For the 17th year in a row, Fifth Third Bank Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier celebrates the holidays. Festival Hall is transformed into a wonderland with nearly 500 trees decorated with 25,000 ornaments, festive rides, twinkling lights, and visits with Santa Claus. Here's your guide to one of the season's most popular family-friendly activities. In this guide you'll find:
- What is Winter WonderFest?
- Places to stay near Navy Pier
- Dates and Times
- How to get there
What is the Fifth Third Bank Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier
Winter Wonderfest is an annual event that celebrates winter and the holidays. Entirely inside, the festival offers several activities and the hall is decorated with candy canes, Christmas trees, and lights galore.
Attractions at Navy Pier's Winter WonderFest
There are 170,000 square feet to fill in Festival Hall, and they are jam-packed with fun. Activities include an indoor ice skating rink, an inflatable slide, a carousel, spinning cups, and a train ride.
- Arctic Express Train Ride - a trackless 300-ft train ride around a holiday village display
- Arctic Plunge inflatable slide
- Aquafina® Create-A-Cookie Cottage ($3 per cookie)
- Candy Cane Lighthouse
- Cliff Hanger - hang glider attraction that has you soaring 40 feet in the air
- Dashers Crashers Bumper Cars
- Giant Decorated Tree
- Holiday Howdy Horse (photo op)
- Hot Cocoa Cups - take a ride in a spinning teacup
- Ice Peaks Climbing Walls
- Chicago Blackhawks Indoor Ice Skating Rink
TLTip: If you plan on going ice skating you should be aware that no bags are allowed on the rink. While there is a coat check, you cannot check your bags. If you plan on bringing a purse or backpack bring someone who can hold it for you while you skate.
- Jingle Jym Jr. - especially for tiny tykes
- Kringle Carousel
- Mount Reindeer
- Polar Extreme - slide
- Giant Rocking Chair
- Slipper Snowflake Slide
- Snowman Bouncer
- Visit with Santa
- Winter Rules Mini Golf
- Wintertube - indoor "tubing" hill
- Wonder Whirl
- Zero Gravity
How Much is Winter WonderFest?
Tickets to Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest can be purchased online or at the on-site box office. Ticket options include:
- General Admission ($28) for guests over 42 inches and under the age of 65
- Junior Admission ($13) for children between 36 inches and under 42 inches
- Senior Admission ($13) for guests 65 years and older
- Children under 36 inches are free.
All ticket options include one complimentary Centennial Wheel ticket – a $15 value – valid from the time of purchase through March 31, 2018. Guests may save $1 on Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest tickets when purchasing online in advance.
Places to Stay Near Navy Pier
These hotels are close to Navy Pier and are some of our favorites at The Local Tourist (click on each link to read reviews and compare rates):
- ACME Hotel Company
- Doubletree by Hilton Magnificent Mile
- Hyatt Regency Chicago
- Intercontinental Hotel Chicago
- Loews Chicago Hotel
- Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel
You can read more about all of these hotels here.
Dates and Times
Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with the exception of the following special dates and times:
- December 4–6 and 11–13: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Christmas Eve: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Christmas Day: Closed
- December 26–28: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- New Year’s Eve: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
How Do You Get to Winter WonderFest?
Winter WonderFest is located at the east end of Navy Pier. There is parking available at the pier and you can get discounted parking nearby with Spothero and Parkwhiz. Taxis are plentiful and you can take a ride sharing service like Uber or Lyft.
If you're looking for a fun activity for your children during the winter break, check out Winter Wonderfest. There are activities that are age-appropriate from toddlers up to teens.
All photos Heidi Zeiger Photography / Navy Pier