Are you looking for a great way to kick off the holiday season in Chicago this year? Two events always mark the beginning of the holidays for my family: The Chicago Toy and Game Fair and The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. Both events occur this coming weekend and are sure to be a hit with the whole family.
Starting Saturday, November 17th, you can get your game on at Navy Pier. It is the 10th Annual Chicago Toy and Game Fair where families can preview, play, and yes, purchase the latest hot new TOYS and GAMES from around the world. But don’t mistake this fair for a glorified Toys-R-Us showroom! At this show you actually get the chance to meet the inventors of some of your favorite games like Twister and Operation! Last year we spoke with a variety of people marketing interactive games that you can use on the iPad. This year, those same games are being sold at the local toy stores and…yes, the prices have gone up. This is your chance to learn about this year’s IT games.
One of the highlights of this fair, something that you rarely see at other events is the Young Inventor Challenge. We loved strolling through aisles of toys and games invented by kids ages 6 to 18. Maybe you have to be a kid to understand what other children like to do? To be quite honest, my family felt that lot of the toys and games in this section of the fair topped the adult’s toy and game concepts. In the end, we spent MUCH more time talking to children about their ideas rather than spending time with the adults on the other side of the Expo Hall.
By the time we are finished checking out the many toys and games at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, it is hard to convince the adults in our party to hang out for The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. If you’ve never experienced the majesty and fun of this event, you really need to grab another Soy Latte and get your second wind! I promise you, this event is not to be missed by children and adults!
The first time that Adam and I experienced this event, we weren’t even aware that it was going on. Imagine our surprise when we saw Mickey and Minnie Mouse on a float traveling down Michigan Avenue. Of course the second time, we were even less prepared. We couldn’t figure out why the American Girl Place was so crowded that Saturday afternoon?! Now, we get it and are ready for the crowds and the feeling of awe as over a million lights on trees up and down North Michigan Avenue are illuminated at this magical holiday celebration hosted by Mickey, Minnie and their friends from Disney Parks. Mickey flips the switch at 5:30 pm on Saturday, November 17, and with the lights come exciting marching bands, gigantic balloons, celebrity appearances and more. Of course, like any significant event in Chicago, the evening ends with a spectacular fireworks show over the Chicago River.
Yes, it’s exhausting to try to master both events in one day. I get that. However, I am frequently reminded (usually by my child) that your kids are only young once. With each passing year, I feel that K is slowly slipping away from believing in the magic of the holiday season. Well, at least that’s what I tell myself when I consider how exhausted I am while waiting for the lights to be illuminated on Michigan Avenue. Oh, I also remind myself that I can take a nap tomorrow. Unless, of course, I am being dragged to Day 2 of the Chicago Toy and Game Fair to get one last look at the must-have game of the year!