Compared to the neverending slog that was 2020, this year seems to have sped by, but alas, it is somehow December yet again.
I’ve always loved the holiday season, for a variety of reasons. Being from Ohio, I still feel a nostalgic joy in watching the snow and seeing the individual intricacies of each snowflake as it falls into my hands. I love peppermint, gingerbread, hot chocolate, and all of the seasonal goodies that I might not otherwise enjoy but which bear the charm of impermanence that makes them irresistible. As I have grown older I have become less fixated on the gift element of Christmas and more infatuated with the gooey, sentimental aspects that a younger me would have considered nothing more than schlock. I have yet to turn to Hallmark movies for seasonal entertainment, but my Nat King Cole playlist tells me that it likely will not be long before I make the full transition into a Buddy-the-Elf-esque Christmas aficionado.
This holiday season is unique for me, though. This year, and I am sure the same can be said for many other students, is my first year on my own. My familial holiday traditions–putting up the tree, baking, deciding to put up lights and then immediately regretting to put up lights–have to be translated to fit my solitary garden unit apartment. This holiday season is undoubtedly different for me, but that does not make it a necessarily solemn event. Chicago has a wide variety of unique December experiences and for anyone who may be having their very first Chicago Christmas, here is a list of fun (college student budget-friendly) activities to make the most of it.
Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo
From 4-10pm each day through January 2nd, the Lincoln Park Zoo will be decked out in Christmas lights and decorations. Tickets are $5, but admission is free every Monday and Tuesday night. The Lincoln Park Zoo also provides specific accommodations for visitors with sensory sensitivities.
For tickets and more info, visit: https://www.lpzoo.org/event/zoolights-presented-by-comed-and-invesco-qqq/
Christkindlmarket is a traditional German-style Winter Market with locations in both the Loop and Wrigleyville. The outdoor market features local artisans, bakers, and a variety of performers. A Chicago holiday staple, this would be a great place to find gifts for your out-of-town family members and loved ones.
For more information on vendors and locations, visit: https://www.christkindlmarket.com/
What better way to celebrate the holidays than falling on your face with friends? Even if you don’t have the grace of Nancy Kerrigan, ice-skating is undoubtedly a Winter must. Fortunately, Chicago offers many free opportunities to hit the rink, literally. Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park are both offering outdoor ice rinks from now until March and if you’re heading to Chriskindlmarket in Wrigleyville, Gallagher Way has an adjoining rink that features curling alongside ice-skating.
Winter Flowers at the Garfield Conservatory
If this is your first time experiencing a Chicago winter (it’s certainly mine!), then perhaps you would prefer an indoor activity. Lucky for you, the Garfield Conservatory currently has a seasonal exhibit, Serenity: Winter Flower Show, running through January 9th. Seasonal flowers like the iconic poinsettias and zinnias are on display in the conservatory’s indoor show house. Admission is free, but reservations are currently required.
For reservations and more information, visit: https://garfieldconservatory.org/
Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre
Did you know that DePaul students get a student discount at many of Chicago’s famous local theaters? Among these is the Goodman Theatre, which is currently hosting its annual production of Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol. With a student discount, you can see the iconic Christmas show and support local theatre artists for only $10!
For tickets and more information, visit: https://www.goodmantheatre.org/tickets/special-discounts/