Wilmette, Community

Record Roundup: Details on tree lightings and 30 plus opportunities for local holiday fun

The weather outside might not be frightful, but unless you want to miss out, you can’t deny the holiday season is underway.

And on the North Shore that means everything from Santa breakfasts, tree lightings and even a hot cocoa crawl. For some of the events, you better act now to reserve your spot; for others, just circle the date and show up!

All the details you need for many of those events are below, but we surely didn’t catch everything. If you have another event you think we must add to this list, please email newsroom@therecordns.org.

A feature within Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. | Photo from Chicago Botanic Garden

When: 4:30 p.m.-close select dates from Nov. 10-Jan. 7
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
Details: An after-dark, illuminated trail through the gardens that includes festive sounds coming from the trees. A new path and features were added for this year. Advance tickets are $30 for adult members, $34 for nonmembers, and $17/$19 for children over 3 years old. Kids 2 and younger are free. Parking for nonmembers is $10.

Game of Gnomes
When: Throughout Season
Where: Wilmette
Details: Search Wilmette storefronts for 12 gnomes hiding among holiday decor. Write the names on a game card (coming soon here) and drop 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 picked each week in December.

Letters to Santa
When: Nov. 13-Dec. 17
Where: Northfield Community Center, 401 Wagner Road, Northfield
Details: Drop off your letters in the special mailbox at the community center. Include your return address.

Reindeer Visit
When: Nov. 17-Dec. 15
Where: Chalet Nursery, 3132 Lake Ave., Wilmette
Details: Prancer and Vixen return to Chalet for the holiday season. Come see them during business hours. Post a selfie with the reindeer to receive a $10 gift card. Click here for more information. Special happy hours (hot chocolate, music, cookies, wine and beer) from 5-7 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 14.

Santa’s Mailbox Wilmette
When: Nov. 17-Dec. 3
Where: Mallinckrodt Park Gazebo, 1041 Ridge Road, Wilmette
Details: Children are urged to bring their letter to Santa to the special mailbox that delivers straight to the North Pole. Include a return envelope so Santa can write back.

If Kids Ran Thanksgiving
When: noon-2 p.m. Nov. 18
Where: Takiff Center, 999 Green Bay Road, Glencoe
Details: Upon registration, your child will be asked how Thanksgiving should be celebrated and the event will feature some of the wild ideas. Children must be accompanied by a guardian and registration is $13/$16.

Sugar Plum Shopping Spree And Tree Lighting
When: 3-5 p.m. Nov. 18
Where: Downtown Highland Park businesses
Details: Hosted by the Downtown Highland Park Alliance, and part of the Heart of the Holidays series, the event will feature Santa and his elves, hot cocoa, cider and cookies in Port Clinton Square. The town’s tree lighting begins at 5 p.m.

Santa’s Mailbox Winnetka
When: Nov. 22-Dec. 18
Where: Winnetka Park District, 540 Hibbard Road
Details: This magical mailbox will make sure your letter gets to Santa Claus, but make sure you include a return envelope for a message from the big man.

Turkey Day Skate
When: 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 23
Where: Winnetka Ice Arena, 490 Hibbard Road
Details: Prepare for Thanksgiving dinner with a special skate day. Admission is $2 per skate. Skate rental is $4.

Light the Lights Festival
When: 5-7 p.m. Nov. 24
Where: Downtown Glencoe, Wyman Green
Details: Gather to enjoy the lightscape — including a new 6-foot, lighted 60022 display — and family-friendly activities (trackless train rides, live music, hot chocolate, igloo photobooth, more) throughout downtown Glencoe, including Tudor Court where there will be a winter village with the characters from “Frozen.” Santa will be at Writers Theatre. The lighting ceremony will be at 5 p.m.

Winnetka’s tree lighting in 2022 | Photo Submitted

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

‘Oliver the Ornament’ Book Reading
When: 10:30 a.m. Nov. 25
Where: Chalet Nursery, 3132 Lake Ave., Wilmette
Details: Enjoy a reading of the newest book in the series, “Oliver the Ornament Meets Teddy and Norb,” from author Todd Zimmerman. More information and to register.

Visits with Santa
When: 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Nov. 25-26, Dec. 2-3, Dec. 9-10
Where: Chalet Nursery, 3132 Lake Ave., Wilmette
Details: Visit with the big guy. Appointments are recommended. Walk-ins welcome if space allows.

Northfield Holiday Fest
When: 5:30-7 p.m. Nov. 29
Where: Clarkson Park, 1950 Willow Road, Northfield
Details: Light 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: 5-8 p.m. Nov. 30
Where: Plaza del Lago, 1515 Sheridan Road, Wilmette; and Village Center, Wilmette and Central avenues, Wilmette
Details: Businesses in two Wilmette shopping districts will have festive specials, promotions and treats. More information.

Saints SFX Holiday Sip & Shop
When: 6-9 p.m. Nov. 30
Where: St. Francis Xavier gym, 808 Linden Ave., Wilmette
Details: Enjoy some wine and shop a range of collections from more than 30 vendors. Advance tickets are $10. Tickets at the door are $15.

Winnetka Holiday Tree Lighting
When: 5 p.m. Dec. 1
Where: Dwyer Park, 856 Elm St.
Details: An annual tradition, kick off the holiday month with the tree lighting (6 p.m.) and lights around Dwyer Park. Enjoy holiday caroling, a visit from Santa and elves, and hot beverages and treats.

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

Festival of Lights
When: 2-4 p.m. Dec. 2
Where: 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. Dec. 2
Where: Convito Cafe, 1515 Sheridan Road, Wilmette
Details: RSVP and prepay (depends on food order) by Nov. 28 for this event featuring characters from the movie “Frozen” and a menu with adult and kids dishes. To sign up, call (847) 251-3654 or email convitomanager@gmail.com

Alvin the Elf’s Winter Carnival
When: 10 a.m.-noon Dec. 2
Where: Skokie School, 520 Glendale Ave., Winnetka
Details: Carnival games, cookie decorating, reindeer, refreshments and more — and maybe even a visit from the big guy (Santa!). Registration is between $15-$20.

Holiday Happenings and Wilmette Tree Lighting
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 2
Where: Downtown Wilmette, Village Hall, 1200 Wilmette Ave.
Details: A day of festivities — such as visits with Santa Claus (photos 9:30-11:30 at Wilmette Theatre), a giant snow globe, carolers, “Elf” at Wilmette Theatre, and free candy canes and hot chocolate — ends with a tree lighting at 5 p.m. on the Village Hall Green.

Holiday Market and Kenilworth Tree Lighting
When: 4-8:30 p.m. Dec. 2
Where: Kenilworth Assembly Hall, 410 Kenilworth Ave.
Details: Photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus begins 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 cookies, hot chocolate and live music.

Joanne Kimzey (left), of Glencoe, and Suzanne Pierce, of Winnetka, at the Winter Solstice Parade in 2021. | The Record File Photo

Find Buddy the Elf
When: Dec. 5-11 and Dec. 12-18
Where: Winnetka parks
Details: Buddy will be hiding at a different Winnetka Park District location each week. Find a clue on the park district’s Facebook page each weekday at noon. Snap a photo of Buddy and share with the park district on Facebook Messenger to receive a $10 gift card to a local business. Click for more information.

State of the Villages Holiday Tea
When: 1-3 p.m. Dec. 7
Where: Kenilworth Union Church, 211 Kenilworth Ave.
Details: Here updates from village managers of Winnetka (Robert Bahan), Northfield (Tim Frenzer, interim) and Kenilworth (Patrick Brennan), as well as Village Presidents Cecily Kaz (Kenilworth) and Chris Rintz (Winnetka). The event will include a holiday collection for the New Trier and Northfield food pantries.

Holiday House Decorating Competition
When: Dec. 8-15
Where: Winnetka
Details: Register your home to compete for prizes and local bragging rights. Registration ends on Dec. 9, and voting ends Dec. 16.

‘The Nutcracker’
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 8, 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 9, 2 p.m. Dec. 10
Where: Community Recreation Center, 3000 Glenview Road, Wilmette
Details: From the Wilmette Center for the Arts, the classic holiday musical hits the Wilmette stage for four shows. Tickets are $12 and available Nov. 17. More information and tickets.

Secret Gift Workshop
When: 1-2:30 pm., 3-4:30 p.m. on Dec. 9
Where: Wilmette Public Library, 1242 Wilmette Ave.
Details: Make your own cards and gifts and your family won’t suspect a thing. More information and registration.

Holiday Skating Exhibition
When: 3-4:30 p.m. Dec. 9
Where: Winnetka Ice Arena, 490 Hibbard Road
Details: Any skater enrolled in the winter sessions may participate in the show, which is free to attend.

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

Kenilworth Menorah Lighting
When: 6 p.m. Dec. 9
Where: Near Kenilworth Avenue and Green Bay Road
Details: An outdoor family celebration with sufganiyot, giveaways and entertainment.

Holiday Skate Exhibition
When: 1-2:30 p.m. Dec. 10
Where: Centennial Ice Rinks, 2300 Old Glenview Road, Wilmette
Details: The free annual exhibition for the park district’s skating classes.

Wilmette Menorah Lighting
When: 11:30 a.m. Dec. 10
Where: Wilmette Village Hall Green, 1200 Wilmette Ave.
Details: A community gathering with a lighting of the 9-foot menorah and performance by the Wilmette Junior High choir.

Women of Note Holiday Concert
When: 4 p.m. Dec. 11
Where: Mallinckrodt Center, 1041A Ridge Road, Wilmette
Details: The women’s chorus will put on a free holiday show, “Holiday Joy,” with favorites like “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Winnetka Menorah Lighting
When: 5 p.m. Dec. 12
Where: Across from Village Hall, 510 Green Bay Road
Details: Music, treats and costumed characters are part of this ceremony to light the community menorah.

Gingerbread House Decorating
When: 5-6 p.m. Dec. 13
Where: Winnetka Community Room, 540 Hibbard Road
Details: Space is limited for this event in which children will use sweets and candies to build their own gingerbread house. More information and registration.

Hallmark Holiday
When: 5-7 p.m. Dec. 14
Where: Kalk Park, 260 Park Ave., Glencoe
Details: Warm up outdoors with seasonal treats, activities and good cheer — just like a movie.  Registration is between $13-$16.

3D Print Your Own Snowflake
When: 5-6 p.m. Dec. 15
Where: Wilmette Public Library, 1242 Wilmette Ave.
Details: Design and print a 3D snowflake using the library’s equipment. More information and registration.

Santa For A Cause
When: 9 a.m.-noon Dec. 16
Where: Central Station Coffee and Tea, 1150 Central Ave., Wilmette
Details: Say “hello” to the big guy and snap a selfie while also helping I Am ALS, a local nonprofit founded by Kenilworth’s Brian Wallach and Sandra Abrevaya.

Hot Cocoa Crawl
When: 2-4 p.m. Dec. 16
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 crawl throughout downtown Highland Park businesses with holiday carolers and elves.

Visit With Santa
When: Noon-4 p.m. Dec. 16
Where: Watts Ice Center, 305 Randolph St. Glencoe
Details: Santa Claus will be on hand to take photos with guests, who can also enjoy holiday treats and activities. Sessions occur every 10 minutes and registration is required for $15/$20 per group.

Winter Solstice Parade of Lights
When: 5-6 p.m. Dec. 21
Where: Shelton Park, 251 Harbor St., Glencoe
Details: Come decorated in lights and other bright objects (no candles) to help light up the Green Bay Trail for this seventh annual event to mark the passing of the longest period of darkness of the year. Enjoy music, a bonfire, hot chocolate and more. For more information, check out the

Holiday Sing
When: 6-6:30 p.m. Dec. 24
Where: Village Green Park, 553 Maple Ave., Winnetka
Details: Winnetka neighbors will gather on the village green for the 27th annual tradition. Guests are welcome to bring candles or flashlights and sing holiday favorites.

Itty Bitty New Year
When: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Dec. 31
Where: Takiff Center, 999 Green Bay Road, Glencoe
Details: For ages 0-6, ring in the New Year with dancing activities and a countdown to noon complete with a balloon drop. Each child must register ($13/$16).

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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