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Covid Friendly Holiday Activities Near Chicago 2020

Christkindlmarket ChicagoThe holiday season is beloved for plenty of Chicagoans.  The trees on the Magnificent Mile are decorated lavishly, the smell of hot chocolate fills the air, and families are relaxing together in the warmth of their homes.  For most of us, the incentive to come together and spend time with family and friends is enough to celebrate.  Though this year might be different from our usual gatherings, there are great alternatives for uplifting our holiday spirit.  With many of us choosing to spend the season within our own household, it might be hard to recreate our traditional festivities.  Chicago has a few COVID friendly activities, though, that will liven your remote celebrations. 


Christkindlmarket is one of the most iconic Christmas-themed events in Chicago.  Usually located downtown in the Daley Plaza, the market is full of German fare and European architecture.  With this event so integral to celebrating the season, the market has made arrangements for those wishing to stay indoors this year.   

A virtual experience of the Christkindlmarket is up and running for all to enjoy from home.  The online marketplace hosts a plethora of shops similar to their normal display.  Festive mugs and cups of all designs are available on the website, including goodie baskets, trinkets, clothes, and so much more. 

Alongside the market, the online experience will also include events running all the way to December 31st.  Kid-friendly activities like reading time appear on the calendar, and German speaking groups and lessons occur continuously for people of all ages.  Though Christkindlmarket is virtual this year, the market still upholds its quintessential Christmas spirit. 

Check out more about the Christkindlemart events at the website:

Illumination at Morton Arboretum

If you’re feeling restless inside the city, taking a visit to the Morton Arboretum is the perfect getaway.  Located in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum will continue its holiday tradition by hosting its jaw dropping light spectacle. 

The Illumination show takes place along a two mile stretch of preserve.  Only available by car for maximum COVID safety, you’ll be able to coast through colorful woodlands and fluorescent tunnels.  Different concepts full of wondrous lights appear back to back while jovial, Christmas music plays throughout your trip’s duration.

Enjoying holiday lights in the comfort of your car has never been easier or more magnificent.  Check out more info about Morton Arboretum’s Illumination here:

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins at Strawdog Theater        

Growing up in a multi-religious household, there were aspects of Christmas and Hanukkah I found uniquely sentimental.  One of my favorite parts of Hanukkah was reading or reenacting the story of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins.  A Hanukkah tale with a pinch of the occult, the story is set in a desolate synagogue as Hershel tries to ward off these devilish creatures.  

For its third year in a row, Strawdog Theater will be putting on the show virtually.  Running for the whole month of December, you’ll be able to watch this captivating Hanukkah tale from your own cozy abode.  The theater will include extra content for each purchase, including interactive time with the cast before and after the show. 

Get tickets for Strawdog’s virtual shows here:

Ruth Page’s “The Nutcracker” Past, Present, and Future 

Keeping with the tradition of virtual events, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts will be hosting a viewing of this Nutcracker-inspired documentary.  A renowned holiday tradition for Chicagoans, this event will showcase archival footage of artists, dancers, and creatives discussing the ins and outs of the Nutcracker production. 

Though the ballet has taken a hiatus this year, this viewing has a great deal to include about the beloved story.  Including interviews from 1965 and onward, there’s much to discover about the intricacies of putting on this reputable production.  This online screening will be available all the way through the end of the year. 

To find tickets online, check out the website:

Lightscape at the Botanic Gardens

Though the preserve is a common destination during the summer, the Chicago Botanic Gardens will motivate you to visit for its fantastic winter spectacular.  An annual event for the garden, the light show will feature caroling trees, diverse plant species, and illuminations galore. 

Walking through the grounds, you’ll get to experience a wide array of installations from local and global artists.  Stretching for about a mile, the preserve has light-filled tunnels, waterfalls, and trees adorned with eloquent brightness.  New safety precautions will be implemented too, making sure everyone is distanced while enjoying the gardens.     

Tickets can be bought through early January, with the possibility of exchange.  To find out more about Lightscape, visit the Botanic Gardens website: 

Chicago still has a few tricks up our sleeves for enjoying this unorthodox holiday season.  With a mix of online and outdoor events, celebrating safely is more than possible in 2020.  Relaxing at home can include an overabundance of holiday cheer with these COVID-conscious holiday activities.