CHICAGO— The festive spirit is alive and thriving at Navy Pier, where the holiday season is in full swing with a delightful array of free programs, exciting events, and numerous opportunities for children to catch a glimpse of Santa before he embarks on a ship back to the North Pole.
The Chi-Town Skygazers, an enthusiastic group of local astronomers, will lead a free celestial experience under the open sky on Dec. 20, 21, 22, 23, 26 and 27. Guests can gather outside along the South Dock, east of the Wave Wall Staircase, to explore the wonders of the night sky. The group will hold star gazing sessions from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Sunday to Thursday, and 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. There will be telescopes available to use onsite for people of all ages and backgrounds. Note: This event is subject to change due to weather conditions.
Navy Pier is hosting free holiday art workshops led by Somos Arte in the Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., and 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Guests can create and decorate nutcracker soldiers, gingerbread characters, holiday ornaments, snow globes, and more.
- 19 – Gingerbread Jamboree Workshop
- 20 – Ornament Odyssey Workshop
- 21 – Festive Train Decorating Workshop
- 22 – Holiday Candy Craft & Nutcracker Magic Workshops
- 23 – Ornament Odyssey & Gingerbread Jamboree Workshops
Future Frost Gallery is a community-led free art exhibition open daily in Festival Hall, lower level. The gallery is composed of more than 30 works inspired by the holiday season and created by 15 local artists that showcase Chicago’s diverse talents and a fusion of various mediums. Guests can attend the closing ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 31, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., to mingle with artists and watch live performances.
Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Sparkle Maze is a festive take on the traditional indoor, blacklight, mirror maze. The Sparkle Maze incorporates thousands of holiday lights, décor, and classic music. Guests can select from classic 3D blacklight reactive glasses or holiday glasses which reflect special images in every holiday light. Hours will be extended on Dec. 31 to 10 p.m. Enjoy the Sparkle Maze now through Jan. 1. Tickets begin at $16.99.
Santa Claus will continue his residency at Navy Pier through Dec. 23, before heading back to the North Pole to deliver presents to children around the world. Join in the fun throughout the day by visiting Reunion Restaurant’s Santa’s Southern Workshop daily, Noon to 8 p.m., for a photo with Santa Claus. Visiting with Santa at Reunion is free of charge; professional photos begin at $40.
Shoreline Sightseeing’s Hot Chocolate Cruise will get cruisers into the holiday spirit with festive lights and music and breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline at night, departing at 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 22, and Saturday, Dec. 23.
The Ozinga Merry Mixer is coming to Navy Pier on Dec. 23. Ozinga’s signature red-and-white striped mixer is decked out with more than 32,000 programmed lights. This dazzling display features animated light sequences and toe-tapping renditions of favorite holiday tunes. Bring your friends and family out to experience this free event located at the front of the Pier.
Note: All activities, times, and dates are subject to change.
About Navy Pier
Located on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is the top nonprofit tourism destination in the Midwest, stretching more than six city blocks and typically welcoming nearly 9 million annual guests. Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, this Chicago landmark showcases more than 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities and more. The Pier celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016 with the unveiling of the iconic Centennial Wheel, Polk Bros Park, Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion. In 2021, Navy Pier continued to usher in its second century with ongoing Pier-wide redevelopment efforts—including Sable, a 223-room Hilton hotel, new restaurants and partnerships, and thrilling additions to Pier Park. The Pier is also proud to continue providing free, year-round arts and cultural programming designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe. Click here to donate to Navy Pier, a mission-driven 501(c)(3) organization, in support of the organization’s post-pandemic revival and free public programming. For more information, visit www.navypier.org.