The holiday season is fast upon us. Here is a quick round-up of just a few of the festive events throughout the North Shore you might want to save the date for, organized by village or city.
Through December 10, kids can participate in Letters to Santa, when they can receive a personalized letter from the North Pole. Once registered, children will receive a questionnaire, which is dropped off at a special mailbox outside of the Lake Forest Recreation center. For Lake Forest residents only. Register at lfparksandrec.com.
Santa will make a drive-through visit to Dickinson Hall on December 18 starting at 10 a.m. Santa and his elves will be on site to spread the Christmas cheer. Goodie bags will be provided to kids. Bring the entire family out to celebrate the Christmas season in a safe and socially distant environment. Registration is required and the event is for Lake Forest residents only. Register at lfparksandrec.com.
On December 4, kids can meet Santa and get a professional photo taken with him under the Gazebo. Three 40-minute timeslots starting at 10 a.m. are available. Register at lakebluffparks.org.
Breakfast with Santa is being held on Saturday, December 11, at Grace United Methodist Church, 244 E. Center Avenue. Cost is $8 Per Person, children under the age of 3 are free.
Five 45-minute time slots from 7 a.m. to noon are available. Register at lakebluffparks.org.
Fireside Photos with Santa will take place on December 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Crow Island Woods Park, 1140 Willow Road. Santa’s sleigh is scheduled to land at Crow Island Woods to give families the opportunity to take a socially distant picture. Families will be able to spend five minutes with Santa for a holiday greeting and take a picture. Staff will be available to take photos with the family’s camera or phone. Pictures will be taken around the fireplace located in the shelter at Crow Island Woods. Register at winpark.org.
Starting December 7, Buddy the Elf will be hiding out at a different Winnetka Park District location each week. A new clue for Buddy’s location will be posted to the park district’s Facebook page each weekday at noon. Every Tuesday, Buddy will pack up and find a new park to hide out at and a new set of clues for his location will be shared. Photos are encouraged. No registration required.
Winnetka is at it again this year with its annual Holiday House Decorating Competition. Families can register their homes at winpark.org, then deck them out with holiday decorations. Residents will vote on the best-decorated house. The top three houses will receive a plaque and the house with the most votes will receive a gift card to a Winnetka restaurant. Voting will end at 8 a.m. on Friday, December 17, and winners will be announced on social media. Registration Deadline is December 9 and there is a $10 fee per house.
Elves will sneak into Winnetka to drop off Santa’s magical mailbox at the Winnetka Park District, 540 Hibbard Road, so children can mail their letters to Santa. The elves will pack up the mailbox Sunday, December 19, to take the letters to the North Pole for Santa attention.
On December 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. Winnetka Golf Club is hosting an outdoor watch party (from the comfort of the car) of the holiday movie favorite The Polar Express. Those attending are asked to arrive at least an hour early. During the movie, each child will receive hot chocolate, a cookie, popcorn, and a letter they can write to Santa. Admission is $50 per car. Register online at winpark.org.
Winnetka Ice Arena, 490 Hibbard Road, will host an “Ugly Holiday Sweater Skate” on December 11, from 1:40 to 2:55 p.m. Participants are encouraged to wear their ugliest holiday sweater and take a few laps skating to festive holiday music. Be sure to stick around for the Holiday Skating Exhibition following the skate. Admission is $2, skate rental is $4. No advanced registration required.
The Center for the Arts at the Wilmette Park District, 3000 Glenview Road is once again presenting its production of The Nutcracker. Performances will take place on December 3 at 7 p.m., December 4 at 2 and 7 p.m., and December 5 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $11 and can be purchased at wilmettepark.org.
On Sunday, December 12, at 11:30 a.m., holiday chocolates will rain down from the sky at Wilmette’s Giant Gelt Drop, a traditional nine-foot menorah lighting and the first post-COVID-era performance by the Wilmette Junior High School Choir. The event will take place on the lawn of Wilmette Village Hall, 1200 Wilmette Avenue.
Every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, from 2 to 4 p.m. the City of Highland Park presents Heart of the Holidays in Port Clinton Square, 600-601 Central Ave. Visitors can enjoy festive entertainment, delicious treats, and more as they browse the unique shops and restaurants of Highland Park’s Central Business District. Joining each week will be Ravinia Brewing Company with cider and festive beers available for purchase.
On December 4, area residents can celebrate Hanukkah with the music of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Quartet and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) from That Little French Guy.
On December 11, attendees can sing along to their favorite holiday songs with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons-inspired quartet, The Four C-Notes, and enjoy roasted chestnuts.
On December 18, Holidays in the Park will feature an ice carving demonstration from World Class Ice Sculpture, roaming carolers, and holiday treats.
The Heart of the Holidays events are sponsored by the City of Highland Park and Ravinia Festival, with the support of First Bank of Highland Park and Highland Park Bank & Trust.
The Village of Glencoe is hosting a Visit with Santa on Saturday, December 18, at Watts Ice Center. Kids can take pictures with Santa and enjoy holiday treats and activities around the hearth at Watts Ice Center. Picture times occur every 10 minutes. Each child taking a picture must register. Face masks are required. Register at glencoeparkdistrict.com.
The Village of Kenilworth is hosting a number of holiday festivities at Kenilworth Assembly Hall, 410 Kenilworth Avenue, on December 4. Santa will be waving to the boys and girls of Kenilworth on his bright red firetruck starting at 4 p.m. A map of the route is available at kenilworthparkdistrict.org. Starting at 5 p.m., visitors can shop at the Holiday market featuring unique gifts from vendors. Parents can enjoy a glass of wine from the cash bar while the little ones make crafts and sip hot chocolate. At 6:15 p.m., residents can take a break from the Holiday Market to witness the annual tree lighting and caroling around Kenilworth Fountain. The can then head back to the Holiday Market until it closes at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, December 4 at 6:45 p.m., Kenilworth’s inaugural menorah lighting will take place at North Park at Green Bay Road and Kenilworth Avenue. Holiday treats and giveaways will be featured. Sponsored by Your Neighbors and Chabad of Kenilworth.
Kenilworth Assembly Hall will also be the site of a Gingerbread House Decorating Party on Sunday, December 12 from 2 to 4 p.m. The event open for all ages, offer the opportunity for the whole family to decorate their very own gingerbread house. A $45 fee lands a gingerbread house kit complete with frosting and a huge selection of candy and edible decorations to choose from. Register at kenilworthparkdistrict.org.