December Holiday Happenings

By Macaroni Kid Chicago November 22, 2019

Santaland at Macy’s State Street - Ongoing through Christmas

Write your letter to Santa and pose for a photo with the big guy himself at Macy’s Santaland! Click link for more details.

Christkindlmarket Chicago - Ongoing through December 24

This free market is open daily at 11am

Christkindlmarket Wrigley - Ongoing through December 31

Open times vary, please see calendar for more information!

Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum - Ongoing through January 5

Walkthrough a mile of interactive lighting effects with seasonal music and then warm up by a fire with a warm drink or tasty s'mores.  Be sure to check the calendar for tickets, as dates will sell out!  Not open Mondays, or December 24-25.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light - Now to January 2020

Explore rich holiday traditions at the Museum of Science & Industry from around the globe while creating your own traditions with loved ones in Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light.

It began in 1942 with a single tree. Today, the Museum’s beloved annual celebration features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. On the weekends, you can also enjoy live holiday performances. It’s the one-of-a-kind experience that brings a whole world of holiday joy under one roof.

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink - Ongoing through March 8, 2020

Free for those who have their own skates, plus lessons in the hour prior to the rink opening.  Skate rentals are available from toddler to adult sizes for a fee.

Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish the Musical - Now to December 29

Welcome to the North Pole, home to Santa, Mrs. Claus, Clara, Twinkle, Sprinkle and Sparkle the elves and their friend, Eleanor. Eleanor is a rag doll with a special wish – a best friend and home of her own.

Kids – bring your letters for Santa and stay around after the show for your very own ‘Selfie’ with Santa! (Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N Lincoln Ave)

Cirque du Soleil presents ‘Twas the Night Before - November 29 to December 8

Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever Christmas show, ‘Twas the Night Before... is a flurry of love, Christmas cheer, rip-roaring fun and hugely lovable characters that will become a new tradition for families to cherish. Join Isabella, a curious girl who’s become jaded by the hoopla surrounding Christmas, as she is whisked away to an upside-down, inside-out world where she meets characters inspired by the original timeless poem. Discover what happened before Santa dropped in! (The Chicago Theatre)

The Joffrey Ballet presents The Nutcracker - November 30 to December 29th 

Following a wildly successful world premiere in December 2016, The Joffrey Ballet will present its newly reimagined holiday classic The Nutcracker by Tony Award®-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.

Set during Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, Wheeldon’s turn-of-the-century tale opens as young Marie and her mother, a sculptress creating the Fair’s iconic Statue of the Republic, host a festive Christmas Eve celebration. After a surprise visit from the mysterious Great Impresario, creator of the Chicago Columbian Exposition, Marie embarks on a whirlwind adventure with the Nutcracker Prince through a dreamlike World’s Fair. The Nutcracker features Tchaikovsky’s classic score performed live by The Chicago Philharmonic. (Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 East Ida B. Wells Drive)

Casati's Breakfast with Santa - Sunday, December 1st (11am-1pm)

Naughty or nice, all are invited to enjoy Breakfast with Santa! During the family-friendly event, guests may enjoy a specially-curated menu featuring holiday breakfast favorites at the family-owned, modern Italian restaurant. Santa himself will be there to share laughs and listen to Christmas wishes, and Casati’s will offer complimentary photos with Santa during the event. (Casati’s, 444 W. Fullerton Parkway - Reservations accepted but not required)

Chicago Immersive presents Grace and the Hanukkah Miracle - December 1 to January 5th

A glimpse into a family's traditions, celebrations and struggles over generations, Grace and the Hanukkah Miracle is an interfaith immersive experience designed for families of all beliefs, for those who like to solve puzzles and riddles, celebrate with friends, time travel and just be a part of an exciting story. This production is 55 minutes and is recommended for people of all ages. (Grace Lutheran Church, 1430 South Blvd. in Evanston)

Holiday Cookie Parties with The Kid’s Table - December 5 to December 23

Come and celebrate the holidays with friends and family at a tasty Holiday Cookie Party with The Kids Table in Wicker Park and Lincoln Park!  Dates and locations vary, please click link for details!

Fifth Third’s Winter Wonderfest - December 6 to January 12th

Guests can dash through an indoor winter wonderland as Chicago’s iconic lakefront destination transforms its Festival Hall into a dazzling spectacle with 170,000 square feet of holiday-themed fun. Chicagoland natives and seasonal travelers will have the opportunity to enjoy festive décor, returning favorites and this year’s brand-new attraction, The Wind Chill.  (Navy Pier)

The Santa Suite at the Swissotel Chicago - December 7th to December 22 (Saturday & Sundays)

This year, the Santa Suite will feature an Après Ski Swiss Chalet theme with 16 snow-covered Christmas trees all ornately decorated to represent the Swiss Alps. Guests are invited to hop on the Swissôtel chair lift and meet Santa Claus for an unforgettable photo opportunity and stop by the white-out hot chocolate room for a mid-mountain warm up.  Tickets & details are available HERE (Swissotel Chicago, 323 E Wacker Drive)

Family Friendly Santa Cruise - Various Dates in December

Santa is inviting everyone to join him on his fun-fueled holiday cruise extravaganza! Whether celebrating the holidays with friends, or getting the whole family out for a special day, this is an event you're not going to want to miss! While on the cruise, enjoy all of the following: Santa will be aboard mingling with guests and spreading holiday cheer! Santa hats and candy canes for all! Enjoy Christmas music on the first deck and shake your groove thing to some family friendly party tunes on the second deck dance floor! Even Santa has been known to bust a move! Make sure Santa knows everything that you want this year by writing to him at our "Letter to Santa" station. Enjoy the best views of the Chicago skyline from our top deck. Snap a pic while you're at it! Specialty holiday cocktails will be available for those of age! (Anita Dee at Dusable Harbor, 200 N. Breakwater Access)

Music Institute presents “The Nutcracker-Duke it Out!” - Saturday, December 7 (2:00pm)

This Nutcracker performance, curated by Dance Chicago, pairs the classical (Tchaikovsky) and jazz (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) versions of the holiday favorite, performed by professional brass and woodwind quintets. In tribute to Dance Chicago’s 25th anniversary, the Music Institute is featuring new material this year, including “Chocolate (Spanish Dance).” The performance is a family-friendly 60 minutes. (Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston)

Christmas Tree Lighting at Mary Bartleme Park
Saturday, December 7 (5:30-7:30pm)

Stories with Santa - Saturday, December 7 (6-8:30pm)

Make some holiday memories with family games, crafts, themed snacks, holiday fun, and a special visit from the man in the red suit. Bring your own camera and take your picture with Santa. Write and mail your letter to Santa in our holiday post-office and end the night with bedtime stories with Santa!

(Wonder Works Children’s Museum, 6445 West North Avenue, Oak Park)

Bucktown Neighborhood Choir Caroling - Saturday, December 7 (2-3pm)

with the caroling route beginning at Robey Hall, 2018 W North Ave and progressing to 2:20 p.m. at TOMS, 1611 N Damen Ave, and finally at  2:40 p.m. at Goddess and the Grocer. Songs will include winter, Christmas and Hanukkah favorites. (Wicker Park)

The Bark Place 11th Annual Pet Pictures with Santa - Saturday, December 7 (12-4pm)

Organized by The Bark Place, this event provides an opportunity to have pet photos taken with Santa for the holiday family photos. (Rogers Park Social, 6920 N. Glenwood Ave.)

Collaboraction’s Teen Ensemble debuts “ALL I WANT FOR CHICAGO IS…” - December  7-15

Collaboratively written by the Collaboraction Teen Ensemble, All I Want for Chicago Is… follows a group of Chicago teenagers who want to avoid a drab and drama-filled holiday break at home. Instead, they gather on Christmas Eve at Collaboraction to share their hopes, fears and dreams as young Chicagoans.

Magical events occur throughout the show via theater, puppetry, music and poetry while actual Chicago teens explore issues of equity, colorism, sexual orientation, discrimination, mental illness and gun violence. (Pentagon Theatre at Collaboraction Studios in the Flat Iron Arts Building 1579 N Milwaukee Ave, 3rd Floor)

Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s The Nutcracker - December 7 & 8

Originally presented at the Arie Crown Theater from 1965 to 1997, the Ruth Page Civic Ballet’s Nutcracker performance recreates Ruth Page’s original full-length staging. Featuring an international cast of guest artists from Germany and former Joffrey and Hubbard Street dancers alongside an elite company, stunning costumes and magical settings in the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of the Sweets, these performances promise world-class entertainment and holiday joy for children of all ages. 

(Northeastern Illinois University, 3701 W Bryn Mawr Ave)

Dance Along Nutcracker - Sunday, December 8

Sugar plum fairies and mouse kings of all ages and dance skills are invited to point their toes to the familiar music of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic at the Dance-Along Nutcracker®. Two performances at 10am and 1pm. (Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E Washington St)

Greektown Christmas Ceremony - Sunday, December 8

Greektown Chicago’s festive kick-off to the season, the Greektown Christmas Ceremony, takes place on Sunday, December 8 at 3:30 p.m. at the newly-unveiled Elysian Field. The event will feature a specialty Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony with caroling from Greek school students, a Santa visit featuring complimentary photos for kids along with hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts in a heated tent, and caroling at Greektown restaurants following the ceremony. The Greektown Karavakia Display will also be introduced, an initiative that pays tribute to the long-standing and popular Christmas tradition in Greece of decorating small boats, and will be showcased throughout the neighborhood. (Elysian Field - corner of Halsted & Van Buren)

Rolling with Frosty - Friday, December 13 (6-8pm)

Enjoy holiday fun with a roller skating party for all ages.  Limited skates available to borrow.

(Lake Shore Park, 808 N Lake Shore Drive)

For More Winter Events from Chicago Parks check HERE

Christmas Cookie Exchange - Saturday, December 14 (1-3pm)

Participants who bring ten dozen (nine for swapping, one for tasting) of the same cookies can taste others’ home-baked cookies, and take home nine dozens of their favorites to share over the holidays. (R Public House, 1509 W Jarvis Ave)

MADE Holiday Pop Up -  December 15

MADE, which features artisan gifts, a full cash bar and food trucks, is curated to feature the newest, trendiest and most interesting handmade art, jewelry, wearables and gift items created by makers from Chicagoland and beyond. This West Loop indoor shopping show features art, décor, fashion, accessories, food, clothing, lotions, stationery,  furniture and more. If it can be hand-MADE, it is at this show!  Jenny Rhead of Greetings by Jenny will offer a make-your-own-holiday-cards station. For $6 per person, she’ll provide the materials to create custom notecards with Santa and other holiday-inspired images. (Morgan Manufacturing, 401 N. Morgan Street - download your FREE tickets here)

Chicago Tap Theatre’s Tidings of Tap! - December 15 at 3pm

Chicago Tap Theatre makes a major narrative step this year by bringing internationally-celebrated choreographer and Jump RhythmÒ Artistic Director Billy Siegenfeld in to direct this year's edition of Tidings of Tap! This is the next logical step in taking what was once a holiday revue to a complete production with a strong structure and engaging plot. Artistic Director Mark Yonally helps to bring audiences live music, a touch of magic and boundless energy with a warm and wondrous celebration of tap dance and the winter season. (North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd)

Check back often - Events are updated regularly!