Chicago kicks off the holiday season

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Saturday, November 19, 2016
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The holiday season is underway throughout the city of Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The holiday season is underway throughout the city of Chicago.

Chicago's Christkindlmarket, the annual German holiday festival, officially opened Friday at Daley Plaza.

"In Germany I would come to the Christkindlmarket all the time, it's very nice to have it here, I love it," said Andrea Jeune, who was enjoying the market with her family.

"My mom is German so it's fun to get immersed in the culture and try a bunch of different stuff," said Milana Jeune, Andrea's daughter.

Friday night, the 103rd annual tree lighting ceremony took place at Millennium Park.

The ice rink at Millennium Park opened earlier, and it was a bit soupy.

"I look forward to it every year, I don't even look forward to the summer anymore, I look forward to this," said Eric McEvoy.

It was unusually warm on Friday, temperatures in the upper 60s with rain, but many were still able to find the holiday spirit.

"I grew up here and I'm so used to bundling up so it's nice to be able to come out without the jacket," said Maya Cave

It was Terrell Brown's first time on skates in a long, long time... Check out the video below:



The Bill Scholla family of Wauconda will light their 69-Foot Norway Spruce at the

103rd Annual Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting on November 18 in Millennium Park

The City of Chicago is pleased to announce that this year's official Chicago Christmas Tree is a 69-foot Norway Spruce donated by the Bill Scholla family of Wauconda, Illinois. The tree will shine in Chicago's iconic Millennium Park (Washington St. and Michigan Ave.) this holiday season, surrounded by the city's skyline and other Loop holiday attractions. The official 103rd Annual Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting is on Friday, November 18. The FREE event begins at 6 p.m. with performances headlined by STOMP, cast members from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical and more.

"For more than one hundred years, Chicagoans have gathered at the annual tree lighting to celebrate the start of the holiday season together," said Commissioner Mark Kelly. "We hope this festive event-set in Chicago's most spectacular Park-will bring delight, awe and wonder to residents and visitors alike."

The Scholla Family's 69-foot Norway Spruce was selected out of 129 submissions received by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Bill Scholla, who nominated the tree, grew up on the North side of Chicago and now lives in Wauconda with his wife Margie. The Scholla family will join Santa Claus and other guests to light the tree at the annual ceremony.

The 103rd Annual Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. and emceed by Zoraida Sambolin,Co-anchor, NBC 5 News Today. The program will feature a special performance by cast members from STOMP, the international percussion sensation making noise for over 20 years in London, off-Broadway and on tour. STOMP will be at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place beginning November 16 through January 1. For performance details, please visit

Also performing, cast members from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, which returns to Chicago for nine shows only at The Chicago Theatre. The limited holiday engagement begins, November 17 through November 20. Join the world's most famous reindeer and a holly jolly cast of iconic characters including Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Monster as they help Santa save Christmas. For complete details, visit

The ceremony finale will feature an assortment of holiday classics sung by the Chicago Community Chorus, followed by a special appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus and the lighting of the tree!

The City's first official Christmas Tree was lit by Mayor Carter Harrison in 1913 in Grant Park at Monroe St. and Michigan Ave - two blocks from where the tree will now stand. For 52 years, from 1913 to 1965, Chicago's official Christmas Tree stood in various locations in Grant Park. In 1966, the tree was moved

to Daley Plaza where it has been for the last 48 years with one exception: in 1982 the tree was moved to State St. and Wacker Dr. but returned to Daley Plaza the following year. In 2015 the tree moved to its current home in Millennium Park to shine alongside other holiday activities to create Chicago's premier "winter wonderland."

Visits with Santa Claus in Millennium Park

Santa Claus will also set up in Millennium Park this holiday season, available to children of all ages to hear wishlists and take pictures (with your own camera or smartphone). Admission is FREE.

Special visits with Santa Claus begin on Friday, November 18, from noon until 6 p.m. and on Thanksgiving Day from noon to 3 p.m. He will be available for regular visits from noon until 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, November 19-December 18.

Ice skating in Millennium Park

The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park will open earlier in the day on Friday, November 18, at noon and will offer ice skating in the park through March 5, weather permitting.

The 103rd Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting is presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and sponsored in part by 93.9 MY FM and the Chicago Transit Authority. The lights adorning the Christmas tree are donated by IBEW Local 134.

Admission is FREE to all holiday events. For complete details on these events and others including Caroling at Cloud Gate and the Dance-Along Nutcracker, visit For information about Millennium Park, visit, call 312-742-1168 and join the conversation on Facebook (Millennium Park), Twitter and Instagram (@Millennium_Park) #ChiHolidays.

And for information about programs presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, visit, call 312-744-3316 and join the conversation on Facebook (Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events), Twitter and Instagram (@ChicagoDCASE) #ChiHolidays.

Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago's artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago's non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City's future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City's cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.