The Mix: Things to do in Chicago Dec. 22-Jan. 4

Concerts by Robbie Fulks, Michael McDermott and Straight No Chaser, “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” and comedy by John Oliver and Cameron Esposito are among the entertainment highlights in the week ahead.

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Circus artists play storybook characters come to life in “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.”

Circus artists play storybook characters come to life in “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.”

Cirque Dreams Holidaze


  • “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” is a whimsical musical infused with contemporary circus artistry. A fantastical cast of holiday storybook characters come to life via aerial circus acts, jugglers, acrobats and much more. An original musical score is augmented with holiday favorites. From Dec. 22-24 at Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells. Tickets: $45+. Visit

“Realm of the Nutcracker King”

Tiffany Keane Schaefer

  • Based on the fairytale by E.T.A. Hoffman, “Realm of the Nutcracker King” is an immersive holiday experience set in the enchanted world of the Nutcracker King filled with character actors, puppets and dancing. Created by the Imagineering team behind Otherworld Theatre’s fiction/fantasy productions. To Jan. 8 at Otherworld Theatre, 3914 N. Clark. Tickets: $45-$65. Visit



Michael McDermott will perform at City Winery.

Darin Back

  • Chicago singer-songwriter Michael McDermott gets in the holiday spirit at his annual Mischief & Mistletoe concerts with a set list that that includes his favorite carols, songs from his catalog and requests from the audience. At 8 p.m. Dec. 22-23 at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph. Tickets: $32-$42. Visit

Straight No Chaser will perform holiday songs a cappella.


  • UPDATE: The a cappella ensemble Straight No Chaser at 8 p.m. Dec 23 has been postponed to Jan. 5. Tickets for the Dec. 23 date will be honored. Tickets: $25+. Visit

Robbie Fulks

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

  • Robbie Fulks returns to town for two end-of-the-year performances. The first is an evening of duets with Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, Laura Orshaw, Howard Levy, Robbie Gjersoe and Gerald Dowd. The second is a honky-tonk New Year’s Eve with Fulks and a phenomenal backing band: Redd Volkaert, Dallas Wayne, Paul Carestia and Dowd. At 8:30 p.m. Dec. 30 and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 31 at FitzGerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt. Tickets, $35, $50 for two-night pass. Visit
  • New Philharmonic welcomes 2023 with three concerts featuring pop, waltzes, polkas, arias and more. Guest artists are baritone Mischa Bouvier and members of the pop-rock violin group The CoverGirls. Each performance includes party favors and a champagne toast in the lobby after the concert. At 1:30, 5 and 8:30 p.m. at McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn. Tickets: $67-$77. Visit
  • Since 1999 Rich Warren has been hosting “Folkstage” on WFMT-FM (98.7). On New Year’s Eve, he’s retiring but not without one last tribute. “Folkstage New Year’s Eve Celebration of Rich Warren” is a farewell to the radio legend with performances by Tom Paxton, Reggie Harris, Claudia Schmidt, Vance Gilbert, Anne Hills and other special guests. At 8 p.m. Dec. 31 at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4545 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $100. Visit


  • One of the funniest guys on television, comedian John Oliver (HBO’s “Last Week Tonight”), comes to town for four shows. At 7, 10 p.m. Dec. 29 and 7 p.m. Dec. 30-31 at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. Tickets: $53+. Visit

Comedian Cameron Esposito


  • Now based in Los Angeles, stand-up comic/actor/author Cameron Esposito returns to the city where she honed her stand-up in local venues and showcases. Check out her cutting-edge comedy at two shows, the second of which is followed by “New Year’s Laughin’ Eve” ($47) featuring comedy by Lucia Whalen and Nate Ambruster and music from DJ Thee David Davis. Esposito performs at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 30 and 8:30 p.m. Dec. 31 at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee. Tickets: $23-$36. Visit



A piece from “Children of War.”

Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art

“Children of War” is an exhibit featuring young artists’ work from Ukraine. The children whose lives were uprooted and terrorized by the ongoing war took part in an art therapy program in Lviv in western Ukraine. Nataliia Pavliuk, who runs the program with her daughter, Yustyna, says: “These children saw ‘hell’ in the true sense of the word, but they continue to live as children, with hope and love in their hearts.” The works are available for sale with proceeds helping children undergoing treatment for trauma in Lviv. To Feb. 12 at Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 W. Chicago. Admission is a donation. Visit


“Home 239,” a 2014 piece by Tarik Echols.

Collection of Jennifer Mannebach

  • For more than 15 years, artist Tarik Echols has participated in day programs run by Little City, an organization in Palatine that serves children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He’s amassed a striking body of work now featured in “Tarik Echols: Open,” the Illinois artist’s first solo exhibition. Using mostly crayons and watercolors, Echols builds patterns of repeated words, letters and symbols to create pieces rich with color and visual movement. Also showcased during the run are companion exhibits by art studios. “Tarek Echols” runs to May 14 at Intuit, 756 N. Milwaukee. Admission: $5, 18 and under free. Visit

Holiday Fun


“The Immersive Nutcracker, A Winter Miracle”

Patrick Hodgson

  • Lighthouse Immersive presents “The Immersive Nutcracker, A Winter Miracle,” a 30-minute immersive experience that introduces young children to the classic holiday story. Includes animated characters and video of ballet dancers performing scenes set to the classical score. To Jan. 8 at Lighthouse ArtSpace, 108 W. Germania Place, Tickets: $30. Visit
  • Garfield Park Conservatory Holiday Flower Show (300 N. Central Park) celebrates childhood joy with a variety of flowers creating the illusion of a snow-covered garden. There’s also a 12-foot tree made from 200 white poinsettias. Lincoln Park Conservatory Holiday Flower Show (2391 N. Stockton) features pink poinsettias and scenes from “The Nutcracker” ballet. Both shows run to Jan. 8. Admission is free; timed reservations required. Visit

  • Museum of Illusions is decked out with holiday decor including the Infinity Room, which is transformed into a winter wonderland. Families also can participate in a scavenger hunt throughout the museum. To Dec. 31 at Museum of Illusions, 25 E. Washington. Admission: $23, children 12 and under $18. Visit
  • The Crystal Gardens New Year’s Eve Party moves to The Drake this year due to renovations at Navy Pier. Co-hosted for the past 15 years by the stylish Landan Twins, fixtures on Chicago’s social scene, the event features six ballrooms of entertainment (including local DJs and the band Shytown), an open bar, party favors and more. Various ticket packages available. From 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Dec. 31-Jan. 1 at The Drake, 140 E. Walton. Tickets: $169+. Visit
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