Wednesday 12 May 2021
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The Big City Blog: Still feeling the Christmas spirit after the fact? Check out these extended holiday activities and exhibits

Photo by Todd Rensburg Photography

By Trent Modglin

This article was written in coordination with Key Magazine

Lincoln Park ZooLights

This popular (and free) zoo located in beautiful Lincoln Park decorates its entire property with super bright and colorful lights, adorning everything from the trees to the grass itself. The celebration also includes lights synchronized to holiday music, animal-shaped yard decorations and activities like trains, a Ferris wheel and Undersea Adventure.

ZooLights takes place Nov. 24–26, Dec. 1–3, 8–23, 26–31; Jan. 1–7, 2018 from 4:30-9 p.m. Lincoln Park Zoo is located at 2001 N. Clark St. Visit for more information.

Christmas Around the World exhibit at the Museum of Science & Industry

This popular exhibit began back in 1942 with a single tree. Today, the annual celebration features a four-story Grand Tree that is surrounded by a forest of more than 50 other smaller trees and vibrant displays to represent holiday traditions from around the globe. Live holiday dance and choral performances, more than 30,000 lights and fake snowfalls add to the spirit of the season for visitors.

The MSI is located at 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr. The exhibit is open through Jan. 7, 2018.

Navy Pier Winter WonderFest

For 17th straight year, Navy Pier transforms its Festival Hall to offer families plenty of indoor holiday thrills. Through Jan. 7, 2018, guests can experience festive décor and a glittering forest of 500 trees and 25,000 ornaments, as well as 170,000 square feet of entertainment for all ages — from the ever-popular Chicago Blackhawks Ice Skating Rink to the Polar Extreme Obstacle Course, 40-foot Cliff Hanger, Polar Ice Peaks Climbing Wall and Arctic Express Train. A new perk this year, included with every ticket purchase, is a ride on the 200-foot Centennial Wheel on Navy Pier.

For more information on the Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest or to purchase tickets in advance, visit

Macy’s fun

After taking in the 49th annual Macy’s windows (on display until Jan. 8), stop by the 17,000-square-foot Walnut Room, a dining experience complete with Austrian chandeliers, Russian wood paneling and — most importantly during the holiday season — a 45-foot Christmas tree that sits directly in the center of the dining room. Don’t forget to try the pot pie, and thank us later.

A fabulous holiday tradition since 1907, the Walnut Room is located on the seventh floor of Macy’s at 111 N. State.

Holiday tea at the Drake Hotel

Steeped in history, the Palm Court at The Drake Hotel has been serving afternoon tea for close to a century — even the Queen and Princess Diana made royal visits. Enjoy an assortment of 17 French teas and decadent pastries and sandwiches while listening to holiday carolers and a harpist. Reservations for holiday tea run through Jan. 3 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, with seatings every half hour. $49 for adults, $24 for children ages 3-12. (312) 932-4619.

The Drake is located at 140 E. Walton. (312) 932-4619.