Chicago is an exciting city in the winter, and in December 2022, if you are visiting or hosting friends and family, you're in the right place to experience fantastic events, fun activities, and ample holiday cheer!
We've compiled a list of some of our favorite things to do in Chicago in December, but what's the weather like in Chicago in December? It's one of the driest months, with little chance of snow and if you plan your wardrobe right, an excellent time for outdoor festivities. Expect daily average high temperatures of 34F/ 3C and low temperatures of 24F/-3C. Be prepared to wear layers, including a hat, gloves, warm socks, and a coat. Layers will ensure you stay cozy for outdoor fun and comfortable for indoor activities because you can shed an extra layer.
There are many fun things to do in Chicago in December, from light shows, holiday delicacies, art installations, shopping, and more. Here's our list of favorites for this festive month!
9 Things to do in Chicago in December 2022
1. Savor Some Holiday Flavors and Magnificent Chicago Views
360 CHICAGO's Sip and View Package is back in December with a ticket for admission to the 94th-floor observation deck and a featured beverage at a special price. Sip and savor the panoramic views at CloudBar - Chicago's newest bar in the sky, while staying warm and cozy gazing at the winter wonderland down below. The Sip and View ticket is perfect for date night, after a day of shopping, or showing off your city to visitors. CloudBar is open from 9am-11pm daily, and open to all ages with non-alcoholic beverages and snacks available too. Check out the selection of limited-edition holiday cocktails.
2. All Aboard the Chicago Holiday Train!
For 31 years, the Chicago Transit Authority has been spreading joy with a fully decked-out holiday train and bus. The vehicles are decorated with lights and artwork, and Santa greets riders from his sleigh from an open-air flatcar carrying his reindeer. The CTA holiday train not only transfers passengers from A to B, the employees donate their time and money to assemble and deliver 600 food baskets to local food organizations. Now that's a reason to take public transportation this December!
3. Be Amazed by Digital Art Projected on Chicago's Famous Merch Mart
The Merchandise Mart, also known as the Merch Mart or Mart, is a famous art déco building built in the 1930s. Back then, it was the largest in the world, with 4 million square feet of retail space. Now it's home to loads of retail stores and businesses. Its confronting presence towering over the Chicago River makes it the perfect backdrop for digital art projections. This year, holiday classics like the Nutcracker are cast on the building in an incredible ensemble of colorful video and music. Art on the Mart is one of the best things to do in Chicago in December, and it's free! The show runs at 7 pm nightly till December 30th.
4. Explore Christmas Celebrations from All Over the World
Warm up indoors and experience what Christmas looks like in 50 different countries/cultures at The Christmas Around the World Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. See how different countries celebrate the holidays and decorate their Christmas Trees at this event that is now 80 years strong. Don't miss the four-story Grand Tree that dominates the Museum's Rotunda area. Included in your ticket is The Holidays of Light, an exhibit that honors light and enlightenment throughout the world. See all this with the museum admission. Open from now until Jan 8 ,2023.
5. Shop at an Authentic German Christmas Market State-Side
Inhale the aroma of roasted chestnuts, sip on mulled wine, tap your feet to the sounds of caroling and browse through the most traditional outdoor Christmas market you'll find outside of Europe. The Christkindlmarket Chicago boasts hundreds of vendors of gifts, treats, and delicacies that would be worth a shopping trip to Chicago in December! The market is located at Daley Plaza at 50 W. Washington Street and is open on days and evenings till Christmas Eve.
6. Light Up Your Holidays in a Big Way
One way to brighten your holiday evenings in Chicago is to visit Lightscape; an exhibit at the Chicago Botanical Garden. Stroll through the outdoor gardens for a display of powerful music, fire, light, and color. It's a holiday showcase for all ages. Tickets sell out fast, so book ahead!
7. Ice Skating in Chicago's Glorious Parks
It's the quintessential thing to do during the holidays, because it's so darn enjoyable! Strap on some skates and enjoy the scenery at two of Chicago's beloved parks.
The Ice Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park in the Chicago Loop is a lovely, leisurely skate through a winding path around the park, with fantastic views of the Chicago Skyline. Skating here is popular, so participants need to buy timed tickets. Book ahead! Alternatively, Ice skating at Millenium Park at the McCormick Tribune Plaza is also a popular favorite. Skate on one of the two public ice rinks with views of "The Bean" while you glide and twirl. Skate rentals are available at both parks if you don't have your own or didn't bring skates in your luggage.
8. Stroll Through Colorful Forests
Head to the Morton Arboretum for a gorgeous display of color, light, and sound in the trees at Illumination. Explore the 50 acres of forested area to see (and hear) nature from a different perspective. Debuting this year is Electric Illumination, an adults only (18+) event featuring a mix of trance and house music synchronized to light displays. This new event is limited to just 3 evenings in December. If you love to get out into nature, this is the place for you!
9. Watch Chicagolands Fireworks and Party from the Best Vantage Point
It's the most epic spectacle of color and light casting over the city. Maybe you've never seen fireworks this big and bold than the famous Navy Pier Fireworks in Chicago. Better yet, you can enjoy them from the best vantage point, 94 floors up at 360 CHICAGO's CloudBar New Year's Eve Party. Tickets include the best views, champagne, and unlimited rides on TILT—one of the highest thrill rides in the world.