City of Chicago Ushers in the Most Wonderful Time of Year with Festive Week Ahead; Public Urges to Enjoy Events Safely

November 22, 2019

Expect crowds, street closures, parking restrictions and bus re-routes for the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, Christkindlmarket and Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade


The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) reminds residents and visitors in Chicago to be aware of the increased activity and large crowds downtown over the upcoming week as the busy holiday season gets underway. Festivities begin Friday with the 106th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Millennium Park, and the holiday excitement continues with Lights Festival 2019, the Thanksgiving Day Parade and more.

The events add to the already festive atmosphere downtown that includes the popular Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza and Millennium Park McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, both of which opened last week.

“The City partners with many agencies and event organizers to ensure these beloved holiday traditions are safe and memorable experiences for residents, visitors, spectators and participants throughout the season,” said Rich Guidice, OEMC Executive Director. “As always, we remind everyone to be aware of their surroundings, and if they see something, to say something by reporting any suspicious activity to 9-1-1 or on-site security personnel.”

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Tonight, the City of Chicago will illuminate its official tree at 6 p.m. in Millennium Park against the beautiful backdrop of Chicago’s skyline. Sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the ceremony will also feature musical performances and a special appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus. Intermittent street closures on Michigan Avenue and Washington Street will be determined based on crowd size.

Lights Festival 2019
Two days of holiday fun kick off this afternoon at Lights Festival 2019. Residents and visitors of all ages will enjoy several activities, including an expanded BMO Kids Zone tent, with face painting, a “walk-into” life-size holiday card, and the opportunity to design their own holiday cards.

Lights Festival Lane | Friday, 11/22 and Saturday, 11/23: Begins this afternoon in Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave. from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The family-friendly event will feature more than a dozen activities, live music and a visit with Santa Claus.

BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Parade | Saturday, 11/23: The Parade steps off from Oak Street and Rush Street to North Michigan Avenue at 5:30 p.m. and proceeds south to Wacker Drive and east on Wacker Drive to Field Boulevard. The procession concludes with a firework show over the Chicago River at Michigan Avenue. For public safety, spectators are not allowed to view fireworks on any of the Chicago bridges.

The following street closures will be implemented for the event:

  • Michigan Avenue from Oak Street to Wacker Drive; Oak Street from State Street to Michigan Avenue and Upper Wacker Drive from Michigan Avenue to the east turnaround will begin as early as 3:30 pm on Saturday and will remain closed until 7:30 pm.
  • The Upper Columbus Drive from Wacker Drive to Randolph Street will be closed from 5 pm to 7:30 pm on Saturday
  • Dearborn Street from Delaware Street to Maple Street; Walton Street from State Street to Clark Street; and Oak Street from Clark Street to State Street will be closed from 8 am to 6 pm on Saturday. The north curb lane of Delaware Street from Dearborn Street to Clark Street and the east curb lane Clark Street from Oak Street to Delaware Street are also closed from 8 am to 6 pm.
  • Upper Columbus Drive curb lanes from Wacker Drive to Randolph Street, and Randolph Street curb lanes from Michigan Avenue to Columbus Drive are closed from 3:30 pm until 9 pm on Saturday.
  • The DuSable Bridge (formerly the Michigan Avenue bridge) closes to pedestrian traffic as early as 3:30 pm on Saturday.

Traffic control aides will also be on hand to assist with traffic flow throughout the Light Festival activities.

For public transportation re-routes, increased service and other transportation information, see the Chicago Transit Authority’s website at or call 312-836-7000.

For more information on the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, visit

Thanksgiving Day Events
The fun continues on Thursday, November 28, when the City hosts two events on Thanksgiving Day.

40th Annual Art Van Turkey Trot Chicago: Assembly begins at 7 a.m. for the event, and both the 5K and 8K steps off at 9 a.m. at the intersection of Cannon Drive and Fullerton Parkway. The start line, finish line and Turkey Trot tailgate are all centrally located along Cannon Drive, between Diversey and Fullerton Parkways.

Uncle Dan’s Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade on State Street: The Parade steps off at 8 a.m. and will proceed north from Congress Avenue to conclude at Randolph Street. The Parade will feature national marching bands, giant popular inflatable balloons, spectacular performance acts and much more. Those wishing to watch it from home can tune into WGN9 or WGN America to watch the event live. Crowds and traffic impacts should be anticipated for the event. For more information about the event, visit

OEMC’s Operations Center will monitor the various events and citywide conditions. Spectators and participants should plan for cold conditions and dress appropriately. Residents and visitors are asked to be mindful of the street closures and parking restrictions in place to avoid the towing of their vehicles.

In addition, OEMC offers the following safety tips for large-scale events:

  • Have a designated meeting place if kids or family members get separated in the crowds. Be sure everyone is clear on the meeting spot and knows ahead of time.
  • Be aware of your location, escape routes and general surroundings in the event of an emergency.
  • Create an online Safety profile at now to provide essential details and information should there be a need to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Smart911 is a service new to Chicago that allows anyone to provide information such as medical conditions, physical disabilities, photos of family members, etc. to assist 9-1-1 call takers and first responders get you the help you need quickly.
  • Follow OEMC on Twitter at @ChicagoOEMC and subscribe to Notify Chicago, the City of Chicago’s emergency alert system to receive notifications about extreme weather and traffic disruptions at

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