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CHICAGO — Navy Pier will brighten the winter season with Light Up the Lake, an indoor, temperature-controlled experience, featuring large-scale light-sculpture displays, comprising more than 600,000 twinkling lights; an Alpine ice rink, authentic holiday beer garden, kiddie train rides, Santa’s Village and gift market and other family-friendly events. Offering something for everyone, Light Up the Lake will run from Nov. 26 through Jan. 2, in Festival Hall at Navy Pier. Special themed events, including date nights, are also planned.
Individual ticket sales begin Oct. 25 at NavyPier.org. Every ticket comes with a free ride on the Centennial Wheel, and visitors are invited to experience all the free amenities and attractions—indoors and out—at Navy Pier, which will be decked out for the season. Catered parties for groups of 20 or more can be arranged now by emailing email@example.com.
Transforming more than 100,000 square feet of Navy Pier’s expansive Festival Hall, Light Up the Lake will also offer sit-down dining with holiday-themed eats, signature cocktails, and seasonal brews. Grab-and-go meals and snacks will be available throughout the event space.
Light Up the Lake will be open from 3-9 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays through Dec. 19, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily from Dec. 20 through Jan. 2. The holiday event will close at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. It will be closed on Christmas Day.
Light Up the Lake will incorporate some popular attractions of Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest, such as the ice rink and kiddie train rides, but other elements, such as the bounce houses, have been eliminated in the wake of the pandemic. Other covid protocols, such as face masks and social distancing, may be in place in accordance with CDC guidance at the time of the visit.
Holiday Parties and Group Events
Several party packages will be available for corporate, social and other groups looking to gather for the holiday season. The Light Up the Lake website will have a button to click and direct them to Light Up the Lake sales professionals. Groups of 20 or more will have early access to tickets and discounts by booking through NavyPier.org. Guests can plan a complete experience, including catered family or office holiday parties, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The area’s largest indoor light show, boasting more than 600,000 lights, will feature oversized sculptures with holiday and toy box themes, including a giant Teddy Bear, a deer soaring 25-foot, high, 60-foot light tunnel and 40-foot tree. There will even be an oversized rubber duckie, who will greet skaters near the ice rink.
Alpine Ice Rink
Guests are invited to come early, stay late and take a spin on the Alpine ice rink. Guests can bring their own skates, but skates will be available at no extra charge, pending availability. Lockers also will be available.
Kids can jump on the Holiday Train and explore Santa’s Village where they can share their holiday wish with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, and meet Santa’s friends, neighbors, street performers and toymakers. Photo opportunities are available throughout. The European-style holiday market will offer seasonal wares, novelties, treats and unique holiday gifts. Guests are encouraged to visit Jolly Olde Post Office where they can post a letter to Santa.
Holiday Beer Garden
The Holiday Beer Garden offers old-world Bavarian charm with seasonal craft beers, winter cocktails and delicious giant soft pretzels. Grab-and-go menu items will also be available throughout the experience.
Each ticket includes a ride on Navy Pier’s iconic 200-foot Centennial Wheel, offering 360-degree views of the decorated city and frosty Lake Michigan. Guests can ride during their Light Up the Lake visit, weather permitting, but the ticket—an $18 value—is valid through March 31, 2022.