Navy Pier
600 E. Grand Ave. / Chicago, 60611
(312) 595-PIER

Two weeks is a long time for parent and child alike when the kiddos are out of school on winter break and running the hallways of the house to release pent-up energy. Navy Pier offers a Winter WonderFest for a solid month – from Dec. 2 through Jan. 8, 2012. Here’s a guide to a few highlights of the Fest you’ll want to be sure to check out at Navy Pier. Pack up, get out and enjoy!

A Grand Welcome

Usher in the season by giving Santa and Mrs. Claus a grand welcome. The duo arrive at Navy Pier by the Grand Staircase Saturday, Nov. 26 at 5 p.m. As the Claus family descends upon Chicago via a boat atop the cool waters of Lake Michigan, a pyrotechnic display lights up the grand arrival. Can’t make it to the grand welcome? The Clauses will be at the family pavilion stage of the pier daily from Nov. 27 until Dec. 24. Check here for times.

Holiday Spirit Patrol

Finally! Someone other than mom or dad is on attitude patrol. At the pier, the Winter WonderForce holiday police will be patrolling the land so as to ticket anyone who is exhibiting a bah humbug spirit. Those with tickets can plead their case to Mayor Evergreen or serve their sentence at the Jolly Jail – a clever photo opportunity for quick moms and dads with camera phones to snap a picture of their little holiday-cheer offender behind candy-cane bars.

Take to the Ring

There’s nothing better than enjoying the fun of ice-skating without the whipping winter winds across your skin. The Blackhawks Indoor Ice Skating Rink provides families with the opportunity to skate in a climate-controlled atmosphere. Simply show up with or without skates, as rentals are available but your own skates are welcomed.

Create a Cookie

For the purchase of a $2 sugar cookie, everyone in the family has an opportunity to get a little creative in designing his or her own cookie by decorating it with an array of supplies. Of course, the decorating is fun, but mostly likely the eating part will be just as enjoyable.

Move It!

Older kids and parents alike can expend some energy at the Extreme Ice Trail Ropes Course or by navigating their way through the Matterhorn Climb and Slide, a spider-web maze featuring five levels of vinyl webbing.

All Aboard!

When the whole family is ready for a little break, hop aboard the Reindeer Express Train and venture off to see all of the Winter WonderFest holiday village display that features decorated Christmas trees, holiday lights and other festive features.


A few things to note:

*Some of the obstacle courses and rides have height, weight and/or age restrictions, so some of the smaller children in your family may have to be lured over to more age-appropriate attractions. Check the Winter WonderFest’s web site for a list of attractions and pick beforehand other alluring features that your littlest ones can enjoy while the others head over to climb or conquer the webs or ropes course.

*Families with little ones will want to note that there is no designated stroller parking. However, there is a coat area for $3 per coat. (Bags are not checkable.)

*There is a parking promotion happening via Bank of America, which includes the Winter WonderFest. There is no validation required; rather discount is based on the vehicle entrance time upon entering the Navy Pier Parking Garage. The Bank of America parking pass for free parking is included in the purchase of multiple premium wristbands. More information available here!

Hyacynth Worth writes about life with boys, food restrictions and faith at Undercover Mother.