Christmas Tree Lighting and UL Santa House Kick off the Holidays

The City of Chicago and UL are proud to present the official start of the holiday season, the 98th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, Wednesday, November 23, 2011!  The Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is a highly-anticipated event drawing people of all ages to the heart of Chicago’s downtown “Loop.”  Live performances and festive holiday music begin at 4:30 p.m. and the holiday season officially commences at 5:00 p.m., when the switch is flipped and the lights begin to sparkle in Daley Plaza.

The 2011 Christmas tree will be selected from the three best submissions of fir and spruce trees grown in the Chicagoland area and Indiana as part of a contest to select the perfect tree.  Voting on the three finalists starts October 17.  The winning tree will be announced at the end of the month and the lucky family who submitted the tree will be part of the lighting ceremony on Daley Plaza on November 23.  For more information on the contest visit

As part of UL’s ongoing partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the UL Santa House will be back on Daley Plaza.   The UL Santa House serves as a replica of Santa’s workshop, allowing children and families to experience the wonder of the North Pole and have their picture taken with Santa Claus throughout the holiday season.  The UL Santa House will offer interactive activities with important safety tips for children to enjoy while waiting to tell Santa their holiday wishes.

Visits with Santa Claus start on Wednesday, November 23 at 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., with special hours on Thanksgiving Day from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Santa’s regular visiting hours and house tours will begin on Friday, November 26 and continue every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December 18 from 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.  During Christmas week, December 19-24: the house will be open each day from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., with special hours on Christmas Eve from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Santa will be available for photos so don’t forget your personal cameras.  Underwriters Laboratories will also be offering free photos for download on their website,

Experience a traditional German Christmas at the 16th Annual Christkindlmarket, inspired by the famous Nuremberg Christmas market dating back to 1545.  Presented by the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, this outdoor market offers exquisite handmade gifts, unique ornaments, rare European fabrics and textiles and the opportunity to devour German delicacies like brats, goulash, potato pancakes, cookies and Gluhwein (a warm spiced wine). For Christkindlmarket hours visit  

Admission to all these events is free.  For more information please visit or call (312) 744-3316. For details about Christkindlmarket please visit

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