Mayor Lightfoot and DCASE Reveal More Fall and Holiday Event Details as Chicago’s Arts and Culture Scene Reopens

October 22, 2021

New details include Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Sing-Along artist lineups, online registration for ice skating at Millennium Park, an Art Market and more

DCASE Communications,


CHICAGO—Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced more details for DCASE fall and holiday traditions as Chicago’s vital arts and culture scene continues to safely and fully reopen. New details revealed today include artist lineups for the reimagined Tree Lighting Ceremony (headlined by singer-songwriter Brian McKnight) and the Holiday Sing-Along series in Millennium Park, online registration and skating lessons at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink — and the return of the Millennium Park Art Market featuring Chicago-made art, objects and more by 30 local artists.

Today’s announcement is part of “Capture Chicago’s Creative Spirit” — a campaign launched jointly by DCASE, Choose Chicago, the League of Chicago Theatres and many cultural and community organizations to celebrate Chicago’s creative community and welcome residents and visitors back to theaters, museums, dance and music venues for live cultural events. For October – December activities, visit

“Revitalizing our city’s arts and culture scene is essential to our post-pandemic recovery on both an economic and social level,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “I am thrilled that we are able to bring back our beloved fall and holiday events, along with a renewed sense of normalcy this season. After all, we have a wide variety of artistic and cultural experiences across our city that our residents deserve to safely enjoy once again.”


This year, in-person holiday traditions return to Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St.), with expanded programming and enhanced décor — presented by the Millennium Park Foundation. Public art exhibitions in the Boeing Galleries continue through 2023. The Park is open daily, 8am–9pm. Plan your visit including safety guidelines at

Chicago’s “official” Christmas tree, the 108th Annual City of Chicago Christmas Tree in Millennium Park, will shine brightly near the intersection of Michigan Ave. and Washington St. from November 19 through January 9. All-virtual in 2020, this year’s Tree Lighting Ceremony presented by Powering Chicago with leadership support from the Millennium Park Foundation will be in-person on Friday, November 19 starting at 6pm (with the actual lighting at approximately 6:30pm). The 2021 event has been expanded and reimagined to provide more space and opportunities for guests to participate — including multiple viewing locations with screens and concessions across the Park and a main stage on the Great Lawn with the traditional Tree Lighting Ceremony followed by fireworks and a special concert from 6:35–7:45pm headlined by singer-songwriter Brian McKnight. DCASE is selecting this year’s Tree from previous nominations; those details will be announced in the coming weeks. Face masks are strongly encouraged for all Tree Lighting Ceremony guests. Free Chicago masks available (while supplies last).

“Powering Chicago is thrilled to continue its tradition of lighting the official City of Chicago Christmas Tree and this year’s 108th annual lighting is sure to put a smile on the face of all Chicagoans who see it,” said Elbert Walters III, Executive Director, Powering Chicago. “Following a year where many were unable to see the Tree, we look forward to welcoming Chicagoans back for an in-person viewing. I want to thank Electrical Contractors’ Association member M.T. Kelley Electric and members of IBEW Local 134, who are responsible for the lighting decorations of this year’s Tree. On behalf of Powering Chicago, I’d like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.”

Tree Lighting Ceremony Schedule (subject to change):

  • 5:30–6pm: Preshow with DJ Selah Say
  • 6pm: Tree Lighting Ceremony featuring Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, the cast of Chicago Opera Theater performing an excerpt from “Becoming Santa Claus;” a youth dance ensemble from the Kenwood School of Ballet; and special guests Dreezy Claus and Sister Claus
  • 6:30pm: Fireworks
  • 6:35–7:45pm: Concert featuring DJ Selah Say; Cirque du Soleil performing an excerpt of ‘Twas the Night Before…;” Chicago Soul Spectacular performing a high-energy Soul Christmas medley; and singer-songwriter Brian McKnight

Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park returns for its 20th anniversary season, open daily from November 19 through March 6 (weather permitting). Admission is free, but online reservation tickets will be required. Snacks and hot drinks will be available from Momentum Coffee. Additionally, DCASE will present free skating lessons (reservations required) from 8–9am on most Saturdays and Sundays from November 20 through March 6, 2022, teaching beginner and intermediate ice skating and hockey skills. Free lessons are made possible by the McDonald’s Active Lifestyles Endowment managed by the Millennium Park Foundation. For online reservation ticket details and session availability, skate rental fees, the full skating lesson schedule and more, visit

DCASE is pleased to be presenting the Millennium Park Art Market (following popular 2018 and 2019 editions), to kick off the holiday shopping season — aligned with the Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. The Art Market in the Chase Promenade North tent will feature 30 local artists selling a variety of items including jewelry, pottery, drawing, painting and more. In addition to professional artists curated through BUDDY, the shop at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Art Market will feature student artists from organizations including Marwen and After School Matters — plus a café, pop-up programming and a special visit by Dreezy Claus on Saturday and Sunday from 1–3pm. The Art Market is made possible by generous support from the Millennium Park Foundation. Face masks are required for all Art Market guests except while actively eating and/or drinking. Free Chicago masks available (while supplies last).

Art Market Schedule (subject to change):

  • Friday, November 19 at 3–8pm
  • Saturday, November 20 at 12–8pm
  • Sunday, November 21 at 12–5pm

The new Millennium Park Holiday Sing-Along (previously “Caroling at Cloud Gate”) will invite Chicagoans and visitors to sing out and celebrate Chicago’s diverse holiday traditions on Fridays at 6pm, November 26 – December 17 and (note additional date and start time) Sunday, December 12 at 4pm. This series has been reimagined to be more inclusive of Chicago’s many faith backgrounds, cultures and holiday music traditions. The Holiday Sing-Along is made possible by the Millennium Park Foundation. Face masks are required for all Holiday Sing-Along guests. Free Chicago masks available (while supplies last).

Holiday Sing-Along Schedule (subject to change):

  • Friday, November 26 at 6pm: Chicago Latino Theater Alliance presents Destinos al Aire: Posadas y Parranda
  • Friday, December 3 at 6pm: Dexter Walker & Zion Movement
  • Friday, December 10 at 6pm: The Chicago High School for the Arts Chorale Ensemble
  • Sunday, December 12 at 4pm: Kol Zimrah Jewish Community Singers
  • Friday, December 17 at 6pm: Chicago Community Chorus

Other Millennium Park special events include “72 Seasons” by Chicago-based contemporary artist Brendan Fernandes (October 23 from 1–3pm,, a free public performance-based artwork and installation in Lurie Garden presented in partnership with DCASE and the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance — and Pop-up Performances throughout the Park in November and December featuring Collaborative Institute for Cultural Arts, Black Bear Combo, Gerry Hundt’s One-Man Band, Chicago Immigrant Orchestra, The House Theatre of Chicago and others. For the full schedule, visit

Additionally, nearby Millennium Park Campus attractions and partner organizations will present a plethora of holiday traditions and cultural events — including the Art Institute of Chicago (, Broadway In Chicago (, the Chicago Loop Alliance (, Christkindlmarket Chicago (, the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance (, the League of Chicago Theatres (, Maggie Daley Park (, The Magnificent Mile Association and the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival (, Navy Pier ( and many others.


The landmark Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) has expanded its hours (now open daily, 10am–5pm), offering a robust schedule of new and continuing art exhibitions, building tours and other public programs as well as always-on visitor amenities like the redesigned Welcome Center, the Learning Lab — and BUDDY (, a new store created by the Public Media Institute, selling Chicago-made art, objects and more for holiday gift-giving and year-round. Plan your visit at

New exhibitions include “The Great Chicago Fire in Focus” (through Spring 2022) — part of a citywide commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire; “Successful Failures: 30 Years of Lumpens, radical media makers and cultural entrepreneurs building communities of the future” organized by Public Media Institute and friends (through February 6); “Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott” (December 4 – March 13) — the first full retrospective of one of America’s most compelling and controversial artists featuring 55 paintings and works on paper spanning 50 years, made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art; and “All Together Now: Sound x Design” (November 13 – April 3) across the street at the Design Museum of Chicago at Expo 72 (72 E. Randolph St.,

Continuing exhibitions include “CHICAGO: Where Comics Came to Life, 1880–1960” (EXTENDED through January 9), made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art; and “Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford: League of Nations” (EXTENDED through January 23), partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council and Indiana University Northwest. “Jin Lee: Views & Scenes” has been RESCHEDULED for March 5 – August 7, 2022.

Building Tours are now offered on Thursdays and Fridays at 1:15pm. These free tours are led by volunteer docents and begin in the Welcome Center.

Welcome Center programming on 1st & 3rd Fridays and Saturdays features artists from the BUDDY shop and “CULTURE SNAPS” people, places and things from across Chicago on November 5 & 6 (The Silver Room), November 19 & 20 (BUDDY), December 3 & 4 (BandWith Chicago) and December 17 & 18 (BUDDY). Details at

Learning Lab programming includes the “Meet an Artist” series on the 2nd and 4th Fridays and Saturdays of the month through December 11 including October 22 & 23 (Chicago Architecture Biennial). Monthly “Streamable” in-person, livestreamed programs are geared for students, but open to everyone including November 29 (“Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford: League of Nations”) and December 7 (Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall and Rotunda restoration). Details at


Make plans to participate in Chicago Halloweek (October 23–30, presented by Mayor Lightfoot, DCASE, the Chicago Park District and many other City departments — including the return of LUMA8’s UPSIDE DOWN Parade, presented by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Blommer Chocolate Company, with major support provided by William Blair. The UPSIDE DOWN Parade will take place in Washington Park (October 23, 12–3pm) and features dancers, musicians, circus acrobats and other creative groups that will entertain attendees as they make their way down the parade route. “On the Block” events will take place all week in neighborhoods across Chicago. And the grand finale of Halloweek is LUMA8’s 7th annual Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade on State Street, also presented by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Blommer Chocolate Company, with major support provided by Chicago Loop Alliance (October 30, 6–8pm). This magical evening parade celebrates Halloween as the “artist’s holiday” and showcases Chicago’s diverse cultural community. Arts in the Dark delights the audience with unique floats, spectacle puppets and creative performances — all set against the backdrop of historic State Street.

And don’t miss the annual Día de los Muertos Celebration at Maxwell Street Market (800 S. Desplaines St.) presented by Humana featuring music, a sugar skull workshop, pumpkin decorating and more on October 31, 9am – 3pm. The historic Maxwell Street Market has reopened with a new schedule: 1st and 3rd Sundays, 9am–3pm. Details at

Clarke House Museum (1827 S. Indiana Ave.), Chicago’s oldest house, has reopened — offering guided tours starting October 20 are free on Wednesdays & Saturdays at 1pm. Space is limited. Plan your visit at

Mayor Lightfoot, DCASE and the entire City will honor veterans during this year’s Veterans Day Ceremony on Thursday, November 11 at 11am. Keynote and location to be announced.


Music Lives Here pays tribute to the spaces, places and people that have shaped Chicago’s music landscape, past and present. Unique graphic “Tribute Markers” have been placed at 50 sites across Chicago as part of the 2021 Year of Chicago Music initiative. Commissioned by DCASE, Music Lives Here was developed by Chicago graphic art studio Sonnenzimmer and Maya Bird-Murphy of Chicago Mobile Makers. Visit the sites and follow the beat of Chicago’s rich musical history — or make your own Tribute Marker by picking up a printed guide (available at all Chicago Public Library branches) or downloading the template. Learn more at

The Chicago Riverwalk ( continues to feature a series of five large-scale banners near Michigan Avenue — artist Andrea Carlson’s “You are on Potawatomi Land.” Art on theMART ( recently launched new projections by renowned conceptual artist Barbara Kruger, shown nightly at 7:30 and 8pm through November 25 — best viewed from the Chicago Riverwalk between Wells and Lake St.

Both art exhibitions in the Boeing Galleries at Millennium Park will continue through spring 2023: “Screenhouse” by Edra Soto and “When we call the Earth by way of distinction a planet and the Moon a satellite, we should consider whether we do not, in a certain sense, mistake the matter. Perhaps — and not unlikely — the Moon is the planet and the Earth the satellite! Are we not a larger moon to the Moon, than she is to us?” by Christine Tarkowski. The Park is open daily, 8am–9pm. Plan your visit at


The Next Showcase Chicago 4th Year Anniversary Showcase (October 28, 7pm at Persona, 408 S. Wells St.) will feature performances by local musicians and bands from the Chicagoland area — co-presented by DCASE and Next Showcase USA, celebrating the 2021 Year of Chicago Music. For more information, email This free program is presented as part of the DCASE Professional Development Series.

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Powering Chicago: IBEW Local 134/NECA

Bringing together the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134 electricians and the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) of the City of Chicago, Powering Chicago is an electrical industry labor-management partnership (LMCC) that invests in consistently better construction, better careers and better communities within the metro Chicago region. Employing the latest technology, our members are elevating industry performance through their commitment to safety, level of experience and reliability, while also investing in the future of skilled labor through an innovative, five-year apprenticeship program.


Millennium Park Foundation

Millennium Park Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the stewardship of Millennium Park as an arts and culture space that remains free and open to the public. In partnership with the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Millennium Park Foundation is committed to the ongoing enhancement of Millennium Park and is responsible for several features within, including the Park’s public garden and sculpture galleries. Learn more at


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. For more information, visit

DCASE programming is supported by the Chicago Transit Authority.