Free family Thanksgiving events in Chicago 2017
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Chicago will be full of cheer as families gather and Thanksgiving leads into the festive holiday season. The Windy City will offer several free, family-friendly events including two major holiday parades within a week. Check out all the fun family-oriented activities in Chicago in 2017.

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Nov. 17 @ 4 p.m., Nov. 18 @ 11 a.m.
Lights Festival Lane, Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.

The 26th Annual BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile will light up downtown Chicago with a spectacular illumination of holiday lights, a Tree-Lighting Parade, musical entertainment, and more. The Tree-Lighting Parade will be on Sat. and will be marshaled by Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  Lights Festival Lane in Pioneer Court will open on Friday night and will feature visits with Santa Claus. There will be a sparkling show of fireworks over the Chicago River after the parade. The free festival will ring in the holidays in Chicago and will be a merry event for kids and adults alike.

Chicago’s 104th Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Nov. 17 @ 6 p.m.
Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601

Gather the family and witness the lighting of Chicago’s 104th Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. This will be a festive event that will be fun for children and adults.  Admission to the Tree Lighting Ceremony and all other holiday activities in Millennium will be free and open to the public.

22nd Annual Christkindlmarket
Nov. 17-Dec. 24 @ 11 a.m.
Daley Plaza, Washington, and Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60602

The German Christkindlmarket will bring European charm to the City of Chicago for the holidays. Chicago’s Christkindlmarket was inspired by the Christkindlmarket in Nuremberg, Germany, a market whose historic tradition dates to 1545. Bundle up and take the family to the market to experience an Old-World style holiday, with vendors selling unique, handmade gift items. Taste the sizzling German sausages and delicacies and warm up with the hot spiced Gluhwein.  Admission to the market will be free, but bring money to purchase items and refreshments.

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Nov. 23 @ 8 a.m.
State St., Chicago, Ill. 60602

The festive McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature the nation’s best marching bands, spectacular performance acts, giant balloons, and fun for the entire family.

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park
Nov. 17 – March 4 @ Various times
201 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601

The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park will open on the weekend before Thanksgiving and will be open until March 4, weather permitting. The entire family will enjoy the fresh air and exercise at the ice rink. Skating at the ice rink will be free and open to the public. Bring your own ice skates or rent skates for $12-$14 at the rink.

Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon
Nov. 17 -March 4
Maggie Daley Park, 337 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601

Take the family ice skating at Maggie Daley Park in the heart of downtown Chicago. Admission will be free. Bring your own ice skates or rent skates on the premises ($12-$14).

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
Nov. 24-26, Dec. 1-3, 8-23, 26-31, Jan. 1-7 @ 4:30 p.m.
Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614

Lincoln Park Zoo will be illuminated for ZooLights during the holidays. Take the family to see the brilliant decorations and enjoy the family-oriented activities throughout to zoo grounds. Santa Claus will be and the zoo until Dec. 23, when he will head back to the North Pole for Christmas. Fun-filled entertainment will include live ice=sculpture carving, musical light shows at Winter Wonderland, Candy Cane Lane with giant themed displays, and more.  Admission to Lincoln Park Zoo will be free, but there will be a fee for parking in their lot.  There will be special experiences, such as the Lionel Train Adventure, the AT&T Endangered Species Carousel, and the Century wheel, which will require tickets ($3 or 10/$27)

Caroling at Cloud Gate
Nov. 24, Dec. 1, 8, & 15 @ 6 p.m.
Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601

Bundle up the family and head to Cloud Gate at Millennium Park for festive Christmas caroling, an activity that will be fun to share with friends and loved ones.

Holiday Flower Show at Lincoln Conservatory
Nov. 24-Jan. 7 @ 9 a.m.
2391 N. Stockton Dr., Chicago, IL 60614

Visit the Holiday Flower Show at Lincoln Conservatory to see the gorgeous Winter Wonderland of poinsettias, delightful sparkling lights, and model trains running through the plantings. Admission will be free.

Christkindlmarket Naperville
Nov. 24-Dec. 24 @ 11 a.m.
Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville, IL 60540

Chicago’s Christkindlmarket has become so popular that they have opened a market in Naperville. The entire family will enjoy the European market, which will feature vendors selling unique, handmade items, food, and holiday entertainment.