Chicago’s holiday season officially got under way Nov. 17 with the 104th lighting of the city’s mammoth Christmas tree, located in Millennium Park. Holiday activities in the park include the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink and the Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon (both to March 4) and Caroling at Cloud Gate (Fridays, Nov. 24-Dec. 15; visit Millenniumpark.org)
But there’s oh so much more to help you celebrate the season. Here’s a look at some of the area’s offerings.
Daley Plaza remains festive with the annual Christkindlmarket (to 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. 24-Dec. 24) at Naper Settlement, 523 Webster, Naperville. Plus a third location this year at The Park at Wirgley (Nov. 24-Dec. 31) at Addison and Clark; christkindlmarket.com. Free.
The Park at Wrigley transforms into a winter wonderland for the holiday season with an ice skating rink (Nov. 24 to Feb. 25; $5, free 12 and under), Christkindlmarket expands to The Park (Nov. 24 to Dec. 31), holiday tree lighting (Nov. 28), Santa’s Workshop (Nov. 28-Dec. 24), wreath making (Dec. 3, 10, 17; $25), outdoor movies (Dec. 21, Jan. 20, Feb. 10) at Clark and Addison; parkatwrigley.com.
Lincoln Park Zoo’s ZooLights: The zoo grounds are transformed into a land of twinkling lights beginning Friday-Sunday Nov. 24-26 and Dec. 1-3, then nightly Dec. 8-Jan. 1 (with the exception of Dec. 24-25). There’s also photos with Santa, crafts, ice sculpture carving, carousel and train rides. Free. New this year is the Light Maze ($3). Other events include a Holiday Market (Nov. 28, $8, $10) features local artisans; Brewlights (Dec. 1, $40), an evening to enjoy seasonal and international craft beers; Chris White Trio (Dec. 10, $25) with a tribute to Vince Guaraldi’s “Charlie Brown Christmas.” 2001 N. Clark. Free unless otherwise indicated; lpzoo.org.
Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic: The zoo is lit with more than one million twinkling lights. Plus there’s a 41-foot talking tree, a train display, caroling to the animals, ice carving demonstrations, light shows, Santa and Mrs. Claus and much more. 8400 W. 31st St., Brookfield; czs.org.
Holiday Happenings at the Art Institute of Chicago: Christmas events begin with the annual “Wreathing of the Lions” (Nov. 24) and continue with Holiday Choirs (Dec. 4-8), Holiday Throne Rooms and Neapolitan Creche (to Jan. 7), the Annual Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party (Dec. 10, $20-$75), Gingerbread House Decorating (Dec. 16, $55, $70). Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan; artic.edu. Included with admission except where noted.
Richard H. Driehaus Muesum: Holly Jolly Jazz Concert with Tammy McCann. Dec. 8. $50, $60. Glitter & Gold Holiday Brunch features a buffet and live music. Dec. 10. $45, $95. Santa Saturdays feature sing-alongs, art projects, storytelling and pictures with Santa. Dec. 2, 9, 16. $15, $20, children under 2 free. Sounds of the Season features live music in museum’s historic ballroom. Wed, Sat-Sun, Dec. 2-23. Free with admission; 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 and displays representing holiday traditions from cultures 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. To Jan. 7 at the Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr.; msichicago.org. Included with admission.
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 aquatic presentation. Sat-Sun, Dec. 9-23 at the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr.; sheddaquarium.org. $34.95-49.95, children under 3 free.
“A CHRISTMAS CAROL”
“A Christmas Carol”: The 40th annual staging of the holiday classic stars a perfectly cast Larry Yando as Scrooge. To Dec. 31 at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn; goodmantheatre.org. $25-$112.
“Q Brothers Christmas Carol”: A feisty rap adaptation of the classic. To Dec. 31 at The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, 800 E. Grand. Tickets; chicagoshakes.com. $30-$52.
“A Christmas Carol”: An hour-long 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”: The holiday tale of Scrooge’s redemptive journey. Nov. 29-Dec. 27 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. 1-22 at Fury Theatre, Indian Boundary Park, 2500 W. Lunt; furytheatre.org. $10-$20.
“Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol”: Staged by Organic Theater. Dec. 7-10 at North Central College, Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth, Naperville; finearts.northcentralcollege.edu. $20, $30.
“Scrooge and the Ghostly Spirits”: Playwright/composer Douglas Post’s new musical adaptation of the classic. To Dec. 23, Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan, Lake Forest; citadeltheatre.org. $37.50, $40.
“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas”: The classic musical full of dance, romance and laughter. To Dec. 3 at Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph; broadwayinchicago.com. $18-$85.
“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. 24-Dec. 31 at Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport; mercurytheaterchicago.com. $30-$69.
“It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!”: American Blues Theater’s 1940s radio play version of the holiday favorite. To Jan. 6 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont; americanbluestheater.com. $19-$49.
“Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer:” Chicago’s favorite cross-dressing reindeer is back via hell in a Handbag Productions. Nov. 25-Dec. 30 at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark; handbagproductions.org. $25, $30.
“Elf the Musical”: Everybody’s favorite overgrown elf, Buddy, brings mischief to the season. To Jan. 7 at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena, Aurora; visit paramountaurora.com. $36-$74.
Ken Ludwig’s “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”: What happens when Santa’s “naughty or nice” list goes missing? Find out in this Emerald City Theatre production. To Dec. 31 at Broadway Playhouse, Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut; emeraldcitytheatre.com. $17.50-$32.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”: Two holiday favorites for the entire family. Dec. 16 at Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee; filamenttheatre.org. $15, $18.
“A Wonderful Life: The Musical”: A musical version of Frank Capra’s classic movie. To Dec. 23 at Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge, Munster; theatreatthecenter.com. $40-$44.
“Barney the Elf”: Other Theatre presents this campy, irreverent musical comedy. To Dec. 30 at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln. theothertheatrecompany.com. $25.
“The Second City’s Holidazed and Confused”: The Second City’s new holiday show is naughty and nice. To Dec. 30 at The Second City, 1616 N. Wells; secondcity.com. $31-$46.
“This Way Outta Santaland (and other Xmas miracles)”: Mitchell Fain’s tour-de-force blend of storytelling, improv, cabaret and cocktails. Nov. 24-Dec. 30 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont; theaterwit.org. $28-$40.
“That’s Weird, Grandma: Holiday Stories”: Barrel of Monkeys present sketches and songs written by kids and inspired by the holidays. Dec. 4-23 at Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland; barrelofmonkeys.org. $5, $15.
This Wonderful Life: James Leaming plays all the parts in this one-man adaptation of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” To Nov. 26 at Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway; americanbluestheater.com. $19-$49.
“A Joyful Noise: Tribute to Black Nativity”: Congo Square Theatre presents songs from the gospel musical. Dec. 2 at Governor’s State University, 1 University Parkway, University Park. Dec. 9 at DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th, Chicago; congosquaretheatre.org. $25.
“Tidings of Tap,” Chicago Tap Theatre’s celebration of tap and the holiday season. Dec. 10 at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie, Skokie; chicagotaptheatre.com. $24-$40.
“Miracle on 34th Street:” An old-time radio play version of the classic story. Dec. 2-19 at The Artistic Home Theatre, 1376 W. Grand; theartistichome.org. $10-$20.
“The Second City’s Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue”: The sketch comedy troupe captures the magic, mystery and mayhem of the season. Dec. 9 at McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn; atthemac.org. $32-$46. And Dec. 20-31 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights; metropolisarts.com. $30, $35.
Cirque Dreams Holidaze: A cirque show, musical and Christmas spectacular all in one show. Dec. 13 at Rialto Square Theatre, 15 E. Van Buren, Joliet; rialtosquare.com. $33.50-$78.50.
“Pine”: A site-specific comedy about pursuing dreams set outdoors in a Christmas tree lot. Dec. 1-10, on the patio at Uncommon Ground Edgewater, 1401 W. Devon; festivalpines.com. $10 suggested donation.
“The Annoyance Christmas Pageant”: A family-friendly retelling of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” To Dec. 23 at The Annoyance, 4830 N. Broadway; theannoyance.com. $12, $20.
“The Second City’s Non-Denominational Holiday Revue”: A festive new show from the comedy troupe. Dec. 1-23 at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena; paramountaurora.com. $36.
“A Garfield Christmas”: Everyone’s favorite feline tries to understand the true meaning of Christmas. Dec. 2 at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan; geneseetheatre.com. $20.50-$40.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas”: A stage version of the beloved holiday television show. Dec. 8 at Rialto Square Theatre, 15 E. Van Buren, Joliet, rialtosquare.com. $29-$49
“It’s a Wonderful Life”: A live radio version of the classic story. Dec. 9 at Rialto Square Theatre, 15 E. Van Buren, Joliet, rialtosquare.com. $10.
Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”: 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. 1-30 at Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress; joffrey.org. $35-$165.
House Theatre of Chicago’s “The Nutcracker”: This ballet-free staging has become a holiday tradition. Features puppetry, song and spectacle. To Dec. 30 at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division; thehousetheatre.com. $25-$50.
“The Nutcracker”: Performed by the Russian Grand Ballet. Nov. 30 at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph; harristheaterchicago.org. $40-$85.
“Great Russian Nutcracker”: Performed by the Moscow Ballet. Dec. 3 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont; rosemont.com/theatre. $28-$175
“The Nutcracker”: Alexei Kremnev’s version of the classic is set in 1920s America and performed by A&A Ballet. Dec. 1-2 at Studebaker Theater, Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan; aacenterfordance.org. $30-$45.
“The Nutcracker”: This season’s staging by the Ruth Page Civic Ballet. Dec. 2-3 at Northeastern Illinois University, Steinberg Fine Arts Center, enter at 3701 W. Bryn Mawr; ruthpage.org. $10-$25.
“The Nutcracker”: The holiday classic performed by Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet. Nov. 26 at Rialto Square Theatre, 15 E. Van Buren, Joliet; rialtosquare.com. $22-50-$38.50. And Dec. 16-17 at McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn; atthemac.org. $34, $44.
“The Nutcracker”: The Hyde Park School of Dance version of the classic features a hip-hop dance battle by the mouse soldiers. Dec. 8-10 at Mandell Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th; hydeparkdance.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. 3 at Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; chicagoculturalcenter.org. Free.
“The Magic of The Nutcracker”: Dancenter North’s version of the holiday ballet is perfect for the entire family. Dec. 2-3 at Libertyville High School, 708 W. Park, Libertyville; dancenter-north.com/magic-nutcracker. $12-$36. And Dec. 8-9 at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan; geneseetheatre.com. $9-$36.
“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. 9 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago, Evanston; musicinst.org. $7.
“The Nutcracker”: Schaumburg Dance Ensemble’s staging of the classic. Dec. 1-Dec. 10 at Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Ct., Schaumburg; prairiecenter.org. $18, $28.
Handel’s “Messiah”: The time-honored classic presented by the Apollo Chorus of Chicago. Dec. 16-17 at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph; harristheaterchicago.org. $30-$70.
Do-It-Yourself Messiah: Now in its 42th year, amateur volunteers are joined by a professional orchestra for a DIY version of the choral masterpiece. Dec. 18-19 at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph; harristheaterchicago.org. $15.
A Very Barry Christmas: Celebrate the holidays with the iconic performer. Dec. 5 at Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Rd., Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $19-$99.
Brandenburg Concertos: Performed by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Dec. 20 at Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph; harristheaterchicago.org. $30-$60.
Vienna Boys Choir – Christmas in Vienna: The enchanting choral group performs holiday favorites and more. Nov. 25 at Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; cso.org. $25-$85.
Fantasia Christmas After Midnight: The “American Idol” winner celebrates the holidays. Nov. 28 at Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; cso.org. $49.50-$79.50.
Carthage in Chicago Holiday Concert: Celebrate the holidays with the Carthage College Wind Orchestra and Philharmonic. Dec. 4 at Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; cso.org. $10-$50.
A Chanticleer Christmas: A cappella performance featuring holiday music from around the world and across the centuries. Dec. 5-6 at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut; cso.org. $39-$61.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra ’s Merry, Merry Chicago!: With members of the CSO and the 160 member Chicago Children’s Choir plus a special guest from the North Pole. Dec. 15-17, 22-23 at Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; cso.org. $38-$110.
Salute to Vienna Concert: Celebrate the holidays with a program featuring Strauss waltzes and melodies from “Die Fledermaus” and “The Merry Widow” performed by the Strauss Symphony of America featuring the Chicago Philharmonic. Dec. 30 at Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; cso.org. $27-$125.
Chicago a cappella Holiday Concerts: Beloved carols plus others from around the world. Dec. 8 at Wentz Concert Hall, North Central College, 171 E. Chicago, Naperville. Dec. 9 at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut. Dec. 10 at First Unitarian Church, 5650 S. Woodlawn. Dec. 15 at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago, Evanston. Dec. 16 at St. Clement Church, 642 W. Deming Place. Dec. 17 at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake, Oak Park; chicagoacappella.org. $15-$43
Andrew Bird “Gezelligheid”: The ever-popular residency returns. Dec. 11-14 at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut; jamusa.com. Sold out.
Evanston Symphony Holiday Concert: Performing with area instrumentalists, singers and dancers. Dec. 10 at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge, Evanston; evanstonsymphony.org. $10-$40.
The Lira Ensemble: Singers, dancers and symphony present Polish and American carols and folk dances. Dec. 17 at St. John Brebeuf Church, 8307 N. Harlem, Niles. Dec. 19 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights. $30. liraensemble.org
Rhett Miller’s Holiday Extravaganza: The Old 97’s frontman returns with a bagful of holiday musical treats. Plus guest Matthew Ryan. Nov. 30 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph; citywinery.com/chicago. $25-$35.
Chicago Philharmonic: Performing FairyTale Noel featuring works by Debussy and Chopin plus seasonal favorites. Dec. 10 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph; citywinery.com/chicago. $25.
Oak Park Concert Chorale: A festive Christmas concert. Dec. 3 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1025 W. Lake, Melrose Park; oakparkconcertchorale.org. $10-$20.
A Million Dollar Christmas: The music of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash plus holiday tunes. Dec. 10 at McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn; atthemac.org. $45-$65.
93XRT Goose Island Holiday Jam: With Spoon and Real Estate. Dec. 10 at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; ticketmaster.com. $35-$59.50.
She’s Folks’ Holiday Hootenanny: Story, song and sass with a seasonal twist. Dec. 7-8 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted; steppenwolf.org. $18. And Dec. 12 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights; metropolisarts.com. $30, $35.
Kris Allen —Somethin’ About Christmas Tour: Celebrate the holidays with Allen and special guest Marie Miller. Dec. 18 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph; citywinery.com/chicago. $22-$30.
Michael McDermott’s Mischief and Mistletoe: The popular local singer rings in the holidays with tunes new and old. With guest Heater Lynne Horton. Dec. 22-23 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph; citywinery.com/chicago. $28-$38.
WKQX’s The Nights We Stole Christmas: With Rise Against, Papa Roach, Night Riots (Nov. 30), Foster the People, Cold War Kinds, Sir Sly (Dec. 1), Queens of the Stone Age, Run the Jewels, Biffy Clyro (Dec. 2). Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at The Aragon, 1106 W. Lawrence; ticketmaster.com. $38, $41.
The Colors of Christmas: With Ruben Studdard, Jody Watley, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr., Peabo Bryson. Dec. 15 at Rialto Square Theatre, 15 E. Van Buren, Joliet; rialtosquare.com. $49-$89.
Ron and Naomi’s Christmas Special: One part Andy Willaims, one part Garrison Keillor, one part Pee Wee’s Playhouse, this is a holiday party you won’t want to miss. Dec. 7 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. $15.
Phil Vassar & Kellie Pickler — A Christmas Tour: The country artists perform hit songs and holiday favs. Nov. 30 at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan; geneseetheatre.com. $26-$58.
Pentatonix: The a cappella group celebrates the holidays. Dec. 3-5 at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; ticketmaster.com. $35-$149.50.
B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash: With Taylor Swift, Backstreet Boys, Fifth Harmony, Khalid, Logic, Sabrina Carpenter. Dec. 7 at Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Rd., Rosemont; b96.radio.com/jinglebash. $45-$225.
Harry Shearer & Judith Owen’s Christmas Without Tears: A reverent and irreverent antidote to the most stressful of seasons. Dec. 10 at Space, 1245 Chicago, Evanston; evanstonspace.com. $20-$70.
Chris & Heather’s 20th Anniversary Calendar Show: Chris Ligon and Heather McAdams celebrate Heather’s new 2018 calendar (featuring her great drawings of singers and musicians) with a live show featuring a variety of music acts including The Flat Five, Devil in a Woodpile, Jodee Lewis, Vernon Tonges, Big Hair Big Trouble, The Corsairs, Phil Angotti, Joel Patterson with Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor and more. Dec. 9 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. $20.
KISS FM’s Jingle Ball: With music from The Chainsmokers, Demi Lovato Charlie Puth, Kesha, Camila Cabello, Liam Payne, Julia Michaels, Why Don’t We. Dec. 13 at Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Rd., Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $30-$115.
Dave Koz Christmas Show: The 20th anniversary edition of this holiday show. Dec. 9 at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; ticketmaster.com. $29-50-$115.
The Tenors: The Canadian trio sings holiday and pop favorites. Dec. 15, Pfeiffer Hall, North Central College, Naperville; $65-$85; finearts.northcentralcollege.edu
The Midtown Men — Holiday Hits: Four performers from the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys” perform classic hits and holiday tunes. Dec. 1 at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan; geneseetheatre.com. $35-$65.
Lindsey Stirling: Fresh from “Dancing with the Stars,” she performs songs from her new holiday album “Warmer in the Winter.” Dec. 6 at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; ticketmaster.com. $37.50-$75.
93XRT Holiday Concert for Kids with Todd Rundgren: Concert-goers are urged to bring a new or like new toy or book for the children in Chicagoland hospitals during the holiday season. Dec. 16-17 at Park West, 322 W. Armitage; jamusa.com. $59.
Brave Combo Holiday Spectacular: The Texas quintet’s annual rollicking holiday party. Dec. 15-16 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. $20.
Rob Parton Big Band Christmas Show: Holiday show filled with seasonal tunes as well as the best of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and more. With vocalist Leslie Beukelman and the Riverside-Brookfield High School Jazz Band. Dec. 20 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt; fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. $15.
The Lettermen Christmas Show: The classic trio sings in the holidays. Dec. 10 at Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles; arcadalive.com. $39-$95.
Ides of March Christmas Show featuring Jim Peterik: A mix a rock and holiday tunes. Dec. 16 at Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles; arcadalive.com. $39-$59.
Bret Michaels Christmas Show: The Poison frontman welcomes the holiday season. Dec. 22 at Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles; arcadalive.com. $49-$99.
Asleep at the Wheel’s Merry Texas Christmas Ya’ll!: A Texas-centric holiday show. Dec. 1-2 at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; oldtownschool.org. $43, $45.
The Redmonds Christmas Show: The annual holiday show featuring music by The Redmonds, Kevin Lee and the Kings, Duct Tape Band, The Romeo Brothers, 24/7. Dec. 22 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. $12.
Johnny Mathis Christmas Concert: Celebrate the holidays with the legendary crooner. Dec. 1 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $39-$177.
Cirque Musica Holiday presents “Believe”: A concert and visual experience for the entire family. Dec. 2 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $25-$166.
The K-Love Christmas Tour: Features Steven Curtis Chapman, Plumb, We Are Messengers and Marc Martel. Dec. 8 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $15-$75.
Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus — Naughty or Nice: The annual holiday concerts. Dec. 1 at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. $22-$42. Dec. 9 at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie, Skokie. $25-$40. Dec. 10 at Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th. $28. cgmc.org
The Mix presents Miracle with Kelly Clarkson: Plus performances by Andy Grammer and Lights. Dec. 5 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $33-$73.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas: Holiday music and dazzling multimedia effects. Dec. 15 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $39-$195
John Denver Christmas: Performed by the tribute band Chris Collins and Boulder Canyon. Dec. 16 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont; ticketmaster.com. $29-$140
Irish Christmas in America: Holiday celebration with Irish music, song and dance. Dec. 17 at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; oldtownschool.org. $25, $27.
Almost Elton John and the Rocket Band — A Very Merry Christmas: Craig A. Meyer performs Elton John’s music and holiday tunes. Dec. 2 at McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn; atthemac.org. $49-$59.
Paddy Homan & the Noble Call: A trip back to a traditional Irish Christmas via songs, stories and dance. Dec. 16 at Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox; irish-american.org. $20, $22.
Irish Christmas with Andy Cooney: Musicians, singers and dancers celebrate the season. Dec. 3 at Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox; irish-american.org. $30, $35.
Jingle Bell Rock with Rosie and the Rivets: A family-friendly holiday music show. Dec. 1, 8, 15 at Hard Rock Cafe, 63 W. Ontario; hardrock.com/chicago. Free.
A Carpenters Christmas: Lisa Rock and band perform holiday music in the style of The Carpenters. Dec. 5 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights; metropolisarts.com. $30, $35. Dec. 14 at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan; geneseetheatre.com. $25.
98 Degrees at Christmas: The quartet celebrates the holidays. Dec. 16 at Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan; geneseetheatre.com. $40-$99.50.
Bette Midler: Xmas at the Baths: Hell in a Handbag presents Caitlin Jackson in a tribute to Midler with a holiday twist. Dec. 12-13 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted; steppenwolf.org. $25.
Gentri: Finding Christmas: The Gentlemen Trio applies its cinematic sound to holiday songs. Nov. 30 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights; metropolis.arts.com. $45, $50.
Pat McCurdy Holiday Show: The cabaret singer-songwriter celebrates the holidays. Dec. 18 at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont; beatkitchen.com. $6.
The Lakeside Singers: An eclectic sampling of holiday music. Dec. 4 at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell, Arlington Heights; metropolisarts.com. $25, $35.
20 Bands of Christmas: A three-day event featuring an array of bands and holiday music. Dec. 15-17 at The Wire, 6815 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; wireismusic.com. $18 in advance, $20 at door; $50/three day pass.
Celebrate Christmas Tour with Natalie Grant and Danny Gokey: The Christian music singers share the stage for this holiday show. Dec. 3 at Rialto Square Theatare, 15 E. Van Buren, Joliet; rialtosquare.com. $28.50-$48.50.
Northwestern University Holiday Concerts: University Chamber Orchestra performs works by Chopin, Brahms and Bridge. Nov. 30 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle, Evanston. $4, $6. University Symphony Orchestra performs works by Diamond, Roussel and Tchaikovsky. Dec. 2 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle, Evanston. $5, $8. A Festival of Lessons and Carols. Dec. 3 at Alive Miller Chapel, 1870 Sheridan, Evanston. Free. Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Enssemble and University Chorale. Dec. 3 at Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle, Evanston; $5, $8. artscircle.northwestern.edu
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. New this year, interactive pendants that light up in sync with the event. Also this year, admission is by timed tickets every half hour. Nov. 17–Jan. 1 at Morton Arboretum, 4100 IL Route 53, Lisle; mortonarb.org. $12-$22.
Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co. Holiday Lights Tour: Showcases the holiday lights at popular destinations up and down the Magnificent Mile and State St. with two stops at Christkindlmarket and Lincoln Park Zoo’s ZooLights. Nov. 24-Dec. 23. Tours begin and end at John Hancock Plaza, 875 N. Michigan; chicagotrolley.com. $18-$49.
“Sing-a-long White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” screenings: Sing-a-long with the classic Irving Berlin tunes in “White Christmas” and enjoy the heartwarming tale of Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Dec. 9-24 at The Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport; musicboxtheatre.com. Available in double feature or single screenings. Advance tickets $10-$20, day of show $10-$24.
Christmas Tea: Enjoy tea, sandwiches, scones and cookies while musicians and singers perform holiday tunes. Dec. 9 at Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox; irish-american.org. $8, $25.
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. 7-10 at Merchandise Mart, 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza; oneofakindshowchicago.com. $12, $20.
Winter Wonderfest: Now in its 17th year at Navy Pier, it features lots of indoor family fun with carnival rides, giant slides, holiday themed activities, Chicago Blackhawks ice-skating rink, rides on the Centennial Wheel and more. Dec. 1-Jan. 7 at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand; navypier.com. $13-$28.
Chicago Botanic Garden — Wonderland Express: A family-friendly, made-for-memoires experience featuring an exhibit of miniature trains in a mini-replica of Chicago and light show (Nov. 24-Jan. 7), a holiday market (Dec. 2-3), caroling (Nov. 24-26, Dec. 2, 23), ice sculpting (Dec. 28-Jan. 4) at Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook, Glencoe; chicagobotanic.org. $8-$13, children under 2 free (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. 24-Jan 7 at Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2931 N. Stockton; chicagoparkdistrict.com. Free.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” Pop-Up Bar: FitzGerald’s SideBar is transformed into Nick’s bar from the classic movie. Features a movie inspired cocktail menu, a screening of the film and more. While this is sold out, the bar will be open to the public at around 10 p.m. after the screening of the movie. Check the website for any other announcements. FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn; fitzgeraldsnightclub.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. Nov. 24, Dec. 1,8, 15 at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, Michigan & Randolph; cityofchicago.org. Free.
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. 29-Dec. 13 at ComedySportz, 929 W. Belmont; cszchicago.com. $10.
Christmas Bazaar: Craft and bake sale plus music, dance and children’s activities. Breakfast is also offered ($5, $15). Dec. 3 at Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox; irish-american.org. Free for sale and activities.
Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party: A performance of three Potter stories followed by a Victorian tea party. For ages 2-6. Dec. 2-17 at Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, 100 S. Racine; chicagochildrenstheatre.org. $47.
Gingerbread House Decorating Party: Create your own holiday house. Dec. 17 at The Park Grill, Millennium Park, 11 N. Michigan; parkgrillchicago.com. Free admission, $25/gingerbread house.
Miracle on Mars: A Christmas pop-up bar featuring holiday décor and signature cocktail menu. Nov. 24-Dec. 31 at The Orbit Room, 2959 N. California; orbitroomchicago.com
Erik and Jessie and Everyone You Know Variety Show — Holiday Edition: Music, comedy, magic and improve. Dec. 11 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted; steppenwolf.org. $15.
A John Waters Christmas: The legendary filmmaker, raconteur and author offers his take on the holidays. Nov. 27 at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport; thaliahallchicago.com. $35, $42.
We Three Shows: A Broadway Holiday Benefit: Company members from Chicago productions of “Wicked,” “Beautiful — The Carole King Musical” and “Hamilton” stage this event to benefit organizations supporting adults and children with HIV/AIDS. Includes a live auction. Dec. 11 at at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport; thaliahallchicago.com. $65.
Elgin Celebrates the Holidays: A holiday variety show featuring dance, music and holiday cheer. Dec. 17 at Hemmens Cultural Center, Symphony Way and North Grove, Elgin; hemmens.org. $10.
Drury Lane Theatre Holiday Events: “A Christmas Carol” Breakfast. Saturdays to Dec. 23. $15, $20, children under 3 free. Christmas Brunch with Santa. Sundays Nov. 26-Dec. 17. $10-$50, children under 2 free. Holiday Afternoon Tea. Saturdays Dec. 2-23. $25, $35, children under 3 free. ‘A Christmas Carol’ Dinner. Dec. 13. $15, $25, children under 3 free. Christmas Brunch Buffet. Dec. 25, $10-$50, children under 2 free. 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace; drurylanetheatre.com
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. 2-3 at Bridgeport Arts Center, 1200 W. 35th; renegadecraft.com. Free.
Santa Fun Run: A fundraiser (a 5K or 1 mile walk) benefiting Racing Advocates for Community Enrichment. Participants wear Santa suits or event t-shirts. The course begins and ends at Chicagoland Speedway. Dec. 2 at 500 Speedway Blvd., Joliet; register at chicagolandspeedway.com/santa. $10-$30.
HoliDose: A curated market featuring local artisans. A portion of the entrance fee benefits The Kitchen Community. Dec. 10 at Morgan MFG, 401 N. Morgan; dosemarket.com. $10.
Light Up the Park: Holiday tree lighting (Nov. 24) and the Chicago Wolves Ice Rink (Nov. 24-Feb. 25) at MB Financial Park, 5501 Park Place, Rosemont; mbparkatrosemont.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. Nov. 30-Dec. 3 at Arlington International Race Course, 2200 W. Euclid, Arlington Heights; holidaylightslambsfarm.com. $8 (parking $7).
Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade: The annual toy drive culminates in Chicago’s biggest motorcycle 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, Victorian buildings trimmed with lights, Mr. and Mrs Claus. Nov. 24-Dec. 17 in downtown Long Grove, Old McHenry Rd and Robert Parker Coffin Rd.; longgrove.org. Free.
TBOX 12 Bars of Xmas Pub Crawl: Wrigleyville’s claim to fame after the Cubs? This pub crawl said to be the world’s largest. Dec. 9 at various locations; tbox.org. $18.99-$34.99.
The Holiday Season — Get More Art in Your Life: Explore artists studios and purchase artwork directly from the artists. Dec. 8 at Cornelia Arts Building, 1800 W. Cornelia; corneliaartsbuilding.com. Free.
Schedules subject to change without notice.
Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.