Christmas tree lighting is Friday

A blizzard of holiday events around Chicago commences this week, with the Christmas tree lighting in Millennium Park and Christkindlmarket opening Friday, holiday parades on the way and caroling at the Bean kicking off soon. Call it Hollipalooza.

This year’s tree, a 55-foot Colorado Blue Spruce donated by the Glisovic family of Morton Grove, is the city’s 109th official Christmas tree and will be lit in Grainger Plaza in Millennium Park through Jan. 9. The lighting ceremony begins at 6 p.m. Nov. 18 and is accompanied by live music, fireworks and other festivities; entrances to the park at Monroe, Randolph and Madison Streets; more at

This will be the 31st annual lights festival along Michigan Avenue, the Saturday event parading Disney characters, illuminating the shopping corridor with holiday lights and officially opening the gift-shopping rush. The parade will be led by Mickey and Minnie Mouse and begins 5:30 p.m. Nov. 19, ending with fireworks; more at

Customers shop for ornaments at Daley Plaza on opening day of Christkindlmarket in Chicago on Nov. 15, 2019.

There are three locations for the annual outdoor German Christmas market, all opening this week. Along with downtown in Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington St., Nov. 18 to Dec. 24), there will be a market in RiverEdge Park (360 N. Broadway, Nov. 18 to Dec. 24) in Aurora, and in Wrigleyville outside Wrigley Field (3635 N. Clark St., Nov. 18 to Dec. 31). That third location is accompanied by Winterland at Gallagher Way, a ticketed event with rides and concessions. Otherwise admissions are free, with some days boasting live performances and other special events. And this year’s souvenir mug is a beaut. More at

Ice skating season begins in Millennium Park along with the tree lighting, weather permitting; this year the season is slated for Nov. 18 to March 5. Admission is free with online reservation tickets required; skate rentals are $16 Monday through Thursday, $20 Friday to Sunday and holidays (sizes start at children’s size 9 through adult 12). More information and links to reservations at

The big parade stretches on State Street from Ida B. Wells Drive to Randolph, with marching bands, balloons, floats and the rest. 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Nov. 24; more at

Whatever your pace, you’re guaranteed to warm up by the second mile or so. The annual Life Time Athletics 5K and 8K fun runs support the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Gather at Diversey Harbor, 2601 N. Cannon Drive, with starting line on Cannon Drive at Fullerton. Corrals open at 8 a.m. Nov. 24, race start beginning at 9 a.m. Registration $45-$55 at

Chicagoans are invited to join choirs and choruses in singing and celebrating the city’s diverse holiday traditions. Gather at 6 p.m. on Friday evenings at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park for carols and other songs. The schedule is Nov. 25 with Oakdale Christian Academy Choir; Dec. 2 with Chicago High School for the Arts Chorale Ensemble; Dec. 9 with Windy City Gay Chorus and Treble Quire; Dec. 16 to be announced; free, more at

Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden is now open (; Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light begins Nov. 16 at the Museum of Science and Industry (; ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo opens Nov. 19 (; Illumination: Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum opens Nov. 19 (; Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo opens Nov. 25 (; and Light Up the Lake opens in Festival Hall at Navy Pier Nov. 26 ( Look for a full holiday light events guide upcoming in the Tribune.

This year’s big holiday illuminations on the side of Merchandise Mart begin with “Shchedryk Carol of the Bells: Unwrap the Holiday Magic,” presented in cooperation with the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through Nov. 17. Then on select nights, projections inspired by the Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” run Nov. 19 to Dec. 30; more at

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