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These Buildings Do The Holidays Right

Chicago Other

Need some help getting in the holiday spirit? These Chicago buildings have the most festive displays. We collected photos from our readers and laced up our trainers and walked around downtown, camera in tow, to bring you this dose of jingle.

1. Palmer House Hilton


Visiting the landmark hotel's lobby is already an elegant escape from reality. Couple that with an 18-foot-tall tree festooned with over 7,000 lights and you'll be in the mood for a hot toddy or some hot buttered rum from the lobby bar. Be careful imbibing, though; it doesn't take much of those hot cocktails to have you as lit up as the tree!

2. Willis Tower


Willis' antenna towers stand out in festive green and red during the holidays, but head inside the lobby of Chicago's tallest building and you'll find a tree to match Willis' outward majesty. This 48-foot tree is decked out with over 10,000 lights and the annual lighting attracts scores of gawkers. This year, Bulls guard Tony Snell hosted the lighting.

3. Macy's on State Street


Many Chicago residents refuse to call the former Marshall Field's flagship store "Macy's" to this day. Thankfully, the holiday traditions of Marshall Field's remain intact, from the horns lining the building's State Street facade, to the grand tree in the Walnut Room, to the always-popular and widely discussed window displays. The merchandisers knocked it out of the park this year with a kitschy Christmas across the solar system theme.

4. Prudential Building


The Prudential Building incorporates modern technology with classic ornaments to create a festive mood that isn't intrusive. JLL VP Bryan Oyster, GM of the building, says the process takes an entire weekend with over 30 staff, and everyone is exhausted by the time they're done. At least there's a month before it all has to come down!

5. 540 W Madison


The Telos Group outfits the lobby area of this 31-story, 1.1M SF building with a giant wreath, lighted snowflake ornaments, a few trees and a menorah. But it's the trim and ornaments along the railing that sets it off for us. A little goes a long way here—a really long way.

6. 181 W Madison


CBRE put this building on the market last week, and prospective buyers may want to budget extra for decorations. Leasing manager MB Real Estate Services says the stuffed animals on display are sold throughout the holiday season with proceeds going to buildOn, which supports after-school programs for high school students in Chicago.

7. Union Station Grand Ballroom


It takes some oversized ornaments and decorations to stand out in Union Station's grand ballroom. This display commands the attention of Amtrak and Metra passengers traveling into and out of the city, thanks to the scale and scope of the design, the backdrop and its location in the center of the hall. If this display doesn't bring a smile to your face, then you're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

8. Novak Construction


Novak Construction's Avondale offices are next to the Kennedy expressway at Addison Street. The company uses the building as a canvas to celebrate holidays ranging from Independence Day and St. Patrick's Day to Memorial Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But it's Christmas that brings out the most colors, lights and creativity. If you use the Kennedy on a regular basis, make sure to keep your eyes on the road.