The most photographed time of the year has arrived. The holiday season is in full swing and there are some wonderful photos to be had here in Chicago. Even though our first dusting of snow is still yet to come, the city is in full holiday mode: the Christmas lights are lit, the skating rinks are open, the holiday decorations are up, Christmas markets have popped up around the city, and families and friends are planning gatherings sure to bring out a camera or two. There are plenty of photo ops and events to enjoy in Chicago during the holiday season, so get out your cameras and get going.
Everyone in and around the Chicagoland area knows that this city does it up for Christmas, and downtown Chicago is a destination must, not only for the city’s festive decorations but for the many activities that will take place over the next few weeks. This weekend, 8000 Santas will invade Soldier Field for the annual Santa Hustle 5K. This year the Santa Hustle benefits Variety Children’s Charity, which provides services that work to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life for a wide range of issues facing children, both mental and physical. Each participant will be wearing a Santa hat and shirt, and a large after party will feature holiday music, decorations and tons of chances to take some great holiday photos. What could make a better photo than 8000 Santas running around downtown? The 5K kicks off Saturday, December 1, at Soldier Field at 9:00 a.m.
Navy Pier celebrates the holiday with its 12th Annual Winter Wonderfest sponsored by Bank of America. With 170,000 square feet of holiday fun, there’ll be entertainment, indoor ice skating, and several other events that celebrate the fun and beauty of winter and the holiday season. The festival runs through January 6, 2013.
The Christmaskindlmarket takes place at Daley Plaza at Washington and Dearborn downtown and runs though Christmas Eve until 4 p.m. Admission is free and features a Santa House for the kids, German food, and holiday gifts and decorations for purchase, including cuckoo clocks, nutcrackers, ornaments, clothing, and jewelry, and the city’s only official Christmas tree.
The John Hancock building has two special events for the holiday season including Breakfast with Santa and Santa in the Sky. On weekends now through December 23, you and your family can enjoy a breakfast buffet at Breakfast with Santa, free admission, a free photo with the Claus family, and a few other surprises as well. Make your reservations now because this is a hugely popular family event. Also, through December 23, every Saturday and Sunday Santa in the Sky takes place at the Hancock with Santa and Seemore Miles, the Hancock mascot, along with tons of other free activity, including a free family photo, face painting, and a free child’s ticket to the Shedd Aquarium.
You can use that free child’s ticket for the Shedd Aquarium Holiday Breakfasts and treat the family to a unique holiday experience with a full breakfast at the Shedd, a private viewing of the 15 minute Polar Express film in 4D, reserved seating for Fanatsea, with the beluga whales and dolphins putting on their holiday show, special prizes and more. Tickets are $44.95 for adults and $34.95 for children ages 3 – 11.
Each Christmas the Lincoln Park Zoo puts up multicolored lights and animal figures all around the grounds for Zoolight. Sponsored by ComEd, the activities are free and a delight for holiday goers of all ages. Enjoy the Holiday Express Train and ice carving demonstrations among the many activities at the zoo. Zoolight runs though January 6, 2013.
If you like your holiday activity a little less planned and more spontaneous but still want to get some great holiday photos, try a stroll down State Street to see the animatronic Christmas display in the Macy’s State Street Store windows. Each year Marshall Field’s and now Macy’s creates fantastic holiday scenes in their State Street windows that draw onlookers from all over the Chicago area. If you can, come down at night when the windows are brightly and colorfully lit. But don’t forget the Christmas tradition of meeting at the Walnut Room for lunch as well as the other special events scheduled during the month of December at Macy’s, including Macy’s Santa Breakfast and Macy’s Annual Santaland.
Everywhere you look downtown stores are decorated for the holiday. Just take a stroll down Michigan Avenue and stop in any store to enjoy the festive atmosphere and holiday cheer offered. Even a stroll around your neighborhood will present wonderful holiday scenes of decorated homes and people merrily going about their day just waiting to be photographed. This is a chance to enjoy all this season has to offer and capture those memories in photographs you will revisit year after year. Have fun and just get out there and shoot.