Chicago’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony returns to in-person event, with concert and fireworksMiriam Di Nunzioon November 5, 2021 at 6:00 am

This 51-foot Blue Spruce in Logan Square will be cut down and transported to Millennium Park where it will become Chicago’s official 2021 Christmas tree. | DCASE

Last year’s celebration was a virtual affair due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s event features Brian McKnight as the music headliner.

Chicago’s holiday season kicks off November 19 with the lighting of the official city Christmas tree in Millennium Park, it was announced Friday by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

This year’s center of attraction, a 51-foot Blue Spruce, is being donated by the Benavides family of Logan Square. The tree was selected from 50 previous nominations.

This year’s event marks the return to a full-on, in-person event following last year’s virtual take on the celebration due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosts for the evening will be Tonya Francisco and Amy Rutledge from WGN-Channel 9.

The fun kicks off at 5:30 p.m. at Michigan Avenue and Washington with a pre-show hosted by DJ Selah Say, followed at 6 p.m. with the flipping of the switch amid a larger viewing area complete with video screens. Entertainment will include Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, the cast of Chicago Opera Theater’s production of “Becoming Santa Claus,” a youth dance ensemble from the Kenwood School of Ballet, and special guests Dreezy Claus and Sister Claus. A fireworks show will also be presented.

A concert featuring headliner Brian McKnight, Cirque du Soleil performing an excerpt of ‘Twas the Night Before…,” and Chicago Soul Spectacular follows at 6:30 p.m.

Additional seasonal programming in the park includes skating at the McCormick Ice Rink (Nov. 19-March 6, weather permitting); the Millennium Park Art Market at the Chase Promenade North tent (Nov. 19-21), and the Millennium Park Holiday Sing-Along (formerly “Caroling at Cloud Gate”) at 6 p.m. Fridays, Nov. 26-Dec. 17, and 4 p.m. Dec. 12. The sing-along “has been reimagined to be more inclusive of Chicago’s many faith backgrounds, cultures and holiday music traditions,” Friday’s announcement said.

The park will be open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

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