheese and charcuterie–ideal for an intimate tree-side respite. Reservations can be made here; Booking & offer period until December 31, 2023. 
  • Visit with Santa – Share your Christmas wishes with Santa at the Flavours of Langham shop, located on the second-floor lobby. Offered December 2, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m., and December 25 from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. No tickets or reservations are needed. 
  • Tree Lighting Celebration at The Langham, Chicago – Gather with loved ones as you sample offerings from the hot chocolate bar and enjoy a festive performance from holiday carolers during The Langham, Chicago’s annual tree-lighting celebration. Saturday, November 25th from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Located in the second-floor lobby; No tickets or reservations are needed.  

GingerBed + Breakfast at the Loew’s Chicago  welcomes families with a sweet seasonal stay – spacious guest rooms complete with a holiday tent, seasonal movie, Holiday Bedtime Story Cart, and hot cocoa. Head down to ETA for a delicious breakfast (daily $50 breakfast credit) and your little ones can enjoy decorating Gingerbread cookies while they wait. Valet parking for one vehicle per night. The offer ends on January 10, 2024. 

Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk’s one-of-a-kind Elf Life Suite features festive decorations, a hot cocoa bar, candy canes, an elf to take back home, breakfast for two adults and two children and a 2 p.m. late check-out. This package is available to book between now and January 1, 2024 for stays between November 23, 2023 and January 7, 2024. 

  • But that’s not all! Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk is also offering The More, The Merrier package because moments are better when we share them together. Book The More, The Merrier room package and bring the extended family along to receive 50% off a second room (connecting if available). This offer cannot be combined with any other promotions. Book between now and February 29, 2024, for stays through February 29, 2024. 

For the tenth year, Swissôtel Chicago will transform its 2,000-square-foot Presidential Suite into Santa’s Chicago holiday home. Family and friends can book Santa visits, pop into the hotel’s holiday speakeasy, or wake up surrounded by 17 Christmas trees in the Santa Suite.

  • Too busy to spend an overnight but want to make it a party? Stop by Santa’s Presidential Pad with up to 20 guests to visit the man of the season and overindulge in unlimited Swiss hot cocoa, champagne, and holiday treats. Kids can enjoy holiday crafts, cookie decorating, and face painting, complete with a visit from Santa. (Multiple dates between  Dec 2 and Dec 22, 2023, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to SOS Children’s Villages Illinois.)

Celebrate the holiday season along The Magnificent Mile with The Peninsula Chicago’s Holly Jolly Family Package built for the whole family. With an in-room holiday tree or menorah, holiday welcome amenity, access to our holiday library of movies and games, and more, our Holly Jolly Family Holiday package will make your season bright. 

  • Or opt for the Merry and Bright Package for a pair of adults. (Valid for stays from November 24 through December 31, 2023.)
  • Afternoon Tea during the festive season at The Peninsula Chicago is an annual tradition for many guests. The 20-foot Christmas tree and lavish holiday décor enhance this special experience, which features a traditional English tea menu including a variety of finger sandwiches, scones with house-made preserves and Devonshire clotted cream, and petite seasonal pastries. Vegan and gluten-free options are available. Entertainment includes performances from a string duo daily, plus visits from Santa on weekends from 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm*. (Daily from November 24, 2023 through January 7, 2024. Seatings are at 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm. Pricings start at $140 per adult (including a glass of Champagne) and $65 per child (ages 5-12) Monday-Thursday and $150 adult/$85 child on Friday-Sunday.)
  • Additionally, did you know that The Peninsula Sky Rink is the only hotel skating rink in Chicago? Returning for its 11th season on November 18, this 2,100 sq foot synthetic ice rink is tucked into a winter wonderland featuring festive music and snowflake lighting. Surrounded by Chicago’s skyscrapers and twinkling lights, guests can enjoy a selection of hot beverages and snacks available at the Chalet. The Sky Rink is available for groups to rent or for private events, such as marriage proposals. Skates are available to rent for $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under, with 100% of the skate rental proceeds donated to two Chicago children’s charities: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Hephzibah Children’s Association.
  • For more information on Chicago holidays, visit Choose Chicago.

Celebrate the Holidays in Chicago: Great Happenings

Running now through January 7, 2024, Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden (located in Glencoe, Chicago’s North Shore) returns for its fifth season with an illuminated outdoor trail dazzling with brand new installations from around the world and beloved returning favorites such as the Winter Cathedral and a reimagined version of the Fire Garden.New works from international artists include Lilies, from UK artist Jigantics (illuminated 5-foot lilies float elegantly on water, providing a mesmerizing view from the bridge above and igniting a sense of warmth and excitement), Night Lights, from French artist TILT (delicate lamp-shaped lights that extend nearly 19 feet high amplify a cozy atmosphere with a display of soft ambient colors) and Sea of Light, from UK artist Ithaca (thousands of individually controlled balls of LED light make Evening Island sparkle and dance their way to a bespoke soundtrack in multiple patterns and colors). Tickets sell out quickly so it is recommended to book your time and date in advance; advance tickets for adults (non-members) begin at $34 and children (ages 3-12) at $19. 

The Christkindlmarket celebrates its 27th season at Daley Plaza, its fifth year at Gallagher Way in Wrigleyville, and its second time at RiverEdge Park in Aurora.  This year, Christkindlmarket is introducing its first ceramic beer stein with a holiday-themed design ($20), as well as location-specific $8 souvenir mugs with unique designs at each market (for example: the Chicago mug shows off downtown landmarks like the City Hall building and Daley Plaza’s Picasso sculpture while the Wrigleyville mug shows off Hotel Zachary, the intersection sign of Clark & Addison, and much more.) These mugs are hotly anticipated collector’s items for locals who have turned Christkindlmarket into a holiday tradition since 1996. Modeled after the 16th-century holiday markets in Germany, the free-admission outdoor bazaar is a hub for traditional German fare, delightful warm beverages and handcrafted gifts for purchase, and charming holiday vibes the entire family can enjoy. And now in its third year, another popular favorite is back – the annual Christkindlmarkt ornament, hand-painted and glass blown in Europe, portraying a market scene with holiday elements on its ice blue background ($41 at all info booths).

  • Admission to the market is free but food, beverages, and handcrafted gifts all must be purchased. All markets open on November 17; Aurora and Chicago locations close on December 24 and Wrigleyville on December 31. 

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at the Museum of Science and Industry (running through January 7, 2024) is a beloved annual tradition that began in 1942 with a single tree. Today the Museum features a four-story floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent holiday traditions from cultures around the world.

This year the museum will also be celebrating the wonders of snow, with an exhibition in the Lower Court featuring intricate photographs of snowflakes taken by Caltech physicist Ken Libbrecht.

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum (Though January 6, 2024) invites visitors to celebrate the holidays and marvel at how light transforms a magnificent landscape. Journey along a 1-mile paved walking path (that is fully ADA compliant for guests with limited mobility), amid festive music and lighting effects, explore exciting new features and immersive installations. Afterwards, warm up by a cracking fire and roast marshmallows for s’mores, or stop in one of the concession tents for a snack and beverage. Ginkgo Restaurant in the Visitor Center will serve dinner guests view the display’s finale on Meadow Lake. The Arboretum Store will also be open for holiday shopping; gifts include a special temperature-activated, color-changing ceramic mug that will be available for purchase during all Illumination dates. Tickets start at $28 per person for nonmembers. 

People ice skating at the McCormick Tribune Plaza Ice Rink in Chicago’s Millennium Park; December 2021.

The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park offers ice skating all winter, through March, weather permitting.  Admission is free, but online reservations are required and skate rentals are available. You’ll be surrounded by the downtown skyline, with magical Christmas lights from the City of Chicago Christmas tree reflected in ‘The Bean’ / Cloud Gate sculpture. OR, head over to Maggie Daley Park, right next to Millennium Park, to the picturesque Skating Ribbon that meanders around snow-dusted pine trees and whimsical play spaces. The path is twice the length of a lap around a traditional skating rink. 

The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle (November 24 – December 31, 2023) at Lighthouse Artspace Chicago brings cutting-edge technology to meet the artistry of ballet dancers. This mesmerizing 30-minute immersive experience, set to Tchailkovsky’s music, weaves the classic tale of Marie and her toy nutcracker. Join them, on their magical adventure through the Land of Sweets, brought to life by renowned ballet dancers and innovative projection mapping technology. Pricing begins at $29.99 per person. 

  • While you’re here… Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago is bringing a new pop-up bar experience, Bar Humbug, to reign in the holiday season. The ArtSpace will be transformed into a winter wonderland with wall-to-wall holiday scenes. A lot like traditional German beer halls, there will be long tables and plush banquettes for groups to gather. Bar Humbug will present live musicians and DJs playing the holiday classics. Guests must be 21 to enter.

ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ will include new and exciting LED light displays,  photo ops, and interactive programming including a never-before-seen garden-themed light show on the zoo’s South Lawn. Festive photo ops will dot the zoo, as well as costumed characters and Victorian carolers on select nights. Food and beverages including festive cocktails and hot cocoa will be available at Edie Levy’s Landmark Café. Snowy’s Sprits & S’more and various snack stations around the zoo. Check the calendar for special events such as sensory-friendly nights, a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration, and adults-only evenings. General admission ZooLights tickets are $7 per person. Tickets on Fridays, Saturdays, Thanksgiving Eve (Nov. 22), and New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31) are $10 per person. As part of the zoo’s ongoing commitment to accessibility, general admission is FREE on Mondays. Ticket sales from ZooLights directly support the zoo’s world-class animal care, global conservation efforts, and innovative learning programs and help keep the zoo free to the public 365 days a year. ZooLights will run through January 7, 2024. 

For more information on Chicago holiday happenings, visit Choose Chicago.

Chicago Holiday Dining Guide

Hang up your apron this holiday season and opt to either dine out or having the fixings brought to your home table. Want to know how? Check out these options from Choose Chicago.

Chicago Restaurant Specials To Bring Thanksgiving to Your Home: 

Avli Taverna (1335 W Wrightwood Ave #1, Chicago, IL 60614) will offer holiday meals for pick-up from November 20-22, 2023). The menu includes Oven-Roasted Lamb Shoulder Meal with greek potatoes, avgolemono soup, spinach and walnut salad, and piece of walnut cake (Price: $46 per person); Greek-Style Half Chicken with greek potatoes, avgolemono soup, spinach and walnut salad, and piece of walnut cake (Price: $39 per person); Tray of Pastichio, a traditional casserole of pasta, ground beef and bechamel (Price: $60, serves 4-6). The meals come hot & ready to eat or cold with reheating instructions. Order on Tock Here

Bloom Plant Based Kitchen (1559 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622)Bloom Plant Based Kitchen from James Beard-nominated Chef Rodolfo Cuadros is  your vegan and gluten-free friendly option for this year’s Thanksgiving spread. Bloom offers a four-course to-go package for this year’s holiday. Diners can get a Leek & Chestnut Soup for a starter, an Autumn Harvest Salad with a mustard maple vinaigrette, Royal Acorn Squash with stuffed acorn squash, smoked mushrooms and chimichurri and a Pumpkin Pie to close out the meal with cranberry bourbon vanilla preserve, toasted meringue and a lemon balm. Ordering will be available beginning October 20 through their website, and will continue through November 20. Pick-up will be on Wednesday, November 22. 

Daisies (2375 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647)If you’re giving your turkey baster and carving set a break this year, let one of the hottest restaurants in Chicago whip you up a full Turkey Day spread that takes the holiday’s most nostalgic dishes up a notch. Logan Square’s favorite vegetable-focused restaurant, Daisies (New York Times’ Restaurant List 2023) is bringing back their Thanksgiving dinner kits filled with seasonal, Midwestern-inspired holiday classics. Sit back and relax, because Executive Chef Joe Frillman and the team are cooking up a full feast including a Sous Vide Turkey Breast and Confit Leg and Thigh and a variety of sides like Candied Sweet Potatoes with marshmallow, Sage and Maple Stuffing, Brussel Sprouts with Grapes in Bacon Vinaigrette and more. For desserts, take your pick between scrumptious Pumpkin or Apple Crumb Pies (Price: $35 each) whipped up by Executive Pastry Chef Leigh Omilinsky. And of course, if you’re really looking to impress the in-laws, add on a wine trio (Price: $99) to receive three bottles that’ll pair perfectly with your Thanksgiving meal. To-go kits are $240 each and must be ordered in advance with pick-up available on Thanksgiving day. Orders available here on Tock 

The Dearborn (145 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60602)Take the chaos out of baking and pick up a pie from one of Chicago’s best downtown spots. For $35, guests have the option to order two delicious desserts, the French Silk Pie made with dark chocolate custard, oreo shortbread and mascarpone chantilly or the Dutch Apple Pie made with cinnamon apples, “rough puff” crust and a graham cracker streusel. Link to order here. Price: $35

Farm Bar Lakeview (1300 W Wellington Ave, Chicago, IL 60657) Lakeview’s quintessential neighborhood tavern, known for their seasonal and approachable menus, are offering the ultimate Thanksgiving to-go box complete with every main, side and dessert that you will need to serve all your loved ones. Two package options are available – smaller size for 2-4 people and large size for 6-8 people. The menu is handcrafted by Executive Chef David Wakefield, including a Carved and Cooked Turkey, Butternut Squash Bisque, Side of Toasted Pepitas and Creme Fraiche, Autumnal Salad, Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes, Gravy, Honey Balsamic Brussel Sprouts, Cornbread and Brioche Stuffing, Green Bean Casserole, Dinner Rolls and Pumpkin Pie. All dishes will only need to be preheated and ready to eat on Thanksgiving Day. Link to order here. Ordering is available until November 15 with pickups available Wednesday, November 22 from 12pm-5pm. Price: Package A (2-4 people): $140, Package B (6-8 people): $200.

Fora (311 N Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60607) – Located in the heart of Fulton Market on the ground floor of The Emily Hotel, Fora is offering a Thanksgiving To-Go feast perfect to pick-up for busy families and hungry gatherings. Menu highlights include a maple sage butter Tom turkey breast, roasted turkey gravy, buttermilk potato purée, heirloom carrots & french beans, orange cranberry sauce, herb sourdough stuffing, farmer’s salad, roasted beets, Hawaiian rolls and apple cranberry pie. Price: $275 (2-4 people), $350 (4-8 people).

Lexington Betty Smokehouse (756 E 111th St., Chicago, IL 60628) – Chicagoland is feeling extra thankful for Lexington Betty Smokehouse this holiday season! The BBQ haven is rolling out its annual Thanksgiving menu, brimming with turkey bliss and rib tips from the season four champion of Food Network’s “BBQ Brawl” and 2023 Master of ‘Cue herself, Chef Dominique Leach. A variety of to-go packs are available for preorder, fit for the hostesses with the mostess and the Friendsgiving goer in need of a ‘homemade’ side alike.

  • Betty Traditional (Feeds Four) | Smoked Turkey, Gravy, Turkey Gizzard Dressing, Cranberry Relish, Candy Yams, Gouda Mac N Cheese, Cornbread Muffins  (Price: $150)
  • Betty “Smoked” (Feeds Four) | Smoked Chicken, Rib Tips, Brisket Baked Beans, Gouda Mac N Cheese (Price: $125)
  • Betty Have It Your Way (A La Carte) | $75 Whole Smoked Turkey (12-15 lbs), $28 Brisket (per lb), $70 Gouda Mac N Cheese (Full Pan), $50 Greens, $70 Peach Cobbler

Orders to be placed online at by Wednesday, November 15th for pickup on Wednesday, November 23. Pricing varies by selected Thanksgiving to-go pack.

Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse (505 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611) – Known for its impressive carnivorous offerings, Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse will be living up to their iconic reputation with an epic Thanksgiving meal available for dine-in or to carry out. A feast of Slagel Family Farm Roasted Turkey served with Apple-cranberry sauce will be served alongside Nuske’s bacon French green beans and Au Gratin Sweet Potatoes. Available from 4 – 8:30 PM, make reservations and order online here. Price: $59

The Publican (837 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607) – Leave the prep to the pros behind One Off Hospitality’s culinary powerhouse, as The Publican comes together once again with acclaimed Head Chef/Butcher Rob Levitt of Publican Quality Meats and James Beard Award-winning baker Greg Wade of Publican Quality Bread to elevate your at-home Thanksgiving! Skip the grocery store chaos and pre-order sustainably-raised Slagel Farms-sourced turkey and ham, with add-ons like brine kits, gravy, and stuffing sausage to make cooking a breeze. Savvy hosts can outsource sides, pies, and everything in between, mixing and matching from Publican holiday favorites like garlic buttermilk mashed potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts with fregola, honey oat pull-apart rolls, house-made desserts, curated wines, and more! Orders can be picked up at The Publican or delivered right to your door for $15 (restrictions apply, please refer to the delivery map on Table22). Pickup and delivery available 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, November 20th, Tuesday, November 21st, and Wednesday, November 22nd. Available here on Table22.

Chicago Hotels & Restaurants That Set a Fine Table 

Maple & Ash (8 W Maple St, Chicago, IL 60610) – Chef/Partner Danny Grant and the team are here to take the stress off your plate this year by serving up an indulgent feast featuring beloved Thanksgiving classics made with their signature luxurious flair that’s sure to impress your relatives. Settle into Maple’s elegant dining room and start your dinner off with a toast of bubbles picked from their robust, expertly crafted list of bottles. For the main course, dig into a decadent Black Truffle Turkey plate (Price: $75) complete with favorite sides like pomme puree, brussel sprouts and chanterelles for a dose of classic Thanksgiving comfort. For those who still need their fix, Maple’s wood-fired menu of steaks, seafood towers, and caviar will also be available. Thursday, November 23, 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.; reservations available here

The Peninsula Chicago (108 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611) – Elaborate holiday brunches have been a signature of The Peninsula Chicago for many years. Guests can usher in the festive fall harvest season with The Lobby’s annual Thanksgiving Brunch on Thursday, November 23, which will feature à la carte plated options and buffet items served via a variety of stations: the carving station features Ferndale turkey, dry aged striploin, suckling pig; local foraged mushrooms and ancient grain station; seafood station with jumbo shrimp, Alaskan king crab, Jonah crab claws, east and west coast oysters, sushi and sashimi, maki and nigiri; an imported and domestic caviar station; a global cheese and charcuterie station; Shanghai Terrace station featuring Peking Duck, handmade dim sum and stir-fried favorites; and a Lobster bisque with winter truffle action station. A decadent dessert buffet rounds out the holiday selections. Entertainment features a string quartet as well as a roving magician for children. Brunch seatings are from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Brunch is priced at US$ 325 per adult and US$ 95 per person for children ages 5 to 12 years. Prices exclude tax and gratuity. Reservations are accepted via TOCK.

Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago (401 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611) – Guests can indulge in a 4-course Thanksgiving Dinner at Terrace16 on Thursday, November 23. The first course will include a carrot & parsnip soup, parsnip chips and chives, followed by a second course of kale chicory salad with toasted pecans, apples, acorn squash, pumpkin goddess dressing. The main course will feature slow roasted sliced turkey with black garlic pomme puree, roasted winter vegetables, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and turkey demi glaze. To top it all off, dessert will include a slice of pie (pumpkin, pecan, or sweet potato). The Regular Dinner Menu will be available as well. Price: $85 per adult, $39 per child (under 12 years old) prior to taxes & service charges. Booking is available via OpenTable.

Chicago Cooking Classes To Hone Your Kitchen Skills: 

Tutore Cooking School (2755 W Belmont Ave. Chicago, IL 60618) – Why buy pies when you can make them from scratch? Tutore Cooking School is offering a number of Thanksgiving pie making classes, teaching the proper steps to make the perfect pie for Thanksgiving dinner. From making the flaky pie crust, finding the best apples, proper baking tips, and general knife skills, students will be able to learn how to make both a Pumpkin and Apple pie. At the end of the class, each guest will be able to bring home a full pie. Classes are available November 19 -November 22, 2023. 

Spooky Halloween Events in the Windy City

When it comes to Halloween this season, Chicago has it covered– ghostly pub tours, a chance to walk the streets where the city’s first serial killer (or at least the first we know about) once roamed, re-enactments of Victorian era seances, and a chance to explore the city with noted author. podcaster, and host of Mysterious Chicago Tours Adam Selzer at the Lincoln Park Zoo. These are just a few of the many spooky events happening in Chicago this Halloween season.

Ever read Devil in the White City, the bestselling book by Erik Larson about H.H. Holmes? Now walk in his footsteps with Chicago Ghost Tours with Free Tours by Foot (Adults-only tour departs 3×4 times per week at 6:00 p.m.; check scheduling and pay as you will), a two hour, 1-mile walking tour takes guests through downtown Chicago. Fittingly it begins when the sun is setting, the perfect time to hear some of the most gruesome and creepy Chicago stories about the Everleigh Club, the 1900’s Red Light district, and about downtown prison breaks.

For Those Who Dare: Other Spooky Opportunities Abound.

Consider these:

Chicago Ghost Tour Pub Crawl by Nightly Spirits (Attendees must be 21+; tickets start at $30 per person; purchase of alcohol not included or required).

 The Nightly Spirits Lincoln Park Haunted Pub Tour explores some of the most haunted pubs, alleys, and buildings. Stand a few feet away from where Dillinger met his end, catch a whiff of flowers as the unseen lavender lady passes by, enjoy a drink in an antique store where each item has a story of its own, and get a true glimpse of the prohibition lifestyle. Start your tour at the haunted Lincoln Station Bar while your costumed guide creeps you out with stories of murdered gangsters, local lore, and old owners that won’t vacate the nearby buildings!

Then take the 2.5-hour walking journey exploring the Lincoln Park area to meet the spirits that haunt the locals at  favorite local haunts! The tour encompases up to 3 haunted bars*–and that’s a good thing as you’ll need plenty of liquid courage (available for purchase) to face the ghostly residents of the Windy City.

Ghost Tours at the Auditorium Theatre (Tours through November 22, Sundays, Mondays & Wednesdays at 12:00 p.m., Thursdays at 6:00 p.m.; tickets start at $15 per person).

Step into the spooky world of the supernatural this October and November for this special Halloween edition of the Auditorium Theatre’s National Landmark Backstage Tours. In addition to learning about the unique architecture and history of this storied Chicago building, tours will also discover the haunted, goosebumps-inducing past. Watch your step, a 134-year-old building is bound to have a few ghosts, including a persistent disembodied whistling in the stage door alley, specters that appear and disappear in the seats at night, the ghost of a man whose funeral was held on the Auditorium’s stage, and more. The Auditorium Theatre, designed by famed architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, opened on December 9, 1889, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975. ‘Spirited’ Thursday evening tours also include access to a cash bar.  The spooky- but not scary- tour is appropriate for all ages. Come in costume on October 29 for a special Halloween ghost tour that includes candy for kids of all ages.

Haunted History Tours at Lincoln Park Zoo (Tours run Tuesdays and Wednesdays through October at 7:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., $35 per person, must be 16+).

Join Adam Selzer, author, podcaster, and host of Mysterious Chicago Tours, for spine-tingling walkabouts that dig into the zoo’s cemetery roots and locations from throughout its allegedly haunted history.

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum Evening Ghost Tours (Select tours on Fridays October 20 and 27, at 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; $10 per person, recommended for ages 16+).

From its inception, the Hull-House Settlement was a center of urban legends and supernatural stories, as Chicago’s neighborhoods kept whispers alive about its supposed unearthly inhabitants. Today, Hull-House is a favorite stop on Chicago ghost tours and it is often hailed as one of the most haunted places in the country.

While they are spooky and fun, these stories stem from important conversations about religious beliefs and social norms, as well as the collective consciousness of the Hull-House neighborhood. For many, Chicago was a place of great hardship, plagued by a history of tragic events that left countless ghost stories in their wake, including those of Hull-House’s infamous Devil Baby and resident Lady in White. Guests will be led through the house by a Museum Educator and will have the opportunity to learn all about Hull-House’s haunted history. 

Night of 1,000 Jack-o-Lanterns at Chicago Botanic Garden (October 18–22  6:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m.; tickets start at $19/$21 per adult, $13/$15 per child (age 3-12).

Monstrous vibes meet crisp fall evenings at Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns, where artist-carved pumpkins light your way through the Garden after dark. You’ll find costumed entertainers and live carving demos along our paved path, as well as seasonal light fare and drinks for purchase. 

Northalsted Halloween Parade (October 31, 2023; 6:30 p.m. -10:00 p.m. FREE to attend).

Join the vibrant and lively Halloween parade in Northalsted, complete with creative costumes and lively participants. The free parade is a spectacle of sights, frights & spooky mayhem concluding with an Awards Show, live performance & dance party. Gear up with Northalsted’s series of Halloween events throughout the month of October including Parade after parties and contests, the Lakeview Halloween Pup Crawl, Trick or Treat, and more.

The Séance Experience at Chicago’s Congress Plaza Hotel (Saturdays through October 28; tickets start at $25 per person).

The Séance Experience is coming to Chicago and will be conducting their popular live re-creations of authentic Victorian Era dark Séances at the Congress Plaza Hotel, said by many to be the most haunted place in city and one of the most haunted hotels in America! Noted sightings at the historic hotel include the likes of former hotel residents: Al Capone, Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Houdini among others. The séances are slated at the historic downtown Chicago hotel in an area not usually opened to the public. Authentically re-created exactly as conducted in the 1800’s, séances are scheduled inside an actual room built in 1893 using antique séance artifacts also dating from the 1800’s.

For more Chicago events, visit Choose Chicago.


A city full of hidden gems and spectacular landmarks, Chicago is hardly a second city. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, it is an all-season destination recently voted for the seventh time as Condé Nast Traveler’s Best Big City in The U.S.

I have to admit when it comes to cities, I’ve always considered Chicago among the best having grown up in the metropolitan area and riding the South Shore, the only remaining interurban in the U.S., to Millennium Station frequently for watercolor classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. Who doesn’t love walking past those bronze larger-than-life lions flanking the entrance whose unofficial names are “On the Prowl” and  “An Attitude of Defiance” created by sculptor  Edward Kemeys in 1898?

Part of the city’s allure is its fabulous architecture and beyond the lions there’s dining in the 17,000-square-foot Walnut Room at Macy’s on State–sorry, it’ll will always be Marshall Field’s to me–which was the first restaurant in a department store in the U.S. and is famed for its  Circassian wood paneling imported from Russia and Austrian chandeliers. Also at Marshall Field’s (ooops Macy’s) is the magnificent Tiffany dome ceiling built in 1907 and crafted with 1.6 billion pieces of Favrile glass. As if one Tiffany dome ceiling isn’t enough, the Chicago Cultural Center just a short walk away from Macy’s, also boasts a Tiffany dome ceiling.

Also made of made of Tiffany Favrile glass–Tiffany patented this type of iridescent art glass in 1894–the 38,000-square-foot dome spanning 1000-squarefeet consists of 30,000 pieces of glass and is the largest Tiffany glass dome in the world. And in interesting historic aside, the glass for the dome was manufactured by the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company in Kokomo, Indiana a company that dates back to the late 1880s. When pieces of glass were needed to replace those that were missing or broken during the renovation of the dome in the early 2000s, all it took was a call to KOG who still had the original glass recipes on file.

Among the hidden gems is a personal favorite, Green Mill Cocktail Lounge which had already been open for two decades when Al Capone and his men stationed themselves in his favorite booth so that he could see whoever was coming in and out of both the back and front entrances. A gangster has to be prepared, ya know. The Green Mill has been open since 1907 and you can still go there for live jazz every night in the prohibition-era style speakeasy. Capone’s booth is still there–how much closer to history can you get?

Chicago is a city of museums both internationally known such as the Field Museum and the Museum of Science & Industry but also small delights such as the Driehaus Museum, a marvelously restored Gilded Age home filled with treasures, Art on the Mart,  the largest permanent digital art projection in the world, and the Chicago History Museum reknowned for its more than  more than 50,000 costumes and textiles dating from the eighteenth century to the present including works by Gabrielle Chanel, Mainbocher, Charles James, Christian Dior, Pauline Trigère, and Yves Saint Laurent

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Chicago. Courtesy of Choose Chicago.

There are architecrural boat rides on the Chicago River and a Ferris wheel at Navy Pier known for its grand views of Lake Michigan. Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park is one of the largest fountains in the world, the Gothic Revival-style Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago, and, of course, there’s Cloud Gate, nicknamed The Bean in Milliennium Park.

All this is just the start of what Chicago has to offer so its no wonder the for the seven straight year it’s been voted best city with over 520,000 votes from Condé Nast Traveler readers after a record-breaking summer travel season that saw all-time highs for hotel revenue.

Choose Chicago President and CEO Lynn Osmond proudly nnounced that Chicago honors this historic recognition and how it recognizes what brings visitors to Chicago.

“Today’s recognition of our great city as the Condé Nast Traveler’s Best Big City in The U.S., for the seventh year in a row, is proof that Chicago continues to be a force as a destination for visitors from all over the globe,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “We have something for everyone — 77 amazing communities, beautiful parks and lakefront, world class arts, culture and food, and much more. This is a distinction to be proud of, and we will continue to welcome travelers from all over the world to experience all our city has to offer and the soul of Chicago.”

“For the seventh year running, I couldn’t be prouder that Chicago has been named the number one big city in the nation,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “From our unmatched infrastructure and picturesque lakefronts to our diverse food scene, world-class museums, and, of course, the kindest people you’ll ever meet, Chicago has it all—and the world is taking notice. Whether you’re looking to take a family trip or to relocate your small business, Chicago has something for everyone and we cannot wait to welcome you home.”

For 36 years, Condé Nast Traveler has captured input from readers to determine the winners of their Readers’ Choice Awards, the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. And every year since 2017, Chicago has led the pack as the Best Big City in the U.S. This year’s awards were based on the input of more than half-a-million readers.

“I am so proud to share that Chicago is once again the city of champions,” said Osmond. “For seven straight years, through the challenges of the pandemic and beyond, travelers have recognized the truth about Chicago – ours is a vibrant, hospitable city brimming with attractions and amenities for all types of visitors. I want to thank all Chicagoans for making our city so welcoming to visitors from around the world. I especially want to thank the Choose Chicago staff. This award validates all of our hard work selling and promoting this city we love.”

Chicago’s selection as the Best Big City in the U.S. is a recognition of the city’s incredible hospitality and tourism industries and the people that make our city so welcoming to visitors. For seven straight years, voters have recognized that Chicago is a destination unique among its peers, with something to offer every type of visitor. With 77 vibrant neighborhoods ready for exploration, best-in-class accommodations, an acclaimed dining scene, thrilling live music and theatre, world-renowned museums and cultural institutions, stunning architecture and natural beauty, visitors have endless ways to explore the seven-time Best Big City in the U.S.

“More than half a million people cast votes for this year’s Reader’s Choice Awards,” said Glenn Eden, Chairman of the Choose Chicago Board of Directors. “Clearly, those who come here are having uniquely memorable experiences that stick with them – the kind of experiences that will make them return to Chicago and recommend our city as a vacation destination to their friends and families. Winning this award seven straight years is a recognition of the resilience of Chicago’s tourism and hospitality sector and the unwavering affinity that travelers have for our city. It gives me confidence that we are going to see continued growth in our local visitor economy for years to come.”

Choose Chicago is also thrilled to release summer 2023 performance data today showing that Chicago experienced a strong summer of travel:  

  • Summer (June, July and August) hotel revenue totaled $825 million, and hotel taxes totaled $46 million, both all-time records for summer months.
  • Over one million room nights were filled each month this summer, totaling 3.24 million hotel room nights. That is 4% higher than last year and represents a 92% recovery share compared to 2019 numbers.
  • Leisure visitors in particular came to Chicago in droves this summer – buoyed by a packed calendar of concerts, events and festivals, total leisure hotel room demand increased by 8% compared to summer 2022
  • International visitation increased by 13% compared to summer 2022.

While it was an excellent summer of travel in Chicago, the excitement does not end now that it’s fall. Visitors to Chicago will continue to experience a full calendar of events and attractions through the end of 2023. Later this week, we will be launching Theater Season, a new campaign to promote local theaters and the over 150 productions taking place across the city. Later this month, we will celebrate the one millionth finisher of the Chicago Marathon during the 45th running of the iconic race, open some of our city’s most notable architecture for exploration through Open House Chicago, and wrap up with Halloween celebrations across the city including Arts in the Dark and the Haunted Halsted Halloween Parade. Later this year, Chicago will transform into America’s premier holiday destination, kicking off with the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and continuing with events and activations through the end of the year. 

As Chicago celebrates another Best Big City award, we are well on our way to significantly exceeding last year’s visitation numbers, when we welcomed nearly 50 million visitors. Year-to-date hotel room demand is 13% higher than the same period in 2022

The 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards are published on Condé Nast Traveler’s website at and celebrated in the November issue. 

About Choose Chicago

Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination, leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city, its residents and our partner business community. Follow @choosechicago on FacebookInstagramLinkedInTikTok and X/Twitter and tag #ChicaGOandKNOW. For more information, visit

Photos courtesy of Choose Chicago and the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Summer in the City: Chicago’s Theater & Performing Arts

Broadway In Chicago is proud to produce the following shows as part of its summer roster: 

  • Haestown (playing June 20 – 25, 2023, at the CIBC Theatre), winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards® including Best New Musical and the 2020 Grammy® Award for Best Musical Theater Album, is an acclaimed new show from celebrated singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and innovative director Rachel Chavkin. Following two intertwining love stories — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone — HADESTOWN invites audiences on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Mitchell’s beguiling melodies and Chavkin’s poetic imagination pit industry against nature, doubt against faith, and fear against love. 
  • MJ (playing August 1 – September 2, 2023, at the James M. Nederlander Theatre), is the multi Tony Award®-winning new musical centered around the making of Michael Jackson’s 1992 Dangerous World Tour. Created by Tony Award®-winning Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, MJ goes beyond the singular moves and signature sound of the star, offering a rare look at the creative mind and collaborative spirit that catapulted Michael Jackson into legendary status.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird (playing August 8 – 13, 2023, at the CIBC Theatre), Academy Award® winner Aaron Sorkin’s new play directed by Tony Award® winner Bartlett Sher and based on Harper Lee’s classic novel, will come back to Chicago as part of a multi-year national tour across North America. Set in Alabama in 1934, Harper Lee’s enduring story of racial injustice and childhood innocence centers on one of the most venerated characters in American literature, small-town lawyer Atticus Finch. 

Chicago Shakespeare Theater will present Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (July 13 – August 20, 2023) at the Courtyard Theater this summer, based on the Academy Award® -winning Disney film and featuring such  dazzling production numbers as the beloved title song and “Be Our Guest.”

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra continues its 2023 season with the following standout events: 

  • Concert for Chicago (June 27, 2023) – Celebrate Zell Music Director Riccardo Muti’s remarkable tenure with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at this free concert in Millennium Park. Enjoy performances of the heartfelt Andante moderato, written by longtime Chicago resident Florence Price, and Tchaikovsky’s exhilarating Fifth Symphony as the CSO closes the 2022/23 Season in style.

The Tony Award-winning Goodman Theatre concludes its 2022-2023 season with:

  • The Who’s Tommy (June 13 – July 23, 2023): Myth and spectacle combine in a fresh reinvention of The Who’s exhilarating 1969 rock concept album, Tommy—including the unforgettable anthems “I’m Free,” “See Me, Feel Me,” “Sensation,” and “Pinball Wizard.” After witnessing his father shoot his rival, the young Tommy Walker is lost in the universe, endlessly and obsessively staring into the mirror. An innate knack for pinball catapults him from reticent adolescent to celebrity savior. Tony Award-winning composer Pete Townshend and Tony Award-winning original director Des McAnuff find powerful resonance reexamining this classic story for today.

The Joffrey Ballet is pleased to announce an evening of free public performances on June 25, 2023, in the heart of downtown Chicago at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Created as a gift to all Chicagoans, and the first event of its kind, The Joffrey Ballet’s Joffrey for All Celebrationwill feature dance workshops in the lawn and performances by Joffrey Company Artists, the Joffrey Academy of Dance, and students from the Joffrey Community Engagement programs.

Lookingglass Theatre welcomes Lucy and Charlie’s Honeymoon (May 24 – July 16, 2023), which tracks a young couple as they rev it down quintessentially American highways and across stereotypic borders, fleeing expectation and trawling up trouble along the way. Fresh from his Broadway debut in “Almost Famous The Musical”, Artistic Associate Matthew C. Yee’s world premiere musical romp gives a nod to America’s past, takes tally of its present, and blows its future wide open.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company concludes its 2022/2023 season with: 

  • Another Marriage (June 15 – July 23, 2023): Another Marriage is an intimate and beautifully rendered portrait of an ever-evolving relationship that may never be quite finished. Ensemble member Kate Arrington’s playwriting debut upends time and the typical romantic comedy to explore the liabilities of falling in and out of love.
  • No Man’s Land (July 13 – August 20, 2023): In the drawing room of his stately Hampstead mansion, the wealthy, aging Hirst hosts his newfound acquaintance, the enigmatic Spooner, for an evening of endless beer, scotch, and vodka. The night winds on, the drinks keep pouring, and the ground keeps shifting—until two sinister younger men arrive and interrupt the bacchanal. Steppenwolf returns to Harold Pinter’s modern masterpiece: a generational power struggle, a tug of war between expert wordsmiths, a maze of murky meaning. Or perhaps it’s just two old English sots waxing nostalgic and waiting for the sun to rise. In No Man’s Land, you can never be certain, and nothing is as it seems.