Chicago kicks off holiday season with Millennium Park Christmas tree lighting, ice skating

Saturday, November 18, 2023
Chicago kicks off holiday season with tree lighting, ice skating
Chicago's winter ice and snow have yet to arrive, but the holiday season kicked off in the city Friday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's winter ice and snow have yet to arrive, but the holiday season kicked off in the city Friday.

The 110th annual Chicago Christmas Tree lighting was held just off Michigan Avenue near the Chicago Cultural Center.

This year's tree is a 45-foot-tall Colorado Blue Spruce, donated by the De La Cruz family of suburban Darien.

"We're just so grateful that it could be lit up one more time for everybody to enjoy. We looked at it walking in here and we, like, 'It's looks a little bit bigger than we thought it was,'" said Abby De la Cruz.

Chicago chooses spruce from Darien as official Christmas tree

The ceremony will have fireworks as well as performances by DJ TREW, Meagan McNeal, Broadway in Chicago's "Betty Boop," Chicago Dance Crash, Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance's 2023 National Cuatro Festival with featured artists from Puerto Rico - Emma Colon Zayas, Maribel Delgado, Fabiola Mendez, with singer Celenia Sanchez Mata, and Santa and Mrs. Laura Lynn Claus.

The Chicago Youth Foundation is helping kids learn to ice skate and play hockey.

In addition to the tree lighting, the city's most popular ice rink, the McCormick Ice Rink at Millennium Park, will open for skating Friday.

Wintrust Magnificent Mile Lights Festival airing on ABC7 Chicago Nov. 19

The McCormick Ice Rink at Millennium Park will open for skating Friday.

Despite the mild weather, the rink opened at 8 a.m. There were professional skaters on-hand.

The sights of the season are nearly everywhere, as Chicago gets ready to celebrate the holidays.

Once again, the Diaz family drove in from the suburbs for the first day of this year's Christkindlmarket.

"We like the stuffed pretzels and the Glühwein, and it's a great start to the Christmas season," Mary Diaz said.

Kensley Diaz, 8, agrees.

"My favorite was the pretzels and seeing all the decorations and begging my mom to get me all this stuff," Diaz said.

Macy's iconic windows reflect the season's cheer, and the Christmas lights along State Street are already bright.

"It's been a nice tradition coming here every year. This is the first year I've been here opening day," Alexandria Murphy said.

"Just the holiday spirit and seeing everyone excited about the holidays," Alex Holtel said.

If you're planning to attend the Mag Mile Lights Festival Saturday, you'll want to make sure you get here early because there will be a whole lot of traffic and crowds. And if you want to skip all the downtown madness, you can see the Lights Festival on ABC7 Chicago and all our streaming platforms at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19. Encores will be broadcast at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3 and 11 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10.