For the 18th year in a row, Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier celebrates the holidays in Chicago. 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
Polar Extreme - slide
Giant Rocking Chair
Slipper Snowflake Slide
Visit with Santa
Winter Rules Mini Golf
Wintertube - indoor "tubing" hill
How Much is Winter WonderFest?
Tickets to Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest Chicago 2018 will be available soon! When they are available, they 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, 2019. 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 - fun and affordable boutique hotel
Doubletree by Hilton Magnificent Mile - get a warm cookie at check-in!
Hyatt Regency Chicago - one of Chicago's largest hotels
Intercontinental Hotel Chicago - an historic hotel on the Magnificent Mile
Loews Chicago Hotel - closest hotel to Navy Pier
Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel - located in one of the most distinctive buildings in Chicago
You can read more about all of these hotels here.
Dates and Times
Navy Pier Winter Wonderfest 2018 Dates TBA
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 Chicago 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