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The 10 best things to do with kids in November

Art Institute Diwali Celebration
Art Institute Diwali Celebration

November is a magical month for Chicago kids—the city embraces its chilly landscape and offers a bounty of festive activities to keep everyone entertained. And because the winter holidays mean time off school for the little ones, you'll want to keep a checklist of fun-filled adventure on hand. We've got you covered with our guide to kid-friendly events happening in Chicago this month.

1. Diwali Family Festival

Celebrate the Hindu festival of light with Indian traditions, dance performances and music by Mandala South Asian Performing Arts. (Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S Michigan Ave, Nov 4, 10:30am–3pm. Free)

2. McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade

Bundle up and hit the streets for this annual Thanksgiving tradition. By the time dinner rolls around, the kiddos will still be talking about the giant inflatable cartoon characters, glitzy floats and dance-worthy marching bands. (State St, between Congress Pkwy and Randolph St, Nov 23, 8am. Free)

3. ZooLights 

Jumpstart the holiday season at this light-filled extravaganza, which includes photos with Santa, live ice sculpture carving, 100 giant themed displays, free crafts and plenty of holiday shopping. As an added perk for moms and dads, there's warm spiced wine and frosty lager available for purchase. (Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N Clark St, Nov 24–26, Dec 1–3, 8–23, 26–31, Jan 1–7, 2017, 4:30–9pm. Free)

4. Grant Park Turkey Trot 

Run off that mashed potato coma at this post-Turkey Day 5K. Young ones are invited to show up early to burn energy at the free Kids Dash. (Arvey Field at Grant Park, 1501 S Lake Shore Dr, Nov 25, 8:40am. $38, kids under 8 free)

5. Very Eric Carle

At this play-and-learn exhibit, children are invited to step inside the pages of Eric Carle's classic children's books and transform into the Very Hungry Caterpillar, weave a web with the Very Busy Spider, compose a night symphony with the Very Quiet Cricket and so much more. (Chicago Children's Museum, 700 E Grand Ave, through  Jan 7, 2018. $13–$14)

6. Christkindlmarket 

Daley Plaza transforms into a free outdoor holiday bazaar, complete with shopping and traditional treats for the whole family and gluhwein for the adults. Be sure to check out the Kinder Club's activity-packed scavenger hunt for littles. (Daley Plaza, Washington and Dearborn Streets, Nov 17–Dec 24, Sun–Thu 11am–8pm; Fri, Sat 11am–9pm. Free)

7. Chicago International Children's Film Festival 

There's still time (five days, to be exact) to check out the oldest children's film festival in North America. Kids and teens are invited to sit back and watch acclaimed flicks and participate in interactive workshops. (Various locations, through Nov 5. $5–10)

8. Magnificent Mile Lights Festival 

Turn on the holiday spirit with this two-day, fun-filled fest that allows families to visit with Santa, snack on Chicago treats and take in the main attraction—an evening parade that lights up Michigan Avenue. Just be sure to stick around for the fireworks display at 6:55pm. (Pioneer Court, 401 N Michigan Ave, Nov 17, 4–8pm; Nov. 18, 11am. Free)

9. Ice Skating in Millennium Park

Take a spin around the downtown rink while enjoying stunning skyline views. There are plenty of other places to lace up in Chicago this winter—check out our complete guide to indoor and outdoor ice rinks(Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, 201 E Randolph St, Nov 17–March 4, 2018. Free, $12–$14 skate rental). 

10. A Year with Frog & Toad 

Based on the beloved tomes by Arnold Lobel, this Tony-nominated musical tells the tale of amphibian friends weathering the seasons together. (Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S Racine Ave, through Nov 12. $35) 

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