If you are a parent, guardian, or like me a devoted auntie to pre-K to pre-teens—then it is vitally important to find out where all the hip holiday outings for kids are in Chicagoland. If you’re just getting into the groove of planning—technically you are a bit tardy to the party but alas’ there’s still some time.

Little Symone enjoying her ride on the teacup at Fifth Third Bank’s Winter WonderFest.

Make sure you have some change in your pocket because entertaining little people is no longer a trip to McDonald’s, let them loose for 30 minutes and your home—they are a very intellectual and well-informed bunch.

Top 5 Chicagoland Christmas Stops For Kids

1. Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest

December 1 – January 7

Navy Pier December thru January 7

It was OFF-THE-CHAIN! An inside winter wonderland for kids and adults who simply love all things Christmas. Located in the East end of Navy Pier on the second level of Festival Hall, be prepared for a brief walk. It depends on where you park but preferably in the East parking garage. Do not get savvy and use Spot Hero trying to save a couple of bucks. You will have a serious hike from outside of Navy Pier to the very end—your kids will hate you. Swallow the $25 parking garage fee, and get your walking shoes on.

From the various inflatable slides, the indoor rides for both toddlers and adults—there was something for every age. The ice skating rink was a wonderful sight to see for those who are skilled at skating and the beginners who can hold the side railing. To capture the moments, key stations included photo areas for families to purchase pictures taken at the mini-train rides, the sleigh area and of course meeting Santa and his helpers.

2. Holiday Lights at Brookfield Lights

Brookfield Zoo

Remaining days: Dec. 26 thru Dec.31

For a group or large family, the annual Holiday Lights at Brookfield Lights is a beautiful sight to see when the sun goes down. It takes place every weekend accepts for Christmas Eve and Christmas day but resumes back on December 26 from 10:00am – 6pm.

Throughout the zoo, there are huge animal figures lit up along the way to the awesome ‘wow’ of small children. Attendees get to enjoy live musical performances at the Holly Jolly Theater with magic shows and characters engaging visitors with games and playful interaction. There is a great deal to do throughout your time at the zoo and it’s not just for children, if you’re looking for a fun date night to tap into the inner child—this is a good, fun and somewhat ‘cheap date’. http://www.czs.org/HolidayMagic

3. 75thanniversary of Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Lights

Museum of Science and Industry

December 11th, 2017 –January 1, 2018

A great celebration of showcasing many Christmas trees decorated with theme from countries all the world.

MSI and the Chicago Cultural Alliance have identified eight diverse cultural institutions to host a tree topper star statue outside of its property. The statue placed at each institution will represent a culture different than their own, inspiring and educating visitors and people of the community, and celebrating the message of unity. It’s a beautiful site to see as MSI exhibits the customs of 50 cultures and faiths on the museum walls. https://www.msichicago.org/explore/whats-here/exhibits/christmas-around-the-world/ 

4. 3rd Annual Kwanzaa Observance Program

DuSable of African American History

December 26 & December 27

12:30pm – 2:30pm

750 E.

Remembering our Ancestors and Building on their Legacy.

Performances By: Thunder Sky Drummers, Maggie Brown, Sax Preacher, Armen Rah, Fred Baker & the West Indies Dance Company, Najwa Dance Corp, and Spirit S.O.A.

This is a great program for all generations to understand the various meanings behind Kwanzaa and the cultural significance of the holiday. Registration is required on www.dusable.org.

5. Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train

Remaining days: December 21 and Dec. 22

There’s still some time to catch the CTA Holiday Train before it’s retired for the next Christmas holiday season. The most economical way of treating the kids to a beautiful ride around the city while Santa and his helpers greet you with candy canes and a smile.

The six-car CTA train is creatively decorated with Christmas icons and lights giving riders a special experience that is dripped in the holiday spirit. There are different EL stops so make sure to check out the schedule online. On Thursday, Dec. 21 riders can catch the train on the Purple Line and on its final day, Friday, Dec.22 on the Yellow Line from 3pm to 7pm. Regular fares apply so load up your Ventra card and BYOE (Bring Your Own Eggnog).

l-r: Kid Capri, Sean Dale, Twista and friend. PHOTO: Tito Garcia

Music Meets Holiday Cheer

On Monday, platinum recording artist, Twista hosted his first annual Toy Drive at Bassline in the South Loop. It was a great event that brought out top hip hop and House DJs including NYC’s Kid Capri; Power 92 on-air personality and mixshow DJ Pharris; Chosen Few DJ, Terry Hunter and others. Everyone in attendance was required to bring unwrapped toys and the party was CRACKING. Local artists, bloggers, and fans packed out the venue hoping to get a selfie with Twista, members of the GMG Gang along with familiar faces.

Update: Great turnout on Tuesday night at TWO MAJOR events–Next Showcase Chicago held at The Wire in Berwyn, IL presented by Mark Hubbard Productions which brought out music and marketing heavy hitters. It was a diverse mix of musicians, hip hop and spoken word performers showing their best in front of a panel of judges. Some of the judges included Grammy nominated Gospel artist, Jonathan McReynolds; DCASE Program Manager, Frayne Lewis; WGN-TV Entertainment Producer, Tyra Martin; Hip Hop artist, Sir the Baptist; Latino Fashion Week co-founder, Cesar Rolon, Jr.; RCA Inspiration President, Phil Thorton; WGCI’s on-air personality and morning show co-host, Kyle and other prominent folks sharing their advise.

Across town at the House of Blues in downtown Chicago, hundreds packed the venue to celebrate the memory and life of Timothy Francis Jones aka DJ Timbuk2. The 3rd Annual Timbuk2 Forever Tribute has become an annual salute to the young DJ who died in 2015 after a long battle from cancer. DJs, artists, family and friends came out to listen to music and remember his ability to rock a party and break age barriers that opened up opportunities for young DJs to have a platform to a mainstream audience.

Don’t sleep on rising R&B star and former NBC The Voice contestant Mark JP Hood whose presenting a special Karoke For Kids Toy Drive on Friday, December 21 at the Hard Rock Café located at 63 W. Ontario. The event is hosted by Hood Dreams Foundation and it’s from 8pm to 11pm so get there early. This should be lots of fun so bring your best singing voice.

Ald. Michael Scott, Jr. celebrates birthday Dec.24

Birthday Shout-Outs

So long our fun Sagittarius brothers and sisters! Belated birthday shout-outs to videographer and favorite barber, Danny Sorge; Raw Radio and TV host, Sean Dale; radio host and owner of the Bronzeville Community Clubhouse, John Cook; and DJ Slow Mo on Dec. 19. Welcome to Capricorn nation where the best of both worlds includes birthdays and holiday celebrations. Much love to my Latina sister, Marilyn Santiago and favorite Phi Beta Sigma photographer, Andre Hampton on Dec.20. Best wishes to filmmaker and Impakt Studio’s, Chris Adams and long-time BESLA member, Walter Dale, Esq. on Dec.23. Special Christmas Eve babies include RCA Records Promotions Manager, Norjon Hedman and 24th Ward Alderman Michael Scott, Jr. party hard on Dec.24. Christmas angels include talent manager and Harvey native, Syleecia Thompson; and Fusicology.com boss lady, Asya Shein on Dec.25.

Chelsea Harvey and William Harvey, Jr.

In Memoriam

Our prayers and condolences go out to The Harvey family. William L. Harvey, Jr., the father of lifestyle blogger and dear friend, Chelsea Harvey died on December 12 in Jackson, MS. Send your thoughts her way in this time of grief.

Meanwhile, please enjoy every moment and time with your family, friends and loved ones. Our days are precious and we don’t say ‘I love you’ enough to the ones who are truly in our corner. Everyday is a miracle as we take in the ‘little things’ in life. Give thanks and pass it forward. The holiday spirit motivates many to give back but imagine if that same celebration of ‘giving’ was practiced throughout the year–what a wonderful world we would live in.

Happy holidays, be safe and PASS THE BLESSINGS!

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