2012 Holiday highlights in Chicago
12/19/2012 10:00 PM
Meet the missus
This time of year, the man in the red suit gets all the attention, but isnít it time for his better half to steal some spotlight? Head to Chicago Botanic Garden, where Mrs. Claus hosts kids for hot chocolate and cookies, then ushers them into a special viewing of the Wonderland Express holiday train. If youíre lucky, maybe sheíll even put in a good word with the big guy for that naughty-or-nice list. $20, $18 member; $17, $15 member in advance. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Dec. 8. 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe. (847) 835-5440,
We donít know any kid who isnít at least fascinated by firefighters. So weíre loving KidVentures, where kids dress up as firefighters, slide down the pole, explore a fire truck and ambulance and, best of all, meet some real firefighters. On Dec. 12, they can listen to stories and munch on snacks, or on Dec. 22, meet Firefighting Santa (who knew he was a man of so many talents?). In either case, it sounds like a sure rescue from boredom! $9, $4 adult with beverages, free kids under 1. Noon-1:30 p.m. Dec. 12; 10-11:30 a.m. Dec. 22. The FireZone, 1100 National Parkway, Schaumburg. (877) 597-3473, firezonechicago.com.
When we hear ďDueling Nutcrackers,Ē we canít help picturing two wooden soldiers engaged in a swordfight. But this is a different sort of battle, with two versions of Tchaikovskyís music fighting for supremacy. Kids can chose their favorite between the classic original and Duke Ellingtonís jazzy take, all while learning a little bit about music. Before the match begins, they can even try out some of the instruments taking part in the fight. $10 per family (up to six family members). 9 a.m. Dec. 8. Nichols Concert Hall, Music Institute of Chicago, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston. (847) 905-1500, musicinst.org.
Ringiní it in
New Yearís Eve celebrations are often a little too grown up for the kids. Thatís why weíre wild about Brookfieldís Zoo Yearís Eve, which features music, games, prizes and animals visits. The 8 p.m. countdown lets kids enjoy the tradition and still get to bed at a reasonable hour. And we promise not to judge if some worn-out moms and dads decide to do the same. Free with admission. 6-8 p.m. Dec. 31. 8400 W. 31st St., Brookfield. (708) 688-8400, brookfieldzoo.org.
Sweetness and light
In our corner of the world, the holidays are all about lights, presents and family togetherness. But each year, we get to have a special glimpse at how they do it 4,000 miles away in Deutschland thanks to the long-running Christkindlmarket. Families can take it one step further with the Lantern Parade, where kids illuminate Daley Plaza with brightly colored lanterns and then are led through the market singing traditional carols in English and German. Afterward, browse through some kid-friendly shops and stop by the Sweet Castle for some yummy German treats like Stollen. Lantern parade: $15, $12 members; $5 kids bringing their own lantern. Registration required. 4-6 p.m. Dec. 5. 50 W. Washington St., Chicago. (312) 494-2175, christkindlmarket.com.