Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting

One of the most cherished holiday traditions in Chicago is the annual Christmas tree lighting.

One of the most cherished holiday traditions is the Chicago Christmas tree lighting.

It marks the beginning of the season as thousands gather round to celebrate the spirit of giving. This year is the 108th year for the ceremony, and it’s a tradition you won’t want to miss.

Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting 1
Photo courtesy DCASE

The Chicago Christmas tree lighting ceremony is always a full evening of entertainment. Past performers have included talent as diverse as the “People’s Diva,” opera star Renée Fleming and Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider.

The 2021 event has been expanded and reimagined to provide more space and opportunities for guests to participate — including multiple viewing locations with screens and concessions across the Park and a main stage on the Great Lawn with the traditional Tree Lighting Ceremony followed by fireworks and a special concert from 6:35–7:45pm headlined by singer-songwriter Brian McKnight.

Also performing will be Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, the cast of Chicago Opera Company performing an excerpt from “Becoming Santa Claus;” a youth dance ensemble from the Kenwood School of Ballet; and special guests Dreezy Claus and Sister Claus.  

The actual tree lighting will be around 6:30pm and will be heralded with fireworks.

This will be followed by DJ Selah Say; Cirque du Soleil performing an excerpt of ‘Twas the Night Before…;” and Chicago Soul Spectacular, and the evening is capped with McKnight’s performance.

Face masks are strongly encouraged for all Tree Lighting Ceremony guests. Free Chicago masks available (while supplies last).

“Powering Chicago is thrilled to continue its tradition of lighting the official City of Chicago Christmas Tree and this year’s 108th annual lighting is sure to put a smile on the face of all Chicagoans who see it,” said Elbert Walters III, Executive Director, Powering Chicago.

“Following a year where many were unable to see the Tree, we look forward to welcoming Chicagoans back for an in-person viewing. I want to thank Electrical Contractors’ Association member M.T. Kelley Electric and members of IBEW Local 134, who are responsible for the lighting decorations of this year’s Tree.

On behalf of Powering Chicago, I’d like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.”

The 2021 Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Schedule

(Subject to change)

  • 5:30–6pm: Preshow with DJ Selah Say
  • 6pm: Tree Lighting Ceremony featuring Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, the cast of Chicago Opera Company performing an excerpt from “Becoming Santa Claus;” a youth dance ensemble from the Kenwood School of Ballet; and special guests Dreezy Claus and Sister Claus
  • 6:30pm: Fireworks
  • 6:35–7:45pm: Concert featuring DJ Selah Say; Cirque du Soleil performing an excerpt of ‘Twas the Night Before…;” Chicago Soul Spectacular performing a high-energy Soul Christmas medley; and singer-songwriter Brian McKnight

The tree lighting ceremony isn’t the only holiday fun!

Millennium Park will be turned into a winter wonderland, with ice skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink beginning at 11 am on November 19 through March 6 (weather permitting). Admission is free, but online reservation tickets will be required. Snacks and hot drinks will be available from Momentum Coffee.

There will also be the Millennium Park Art Market in the Chase Promenade North tent will feature 30 local artists selling a variety of items including jewelry, pottery, drawing, painting and more.

In addition to professional artists curated through BUDDY, the shop at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Art Market will feature student artists from organizations including Marwen and After School Matters — plus a café, pop-up programming and a special visit by Dreezy Claus on Saturday and Sunday from 1–3pm.

Face masks are required for all Art Market guests except while actively eating and/or drinking. Free Chicago masks available (while supplies last).

Millennium Park Art Market Schedule

(subject to change)

  • Friday, November 19 at 3–8pm
  • Saturday, November 20 at 12–8pm  
  • Sunday, November 21 at 12–5pm  

The Art Market is made possible by generous support from the Millennium Park Foundation.

One of Chicago’s other favorite holiday traditions is just down the street from the Chicago Christmas Tree. Christkindlmarket is an outdoor holiday fair in Daley Plaza that brings the German-style market to the Midwest. 

Christkindlmarket Chicago gluhwein mug

Christmas is a magical time, and one of the most magical is the Chicago Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

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