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Chicago Christmas Tree
Photograph: Patrick L. Pyszka

This year’s Chicago Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be virtual

You can see the tree in-person in Millennium Park, but the holiday kick-off is going online.

Zach Long
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Zach Long
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The good news is that Chicago has selected a 45-foot-tall Blue Spruce from Morgan Park as the city's official Christmas tree, which will go on display in Millennium Park on November 20. The bad news is that, due to current limits on in-person gatherings, this year's tree lighting ceremony won't happen in the park—instead, the Chicago Christmas tree will be illuminated via an online video.

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Premiering on November 19 at 6:30pm, “Millennium Park at Home: Chicago Holidays” will feature holiday greetings from Mayor Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman as well as performances featuring the Chicago Children’s Choir, the Sones de México Ensemble and Percy Bady recorded at the recently-opened Epiphany Center for the Arts. The 30-minute program will be archived on the DCASE YouTube channel, so you can watch it whenever you find some time in your busy holiday schedule.

Of course, you'll still be able to stop by Millennium Park to see the twinkling tree in-person near the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Washington Street—the park is open to groups of 10 persons or fewer who practice physical distancing and wear face coverings. While you're in the park, you can also see the Millennium Monument and Jay Pritzker Pavilion lit up with festive colored lights and view an art installation in Wrigley Square created by designer and gallerist Jason Pickleman, dedicated to the Chicagoans who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

One other holiday tradition that won't be present in Millennium Park this season is the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, which won't be welcoming skaters. Instead, you'll need to make the short trek east to Maggie Daley Park, where the ice skating ribbon will be operating through the winter months. Reservations are required for all skaters, so you'll need to plan ahead.

You may have to plan your own caroling (while masked) at the Bean this year, but you shouldn't allow that to dampen your holiday cheer. Once it's up and decorated, the Chicago Christmas tree will be on view through January 7.

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