Chicago’s holiday season begins with the 103rd lighting of the city’s official Christmastree,in Millennium Park, at 6 p.m. Nov. 18 and featuring a performance by the percussion ensemble STOMP. Holiday activities in the park include the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink (to March 5), Caroling at Cloud Gate (Fridays, Nov. 25-Dec. 16), and visits with Santa Claus (Nov. 18, 24 and weekends Nov. 18-Dec. 18).
Daley Plaza remains festive with the annual Christkindlmarket (Nov. 18-Dec. 24), which brings a European tradition to Chicago. Inspired by a 16th century market in Nuremberg, Germany, it is know for its wide array of quality gifts and food vendors. It’s a great spot for a hot beverage on a chilly day or to find a unique gift for that person who has everything. Cuckoo clock anyone? There’s also a Christkindlmarket suburban location (Nov. 25-Dec. 24) at Naper Settlement, 523 Webster, Naperville. christkindlmarket.com. Free.
Now in its 16th year,Winter WonderfestNavy Pier features lots of indoor family fun with carnival rides, giant slides, holiday-themed activities, a Chicago Blackhawks ice skating rink and more. Dec. 2-Jan. 7 at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand; navypier.com. $10, $25.
TheMagnificent Mile Lights Festivalcelebration features a tree-lighting parade down Michigan Avenue with grand marshals Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. Begins at 5:30 pm, Nov. 19 on Michigan from Oak to Wacker; followed by fireworks display over the Chicago River; themagnificentmile.com. Free.
So start planning your holiday fun with these additional suggestions:
Lincoln Park Zoo’s ZooLights: The zoo grounds are transformed into a land of twinkling lights beginning Nov. 25 and continuing Friday and Sunday until Dec. 4, then nightly Dec. 9-Jan. 1 (with the exception of Dec. 24-25). Brewlights (Dec. 1, $40-$60) is an evening to enjoy seasonal and international craft beers. There’s also a holiday market, photos with Santa, crafts, ice sculpture carving, carousel and train rides. Beginning Nov. 25-Feb. 26 enjoy the ice rink at 2001 N. Clark; lpzoo.org. Free.
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic: The zoo is lit with more than one million twinkling lights including the Polar Lights show. Plus there are caroling to the animals, ice carving demonstrations, light shows, Santa and Mrs. Claus, live entertainment in the Holly Jolly Theater, magic shows and a model railroad display. Open Saturdays and Sundays Dec. 3-18 and daily Dec. 26-31. 8400 W. 31st St., Brookfield; czs.org.
Holiday Happenings at the Art Institute of Chicago: Christmas displays begin with the annual “Wreathing of the Lions” (Nov. 25) and continue with Holiday Choirs (Dec. 5-9), Holiday Throne Rooms and Neapolitan Creche (Nov. 22-Jan. 8), Gingerbread House Decorating (Dec. 10, $55, $70), the Annual Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party (Dec. 11, $20-$75) and a performance by the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center (Dec. 13, $5-$15). Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan; artic.edu. Included with admission except where noted.
Richard H. Driehaus Muesum: Glitter & Gold Holiday Brunch features a buffet and music by the Festive Singers. Dec. 3. $45, $95. Holiday Cabaret with jazz artists Dee Alexander and Marquis Hill. Dec. 9. $55. Santa Saturdays feature sing-alongs, art projects, storytelling and a complimentary family portrait. Dec. 10, 17. $10, $15, children under 2 free. driehausmuseum.org.
Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at Museum of Science & Industry: An annual tradition began in 1942, Christmas Around the World features a 45-ft Christmas tree covered in 30,000 lights, surrounded by 50 smaller trees each decorated to represent cultural traditions around the globe. Holidays of Light is a display that celebrates enlightenment including the Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah and St. Lucia Day. Nov. 17–Jan. 8 at the Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr.;msichicago.org. Included with admission.
Breakfast with Santa and SUE at the Field Museum: Enjoy a buffet breakfast in Stanley Field Hall before creating holiday crafts. Then get pictures taken with Santa, and his prehistoric pal, Sue. This year the event is for members only. Dec. 10-11, 17 at the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.; fieldmuseum.org. $25, $35.
Holiday Breakfast at The Shedd Aquarium: Includes breakfast, a screening of “The Polar Express 4-D Experience” and a meet-and-greet with Santa. Follow these with a visit to the Polar Play Zone exhibit and the One World aquatic presentation. Dec. 10, 11 & 17 at the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr.; sheddaquarium.org. $49.95-$34.95, children under 3 free.
Irish Christmas in America: With Oisin Mac Diarmada, Niamh Farrell, Samantha Harvey and Seamus Begley. Nov 26 at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; oldtownschool.org. $25, $27.
Harry Shearer & Judith Owen’s Christmas Without Tears: A reverent and irreverent antidote to the most stressful of seasons. Dec. 11 at Space, 1245 Chicago, Evanston; evanstonspace.com. $20-$70.
Celebrating the Holidays with Friends: Composer/arranger Janet Landon presents an evening of music featuring cast members of “The Christians,” which begins performances Dec. 1 on Steppenwolf’s mainstage. Dec. 19 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted; steppenwolf.org. $20.
Foiled Again Holiday Concert: The jazz-folk trio present holiday classics and more. Dec. 19 at Space, 1245 Chicago, Evanston; evanstonspace.com. $15-$30.
Brave Combo Holiday Spectacular: The Texas quintet’s annual rollicking holiday party. Dec. 17 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. $20.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Wild & Swingin’ Holiday Party: Get ready to dance when the California band salutes the holidays. Nov. 27 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph; citywinery.com/chicago. $35-$50.
A Wynonna & the Big Noise Christmas: Grammy Award-winner Wynonna Judd and her band welcome the holidays. Dec. 2 at College of DuPage, McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn; visit atthemac.org. $74-$79.
Rhett Miller’s Holiday Extravaganza: The Old 97’s frontman returns with a bagful of holiday musical treats. Dec. 1 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph; citywinery.com/chicago. $25-$35.
Dave Koz Christmas Tour: The jazz saxophonist with Jonathan Butler, Valerie Simpson and Kenny Latimore. Dec. 11 at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; ticketmaster.com. $29.50-$215.
Salute to Vienna Concert: Celebrate the New Year with a program featuring Strauss waltzes and melodies from “Die Fledermaus” and “The Merry Widow” performed by the Strauss Symphony of Canada featuring the Chicago Philharmonic. Dec. 31 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; cso.org. $27.
20 Bands of Christmas: A three-day event featuring an array of bands and holiday music. Dec. 16-18 at The Wire, 6815 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; wireismusic.com. $20, $50/three day pass.
Dan Zanes Holiday Sing-a-Long & Family Brunch: The Grammy Award winner with a holiday show aimed at kids and their parents. Dec. 11 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph; citywinery.com/chicago. $20 in advance, $25 day of show.
St. Charles Singers – Candlelight Carols: A colorful new array of seasonal songs. Dec. 2, 4 at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar, St. Charles; Dec. 3 at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut; stcharlessingers.com. $35.
WXRT’s Big Holiday Concert: With Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats and Mavis Staples. Dec. 7 at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; ticketmaster.com. $39.50, $49.50.
Lira! Polish Carols, Song & Dance: The Lira Ensemble singers, dancers and symphony present Polish and American carols and folk dances. Dec. 4 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; cso.org. $30-$80.
Shemekia Copeland’s Holiday Blues Bash: The powerhouse singer brings a bit of the blues to the holidays. Dec. 18 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph; citywinery.com/chicago. $28-$42.
Chris & Heather’s Calendar Show: Chris Ligon and Heather McAdams celebrate Heather’s new 2017 calendar (featuring her great drawings of singers and musicians) with a live show featuring a variety of different music acts including Kelly Hogan, Robbie and Donna Fulks, The Country Doctors, The Famous Brothers, Jane Baxter Miller and Kent Kessler, Scott Ligon, Nora O’Connor, Devil In a Woodpile and more. Dec. 3 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. $20.
Michael McDermott’s “Mischief and Mistletoe”: The popular local singer rings in the holidays with tunes new and old. Dec. 21-23 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph; citywinery.com/chicago. $28-$38.
Ides of March Christmas Show: Popular Berwyn band salutes the holidays. Dec. 16 at Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles; arcadalive.com. $39-$49.
Andrew Bird “Gezelligheid”: The ever-popular residency returns. Dec. 14-16 at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut; jamusa.com. Sold out.
Northwestern University Holiday Concerts: Chicago Jazz Orchestra – Not So Silent Night features the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite,” Nov. 29 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle, Evanston. $10, $25. Handel’s “Messiah.” Dec. 2, 4 at Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle, Evanston. $5, $15. Music for the Holidays features the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra. Dec. 3 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle, Evanston. A Festival of Lessons and Carols features the Alice Miller Chapel Choir, Philharmonia and Millar Brass Ensemble. Dec. 4 at Alice Millar Chapel, 1879 Sheridan, Evanston. Free. artscircle.northwestern.edu
Lorrie Morgan – A Country Christmas: The Nashville songbird with classic country tunes and holiday gems. Dec. 14 at Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles; arcadalive.com. $39-$69.
Christmas Queens: A different sort of holiday entertainment with Detox, Ginger Minj, Jiggly Caliente, Katya Manila Luzon, Sharon Needles and Thorgy Thor; hosted by Michelle Visage. Dec. 16 at Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield; jamusa.com. $39.50.
A Psychedelic Christmas with The Airplane Family & Friends: Just what it says with alumni of Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna and Grateful Dead. Dec. 18 at Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles; arcadalive.com. $39-$59.
KISS FM’s Jingle Ball: With sets from Ariana Grande, Elle Goulding, Backstreet Boys and Tove Lo. Dec. 14 at Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Rd., Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $30-$115.
The Redmonds Family Christmas Show: With the French Pearl Band, Neighborhood Kid’s Choir, The Redmonds, Duct Take Band. Dec. 23 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. $12.
Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus—The Holidivas: Songs from your favorite divas with an appearance by an actual diva — opera singer Cynthia Clarey. Dec. 2 at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. $25-$40. Dec. 3 at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie, Skokie. $25-$40. Dec. 13 at Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th. $28. cgmc.org
WTMX Miracle on State Street: With Charlie Puth, James Bay and JoJo. Dec. 3 at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; ticketmaster.com. $39.50-$75.
Gary Hoey’s Ho Ho Hoey: The blues/rock guitarist performs holiday classics hard-rock style. Dec. 11 at Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles; arcadalive.com. $19-$49.
WKQX’s The Nights We Stole Christmas: Starring Weezer (Dec 1), Cage the Elephant (Dec. 2), Fitz and the Tantrums (Dec. 3) plus several opening bands each night. Dec. 1-3 at The Aragon, 1106 W. Lawrence; ticketmaster.com. $38.
B96 Jingle Bash: With Britney Spears, Shawn Mendes, Fifth Harmony and more. Dec. 10 at Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Rd., Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $35-$140.
Bret Michaels Christmas Show: The Poison frontman welcomes the holiday season. Dec. 23 at Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles; arcadalive.com. $49-$99.
Rob Parton Big Band Christmas Show: The jazz artist welcomes the holidays big band style. Dec. 14 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. $15.
Ron and Naomi’s Christmas Special: One part Andy Williams, one part Garrison Keillor, one part Pee Wee’s Playhouse, this is a holiday party you won’t want to miss. Dec. 8 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. $10.
A Chanticleer Christmas: A cappella performance featuring holiday music from around the world and across the centuries. Dec. 6-7 at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut; cso.org. $39-$61.
Christmas with the Celts: Popular Christmas tunes, Irish carols, humor and dancing. Dec. 13 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights; metropolisarts.com. $40, $50.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra ’s Merry, Merry Chicago!: With members of the CSO and the 160 member Chicago Children’s Choir plus a guest from the North Pole. Dec. 16-17, 21-23 at Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; cso.org. $38-$99.
‘Do-It-Yourself Messiah’: Now in its 41st year, amateur volunteers are joined by a professional orchestra for a DIY version of the choral masterpiece. Dec.20-21 at Harris Theater at Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph; harristheaterchicago.org. $15.
Vienna Boys Choir – Christmas in Vienna: The enchanting choral group performs holiday favorites and more. Dec. 20 at Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; cso.org. $25-$85.
Evanston Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert: With North Shore Choral Society, Evanston Dance Ensemble, Evanston Children’s Choir and the ESO Holiday Gospel Choir. Dec. 4 at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge, Evanston; evanstonsymphony.org. $10-$40.
Holiday Sweets & Musical Treats: Presented by the DuPage Symphony Orchestra. Dec. 11 at North Central College, Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago, Naperville; northcentralcollege.edu/show. $8-$10.
The Lakeside Singers: Traditional and unusual songs of the season. Dec. 5 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights; metropolisarts.com. $35.
Ronnie Spector: Best Christmas Party Ever: The former Ronette and her now classic renditions of holiday favs. Dec. 1 at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan; geneseetheatre.com. $28-$49.
Leann Rimes – Today Is Christmas: The holidays go country. Dec. 2 at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan; geneseetheatre.com. $38-$58.
Handel’s “Messiah”: The time-honored classic presented by the Apollo Chorus. Dec. 10-11 at Harris Theater at Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph; harristheaterchicago.org. $30-$70.
Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza: Starring the Osmond Brothers and the Lennon Sisters plus the Moon River Band, dance team Pasha and Aliona and the Andy Williams Ballroom Champions. Dec. 11 at North Central College, Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton, Naperville; northcentralcollege.edu/show. $75-$95.
The Wizards of Winter: Featuring former members of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Dec. 16 at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan; geneseetheatre.com. $28-$49.
Christmas with the King and Billie Holiday: Holiday and other favorites with Brandon Bennett (star of “Million Dollar Quartet”) as Elvis and Alexis J. Roston as Billie. Dec. 17 at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan; geneseetheatre.com. $35, $45.
Home for Christmas, the Symphony Tour: Featuring the Celtic Women. Dec. 17-18, North Central College, Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton, Naperville; northcentralcollege.edu/show. $90-$105.
Jim Brickman – Comfort & Joy: The pianist presents songs, sounds and stories of the season. Dec. 3 at Dominican University’s Lund Auditorium, 7900 Division, River Forest; events.dom.edu. $23-$53.
Country Night in Berwyn Holiday Show: Twang in the holidays Wild Earp, The Hot Club of Berwyn, John Ballantyne’s Crazy Heart, Erin Edmister & 3 Tons, Peter Joly and more. Dec. 22 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. $5.
The Lawrence Arms Second Annual War on Christmas: The Chicago punk band returns with Dead to Me and the Bollweevils for some holiday cheer. Dec. 8-10 at Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; doubledoor.com. $27 in advance, $32 at door.
KLOVE Christmas 2016: With Steven Curtis Chapman, Crowder and Unspoken. Dec. 8 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont; rosemont.com. $29-$299.
Carols and Kris Kringle: Daniel Johnson’s cabaret show about the legend and tradition of Santa Claus. Dec. 1 at Davenport’s, 1383 N. Milwaukee; davenportspianobar.com. $13 plus two drink minimum.
A Broadway Holiday: Will and Anthony Nunziata perform holiday favorites and Broadway classics. Dec. 6, Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell; metropolisarts.com. $35, $40.
“A Christmas Carol”
“A Christmas Carol”: The 39th annual staging of the holiday classic stars a perfectly cast Larry Yando as Scrooge. Nov. 19-Dec. 31 at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn; goodmantheatre.org. $25-$102.
“A Christmas Carol”: An hourlong version of Dickens holiday tale perfect for children of all ages. To Dec. 23 at Drury Lane Theatre for Young Audiences, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace; drurylanetheatre.com. $15.
“A Christmas Carol”: William J. Norris’ adaptation and presented by College of DuPage Theater this staging highlights all the traditions of this classic tale. Nov. 25-27 at College of DuPage, McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn; atthemac.org. $12, $15.
“A Christmas Carol”: Andrew J. Pond’s new adaptation offers a fresh take on Scrooge’s redemptive journey. Nov. 30-Dec. 22 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights; metropolisarts.com. $30.
“A Christmas Carol”: An intimate and immersive production that includes the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a Victorian Christmas. Dec. 9-18 at Fury Theatre, Indian Boundary Park, 2500 W. Lunt; furytheatre.org. $10-$20.
“Twist Your Dickens”: The Second City’s holiday hit is a twisted improv take that skewers Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the whole gang. Dec. 2-30 at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn; goodmantheatre.org. $20-$45.
“Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol”: Staged by Organic Theater. Dec. 8-11 at North Central College, Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth, Naperville; northcentralcollege.edu/show. $20, $30.
Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”: Highly anticipated world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s reimagining of the holiday classic replaces the traditional 19th century setting with Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair as seen through a child’s eyes. Dec. 10-30 at Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress; joffrey.org. $35-$170.
House Theatre of Chicago’s “The Nutcracker”: This ballet-free staging has become a holiday tradition. Reimagined this season with new design elements and updated script. To Dec. 30 at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division; thehousetheatre.com. $15-$45.
“The Nutcracker”: Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet’s lavish staging with live music by the New Philharmonic. Dec. 17-18 at College of DuPage, McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn; atthemac.org. $32-$43.
“The Nutcracker”: New this year in the 90-minute narrated version by Hyde Park School of Dance is a hip-hop dance battle by the mouse soldiers. Dec. 9-11 at Mandell Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th; hydeparkdance.org. $10-$33.
“Duke It Out! Nutcracker”: A collaboration between the Music Institute of Chicago and Dance Chicago pairs the classical and jazz (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) versions of the holiday favorite. With music performed by Quintet Attacca and Axiom Brass. Dec. 10 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago, Evanston; musicinst.org. $7.
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian “Nutcracker”: The international troupe is one the most respected in the world, and their ballet comes with a message of peace on earth. Dec. 4 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $28-$175.
“The Magic of The Nutcracker”: Dancenter North’s 80-minute version of the holiday ballet is perfect for the entire family. Dec. 9-10 at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan; geneseetheatre.com. $15-$36.
“The Nutcracker”: This season’s staging by the Ruth Page Civic Ballet features guest artists from Cuba’s National School of Ballet. Dec-3-4 at Northeastern Illinois University, Steinberg Fine Arts Center, enter at 3701 W. Bryn Mawr; ruthpage.org. $10-$25.
“Dance-Along Nutcracker”: Dancers of all ages and abilities are invited to take part in this annual performance of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic. Optional beginner lessons are offered by Ballet Chicago before each performance. Dec. 4 at Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; chicagoculturalcenter.org. Free.
“The Nutcracker”: Magic, mystery, heartwarming musical numbers and family fun abound in Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences staging. Nov. 11-Dec. 30 at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire; marriotttheatre.com. $17.23.
“Hip-Hop Nutcracker with special guest Kurtis Blow”: A holiday mash-up reimagines the classic score through explosive hip-hop choreography. Dec. 9 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $24-$125.
“The Nutcracker”: Schaumburg Dance Ensemble’s staging of the classic. Dec. 2-Dec. 11 at Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Ct., Schaumburg; prairiecenter.org. $18, $28.
“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley”: The sequel to “Pride and Prejudice” gives bookish sister Mary a chance at love during the holidays. To Dec. 18 at Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie, Skokie; northlight.org. $30-$81.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas”: The Peanuts pals find the true meaning of Christmas. Nov. 11-Jan. 8 at Emerald City Theatre, Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut; broadwayinchicago.com. $16.50-$32.50.
“Annie Warbucks”: In the sequel to “Annie,” Daddy Warbucks must find a wife or loose Annie. Nov. 17-Dec. 18 at Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge, Munster, Ind.; theatreatthecenter.com. $40-$44.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – The Musical: In this family-friendly show, Rudolph helps Santa save Christmas. Nov. 17-20 at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; thechicagotheatre.com. $35-$125.
“The 12 Dames of Christmas:” Angela Ingersoll’s one-woman show is a heartwarming journey through the holiday songbook featuring classics by twelve legendary songstresses. Dec. 10 at Elgin Community College Arts Center, 1700 Spartan, Elgin; tickets.elgin.edu. $30.
“It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!”: A 1940s radio play version of the holiday favorite. Nov. 18-Dec. 31 at American Blues Theater, Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln; americanbluestheater.com. $19-$49.
“A Christmas Story – The Musical”: Jean Shepherd’s classic tale of Ralphie and his desperate quest for his Christmas wish. Nov. 18-Dec. 18, Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan, Lake Forest; citadeltheatre.org. $35, $38.
“The Snow Queen”: Piccolo Theatre’s annual Panto brings back a holiday classic that will tickle your funny bone. To Dec. 18 at Piccolo Theatre, 600 Main, Evanston; piccolotheatre.com. $25.
“That’s Weird Grandma: The Holiday Special”: Barrel of Monkeys with student written stories about the holidays, elves, gift-giving and more. Dec. 4 at Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland; barrelofmonkeys.org. $6, $12.
“Bethlehem (PA)”: 20% Theatre presents a play about community and hope during the holidays. Dec. 7-10 at Berry United Methodist Church, 4754 N. Leavitt; twentypercentchicago.com. $20.
“The Rip Nelson Holiday Spectacular”: David Cerda’s holiday romp in which television star Rip Nelson hosts a holiday TV special circa 1982. Nov. 20-Dec. 30 at Hell in a Handbag, Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark; handbagproductions.org. $28-$30.
“This Way Outta Santaland”: Mitchell Finn’s autobiographical tell-all about his time as Crumpet the elf in Theater Wit’s long-running hit “The Santaland Diaries.” Nov. 27-Dec. 23 at Theater Wit, 1229 N. Belmont; theaterwit.org.
“Auntie Chan’s Holiday Office Party”: Office parties rise to a new level in this variety show. To Dec. 18 at Annoyance Theatre, 851 W. Belmont; theannoyance.com. $8.
“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play:” The holiday classic presented as a 1940’s radio broadcast. Nov. 25-Dec. 27 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights; metropolisarts.com. $30.
“The Christmas Schooner:” John Reeger and Julie Shannon’s musical about the first Christmas tree ship and the family who risked their lives to bring the Christmas spirit to Chicago. Nov. 30-Dec. 31 at Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport; mercurytheaterchicago.com. $30-$65.
“Christmas at Christine’s”: A new holiday musical revue as Christine Bunuan invites you into her world of yuletide memories. Dec. 1-23 at Silk Road Rising, Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington; silkroadrising.org. $25.
The Second City’s “Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue”: An end-of-year tradition that skewers the holidays. Dec. 2-23 at Paramount’s Copley Theatre, 8 E. Galena, Aurora; paramountaurora.com. $36.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”: Two holiday favorites for the entire family. Dec. 3 at Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee; filamenttheatre.org. $25.
“Santa…Deux?”: An ambitious elf decides two Santa’s must be better than one. Dec. 3-18 at Li’l Buds Theatre at Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway; lilbudstheatre.org. $15.
The Second City’s “Holidazed”: A riotous send-up of all things holiday. Dec. 28-31 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights; metropolisarts.com. $30-$60.
The Second City’s “Holidazed and Confused”: Comedy sketches that take the warm and fuzzy off favorite holiday traditions. To Dec. 31 at Up Comedy Club, 230 W. North; upcomedyclub.com. $31-$41.
“The Other Cinderella”: The popular holiday show retells the classic fairy tale with an Afro-centric twist. Nov. 26-Jan. 8 at Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark; blackensembletheater.org. $55, $65.
“A Very Electric Christmas”: A tale of family friendship and hope set to timeless holiday hits. Nov. 10 at Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams, Crystal Lake; rauecenter.org. $20.
“The Comedy Roast of Mr. Scrooge”: All the characters finally get to tell Scrooge what they really think of him in this irreverent spoof. Dec. 8-23 at Chicago Theater Works, 1113 W. Belmont; chicagotheaterworks.com. $27.50.
“Nick & Gabe – Snowflake Ball”: It’s officially the holidays when the boys get ready to celebrate. Dec. 1-17 at Up Comedy Club, 230 W. North; upcomedyclub.com. $12-$17.
The Second City’s “Dysfunctional Holiday Revue”: A night of holiday mischief and fun. Dec. 10 at College of DuPage, McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn; atthemac.org. $32-$46.
“The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t”: Child’s Play Touring Theatre presents a show written by children about holiday preparations at the North Pole. Dec. 10 at North Central College, Pfeiffer Hall, 310 W. Benton, Naperville; northcentralcollege.edu/show. $6, $12.
“A Christmas Survival Guide”: Williams Street Rep’s holiday revue takes a knowing look at a stressful season. Nov. 26-Dec. 4 at Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams, Crystal Lake; wsrep.org. $32.50, $38.50
“Tidings of Tap,” Chicago Tap Theatre’s celebration of tap and the holiday season. Dec. 11 at Joel Hall Dance Center, 5965 N. Clark; Dec. 18 at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie, Skokie; chicagotaptheatre.com. $24-$40.
“A Joyful Noise: Tribute to Black Nativity”: Congo Square Theatre presents songs from the gospel musical. Dec. 16-17 at DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th, Chicago; congosquaretheatre.org. $25.
“The Magic Flute,”:New family-friendly adaptation of Mozart’s tale of good triumphing over evil.Dec.10, 2016-Jan. 27, 2017.Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker. lyricopera.org/Flute. (Performances are in German with projected English translations.)
Morton Arboretum’s Illumination: Tree Lights: Enjoy a festive walk through the woods where tree lights respond to your touch and voice. The one-mile path is surrounded by trees decked out in bright LED lights dance to excerpts from “The Nutcracker” recorded by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Nov. 18–Jan. 2 at Morton Arboretum, 4100 IL Route 53, Lisle; mortonarb.org. $7-$22.
Home for Hanukkah with Bubbe – An Interactive Holidays Experience: Bubbe and Zayde are having a Hanukkah open house, along with their family and special visits from friends, featuring stories, songs and good old-fashioned schmaltz! Wednesdays, Nov. 30-Dec. 21 at ComedySportz, 929 W. Belmont; cszchicago.com. $15.
Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co. Holiday Lights Tour: Showcases the holiday lights at popular destinations up and down the Magnificent Mile and State Street. with two stops at Christkindlmarket and ZooLights. Nov. 25-Dec. 26. Tours begin and end at John Hancock Plaza, 875 N. Michigan; chicagotrolley.com. $18-$49.
Chicago Botanic Garden: Wonderland Express is a family-friendly, made-for-memoires experience featuring an exhibit of miniature trains in a mini-replica of Chicago and light show. Nov. 25-Jan. 2 at Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook, Glencoe. chicagobotanic.org. $10, $13 (parking $25).
Lincoln Park Conservatory: Winter Flower & Train Show transforms the conservatory into a winter wonderland with festive plant arrangements and a model train exhibit. Nov. 25-Jan. 8 at Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2931 N. Stockton. chicagoparkdistrict.com. Free.
Caroling at Cloud Gate: Local choirs perform holiday classics and encourage sing-alongs. Then head to McCormick Tribune Plaza for a spin around the ice rink. Cloud Gate at Millennium Park, Michigan & Randolph; cityofchicago.org. Free.
One of a Kind Holiday Gift Show: The popular market is the place to find unique gifts. More than 600 artists sell jewelry, household items, food, clothes, art and other items. Dec. 1-4 at Merchandise Mart, 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza; oneofakindshowchicago.com. $12, $20.
Dickens Dinner and Play: Lawry’s the Prime Rib features a Dickens themed dinner followed by “A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theatre. Nov. 20 at 100 E. Ontario; lawrysonline.com. $98, $130.
Christmas Eve (and First Night of Hanukkah) for the Jews: A holiday comedy show with Joel Chasnoff, John Roy and Aaron Freeman. Dec. 24 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph; citywinery.com/chicago. $20, $25.
Drury Lane Theatre Holiday Events: “A Christmas Carol” Breakfast: Saturdays Nov. 19-Dec. 17 and Friday, Dec. 23. $13, $17. Christmas Brunch with Santa, Sundays Nov. 27-Dec. 18. $10-$45. Holiday Afternoon Tea, Saturdays Dec. 3-17. $25, $35. “A Christmas Carol” Dinner. Dec. 14. $15, $25. Christmas Brunch Buffet,Dec. 25. $10-$50. Children under 2 free for all events. Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace; drurylanetheatre.comA John Waters Christmas: The legendary filmmaker, raconteur and author offers his take on the holidays. Nov. 29 at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport; thaliahallchicago.com. $42.
One Act Festival – Yuletide Genocide: Six theater companies present short plays with a riotous spin on classic holiday tales. Dec. 1-16 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont; stage773.com. $15, $20.
Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular: Family entertainment featuring feats of strength, skill and grace performed to music by a live orchestra. Dec. 10 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont; rosemont.com. $25-$165
“It’s a Wonderful Life” in Concert: Members of the CSO accompany Frank Capra’s classic movie. Dec. 9-11 at Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; cso.org. $45-$120.
New Year’s Eve at Navy Pier’s Crystal Gardens with DJ Dante: Plus special guest DJs, food and drinks. Various packages available. Dec. 31 at Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand; crystalgardensnye.com.
Hinsdale’s 51st Annual Christmas Walk: Shop your way through downtown Hinsdale while being greeted by holiday characters and carolers. Also train rides, ice carvers, Santa Claus, train and tree lighting. Dec. 4 in downtown Hinsdale; hinsdalechamber.com. Free.
Lambs Farm Holiday Lights Gift & Craft Fair: Hundreds of vendors selling a wide array of items for holiday shoppers. The event benefits Libertyville’s Lambs Farm, an organization that serves people with developmental disabilities. Dec. 1-4 at Arlington International Race Course, 2200 W. Euclid, Arlington Heights; holidaylightslambsfarm.com. $8 (parking $7).
Renegade Holiday Craft Fair: One of the best holiday markets where you can find affordable, handmade items for everyone on your Xmas list (including yourself). Dec. 3-4 at Bridgeport Arts Center, 1200 W. 35th; renegadecraft.com. Free.
Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade: The annual toy drive culminates in Chicago’s biggest motor parade bringing gifts to children across the city. Dec. 4, beginning at Dan Ryan Woods; chicagolandtft.org. Free.
Long Grove Home for the Holidays: Four weeks of holiday happenings include horse-drawn carriage rides, visits with Santa, strolling carolers and musicians, Christmas tree parade. Nov. 25-Dec. 18 in downtown Long Grove, Old McHenry Rd and Robert Parker Coffin Rd.; longgrove.org. Free.
TBOX Twelve Bars of Christmas Pub Crawl: Wrigleyville’s claim to fame after the Cubs? This pub crawl said to be the world’s largest. Dec. 10 at various locations; tbox.org. $51.34.
Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.