Looking to for some cool things to do in the week ahead in Chicago? Here are some things to see and do:
Classic tale reborn
Cirque du Soleil puts its own unique spin on a classic holiday story with the new family-friendly production, “’Twas the Night Before…”. The first Christmas show from the organization known for its eye-popping, imaginative shows tells the story of Isabella, a curious girl who’s become jaded by the hoopla around the holidays. Whisked away to a fantastical world she meets characters inspired by Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem. From Nov. 29-Dec. 8, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, tickets start at $30; chicagotheatre.com/cirque.
Joffrey’s holiday gift
Christopher Wheeldon’s reimagining of “The Nutcracker” for the Joffrey Ballet injected a new world into the classic holiday ballet without losing any of its popular flair. Set just before the opening of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, it opens as a family of immigrants — young Marie, her brother Franz and their mother — host a Christmas Eve celebration. After a visit from the Great Impresario, creator of the fair, Marie embarks on a dreamlike adventure with the Nutcracker Prince. This run marks the final performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Auditorium Theatre; the Joffrey moves to the Lyric Opera House at the start of the 2020-2021 season. From Nov. 30-Dec. 29, Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells. Tickets: $35-$200. Visit joffrey.org.
In a semi-staged performance with the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky performs the finales of Gaetano Donizetti’s “Three Queens” trilogy: proud Mary Stuart (“Maria Stuarda”), passionate Anne Boleyn (“Anna Bolena”) and mighty Queen Elizabeth I (“Roberto Devereux”). Radvanovsky is the first singer to perform all three of these operas in a single season at the Metropolitan Opera. Performing the supporting roles are artists from the Ryan Opera Center. Dec. 1, 4, 7, Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker. Tickets: $69-$219. Visit lyricopera.org.
Fun on State Street
Get in the holiday spirit at the annual Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade. The colorful holiday parade in the heart of downtown includes marching bands, floats, inflatables, equestrian groups, cultural organizations and, of course, Santa. This year’s grand marshals are actors Chris Sullivan (“This Is Us”) and Miguel Cervantes (“Hamilton”). The parade originated in the 1930s, when it was called the Christmas Caravan, as a way to lift spirits during the Great Depression. This fun family-friendly event always gets the holidays off to a cheerful start. From 8 to 11 a.m. Nov. 28, on State from Congress to Randolph. Visit chicagothanksgivingparade.com.
Child’s play for all
Little kids love a cardboard box. At “FORTS: Build Your Own Adventure” parents join with their children to rediscover this love as they build, imagine and play together in an interactive play space using cardboard boxes, sheets, clotheslines and other simple items to create unique adventures. From Nov. 30-Feb. 2, Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee. Admission: $8-$9.75. Visit filamenttheatre.org.
Want to make merry with the animals? Then head over to Lincoln Park Zoo’s ZooLights from Nov. 29-Jan. 5 when the zoo grounds are transformed into a land of twinkling lights. There are also photos with Santa, 3D displays, strolling carolers, ice sculpture carving and musical light shows. Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark. Free. Visit lpzoo.org. At Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic from Nov. 30-Dec. 31, the zoo is lit with more than one million twinkling lights, animated light displays, a video light show and much more. Brookfield Zoo, 8400 W. 31st St., Brookfield. $15.95, $21.95. Visit czs.org.
- The Christmas Nativity Scene is installed in Daley Plaza with children invited into the manger to participate in the blessing. From 9-10:30 a.m. Nov. 30 at 50 W. Washington. Free. Visit chicagonativityscene.com.
- Find local vendors with everything from clothes to candles, stationery to snacks at Made in Chicago Market. Nov. 30 at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington. Free. Visit madeinchicagomarket.com.
- Enjoy an Irish Christmas in America, fiddler Oisin Mac Diarmada’s holiday show featuring Irish song, music and dance. Nov. 30 at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $28. Visit oldtownschool.org.
- At Disney Junior Holiday Party children can sing along to their favorite Disney songs and holiday classics. Nov. 29 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River, Rosemont. Tickets begin at $27. Visit ticketmaster.com.
- And for something really different try A Drag Queen Christmas — The Naughty Tour featuring holiday fun with contestants from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Dec. 2 at Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield. Tickets: $35-$150. Visit victheatre.com.
- Pair that show with A John Waters Christmas in which the legendary filmmaker offers his take on the holidays. Dec. 3 at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport. Tickets: $35-$55. Visit thaliahallchicago.com.
Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.