On the day after Thanksgiving, the Art Institute's famous lions put on their holiday outfits as crews place wreaths around their necks. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Art Institute
On the day after Thanksgiving, the Art Institute's famous lions put on their holiday outfits as crews place wreaths around their necks. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Art Institute

Thanksgiving Weekend Things to Do in Chicago with Kids: Parades, Trees, Trolleys

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! This weekend is the official kickoff of the holiday season in Chicago, with Christmas tree lightings, parades galore, and plenty of seasonal fun. The big, booming Chicago Thanksgiving Parade steps off down the Mag Mile on Thursday, followed on Friday with neighborhood Christmas parades in Naperville and Joliet. On Friday, the lions at the Art Institute get their annual glow-up, followed by the weekly Friday night caroling party at Cloud Gate.

The FREE ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo light up on Friday night, and Holiday Magic at the Brookfield Zoo blazes to life on Saturday. Also on Saturday, the month-long Wheaton Christmas Festival kicks off, Naperville's Santa House opens for the season, and families can catch a FREE showing of Elf in Glen Ellyn.

Ready for some decked-out holiday trains and trolleys? The CTA runs its holiday trains and buses on Friday and Saturday on the Green Line, the Orange Line, and the #22 Clark and #97 Skokie bus routes—see the schedule for full details. The FREE Elmhurst Holly Trolley rolls through on Saturday with caroling all the way. Or book a ride on the Chicago Trolley Holiday Lights Tour for a dazzling highlight reel of downtown Chicago's prettiest holiday displays.

And believe it or not, that's just the tip of the frosty festive iceberg—see our roundup below for even more weekend events for families, and keep an eye on our event calendar. Enjoy that turkey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 North Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
220 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60604

Downtown Downers Grove
933 Curtiss Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Phillips Park
1000 Ray Moses Drive
Aurora, IL 60505

John Hancock Center (outdoor plaza)
875 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

The Loop
State Street and Ida B. Wells Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Dr.
Chicago, IL 60614

Chicago Transit Authority
various
Chicago, IL

Van Buren Plaza
Van Buren Street and North Eastern Avenue
Joliet, IL 60432

Morton Arboretum
4100 IL Route 53
Lisle, IL 60532

Cloud Gate, Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60603

Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue

Chicago, IL 60603

Downtown Downers Grove
933 Curtiss Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Rosemont Theatre
5400 N. RIVER ROAD
Rosemont, IL 60018

Downtown Wheaton
134 W. Front Street
Wheaton, IL 60187

Lake Katherine Nature Center
7402 Lake Katherine Drive
Palos Heights, IL

Centennial Beach
500 Jackson Avenue
Naperville , IL 60540

Brookfield Zoo
8400 31st Street
Brookfield, IL 60513

Chicago Transit Authority
various
Chicago, IL

Naperville Riverwalk
400 S. Eagle Street
Naperville , IL 60540

Downtown Wheaton
134 W. Front Street
Wheaton, IL 60187

Glen Art Theatre
540 Crescent Avenue
Glen Ellyn , IL 60137

Holiday Holly Trolley
York and Park
Elmhurst, IL 60126

Brookfield Zoo
8400 31st Street
Brookfield, IL 60513

Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University
50 East Congress Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60605

Marisol at the MCA
205 E Pearson St
Chicago, IL 60611