Cultural, festive events abound this winter

indy Zacharjasz

Northwestern students can shop at a German market and visit Santa at the North Pole this holiday season without traveling farther than Chicago.

The Magnificent Mile 2005 Lights Festival on Nov. 19 and 20 officially kicked off Chicago’s holiday season, and other cultural and festive events will continue for much of the season.

For the lights festival, stores created Christmas-themed displays in their windows and the trees along Michigan Avenue were lit.

Continuing an almost century-long tradition, lights on the 87-foot Christmas tree in Daley Plaza were lit on Nov. 25. Chicago news personalities Paul Konrad from WGN and Alex Perez from NBC5 were guest emcees for the 92nd annual ceremony.

Weinberg sophomore Ally Jacobs said she thinks Chicago has a lot to offer during the holiday season.

“I’m really excited to go to the German market and Michigan Avenue,” she said. Jacobs lives in London but will be spending the holidays in the United States with her family.

Christkindlmarket is a four-week open-air market modeled after the Nuremberg Christmas market that has taken place in Germany since 1545. The market, which features European decor and goods and Bavarian glass blowing, is the largest Christmas market outside of Germany.

“The goal is to promote bilateral ties between Germans and Americans,” said Veronica Woods, assistant manager of German American Services.

German American Services is a part of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, which presents the annual market.

Other goals include celebrating the holiday culturally by providing a niche for German vendors, she said.

This year is the 10th annual Christkindlmarket. Attractions include autographs and ornament making with the White Sox and a raffle for a trip to Germany.

Christkindlmarket will take place will take place through Dec. 22 at Daley Plaza on Washington Street between Clark and Dearborn streets.

The Brookfield Zoo also will be celebrating the holidays with its 24th annual Holiday Magic select weekends and days this December. Lights, animals, ice carving, magicians and performers will be enjoyed by as many as 90,000 people, said Sondra Katzen, the zoo’s media relations manager.

“We have nearly a million lights at the zoo,” said Katzen. “It’s a festive, magical time.”

There are many activities for children, she said, including a New Year’s countdown to 8 p.m., but there also are activities for people of all ages.

The zoo also hosted at Thanksgiving feast with the animals and will also host a breakfast with Santa on Saturdays and Sundays in December. Visitors must still pay admission to the zoo, which is $29 for adults or $21 for zoo members.

The Lincoln Park Zoo also is hosting holiday festivities. The free ZooLights program, which includes a laser light show, storytelling and visits with Santa, will continue through Dec. 11.

All of the holiday events are accessible though public transportation and continue through Winter Break.

Reach Mindy Zacharjasz at [email protected]