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There’s No Place Like Navy Pier for the Holidays

Nov. 15, 2023 | The ‘People’s Pier’ lights up with winter fireworks, outdoor ice skating, and an eclectic array of cozy spots to celebrate the season

There’s No Place Like Navy Pier for the Holidays

Please be aware that the content on this webpage was authored more than 6 months ago, so some information may be outdated or no longer accurate. Please visit our event calendar for information on current events.

CHICAGO— From the moment Santa disembarks from The Seadog on Navy Pier’s dock, Chicago’s storied, mile-long “People’s Pier” will be transformed into an enchanting wonderland of one-of-a-kind seasonal experiences. Set against a backdrop of twinkling lights, outdoor ice skating, winter fireworks, and spectacular skyline views across icy Lake Michigan, Navy Pier’s partner tenants are pulling out all the stops to usher in the holidays in signature style.

Santa’s Arrival Aboard the Seadog by City Cruises

Fresh off his appearance at the Wintrust Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, Santa will trade in his sled for the iconic Seadog operated by City Cruises and sail to Navy Pier on Sunday, Nov. 19. He will make his grand entrance by boat at Noon as the Chicago Fire Department welcomes him into the harbor with an impressive water cannon salute. Upon his arrival at Navy Pier, Santa will head to Harry Caray’s Tavern for brunch, photo ops, live music, and the grand opening of Harry Caray’s new winter pop-up, the Lakefront Lodge.

Lakefront Lodge at Harry Caray’s Tavern

Beginning on Sunday, Nov. 19, the atrium and patio at Harry Caray’s Tavern on Navy Pier will become Lakefront Lodge – a festive winter lodge overlooking the city and mesmerizing icy Lake Michigan. Complete with a fireplace, leather seating, and cozy rustic touches throughout, Lakefront Lodge is the perfect venue for private parties and group gatherings looking for a relaxing but interactive experience. Guests are invited to stay warm inside sipping on specialty beverages and enjoying tasty bites, or grab a blanket to bundle up and have some fun on the patio, featuring a private curling rink, heated igloo, and firepits. Lakefront Lodge will be warmly welcoming guests and private events all winter long through February 2024.

Margaritaville’s Christmas Island

Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Bar and Grill is turning up the heat on holiday cheer with its Christmas Island, debuting on Sunday, Nov. 19. Guests are invited to make their spirits bright with an all-new holiday drink menu, surrounded by festive light displays. Reindeer Games will take place at 7 p.m. every Saturday through Dec. 31, leading into the Pier’s winter fireworks over the lake at 9 p.m.

 Dinner and Drinks in the World’s Largest Snow Globe at Offshore Rooftop

The World’s Largest Rooftop Bar will be turned into a giant reverse Snow Globe of Chicago and the iconic Navy Pier, Nov. 29 through Feb. 29. Guests can experience the feeling of dining in a life-sized Snow Globe as they enjoy seasonal cocktails and food in the panoramic atrium of Offshore Rooftop.

Offshore’s Cozy Corridor – featuring build-your-own hot chocolate bar, mulled wine, and snacks – will offer the perfect warmup spot before or after ice skating on the Pier, Nov. 29 through Dec. 24.

Santa’s Southern Workshop at Chef Art Smith’s Reunion

Santa will be setting up shop in Santa’s Southern Workshop at Chef Art Smith’s Reunion starting on Friday, Nov. 24, and greeting families there through Saturday, Dec. 23. Prefix lunch and dinner experiences in Santa’s Southern Workshop are available through Reunion’s Open Table page. Families are welcome to visit with Santa whether or not they eat at the restaurant. Professional photo packages are available. Reservations are recommended and can be booked online. Letters to Santa can be written in the Family Pavilion right in front of the restaurant.

More Santa Sightings

In addition to his residency at Chef Art Smith’s Reunion, the Big Guy will visit Harry Caray’s Lakefront Lodge for Breakfast with Santa on Sunday, Dec. 3, 10, and 17. Santa will return to the Lakefront Lodge at Harry Caray’s Tavern for a farewell dinner on Saturday, Dec. 23, before heading down the Pier’s South dock to The Seadog and sailing back to the North Pole in time for Christmas Eve.

A list of Santa’s Navy Pier whereabouts is available here.

Holiday Dining with City Cruises

City Cruises Chicago is offering brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River throughout the holiday season. Diners are invited to experience regularly departing cruises featuring delectable chef-prepared menus, accompanied by live DJ entertainment and unparalleled skyline views. Special Holiday Fireworks Dinner Cruises will depart every Saturday from Dec. 2 through Dec. 23, offering front-row seats to Navy Pier’s spectacular winter fireworks.[

Now offering Christmas Eve and Christmas Day brunch and dinner experiences, City Cruises can take care of the holiday cooking this year, creating a festive celebration for the entire family. For a comprehensive list of public holiday cruises and private event packages, visit the City Cruises Chicago website.

Stay & Skate and Holiday Fireworks Packages at The Sable

The renowned Sable at Navy Pier, Curio Collection by Hilton, will offer guests the perfect winter escape with its Stay and Skate and Saturday Holiday Fireworks packages. The Sable’s exclusive Skate and Stay package, available Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, includes the luxurious comfort of a one-night stay at The Sable, complimentary skate rental and access for two to Navy Pier’s new picturesque outdoor skating rink, breakfast in the hotel’s Lirica restaurant, and an extended 1 p.m. checkout. Book here.

The Sable’s Saturday Holiday Fireworks package, available Nov. 24 through Dec. 23, provides an unforgettable holiday experience for two with priority room placement offering front-row views of Navy Pier’s spectacular holiday fireworks, guests’ choice of warm spiced mull wine or boozy hot chocolate, and Sable’s signature holiday truffles, along with an extended 1 p.m. checkout. Book here.

Light Up The Lake

Navy Pier’s reimagined Light Up the Lake 2023 is an enchanting winter celebration that promises to illuminate the lakefront, Nov. 24 to Dec. 31, with Chicago’s largest indoor and outdoor holiday experience. Light Up The Lake invites visitors of all ages to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit through a spectacular array of new free and ticketed activities, including outdoor ice skating against a breathtaking Lake Michigan backdrop, cozy outdoor firepits, dazzling light displays, live music, a holiday artisan market, and award-winning Saturday fireworks.

Click here for images.

Note: All activities, times and dates are subject to change.


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

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