What to do around Illinois this holiday

By Susan Kantor

With finals officially over in 16 days, the majority of University students will be heading home to celebrate with friends and family instead of stressing over tests and papers. Instead of a typical store bought gift, how about treating that special someone to a day out on the town? From Springfield to Chicago, Illinois is chock full of activities to fill with holiday cheer.

Central Illinois:

  • On Dec. 16, three of Bloomington-Normal’s historic mansions, the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site, Broadview Mansion and Vrooman Mansion, will feature evening tours from 4 to 9 p.m. All three mansions will be decorated and holiday food will be served at the Davis and Vrooman Mansions.

Tickets are $8 and must be bought in advance. More information is available at (309)828-1084.

  • The Old State Capitol in downtown Springfield will host the First Night Period Ball on Dec. 31 from 7 to 10 p.m. The ball will feature the recreation of a historic holiday, complete with women and men in period costumes. Admission is free and open to the public.

Chicago:

  • The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting. Admission is free and open to the public, and skate rentals are available for $7. More information is available at (312)742-5222.
  • Visit the Museum of Science and Industry for their annual “Christmas Around the World,” held through Jan. 2. This year, the theme is “Dashing through the snow,” with the main tree decorated in purple, blue and silver.

Trees are decorated in decor from countries around the world, with Italy and Thailand as new additions this year. Call (773) 684-1414 for more details.

  • The LaSalle Bank Winter Wonderfest will be held Dec. 8 through Jan. 7 at Navy Pier. Ice skating, hundreds of trees and Santa Claus will attract visitors to the Winter Wonderfest.

Southern Illinois:

  • The annual Christmas Open House will be held Dec. 9 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Vandalia Statehouse in Vandalia. The Statehouse, the oldest remaining capitol building in Illinois, will be feature 19th century holiday decor, costumes and music. The event is free and open to the public.