Midwest travel: Light up Galena's Night of the Luminaria
Let's get high (tea)
You'll feel like the Dowager Countess or at least Mary Crowley from Downton Abbey when you lift your pinkie for holiday high tea at The Langham, Chicago. Enter the grand Pavilion for a holiday afternoon tea while enjoying views of the Chicago River, sipping a glass of bubbly, and nibbling savory delights such as duck confit sliders, Atlantic salmon rillettes, and braised Portuguese octopus. The pastries? How about white chocolate cranberry or gingerbread scones; Mont Blanc with almond sweet dough; or Mint Chocolate Entremets with devil's food cake, mint cream and dark chocolate ganache. Daily at 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 4 p.m. now through Dec. 31, at The Langham, 330 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago. The Langham Afternoon Tea with Wedgewood is $70 for adults and $30 for kids. Make reservations at (312) 923-7710 or langhamhotels.com.
Seasonal sensory overload
Extreme holiday cheer is served at Hotel Allegro Chicago when you book the Goodman Theatre Christmas Carol Package. Mere steps from the festive Christkindlemarket (so you can shop pre- or post-show), the hotel's package includes overnight accommodations; two tickets to Goodman Theatre's "A Christmas Carol" and VIP Lounge Access Pre-Show; and two Holiday Cocktails from Bar Allegro. The hotel will also serve spiked hot chocolate during Social Hour and screen a classic holiday film every Friday night. Package available Thursday to Sunday Dec. 3-27 (must book a week in advance) at Hotel Allegro, 171 W Randolph St., Chicago. (312) 236-0123 or allegrochicago.com.
Pose for your elfie
Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) invites you to find the Elfies in downtown Chicago to take part in the #SelfiesWithElfies photo challenge. Four-foot elves will be located throughout the Loop's shops, cultural institutions and restaurants for participants to take selfies using the hashtag #SelfiesWithElfies. Each week, the best #SelfiesWithElfies image will be chosen by CLA to receive a special prize. Weekly prizes include a two-night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel, gift cards to the Berghoff Catering & Restaurant Group, a Block Thirty Seven gift card, two tickets to the Kids Concert Series at City Winery, two tickets to the Chicago Philharmonic Sunday Series at City Winery, and Art Institute of Chicago day passes. LoopChicago.com will list the most up-to-date details regarding the Elfies' whereabouts in the Loop throughout the month. Check CLA's website for discounts on events and restaurants, as well as family itineraries and daily schedules of holiday happenings in the Loop. Now through Dec. 24. LoopChicago.com.
Light up your life
From Main Street to the hills overlooking Grant Park, all of Galena, Illinois, will be aglow during one of the most illuminating nights of the year. Night of the Luminaria features over 5,000 candlelit luminarias on streets, steps and sidewalks so you can stroll, drive, take a trolley or enjoy a carriage ride and take in the festive sights. Local businesses will be open later for holiday shopping. Don't miss Living Windows -- a couple will take their wedding vows in front of thousands of spectators. 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12. Various locations, downtown Galena, Illinois. (815) 776-9200 or visitgalena.org.
Dock in Stockholm
Tell Siri to guide you to Stockholm -- Wisconsin, that is -- to the bluff-side village on Lake Pepin. The merry meter reaches a solid 10 with sleigh rides, telling your Christmas wishes to Jultomte, warbling caroler, s and festive wassailing during Stockholm Country Christmas. Expect bake and craft sales, wine tastings, feasting and lots of shops to browse. Need another reason to visit? Lake Pepin, about 60 miles southeast of St. Paul, Minn., is known as the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Black Cat Farmstead. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. Downtown Stockholm, Wisconsin. (715) 442-2266 or stockholmwisconsin.com.
Milwaukee Food & City Tours roll out the red and green carpet for a bakery bus tour that whisks you to European, Eastern European and other bakeries to sample (and perhaps purchase). Items like spumoni cookies, cheesecake, cake push pops, pecan crescents, Stollen, kolaczki and so much more are available. The three-hour bus tour includes stories of ethnic holiday traditions in route, bakery items, drink samples, an elf guide and round-trip transportation to and from the starting point in Milwaukee. Now through Dec. 27. Dates and times vary. $50 per person. (262) 853-5239 or MilwaukeeFoodTours.com.