Things to do in Chicago in December

Wine & beer tasting

December 7, 2016 (6 to 8 p.m.)

24 miles north

Holiday Cheers! is a seasonal tasting of local spirits, wines, and winter brews surrounded by Wonderland Express train exhibits at Chicago Botanic Garden.

Romantic comedy

December 7 – 18, 2016

7.5 miles north

The woman who moves to Apartment 3A has a second chance at love with her new neighbor in this play that asks tough questions about fate, romance, and faith at Windy City Playhouse. Discount tickets $15.

“Best play” Tony Award

December 7 – 24, 2016

0.5 miles SW

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is an emotional play about an extraordinary teenager out to solve the mysterious death of his neighbor’s dog at Oriental Theatre. Discount tickets $75.

Christmas market

December 7 – 24, 2016

1 mile SW

Christkindlmarket is an open-air European holiday market on Daley Plaza featuring traditional art, handmade gifts, German foods, choirs, and carolers. Free.

Family Nutcracker

December 7 – 30, 2016

34 miles north

The Nutcracker is a one-hour musical fantasy featuring Marie, a nutcracker that comes to life, a mouse king, a sugar plum fairy, and music by Tchaikovsky at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.

Attractions

December 7 – 31, 2016

multiple locations

Discount prices include all taxes and ticket fees.

Christmas play

December 7 – 31, 2016

multiple locations

A Christmas Carol is Charles Dickens’ holiday classic about Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and three Christmas ghosts.

Christmas ship musical

December 7 – 31, 2016

4.8 miles north

The Christmas Schooner tells the moving story of a 19th-century captain who risks everything to bring the Christmas spirit to Chicago, at Mercury Theater. Discount tickets $23 to $38.

Holidays around the world

December 7, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017

8 miles south

See trees decorated to represent many cultures plus weekend ethnic song-and-dance performances during Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at the Museum of Science & Industry. Closed Nov. 24 & Dec. 25.

Creative percussion show

December 7, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017

1.1 miles north

Stomp has high-energy dance, acrobatics, comedy, and nonstop rhythm from unusual instruments at Broadway Playhouse. Discount tickets $49 to $59.

Holiday trains – Botanic garden

December 7, 2016 – Jan. 2, 2017

24 miles north

Wonderland Express features trains running through an indoor garden past miniature buildings at Chicago Botanic Garden. See events schedule. Closed Dec. 25.

Christmas lights – arboretum

December 7, 2016 – Jan. 2, 2017

27 miles west

See colorful tree lights and interactive laser lights on a one-mile walk at Illumination, and then warm up at the fire pit at the Morton Arboretum. Closed dates for 2016: Nov. 21, 24, 28 and Dec. 5, 12, 24, 25.

Winter WonderFest

December 7, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017

1 mile east

Festival Hall at Navy Pier becomes an indoor Winter WonderFest for the holidays, with music, carnival rides, and entertainment. Closed Dec. 25.

Holiday trains – Lincoln Park

December 7, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017

3 miles north

Model trains wind their way through a miniature village among poinsettias during the Winter Flower & Train Show at Lincoln Park Conservatory. Free.

Classic musical by Gershwin

December 7, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017

18 miles west

Set in the 1930s, Crazy For You tells the story of a wealthy bachelor determined to become a professional dancer, with comedy, romance, and plot twists, at Drury Lane Theatre. Discount tickets $43.

Holiday music

December 8, 2016 (7:30 p.m.)

8 miles north

Student musicians & singers perform a mix of sacred and secular works at Joyola! at Loyola University.

Olympic rock opera

December 8 – 30, 2016

4.8 miles north

Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera is a dark comedy about figure skater Tonya Harding, whose boyfriend ordered a surreal attack on rival skater Nancy Kerrigan, at Theater Wit. Discount tickets $11 to $15.

Holiday humor

December 8 – Jan. 1, 2017

3.4 miles north

Barney the Elf is a musical parody of the film Elf with a drag twist that makes it PG-13 at Greenhouse Theater. Discount tickets $13.

Blue Man show

December 8, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017

4.5 miles north

Blue Man Group puts on an exciting show that combines comedy, theater, music, and special effects at Briar Street Theatre. Discount tickets $46.

Shakespeare movies

December 8, 2016 – Jan. 5, 2017

0.5 miles SW

Watch 10 films based on the plays of William Shakespeare duringShakespeare on Film at Gene Siskel Film Center.

Holiday humor

December 8, 2016 – Jan. 14, 2017

multiple locations

Royal drama

December 8, 2016 – Jan. 15, 2017

1 mile east

In critically acclaimed King Charles III, the queen is dead. Now what happens to Prince Charles, Camilla, William, and Kate? See it live at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. Discount tickets $49.

Game of Thrones parody

December 8, 2016 – Jan. 15, 2017

3.8 miles north

Described as “darkly humorous and beautifully vulgar,” Thrones! The Musical features hilarious songs about six seasons of the HBO show at Apollo Theater for age 16+. Discount tickets $18.

Magic lounge

December 8, 2016 – Jan. 26, 2017

7 miles north

Chicago Magic Lounge is an old-school magic show with close-up magic, bar magic, table-hopping magicians, and main stage acts at Uptown Underground for age 21+. Discount tickets $8 to $14.

Hip Nutcracker

December 9, 2016 (7:30 p.m.)

16 miles NW

The Hip Hop Nutcracker gives Tchaikovsky’s score a modern twist with an electric violinist and 12 hip-hop dancers (including DJ Boo and Kurtis Blow) on an urban set at Rosemont Theatre. Discount tickets $42.

Christmas caroling

December 9 – 16, 2016 (6 p.m. Fridays)

0.7 miles SE

Bundle up and prepare to belt out holiday classics when asked to sing along with the choirs at Caroling at Cloud Gateoutside in Millennium Park. Starts Nov. 25.

Steampunk Christmas Carol

December 9 – 18, 2016

10.4 miles north

Charles Dickens meets Jules Verne in Steampunk Christmas Carol, a fanciful tale set in Victorian England and full of strange machines powered by gas, gears, and electricity in Rogers Park.

Christmas lights – Lincoln Park Zoo

December 9, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017

2.5 miles north

ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo features millions of holiday lights, ice carvings, music, carousel and train rides, food, and gift shopping (plus photos with Santa through Dec. 23). Free entry. Open Nov. 25-27; Dec. 2-4, 9-23, 26-31; Jan. 1.

Adult variety show

December 9, 2016 – Feb. 18, 2017 (10 p.m.)

7 miles north

Kiss Kiss Cabaret is a fun mix of burlesque, off-color comedy, music, magic, and variety acts at Uptown Underground. Reviews.

Discount tickets $14.

Comedy

December 9, 2016 – May. 29, 2017

2.1 miles north

Second City’s Improv All-Stars delivers an hour of hilarious improvised comedy with plenty of audience interaction at Up Comedy Club. Discount tickets $11.

Dinner cruise

December 10, 2016 (7 to 9:30 p.m.)

1 mile east

Enjoy a three-course meal aboard the luxurious Odyssey as you cruise past the Chicago skyline, departing from Navy Pier. Discount tickets $86.

Ugly Sweater Run/Walk

December 10, 2016

2 miles south

Wear your ugliest sweater for the Ugly Sweater Run 5K and after-party at Soldier Field.

Discount tickets $30.

Northerly Island adventure

December 10, 2016

3 miles south

See birds of prey and wolves, hear folk music and a storyteller, walk on snowshoes (if there’s snow), make a craft, and have cocoa (while it lasts) at Polar Adventure Days. Free except parking.

Old Town food & drink crawl

December 10, 2016 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

3.5 miles NW

Adults with tickets can buy drink specials and $3 to $7 tastes at restaurants on Chicago Christmas Crawl.

Promotional code “events12” saves $10.

Comedy dinner

December 10, 2016 (8:30 p.m.)

5.8 miles north

We Gotta Bingo delivers corny, bawdy, slapstick humor plus lasagna, bread, and salad, as you participate in a bingo game between rival parishes at Chicago Theater Works. Cash bar. Discount tickets $29.

Eco-friendly art fair

December 10, 2016 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

8.7 miles north

Holiday Remix is an arts & crafts market for things remixed, reused, and recycled at Broadway Armory Park in Edgewater. Repeats in June.

Holiday cirque show

December 10, 2016 (7:30 p.m.)

16 miles NW

The talented cast of Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular performs feats of strength, skill, and grace to holiday music played by a live symphony at Rosemont Theatre. Discount tickets $47 (front balcony).

Craft beer tasting

December 10, 2016 (12 to 5 p.m.)

32 miles south

A ticket to Winter Solstice Craft Beer Fest gets you 10 beer samples and 2 food samples, with 100 beers for sale and live music at Blarney Stone Pub, Oak Forest.

Roots of rock & roll

December 10, 2016 (7:30 p.m.)

34 miles north

Inspired by Jerry Lee Lewis, Rock Baby Rock takes you on a musical tour of rock & roll, with live music of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley & the Comets, and Johnny Cash in Lincolnshire. Discount tickets $10.

Handel’s Messiah

December 10 – 11, 2016

0.5 miles south

It’s a holiday tradition to hear the joyful Handel’s Messiah sung by the Apollo Chorus of Chicago at Harris Theater. Discount tickets $20.

Holiday market

December 10 – 11, 2016

2 miles west

Randolph Street’s Holiday Market offers affordable antique, vintage, and modern goods indoors at W Randolph & Washington on Nov. 19, 20, 26, 27; Dec. 10, 11. Discount tickets $4.

Christmas liturgy

December 10 – 11, 2016

8 miles north

Lessons and Carols tells a story in nine short Bible readings and adds Christmas carols, hymns, and choral music in the chapel at Loyola University.

The Nutcracker – River Forest

December 10 – 11, 2016

11 miles west

Clara dreams that her toy nutcracker comes to life in The Nutcrackerat Dominican University.

Discount Saturday tickets $13.

Model train show

December 10 – 11, 2016

27 miles west

LEGO Train Show features a huge diorama of trains that run past skyscrapers, brick mania, and kids’ crafts, plus a ticketed party the first evening in Wheaton. Free except parking.

Holiday bar crawls

December 10 & 17, 2016

Chicago area

A ticket gets you special food and drink prices at bars.

The Nutcracker ballet

December 10 – 11 and 16 – 18, 2016

5 miles north

Youthful members of Ballet Chicago perform the holiday classic The Nutcracker to Tchaikovsky’s score at Athenaeum Theatre.

Discount tickets $15.

Christmas lights – Brookfield Zoo

December 10 – 31, 2016 (dates below)

14 miles SW

Holiday Magic has a million twinkling lights, a magic show, model train, animal visits, and carolers at the Brookfield Zoo. Dec. 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, and 26-31.

Family treasure hunt

December 11, 2016

1 mile south

Kids make four activity stops and then have a tea party with entertainment and party favors at Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party at the Art Institute.

Baroque holiday music

December 11, 2016 (7:30 p.m.)

13 miles north

Hear classics by Bach and Handel at Holiday Baroque in a chapel with giant stained-glass windows at Northwestern University. Discount tickets $19.

Nutcracker ballet

December 13 – 30, 2016

1 mile south

Joffrey Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker features brilliant costumes, fanciful scenery, entrancing storytelling, and Tchaikovsky’s famous score played by the Chicago Philharmonic at Auditorium Theatre. New version in 2016. Discount midweek tickets $72.

Opera by Mozart

December 14, 2016 (7:30 p.m.)

1 mile SW

Popular opera The Magic Flute is an adventure-filled tale of good versus evil in which love conqueres all, at the Civic Opera House.Discount tickets $43.

Holiday train ride

December 14, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017

1.4 miles SW

Take a one-hour train ride through downtown Chicago as you drink cocoa on the Polar Express, which travels round trip from Union Station at Jackson Boulevard.

Christmas concert

December 15 – 18, 2016

multiple locations

Hear beautiful and inspiring music at Holiday Brass & Choral Concert[sound] by Music of the Baroque.

Ugly sweater salsa dance

December 16, 2016 (9 p.m.)

6.4 miles NW

Wear your tackiest to the Ugly Sweater Party, which includes a beginner’s class, open dancing, mingling, and a performance at Duet Dance Studio for age 21+. BYOB.

Rocking Christmas

December 16, 2016 (8 p.m.)

14 miles west

Hear the band Classical Blast and guest performers at Dark Side of the Yule as they rock up traditional carols, popular classical pieces, holiday favorites mashed with famed classic rock songs at Lund Auditorium in River Forest. Discount tickets $11.

Anime convention

December 16 – 18, 2016

16 miles NW

Con Alt Delete celebrates Japanese animation and “nerd culture” with games, panels, vendors, and dances at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont.

Ballet-free Nutcracker

December 16 – 30, 2016

7.4 miles north

Clara struggles to save Christmas in the The Nutcracker, an imaginative, family-friendly version live at Chopin Theatre. Discount tickets $28 to $36.

Mannheim Steamroller

December 17, 2016 (8 p.m.)

16 miles NW

Grammy Award-winning composer Chip Davis presents Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, performed live with acoustic-electronic seasonal hits and multimedia effects at Rosemont Theatre. Discount tickets $59.

Japanese dance & drum

December 17 – 18, 2016

0.7 mile north

Taiko Legacy features Japanese drumming, dance, and street theater at Museum of Contemporary Art.

Christmas carols

December 17 – 18, 2016

Lisle & Oak Park

Hear the chamber choir Bella Voce perform fresh arrangements of Christmas carols plus their signature treatment of Renaissance classics at Holiday Delights.

The Nutcracker

December 17 – 18, 2016

27 miles west

Chicago Festival Ballet and the New Philharmonic Orchestra perform a beautiful and lively Nutcracker at McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn.

Discount tickets $22 ($16 to age 17).

Holiday tap dance

December 18, 2016 (3 p.m.)

16.3 miles NW

Tidings of Tap! features whimsical interpretations of holiday songs by Chicago Tap Theatre and nonstop rhythm in Skokie.

Classic play

December 21, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017

3.4 miles north

A speech expert attempts to transform a cockney flower girl into a proper society lady in Pygmalion, the witty satire by George Bernard Shaw that inspired the musical “My Fair Lady” at Greenhouse Theater. Discount tickets $27.

Jane Austen themed play

December 24, 2016 (2:30 p.m.)

16 miles north

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley reunites the characters from “Pride and Prejudice” and introduces a new love interest for the bookish sister, at Skokie’s Northlight Theatre. Discount tickets $51.

It’s a Wonderful Life: radio play

December 26 – 31, 2016

3.3 miles north

It’s a Wonderful Life recreates a live radio play based on the popular movie about a man seeking purpose in life at Greenhouse Theater Center. Afterwards, join the cast for milk and cookies. Discount tickets $44.

Comic operetta

December 26, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017

13.6 miles north

Lighthearted Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss features scheming characters at a glittery Viennese masked ball, in Evanston. Discount tickets $25

New Year’s cruise – a day early

December 30, 2016 (board 9:45 p.m.)

0.7 miles east

Celebrate a day early on Eve of the Eve Cocktail Cruise with music, dancing, views, and a complimentary glass of champagne on the Anita Dee II, departing from 200 North Breakwater Access. Discount tickets $20.

New Year’s party – a day early

December 30, 2016 (8 p.m.)

0.8 miles west

Enjoy an open bar, appetizers, live music, dancing, and a silent auction at the black-tie-optional charity benefit EVE of the EVE at The Merchandsie Mart.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

December 30, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017

0.8 miles north

Kids ages 3 to 13 will enjoy watching Peanuts cartoon characters on stage during A Charlie Brown Christmas at Broadway Playhouse.

Discount tickets $20.

New Year’s Eve – restaurants

December 31, 2016

Chicago locations

Find a list of restaurants that offer special menus and celebrations for New Year’s Eve at OpenTable.

New Year’s Eve – Hard Rock

December 31, 2016 (9 p.m.)

0.2 miles south

New Year’s Eve Soiree has multiple ballrooms, live & DJ music, buffets, and 30 bartenders at the Hard Rock Hotel.

New Year’s Eve – Westin

December 31, 2016 (9 p.m.)

0.5 miles west

New Year’s Eve Soiree offers multiple rooms with DJ music and views at The Westin Chicago River North. Discount VIP tickets $135.

New Year’s Eve – Palmer House

December 31, 2016 (9 p.m.)

0.7 miles south

A ticket to Big Night Chicago New Year’s Eve Gala includes unlimited food, drinks, four dance floors, seven party bands, and DJs.

Austrian music & dance

December 31, 2016 (2:30 p.m.)

1 mile south

Costumed dancers and singers bring the waltzes of Strauss to life, as a full orchestra plays at Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert at the Symphony Center.

New Year’s Eve – Drake Hotel

December 31, 2016 (9 p.m., VIP 8)

1 mile north

Chicago Scene’s New Years Eve Party has multiple ballrooms with DJs, hors d’oeuvres, 40 bartenders, and a balloon drop at the Drake Hotel.

New Year’s Eve – fireworks

December 31, 2016 (midnight)

1 mile east

Welcome the new year with New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Navy Pier at midnight. Free.

New Year’s Eve – Navy Pier #1

December 31, 2016 (9 p.m., VIP 8:30)

1 mile east

Crystal Gardens New Year’s Eve has dancing to mainstream music, party favors, 20 bars, hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast at midnight, and a terrace to watch the fireworks, at Navy Pier.

New Year’s Eve – Navy Pier #2

December 31, 2016 (8:15 p.m.)

1 mile east

Join 3,000 people at Resolution Gala, which features four DJs, 30 bars, buffet stations, a champagne toast at midnight, and views of fireworks over the lake in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve – Marriott

December 31, 2016 (9 p.m.)

1.1 miles SW

Formal New Year’s Eve Soiree includes before & after parties, a buffet, drinks, dessert, and celebrity DJs at JW Marriott for age 21+.Discount VIP tickets $149.

New Year’s Eve – Hilton

December 31, 2016 (9 p.m., VIP 8)

1.2 miles south

A ticket to the giant New Year’s Eve Soiree at the Hilton Chicago includes drinks, a buffet, DJ music, and before and after parties at other locations.

Casual New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2016 (8 p.m.)

3 miles west

Brew Year’s Eve features 20 craft beers from 10 breweries, cocktails, wine, passed hors d’oeuvres, a pizza buffet, and live music on three floors of Salvage One for age 21+. Jeans are OK. Free coat check.

New Year’s Eve – comedy

December 31, 2016 (8 p.m.)

5 miles north

The New Year’s Eve Party includes a buffet dinner, a drink ticket, two improv comedy shows, and midnight champagne at Under The Gun Theater for age 21+.

German New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2016 (8 p.m.)

7 miles north

A ticket to New Year’s Eve at Dank Haus includes an open bar with German beer, wine, and cocktails, plus a heavy hors d’oeuvres buffet, a champagne toast, and dancing to an eight-piece orchestra at Dank Haus.

New Year’s Eve – classical

December 31, 2016 (2, 5:30 & 9 p.m.)

27 miles west

The New Philharmonic plays classical music with a guest vocalist at McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn. Discount tickets $30.