Record Roundup: Details about tree lightings and over 30 opportunities for local holiday fun

The weather outside may not be frightening, but unless you want to miss out, you can’t deny that the holiday season has begun.

And on the North Shore, that means everything from Santa breakfasts and tree lightings to hot cocoa crawls. For some events, it’s best to act now to reserve your place; For others, just circle the date and attend!

All the details you need for many of these events are below, but we certainly didn’t catch everything. If you have another event you think we should add to this list, please email

Feature inside the Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. | Image from Chicago Botanical Garden

When: 4:30pm – Closing times are from 10 November to January. 7
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
Details: A lighted after-dark path through the gardens includes festive sounds coming from the trees. New track and features have been added for this year. Advance tickets are $30 for adult members, $34 for non-members, and $17/$19 for children ages 3 and over. Children 2 and younger are free. Parking for non-members is $10.

Statues game
When: Throughout the season
Where: Wilmette
Details: Search Wilmette storefronts for 12 elves hiding among the holiday decor. Write the names on the game card (here soon) and drop off the completed card at Wild Child Toy Shop, 1114 Central Ave., for a chance to win a Shop Wilmette gift card. A winner will be chosen each week in December.

Letters to Santa
When: November 13 – December. 17
Where: Northfield Community Center, 401 Wagner Road, Northfield
Details: Drop off your letters at the community center’s mailbox. Include your return address.

Visit the reindeer
When: November 17 – December. 15
Where: Chalet Nursery, 3132 Lake Ave., Wilmette
Details: Prancer and Vixen return to the chalet for the holiday season. Come see them during business hours. Post a selfie with your reindeer to get a $10 gift card. Click here for more information. Special happy hours (hot chocolate, music, cake, wine and beer) from 5-7pm on December 7-14.

Santa Wilmette Post Office Box
When: November 17 – December. 3
Where: Mallinckrodt Park Gazebo, 1041 Ridge Road, Wilmette
Details: Children are urged to bring their letter to Santa to a special mailbox that delivers directly to the North Pole. Include a return envelope so Santa can respond.

If the kids ran Thanksgiving
When: Noon-2pm on November 18
Where: Adaptation Center, 999 Green Bay Road, Glencoe
Details: When you register, your child will be asked how to celebrate Thanksgiving and the event will include some wild ideas. Children must be accompanied by a guardian and registration is $13/$16.

Sugar Plum shopping spree and tree lighting
When: 3-5pm on November 18
Where: Downtown Highland Park Business
Details: Hosted by the Downtown Highland Park Alliance, and part of the Heart of the Holidays series, this event will feature Santa and his elves, hot cocoa, cider and cookies in the Port Clinton Square. The town tree lighting begins at 5 p.m

Santa Winnetka Post Office Box
When: November 22 – December. 18
Where: Winnetka Park District, 540 Hibbard Road
Details: This magical mailbox will ensure your letter reaches Santa Claus, but be sure to include a return envelope for a letter from the big guy.

Türkiye Ski Day
When: 10:30 am – 1 pm on November 23
Where: Winnetka Ice Arena, 490 Hibbard Road
Details: Get ready for Thanksgiving dinner with a special ski day. Admission is $2 per skate. Skate rental is $4.

Lights Festival
When: 5-7pm on November 24
Where: Downtown Glencoe, Wyman Green
Details: Gather to enjoy the light spectacles — including a new 6-foot-tall illuminated 60022 display — and family-friendly activities (trackless train rides, live music, hot chocolate, an igloo photo booth, and more) throughout downtown Glencoe, including That’s Tudor Court where there will be a winter village with characters from the movie “Frozen.” Santa will be at the Book Theater. The lighting ceremony will be at 5 p.m

Winnetka tree lighting in 2022 | The photo has been sent

Breakfast with Santa
When: November 25, December 2, 9, 16 and 23
Where: Beat & Tap, 1168 Wilmette Street, Wilmette
Details: Santa will visit the Deck the Halls at Pit and Tap holiday pop-up for five consecutive Saturdays. Tickets (purchased online) come with a classic American breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, mini pancakes, orange juice and coffee.

Read the book “Oliver the Ornamentation”.
When: 10:30 a.m. on November 25
Where: Chalet Nursery, 3132 Lake Ave., Wilmette
Details: Enjoy reading the latest book in the “Oliver the Ornament Meets Teddy and Norb” series by Todd Zimmerman. More information and registration.

Visits with Santa
When: 10 am – 3:30 pm from November 25 to 26, December 2 to 3, and December 9 to 10
Where: Chalet Nursery, 3132 Lake Ave., Wilmette
Details: Visit with the big man. Appointments are recommended. Visits are welcome if space allows.

Northfield Holiday Festival
When: 5:30-7pm on November 29th
Where: Clarkson Park, 1950 Willow Road, Northfield
Details: Light up the park with Santa Claus while enjoying music from local students, food and drink from Stormy’s Tavern, crafts, s’mores and more.

Holiday Open House: Sip and Shop
When: 5-8pm on November 30th
Where: Plaza del Lago, 1515 Sheridan Road, Wilmette; Village Center, Wilmette and Central Roads, Wilmette
Details: Businesses in Wilmette’s two shopping districts will have festive deals, promotions and treats. more information.

Winnetka Holiday Tree Lighting
When: 5pm December 1
Where: Dwyer Park, 856 Elm Street.
Details: An annual tradition, kick off the holiday month with the tree lighting (6 p.m.) and lights around Dwyer Park. Enjoy holiday carols, visiting Santa and elves, hot drinks and sweets.

Breakfast with Santa
When: December 2, 9, and 16 (multiple time periods)
Where: The Lawn Grill at Wilmette Golf Club, 3900 Fairway Drive
Details: Visit Santa, take a photo and receive a goodie bag. The family-style breakfast includes pastries, fruit, waffles, bagels, lox, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage. Registration is required.

Festival of Lights
When: 2-4pm December 2
Location: Port Clinton Square, Highland Park
Details: Part of Highland Park’s Home Sweet Home for the Holidays series, enjoy Klezmer music with sufganiyot (jelly donuts) and kids’ crafts with Hanukkah Harrriet.

“Frozen” pancake breakfast.
When: 9:30-10:45 a.m. December 2
Where: Confito Cafe, 1515 Sheridan Road, Wilmette
Details: RSVP and pre-pay (based on food order) by November 28 for this event featuring characters from “Frozen” and a menu featuring dishes for adults and children. To register, call (847) 251-3654 or email

Alvin the Elf’s Winter Carnival
When: 10am – December 2
Location: Skokie School, 520 Glendale Blvd., Winnetka
Details: Carnival games, cookie decorating, reindeer, refreshments and more — and maybe even a visit from the big guy (Santa!). Registration ranges from $15 to $20.

Holiday events and Wilmette tree lighting
When: 10am – 6pm December 2
Where: Downtown Wilmette, Village Hall, 1200 Wilmette Street.
Details: A day of festivities — like visits with Santa Claus (pictures 9:30-11:30 at Wilmette Playhouse), a giant snow globe, carolers, Wilmette Playhouse “Elves,” candy canes and free hot chocolate — ends with a tree lighting 5pm in the village green hall.

Holiday Market and Kenilworth Tree Lighting
When: 4-8:30pm December 2
Where: Kenilworth Boardroom, 410 Kenilworth Street.
Details: Photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus begin an evening that also includes children’s activities, a holiday market with local vendors, and a tree lighting at 6:15 p.m. followed by cupcakes, hot chocolate, and live music.

Joan Kimsey (left), of Glencoe, and Susan Pierce, of Winnetka, in the Winter Solstice Parade in 2021. | Log file image

Find your goblin friend
When: December 5-11 and December 12-18
Where: Winnetka Gardens
Details: Buddy will hide out in a different location in the Winnetka Park District each week. Look for a guide on the park district’s Facebook page every weekday at noon. Take a photo of Buddy and share it with the park district on Facebook Messenger to receive a $10 gift card to a local business. Click for more information.

Holiday house decorating contest
When: December 8-15
Where: Winnetka
Details: Register your home to compete for prizes and local bragging rights. Registration ends December 9th, and voting ends December 16th.

When: 7 pm on the 8th, 2 and 7 pm on the 9th of December, and 2 pm on the 10th of December
Where: Community Recreation Center, 3000 Glenview Road, Wilmette
Details: From the Wilmette Center for the Arts, the classic holiday musical comes to the Wilmette Theater for four performances. Tickets are $12 and available November 17. More information and tickets.

Secret Gifts Workshop
When: 1-2:30pm, 3-4:30pm on December 9th
Where: Wilmette Public Library, 1242 Wilmette Street.
Details: Make your own cards and gifts and your family will never suspect a thing. More information and registration.

Ice skating exhibition
When: 3-4:30 pm on December 9th
Where: Winnetka Ice Arena, 490 Hibbard Road
Details: Any skater registered for the winter sessions can participate in the show, and it is free to attend.

Winnetka Winter Express
When: 5pm December 9
Where: Winnetka Golf Club Range, 1300 Oak Street.
Details: Watch “Polar Express” from your car starting at 5 p.m. Each child will receive a hot chocolate, cookies, popcorn and a letter they can write to Santa. Registration is $50 per car and cars are asked to arrive an hour early.

Ski Holiday Gallery
When: 1-2:30pm on December 10th
Where: Centennial Ice Rinks, 2300 Old Glenview Road, Wilmette
Details: Free annual exhibition of ski classes in the park area.

Decorate a gingerbread house
When: 5-6pm December 13
Where: Winnetka Community Chamber, 540 Hibbard Road
Details: Space is limited for this event in which kids will use candy to build their own gingerbread house. More information and registration.

Hallmark vacation
When: 5-7 pm December 14
Location: Kalk Park, 260 Park Avenue, Glencoe
Details: Cozy up in the outdoors with seasonal cuisine, activities and good cheer – just like in the movie. Registration ranges from $13 to $16.

3D print your own snowflake
When: 5-6 pm December 15
Where: Wilmette Public Library, 1242 Wilmette Street.
Details: Design and print a 3D snowflake using library equipment. More information and registration.

Hot cocoa crawl
When: 2-4pm on December 16th
Where: Renaissance Place, 1849 Green Bay Road, Highland Park
Details: As part of Highland Park’s Home Sweet Home for the Holidays series, hot cocoa crawls throughout downtown Highland Park businesses with holiday carolers and elves.

Visit with Santa
When: Noon-4pm on December 16
Where: Watts Ice Center, 305 Randolph Road, Glencoe
Details: Santa will be ready to take photos with guests, who can also enjoy holiday treats and activities. Sessions are held every 10 minutes and registration is required at $15/$20 per group.

Winter Solstice Lights Parade
When: 5-6pm on December 21
Where: Shelton Park, 251 Harbor Street, Glencoe
Details: Come decorated with lights and other bright objects (no candles) to help light up the Green Bay Trail for this seventh annual event marking the longest period of darkness of the year. Enjoy music, fire, hot chocolate and more. For more information, see

Singing holiday
When: 6-6:30pm on December 24th
Where: Village Green Park, 553 Maple St., Winnetka
Details: Winnetka neighbors will gather on the village green to celebrate the 27th annual tradition. Guests are invited to bring candles or flashlights and sing favorite holiday songs.

Itty bitty new year
When: 11am – 12:30pm on December 31
Where: Adaptation Center, 999 Green Bay Road, Glencoe
Details: For ages 0-6, ring in the new year with dance activities and countdown to noon with a balloon drop. Each child must register ($13/$16).

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