Christmas Around the World and Holidays Lights Now Open

Celebrate the Spirit of the Holidays with family, friends and traditions at The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI), which has reopened Christmas Around the World and Holidays Lights showcasing over 50 Christmas trees which began in 1942 with a single tree. In partnership with strong multi-cultural community organizations, MSI pays tribute to the heritage and history of Christmas trees from around the globe in its 75 year anniversary. This year the museum features floor to dome Grand Tree standing 45 feet tall and adorned with more than 30,000 twinkling lights and ornaments surrounded by a decorative forest of trees.

Representatives from Chicago’s diverse cultures volunteer their holiday customs and share their story of each decorated tree. A mix of holiday music will play as “snow” falls every half an hour. On the weekends join others to a live holiday performance.

Guests are invited to celebrate dozens of holiday customs with trees and displays, including three new additions, decorated to represent cultures from across the globe. This one-of-a-kind celebration returns to MSI November 16, 2017 and will run through January 7, 2018.

[Kasumi Chow / Museum of Science and Industry]

Christmas Around the World began in 1942 as a United Nations Day salute to the Allies during World War II. In its first year, a single tree was newly decorated every day for 12 days to represent the countries fighting alongside America during World War II. Today, the exhibit has grown to more than 50 trees and displays, offering insight into the holiday customs celebrated by families around the world.


Now in its 23rd year at the museum , Holidays of Light highlights the holidays that honor light or enlightenment with decorated vitrines containing symbolic objects that showcase these celebrations. Holidays of Light focuses on the traditions of the Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah, Visakha Puja Day, and St. Lucia Day. Holidays of Light is located among the trees throughout the Museum’s Main Floor.


New Trees and Traditions

This year, guests will notice three additional trees in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Christmas Around the World—Assyria, Australia, and Nigeria:


Assyria: Assyrians come from modern-day Iraq, Iran, Syria and Lebanon. The theme of this tree is brotherhood, and is celebrated with decorations that include photos and ornaments that represent khigga, a folk dance in which people form a line by holding hands.

Australia: Guests will see home-made paperchains, decorations representing native Australian fauna and flora, and sheep. Plus, several ornaments are created by indigenous Australian artists which reflect the multicultural nature of the country.

Nigeria: This tree will include traditional Nigerian holiday decorations, including handmade, multi-colored Nigerian lace fabric and garlands created from black-eyed peas and beaded jewelry, highlighting the rich family customs shared by all Nigerian people at Christmastime.

These trees join the more than 50 trees and displays in the exhibit, inviting guests to celebrate the rich history surrounding the holiday traditions of cultures from nearly every continent.


Festive Performances and Other Holiday Fun


Guests can also enjoy lively performances from all corners of the globe during Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light. Local cultural groups will perform native dances in the Museum’s Main Auditorium inside the West Pavilion. Performances will take place on November 18-19, 24-26; December 2-3, 9-10, and 16-17. A full schedule and times is available at


Stop by Yesterday’s Main Street where Santa will be making special visits during Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light. Children can meet Santa before his epic Christmas journey on November 18-19, 24-26, 30; December 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, and 21-23. Guests are also welcome to take photos with our 45-foot-tall Grand Tree.


Don’t forget to make a stop at the Holiday Shop, full of great gifts and festive trinkets for family and friends, including unique ornaments representing cultures around the world and a one-of-a-kind snow globe sold exclusively at MSI.


Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light are included in Museum Entry, as are all cultural performances.

Visit the Museum of Science for tickets and more information