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Experience holiday magic in Chicago

November 30, 2009 9:47:46 AM PST
(PRESS RELEASE) Chicago is dazzling this holiday season! From special holiday exhibitions at Chicago museums to popular annual traditions like the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and the Daley Plaza Christmas Tree to celebrations of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, there is no better place to experience the joy and magic of the holiday season than Chicago. Visitors to the city are invited to make their first stop the Chicago Office of Tourism's Visitor Information Center in the Chicago Cultural Center, located at 78 East Washington Street.

Chicago is home to hundreds of hotels to suit any taste or price point, many of which offer special holiday packages. For more information on visiting Chicago this holiday season, or to book accommodations, visit www.explorechicago.org or call 877-CHICAGO.

ANNUAL TRADITIONS

Daley Plaza: Christkindlmarket Chicago Thursday, November 26, 2009 through Thursday, December 24, 2009 Opens daily 11a.m.; Closing hours Sunday through Thursday 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 9 p.m. (Closes at 4 p.m. on November 26th and December 24th) Admission Free!

Watch as Daley Plaza is transformed into a little piece of Germany, known as the Christkindlmarket Chicago. At the Plaza, visitors will find Chicago's iconic Picasso sculpture surrounded by red and white crested huts glowing with warmth and overflowing with curios. Nutcrackers, cuckoo-clocks, beer steins, European chocolates, toys, jewelry, clothing and a wide variety of holiday ornaments are just a few of the items for sale from more than 50 vendor booths.

Millennium Park: Caroling at Cloud Gate Fridays, November 27, 2009 through December 18, 2009, 6 p.m. Admission Free! Chicago's holiday tradition returns on Friday nights throughout the holiday season. Chicagoans and visitors are invited to hear the beautiful voices of a variety of choral groups including the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, the Chicago Children's Choir, the Old Town School of Folk Music and the Wooten Choral Ensemble and participate in a holiday sing-along.

Navy Pier: Winter Wonderfest Friday, December 4, 2009 through Sunday, January 3, 2010 December 4th - December 19th Sunday-Thursday: 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. December 20th- January 3rd Sunday-Thursday: 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Admission Free, wristbands required to participate in rides and attractions ($16-19) Navy Pier's annual holiday extravaganza returns for its eighth magical year. This holiday tradition features more than 750,000 holiday ornaments, hundreds of decorated trees, an indoor Ferris wheel, Musical Carousel, North Pole E-Wish Center, Large-Scale Inflatable Games and Giant Slides, Winter WonderStage, Carolers, and more!

City Hall Concert Series: Young Voices Deck "The Hall" Tuesday December 1st through Friday, December18, 2009, 12-1 p.m. Admission Free! Get into the holiday spirit while listening to the classics sung by children's choirs from throughout the city. The City Hall Holiday Concert Series begins Tuesday, December 1 and runs until Friday, December 18 with concerts every weekday from noon to 1 p.m. The concerts will take place in the lobby of City Hall (121 N. LaSalle) near the LaSalle Street entrance. The series exhibits the talents of children from all over Chicago and warms the hearts of the audience. Performers include James E. McDade Classical School Choir and the Taylor Elementary School Children's Choir.

Mayor Daley's Sports Festival Sunday, December 27, 2009 and Monday, December 28, 2009, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. McCormick Place in Halls A and B Admission Free! Highlights of the annual Chicago Sports Festival include interactive zones featuring trampolines, golf, climbing walls, football, chess, obstacle course, tot's zone, bowling, table tennis, inflatable tumbling, tennis, badminton, boxing, a pitching zone, fishing ponds, footbag, giant slide, 40-Yard dash, skateboarding area, wrestling, and open courts for volleyball and basketball. The Halftime Stage features special performances and demonstrations from 12 to 4 each day.

Do-Division Holiday Walk Saturday, December 5, 2009, 11 a.m. Admission Free! The shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars of trendy West Division between Milwaukee and Leavitt rock the holiday cheer on Saturday, December 5th at the annual Do-Division Holiday event. Beginning at 11 a.m. and continuing throughout the evening, those who make the trek along this holiday trail can enjoy decked out Division Street merchants - boasting incredible deals on everything from designer duds to renowned cuisine. A family-friendly occasion, the Do-Division Holiday event is a fun way for Chicago residents and visitors alike to become acquainted with a distinctive corridor of Chicago filled with unique and independent businesses that are matchless in charm. The street charged with the warmth of the holidays, as seasonal activities like a FREE horse-drawn carriage ride (from Ashland to Leavitt) help revelers get into the spirit.

SHOPPING EVENTS

66 East Randolph Street: Chicago's Downtown Farmstand Mondays -Fridays, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Chicago's Downtown Farmstand offers edible local products, all produced within 250 miles of Chicago, including fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs in season; a full range of condiments, preserves, seasonings and other dry goods items; baked goods and seasonal items as available. The Farmstand is the perfect place to find locally produced holiday gifts, and to buy ingredients for preparing holiday meals.

Chicago Cultural Center: Glitter Thursday, December 3, 2009, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Admission Free! Fashion Focus Chicago is pleased to present "Glitter: A Holiday Shopping Event" that is free and open to the public. Discover the best gifts of the season when Chicago designers and boutiques take over the second floor of the Cultural Center for one day only! Special holiday items, sales and original fashions from Chicago designers offer unique finds.

Holiday Shopping in Chicago Neighborhoods There's no better place for holiday shopping than in Chicago's neighborhoods! Division Street and the Southport Corridor are home to specialty shops that carry the work of independent and Chicago-based designers. In the Lincoln Park neighborhood, shop along Lincoln Avenue, Clark Street, Armitage Avenue or Halsted Street, or venture further north to the Lakeview neighborhood (along Clark Street, Belmont Avenue or Broadway) for a wide variety of shopping alternatives. In recent years, cutting-edge national stores like Anthropologie, Marc Jacobs and Cynthia Rowley have opened shops in these neighborhoods. Visit www.chicagofashionresource.com for more information on Chicago shopping excursions.

MUSEUM AND ZOO HIGHLIGHTS

Museum of Science and Industry: Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light Friday, November 20, 2009 through Sunday, January 3, 2010, 9:30 - 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. -5:30 p.m. on Sunday. The museum will be closed Christmas Day, December 25th. Don't miss the Museum of Science and Industry's time-honored celebration, Christmas Around the World. The exhibition includes more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers from Chicago's ethnic communities to reflect holiday traditions from around the globe. Holidays of Light, a multicultural display of holiday traditions that celebrate light or enlightenment, such as Diwali and Hanukkah, also illuminates the Museum's halls during this time.

Adler Planetarium: Star of Wonder Monday, November 23, 2009 through Sunday, January 3, 2010, Daily Show Times Vary. Sky Theater Rediscover the story behind the "Star of Bethlehem" in the Adler Planetarium's Star of Wonder, the museum's longest-running sky show and one of Chicago's favorite holiday offerings. Star of Wonder examines various theories behind the celestial event that prompted the Magi (Three Kings) to travel to Bethlehem.

Lincoln Park Zoo: Zoo Lights Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights beginning November 27, 2009. Nightly December 18, 2009 - January 3, 2010 (excluding Dec. 24 and 25), 5-9 p.m. Admission Free! Lincoln Park Zoo transforms into a dazzling wonderland with a series of free seasonal festivities. Enter a winter wonderland illuminated by the laughter of children and more than two million lights at Lincoln Park Zoo's annual ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Charter One. Animal exhibits stay open late as guests roam the beautiful grounds to take photos with Santa, prepare family crafts and enjoy the zoo's incredible animals immersed in an atmosphere unlike any other.

KWANZAA CELEBRATIONS

DuSable Museum of African American History: "The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration" Thursday, December 3, 2009 6:00pm - 8:00pm General Admission - $5.00/DuSable Museum Members - FREE "The Black Candle" is a landmark, vibrant documentary that uses Kwanzaa as a vehicle to explore and celebrate the African-American experience. Narrated by world renowned poet Maya Angelou and directed by award-winning author and filmmaker M.K. Asante, Jr., "The Black Candle" is an extraordinary, inspirational story about the struggle and triumph of African-American family, community, and culture.

HANUKKAH/JEWISH CELEBRATIONS

Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies
Family Fun Sunday
Sunday, December 6
Activities in the Gray Children's Center
10:30 am - 3 pm
Hanukkah Arts Workshop 1:30 - 3 pm, $7 for adults, $5 for children, free for children under 5 and Spertus members
Ignite your creativity at this special Hanukkah program with artist and educator Ellen Gradman of Spark Your Art. Come early to enjoy family-friendly activities in the Spertus exhibitions and the Gray Children's Center, and then join Ellen for her special brand of artistic practice that infuses art materials and projects with Jewish meaning. Known for her commitment to recycled materials and her colorful mixed-media projects, Ellen will engage your whole family in a creative Hanukkah-themed project enriched with lessons about responsibility and renewal. All ages welcome.

Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies
Secrets From a Kosher Chef: The Hanukkah Edition
Sunday, December 6 at 3 pm
$25 for adults and $12 for kids, $20 for adults and $10 for kids for Spertus Members
Call 312.322.1773 for reservations.
Celebrate the festival of lights and the miracle of the oil as Laura Frankel, Chicago's leading kosher chef, lets you in on her secrets of how to make the crispiest latkes and the best Hanukkah treats from around the world. The whole family is invited to learn how to make aranccini (meat or vegetable filled fried rice balls) from Italy and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) from Israel. Bring your appetite (and your kids!) because tastings and recipes are included.

PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS
Chicago Cultural Center: Dance Along Nutcracker
Sunday, December 6, 2009, noon and 3 pm
Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center
Admission Free!
Young and old alike are invited to hit the dance floor as sugar plum fairies and toy soldiers dance and sing along with music from the Lakeside Pride Symphonic Band, including selections from Tchaikovsky's beloved Nutcracker Suite.

The Joffrey Ballet: Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker
Friday, December 11, 2009, through Sunday, December 27, 2009.
Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University
One Chicago's most popular holiday traditions, Robert Joffrey's production of The Nutcracker again transforms the Auditorium Theatre into a land of beauty, fantasy and wonder. The Tchaikovsky masterpiece features the full Joffrey company, local children's choruses and more than 120 young dancers.

Goodman Theatre: A Christmas Carol
Friday, November 20, 2009 through Thursday, December 31, 2009.
Goodman Theatre
For three decades and over one million people, Charles Dickens' classic story, the exceptional actors and the miraculous stagecraft have made Goodman Theatre's A Christmas Carol a perennial holiday favorite and beloved Chicago tradition. Every year, audiences delight in the "Bah, Humbugs," the arrival of the ghosts, the music and dancing and Scrooge's joyful discovery of life and love.

Victory Gardens Theater: The Snow Queen
Friday, November 27, 2009 through Sunday, December 27, 2009.
Victory Gardens Biograph Theater Zacek McVay Mainstage
Hold on tight, The Snow Queen is sledding back for her fourth season as Chicago's #1 alternative to traditional holiday fare. Based on Hans Christian Anderson's beloved winter tale about a boy lost in the cold, and the girl who won't give up until she finds him, The Snow Queen is the rare family musical that sings to children, and speaks to adults.

HIGHLIGHTED HOTEL PACKAGES

Affinia Chicago: Winter Wonderfest
The festive Winter Wonderfest package is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit this season. The package includes a comfortable Affinia room customized by you at My Affinia, two tickets to Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier, Navy Pier Savings Book complete with pier-wide dining and shopping savings, and on December 5, 12 and 19 guests can enjoy a Complimentary Trolley Ride with Santa's elves to Navy Pier for a Private Meet-and-Greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus from 9:30am-10:30am. Pricing for this fully-loaded urban winter retreat in Chicago begins at just $169 per night. The Winter Wonderfest package is available from December 4, 2009 through January 3, 2010. For reservations, visit www.affinia.com

The Wit: It's a Wit-terful Life
This holiday season, escape from Bedford Falls and step into theWit. Elements of the "It's A Wit-terful Life" package include; Deluxe accommodations, a complimentary Saturday and Sunday screening of "It's a Wonderful Life" at SCREEN, $100 Macy's gift card and Macy's Visitor's Savings Pass, along with a very special indulgence for two - VIP Specialty Holiday Dessert. It's A Wit-terful Life package rates begin at $379 per night from now until December 8, 2009 and from $309 per night from December 9, 2009 until February 28, 2010. For reservations, visit www.thewithotel.com

Four Seasons: Be Our Holiday Guest
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago wants to be your home for the holidays with the new "Be Our Holiday Guest" package ? the perfect experience for those visiting family and friends in The Windy City this festive season. Experience Four Seasons Hotel Chicago's Midwestern holiday hospitality with: luxurious accommodations featuring beautiful Lake Michigan or city views, choice of pumpkin pie, pecan pie or cookie tray to go for your party or gathering, daily Midwest breakfast for two, and two complimentary holiday cocktails to enjoy with roasted chestnuts by the fire in Seasons Lounge ? the perfect way to wind down after your gathering. Rates for "Be Our Holiday Guest" package begin at $365. For reservations, visit www.fourseasons.com/chicagofs.

SWISSOTEL Chicago: Winter Break Getaway
Winter is a wonderful season, but everyone needs a break from the dark and dreary weather. To help manage the winter blues, Swissotel Chicago is offering a Winter Break Getaway package where guests can stay two nights and get the third night free. Guests will also receive extra bonuses worth $500 when they book this package. The package includes; a $25 parking discount, an exclusive Bloomingdale's savings package, complimentary use of the 42nd Floor Fitness Center & Pool, four tickets to a museum of their choice, and a $100 Fun Credit that may be applied exclusively to The Lobby Lounge, Geneva Restaurant, room service, in-room movies, local calls, internet and mini-bar. Prices are from $249 in November and from $209 December through February. Visit www.swissotelchicago.com for more information.

Great holiday hotel packages are also available at several other Chicago hotels, including the Essex Inn, Embassy Suites Chicago-Downtown , Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, W Chicago- Lakeshore, W Chicago-City Center, Ritz-Carlton, Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel, the InterContinental, the James, Conrad Chicago, and the Hyatt Regency.

Visitors and Chicagoans planning to entertain out-of-town guests can receive Chicago brochures, reserve hotel accommodations and receive trip-planning assistance by calling toll-free 1.877.CHICAGO (1.877.244.2246), or visiting ExploreChicago.org. Brochures and information on Chicago's exciting events and activities are also available at the Visitor Information Centers. The centers are located at Chicago Water Works, 163 East Pearson Street at Michigan Avenue and the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 East Randolph Street. For those calling from outside the United States, Mexico and Canada, please call 1-312-201-8847. The TTY toll-free number for the hearing impaired is 1.866.710.0294.

The Chicago Office of Tourism, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, is the official City agency dedicated to promoting Chicago to domestic and international visitors and to providing innovative visitor programs and services.


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