December in Chicago. The city is draped in lights, holiday music rings from every corner, and every store beckons with deals. There’s no shortage of options for feasting and shopping (and ways to run up those credit card bills). There’s also a ton of holiday events happening around the city, and many are free! Here’s a list of free events in December to enhance your holiday spirit without depleting your wallet.
Free December Events in Chicago
You Must Experience:
Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park – Certain dates in Dec. (check schedule). Beautiful luminous displays throughout the zoo grounds. Totally family-friendly and free!
Christkindlmarket on Daley Plaza – Nov. 26 – Dec. 24. – Traditional German American Holiday Market – Outdoors – dress warm!
Winter Flower & Train Show at Lincoln Park Conservatory – Hundred of different colored poinsettias and model trains. Free and warm!
New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Navy Pier – Dec. 31 at midnight!
You Should Experience:
Free museum days in December! (Bonus warmth involved here!) Check out amazing Chicago museums for free on noted days. *Usually you must be an Illinois resident, so please check individual museum policies.
- Museum of Science and Industry – Dec. 9
- Shedd Aquarium – Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
- The Field Museum – Dec. 2, 5, 9, 10, 11
- Clark House Museum -Dec. 4, 11, 18, 25
- Glessner House Museum – Dec. 4, 11, 18, 25
- Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier -Dec. 5, 12, 19, 26 from 5-8 p.m.
- Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum – Dec. 5, 12, 19, 26
- Art Institute of Chicago – Dec. 5, 12, 19, 26 from 5-8 p.m.
If you are taking the train to visit these free events, it might be worth checking the schedule for the CTA Holiday Train. If you are cabbing it, Uber might make that more convenient. If you are driving, ParkWhiz is the way to go; book parking before you get there, save time and money. Share these events with friends and family and create new holiday traditions together throughout December. All for free!