Tis the season to be in Lake County.
Lake County is home to a plethora of Christmas traditions, holiday festivities, meet and greets with jolly old St. Nick, shopping sprees, delectable eats and other activities perfect for the whole family.
Despite what you may have on your top 10 things to do in December list annually, you must head to Lake County to fill yourself up with holiday cheer.
The Lake County tradition stretches through the new year. So bring your family, friends and ‘wee’ ones to experience the top 10 things to do in December!
‘When the lights go on in the city,’ giant timbers glow with a kaleidoscopic glow to ready you and the family for the holiday season. As Andy Rooney once said, ‘The Christmas tree is a symbol of love, not money. There’s a kind of glory to them when they’re all lit up that exceeds anything all the money in the world can buy.’ Here is a list of Christmas Tree and Menorah lightings in Lake County. Don’t forget to pick up your Christmas trees at Treetime Christmas Creations, Richardson Farm or Didier Farm. Continue here to learn more.
- Village of Mundelein’s Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony (Dec. 1)
- Miracle on MainStreet in downtown Lake Zurich (Dec. 2)
- Winter Wonder Walk in downtown Waukegan (Dec. 2)
- Lincolnshire’s Tree Lighting Ceremony (Dec. 2)
- Gurnee Mills Menorah Lighting (Dec. 14)
Cheerio to Downtown Antioch walkers at Dickens Holiday Village. Olde England comes alive in Historic Downtown Antioch with four dozen lifelike figures representing scenes from the Charles Dickens era. Stay till nightfall as visitors can browse illuminated shadowboxes under the big top tent which is home to the Kringle’s Christmas Village. See scenes of yesteryear taking you back to the era of enjoying the windows of Chicago’s Marshall Fields.
Now-December 25. Downtown Antioch, Main Street.
‘He sees you when you’re sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake.’ For goodness sake just be good! The man from the North Pole is making several visits around Lake County. Select your day and tell him exactly what you want for the holidays. Many will receive a photo op with the jolly old man, while some may see Kringle devouring a healthy hearty breakfast (you can’t live your entire life on milk and cookies). Why can Santa be in so many different Lake County places at once? Clearly, the answer is magic. Here is the list of Santa Claus meet and greets around Lake County.
- Gurnee Mills (through Dec. 24)
- Bass Pro Shops Santa’s Wonderland (through Dec. 24)
- Hawthorn Mall (through Dec. 24)
- Santa’s Frozen Village in Antioch (through Dec. 23)
- Santa’s Cottage in Mundelein (Dec. 1-16)
- Waukegan’s Christmas with the Clauses (Dec. 9)
- Breakfast with Santa at Chessie’s (Dec. 9)
- Breakfast with Santa at Dave & Buster’s (Dec. 9)
- Gurnee Park District’s breakfast with Santa (Dec. 9)
- Breakfast with Santa at Chicago Botanic Garden ( Dec. 9-10)
- Breakfast with Santa at Lambs Farm (Dec. 9-10, 16-17)
- Breakfast with Santa at Rainforest Cafe (Dec. 16)
- Visit Santa at the National Museum of the American Sailor (Dec. 16)
- Breakfast with Santa at Lindy’s Landing (Dec. 17)
- Breakfast with Santa at Illinois Beach Resort (Dec. 17)
The train horn can be heard in the distance. That’s the sound of the Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train making its annual stop at Viking Park in Gurnee. This vastly illuminated 14-car train partners with local communities to raise food and funds for local food banks as well as raise awareness about hunger issues. The train will blare live holiday music, conduct a brief ceremony and will pass out candy canes for the kids. The choo-choo features live performances from Terri Clark, Dallas Smith and Kelly Prescott. There is a charter pickup from Saratoga Square (southeast corner of Milwaukee Avenue) and Riverside Plaza (northeast corner across from Six Flags Great America’s employee entrance). Free parking at Saratoga Square and Riverside Plaza runs from 2-7 p.m on December 2.
Saturday, December 2; 3:50 p.m. Viking Park, 4374 Old Grand Ave., Gurnee.
Every year, Lake County stages some of the most memorable holiday performances. Some of the shows are an annual holiday tradition like the Quentin Road Christmas Musical in Lake Zurich, and Ryan Hawking’s Christmas and some are new like 98° at Genesee Theatre or A Christmas Story at PM&L Theatre. Add a holiday performance to your top 10 things to do in December.
- Scrooge and the Ghostly Spirits at Citadel Theatre (through Dec. 23)
- A Christmas Story at PM&L Theatre (Dec. 1-17)
- A Garfield Christmas at Genesee Theatre (Dec. 2)
- The Magic of the Nutcracker at Genesee Theatre (Dec. 9)
- CLC Holiday Choral Concert at the JLC (Dec. 9)
- Illinois Brass Band Holiday Concert the RLBCC (Dec. 10)
- CLC Wind Ensemble Holiday Concert at the JLC (Dec. 10)
- A Carpenters Christmas at Genesee Theatre (Dec. 14)
- 98° Christmas at Genesee Theatre (Dec. 16)
- Dan Zanes’ Holiday Sing-Along at the JLC (Dec. 17)
- Lake County Symphony Orchestra: Welcome Christmas at Gurnee Village Church (Dec. 17)
Whether your holiday shopping is top retail vendors or it’s for the mom and pop shops, Lake County has something for everybody on your list. Here are the prime Lake County shopping locations throughout the holiday season.
- Gurnee Mills
- MainStreet Libertyville
- Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills
- Historic Downtown Long Grove
- Deer Park Town Center
- Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlet Mall
- Norton’s U.S.A
- Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World
- Volo Antique Mall
- Gurnee Antique Market
All Aboard! Chicago Botanic Garden has the little engines that can, as you and the family can view the Wonderland Express. The festive train set resides inside the Regenstein Center. The collection designed by Paul Busse spans 10,000 square-feet and is equipped with miniature trains, bridges, trestles, waterfalls and 80 mini-replicas of Chicago’s favorite landmarks. This event also features ice carvings, excellent music from carolers and for the kiddies, Thomas the Tank Engine.
through January 7, 2018; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission $8-$13. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe.
Before you dust off all the ornaments and holiday season decorations, take a trip to Peter Patterson Glasswork to create some new holiday flair. Choose from flat or twisted ornament styles or a window sparkler and also your choice of colors. Everything in the gallery will be marked at the sale price for the holidays, and it is a limit of one person per ornament.
Friday-Sunday, December 16-18; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Ornaments $25 each. Peter Patterson Glassworks, 888 Tower Rd., Mundelein.
9. Holiday Tours in Lake County
When December rolls around, some venues embody just the right amount of holiday spirit. These homes are the dwellings of Lake County superstars, and the sites are dressed in their holiday best. Take a tour of one of these Lake County venues and see what the hubbub is all about.
- Christmas Home Tour in Lake Bluff (Dec. 2)
- House Tour at Sanfilippo Estate (Dec. 8)
- Shiloh House Tours (Dec. 1-30)
Not everyone is holiday-crazed like most of us. So if you just want to get away from all of the holiday feels in Lake County, there is a haven for you on center stage. Whether it’s stand-up comedy, a musical or your favorite musician on tour, Lake County has non-holiday performances for your soul. Here’s what’s on schedule for December.
- Newsies at Marriott Theatre (through Dec. 31)
- Sleeping Beauty at Marriott Theatre (through Dec. 30)
- Vinyl Jacket Band at Dover Straits (Dec. 1)
- The Midtown Men at Genesee Theatre (Dec. 1)
- David Adler Community Concert at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (Dec. 1)
- Prairie Spirits Dance Winter Concert at JLC (Dec. 1-2)
- 3 if by Air at Mickey Finn’s (Dec. 2)
- Michael Carbonaro Live! at Genesee Theatre (Dec. 8)
- Blood Red Boots at Mickey Finn’s (Dec. 8)
- Groove Time Band at Dover Straits (Dec. 8-9)
- Baroque to Baby at David Adler Center (Dec. 15)
- Henneberry at Mickey Finn’s (Dec. 15)
- Jim Breuer at Genesee Theatre (Dec. 15)
- Classy Act Band Dover Straits (Dec. 15-16)
- Lake County Folk Club Concert at Grayslake Heritage Center (Dec. 17)
- Fool House at Mickey Finn’s (Dec. 22)
- No Limit at Dover Straits (Dec. 22-23)
- June’s Got the Cash at Mickey Finn’s (Dec. 29)
- Muzik Engine Band at Dover Straits (Dec. 29-31)
- Chubby Checker, Mary Wilson & Martha Reeves (Dec. 30)
For more things to do in December, continue here.