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Millennium Park Christmas tree
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Some beloved holiday traditions are returning to Millennium Park

Mark your calendars for ice skating, Christmas tree lighting and more.

Emma Krupp
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Emma Krupp

You might not be counting down the days until the holiday season quite yet, but preparations for some of the Chicago's biggest seasonal events and attractions are nevertheless underway. Case in point: The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) has officially announced dates for a handful of iconic Millennium Park holiday events set to take place in person this year, including the city's Christmas tree lighting ceremony and the return of ice skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. 

After going virtual in 2020, the official City of Chicago Christmas Tree lighting ceremony will return to the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Washington Street at 6pm on November 19 (the same night that Christkindlmarket opens its gates), where the towering tree will remain lit up through January 9. More details—including the specs for the tree itself, which is chosen from a list of donated nominees from around the Chicago area—are expected to be released in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more information. Additionally, folks will once again be able to ice skate around the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink from November 19–March 6, with free admission and skates available for rental, though online reservations are required before visiting (details about rental fees also haven't been released yet).

A new event on this year's schedule is the Millennium Park Holiday Sing-Along, a revamped take on Caroling at Cloud Gate that's meant to be inclusive of more faiths and holiday traditions, occurring every Friday from November 26–December 17, plus a series of pop-up holiday performances throughout November and December.

If you're not ready to plan for winter, turn your attention to the return of Chicago Halloweek from October 23–30, which brings back spooky Halloween events like the seventh annual Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade on State Street—where artists and puppeteers march down the streets in costumes and on floats—plus the Upside Down Arts in the Dark Parade that's taking place in Washington Park. The full list of events won't be released until October 1, but you can keep abreast of updates here. Cheers to an extra-long holiday season!

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