Celebrating Christmas in the city

Haley Maser, News Editor

Despite Mayor Lightfoot’s recent coronavirus recommendations, Christmas is far from canceled in the city of Chicago. The downtown area and surrounding suburbs will boast an array of activities for people to make the most of the festive season. With some events turning to a virtual format, there are still many ways to celebrate for those wishing to stay home or go out this holiday. 

The city’s Millenium Park Christmas tree will be on display this year, however the tree lighting ceremony will be virtual. The event, entitled “Millennium Park at Home: Chicago Holidays”, will be available to viewers on Youtube starting at 6:30 pm on November 19. The 45-foot tree is also open to view in person, as long as visitors comply with Millennium Park’s coronavirus restrictions. Groups of ten or less are allowed in the park, and face coverings must be worn. “I was excited to hear they were still gonna put the big Christmas tree up in Chicago this year,” commented Joliet West junior Emma Schumacher. “It’s the little things like this that help brighten up an extremely bleak year.”

Christmas lights are not exclusive to Millenium Park, however. The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival will be held this year, bringing the festivities to Michigan Avenue. While there is no live parade this year, the November 22nd broadcast will air on ABC 7 at 6 pm. According to the Magnificent Mile’s website, the television special guarantees an “hour of exciting performances, Disney surprises, and magical moments capped off with the thrilling illumination of trees that line Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.” Additionally, the twinkling lights down Michigan Avenue can be experienced throughout the holiday season.

In the heart of downtown, the typically crowded Christkindlmarket will not be open to the public this year. While visitors will not have a chance to try German snacks or enjoy seasonal hot chocolate, the shops’ souvenirs will still be available. The German market, usually located in Daley Plaza and Wrigleyville, will now be available for shoppers online through December 31. CEO of German American Events LLC, Maren Biester Priebe stated, “Although we are saddened that we cannot welcome our visitors in person for the first time since 1996, we are excited about introducing a new virtual experience that allows people to enjoy the tradition and celebration of their beloved holiday market in a new way.” 

The Millenium Park ice rink has also announced a 2020 closure, but ice-skaters have another option this holiday season. Just minutes from Cloudgate, commonly known as “The Bean”,  Maggie Daley Park’s Ice Skating Ribbon is welcoming visitors. This year, a reservation is required to skate in order to limit crowds and eliminate lines. The Ice Skating Ribbon is an unconventional rink with the Chicago skyline as its backdrop. 

For those looking for a quick sense of Christmas while downtown, “Art on theMART” returns this year with the Nutcracker. Nightly, from 7 to 7:30, the performance from the Joffrey Ballet will be projected onto Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. With many theaters closed and performances on hold this year, the Joffrey Ballet’s artistic director Ashley Wheater states, “Art on theMART is the perfect opportunity to bring ‘The Nutcracker’ to the city of Chicago.” The ballet will be streamed on the building through December 31 and can be seen from the Riverwalk. 

Another activity to get outside and celebrate the holidays this year is to visit one of the many zoos that are transformed for the season. Both Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and the nearby Brookfield Zoo are open to the public and hosting their annual Christmas events. Reservations are required for entry and indoor habitats are closed in both zoos to comply with coronavirus guidelines. Despite safety restrictions, the locations boast multiple light displays and seasonal activities.

Many events have found ways to celebrate the holiday season in correspondence with coronavirus recommendations. Destinations in Chicago are giving visitors multiple ways to make the most of Christmas in 2020.