Chicago's Christmas Trees & Thanksgiving Meats
This holiday season will be another exciting one in the city. From the Thanksgiving Day Parade to the annual Christmas tree lighting, there are a number of fun events for you to attend. Mark your calendars now!
The McDonalds Thanksgiving Parade
On Thanksgiving morning, at 8 am, the parade begins and will last to around 11 am. Arrive early, of course, if you want to get a good spot. Reserved parking is available online. The parade route is a mile of State Street, from Congress to Randolph.
You’ll see a number of familiar faces during the course of the parade; the Grand Marshall is Matt Walsh, from HBO’s Veep and there will be floats from Brookfield Zoo, WGN, and more. You may even see a Cub or two in the parade and you will see the 501st Midwest Garrison walking around—they are a costumed Star Wars group that the kids love.
There will be staged performances from ‘America’s Got Talent’, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus, the Apollo Chorus of Chicago and many others.
If you’re hungry after the parade has run its course, a few of the restaurants on State Street will be open, like Hard Rock and Pinstripes.
The Christmas Tree Lighting
The annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be Chicago’s 103rd of its kind. It takes place in Millennium Park on November 18th, the Friday before Thanksgiving. The lighting will happen at 6 pm, so make sure to get there early. You’ll find the tree right out Park Grill, which will be open the evening of the lighting.
This year’s tree is a 69 foot Norway Spruce, which was donated by the Scholla Family of Wauconda, Illinois. The family will help light the tree. The tree is adorned with 48,375 multi-colored lights—and a star on top.
During the ceremony, there will be performances by the international percussion sensation Luke Cresswell and Steve NcNicholas and by STOMP. Kids will be happy to see Santa Claus and the cast of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. In addition to Santa and Rudolph, kids will get to see Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Monster.
During the ceremony finale a number of holiday classics will be sung by the Chicago Community Chorus. Admission is free.
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
The next day, November 19, you can attend events connect with the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. It begins during the day on the 19th and takes place in downtown Chicago (on the Magnificent Mile, of course).
Starting at 11 am, you can grab food samples at booths (even some for your dog, so bring Fido along!), meet holiday characters and take pictures with them, take advantage of free medical screenings, enjoy some of Connie’s Pizza, take a photo in Disney’s Winter Wonderland booth, grab cheesecake and popcorn and much more. You’ll have plenty to eat and plenty to see as you wait for the tree-lighting parade.
The parade begins at 5:30, and it runs down Michigan Avenue from Oak to Wacker. As the parade reaches each block, the trees along that part of the route will be lit. There will be floats, bands, and performance artists; millions of lights will be illuminated as the parade progresses. It’s really a sight to see (and again, get there early to grab a spot!). It will end at around 7 with a fireworks demonstration.
The holidays are magic in Chicago! Come for the sights, stay for the treats. Arrive early and bring your camera!