Company Logo - Home Link

Chicago Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier

Updated: December 22, 2023
 By Mel

Check out our Chicago Visitors Guide, with budget advice, travel guides, and information about local Chicago attractions

Yes, Chicago is cold in Winter, but this can still be a great time to visit with your family and kids.

In addition the the Chicago Pedway, great museums, and abundant ice skating, the holiday season features the Fifth Third Bank Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier.

Part of our Michigan Avenue / Navy Pier tour, until January, this part of Chicago becomes a giant playground.

It opens daily at 10 am and each day the Mayor of Chicago picks a lucky guest to open the Wonderfest, get there earlier to have your chance at the honor!

Inside the Festival Hall at Navy Pier are rides, games, and more ice skating.

Free Chicago Walking Tours

It's free to enter, where you can enjoy the carnival atmosphere and watch the crowds.

But you'll need an activity wristband to take any of the rides.

You can purchase a wristband for $19, which includes ice skating, or $15, which does not.

Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier,  CC0 Public Domain,

Always the deal seekers here at Free Tours by Foot, if you purchase tickets online or as part of a family pack, you'll get a discount!

Certain weekdays are also sold at a better price.

Within the Wonderfest you can find:

  • Indoor Ice Skating Rink - rent skates or bring your own
  • Ferris Wheel - get a bird's eye view from 50 feet high
  • Zero Gravity – spin at high speeds on a new, 45-degree-tilted thrill ride
  • Kringle Carousel - hop aboard your favorite animal on this colorful classic
  • Reindeer Express Train Ride - take a ride around the holiday village
  • Snowy Summit Climbing Wall - challenge yourself to reach the rock wall's top
  • Winter Wind Glider - hang onto the soaring glider as you fly 40 feet into the air
  • "Power Wheel" Mini Adventure Track - cruise the course in a mini-Jeep "Hurricane" or mini-Dodge "Police Cruiser"
  • Winter WonderFest Jr. - bounce and tunnel through this section made for the youngest set

Other indoor attractions of Winder Wonderland include a trackless train called Arctic Express Train ride, the Candy Cane Lighthouse, the Centennial Wheel, the Snowman Bouncer, an inflatable slide, a Giant Decorated Tree, mini golf, Winter Rules Mini Gold, and a visit with Santa.

Visitors can expect dozens of classic rides and attractions under gleaming white lights and above a wintery blue carpet, including the Xfinity Ice Skating Rink, Cliff Hanger, Polar Extreme Obstacle Course, Polar Ice Peaks Climbing Walls, Winter WonderWhirl, Kringle Carousel, and more.

There are stages for live entertainment from magicians to jugglers. Each Sunday features a new Latin genre where you can listen and learn the dances and grooves yourself.

Winter Wonderfest @ Navy Pier
20171229 06 Winter Wonderfest @ Navy Pier by David Wilson, CC BY 2.0,

At the Craft Corner, in December only, you'll be able to find a FREE Mickey Mouse ornament to decorate and remember your time. You do not need a wristband to make an ornament!

And of course, Santa Claus will be stopping by to visit the children and listen to their Christmas lists. Santa Claus will be seated in the Family Pavilion.

Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier in Chicago features a stunning fireworks display over Lake Michigan.

You can also use the coat check available near the main entrance. Coat check cannot accept any valuables such as purses, cameras, book bags, etc.

About The Author


Mel loves to be a tourist in her own city. With a background in performing arts, tourism, and photography, giving tours and being a story-teller comes naturally to her. She loves traveling, food, and theatre. Mel splits her time between Chicago and Los Angeles (#theatrelife) and leads tours and manages both cities!
Updated: December 22nd, 2023
Back to Top