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35 exciting things opening in Chicago in December

Santa Hustle 5K
Photograph: Jeffrey Chen Santa Hustle 5K

The holiday season is upon us, Christmas is just around the corner and the city is bursting with a variety of seasonal events. Immerse yourself in winter fun with our guide to the December's most anticipated openings. Take a look at handmade gifts for the whole family in Bridgeport at the Renegade Craft Fair. Sample Italian cuisine from the teams behind the Bristol and Balena when Formento's opens in the West Loop. Hear songs from Wilco's extensive catalog when the group plays a six-night stand at the Riviera Theatre. Put down your wish list and peruse a selection of the best openings in Chicago in December.

THINGS TO DO

Dec 3: Drink beer under the shimmering holiday display at Lincoln Park Zoo's BrewLights.
Dec 4: Grab a glass of legal hooch at the Chicago History Museum and celebrate the end of prohibition at The Last Speakeasy on the Eve of Repeal.
Dec 6: Don your cap and go for a jolly jog along the lakefront at the Santa Hustle 5K.
Dec 6–7: Find handmade gifts for everyone on your list at the holiday edition of the Renegade Craft Fair.
Dec 13: The St. Lucia Festival of Lights in Andersonville embraces Swedish traditions with a procession and a party.
Dec 31: Get ready to ring in 2015 with champagne toasts at some of the city's top New Year's Eve parties.

FESTIVALS

Dec 5—Jan 11: The Winter Wonderfest carnival brings a toboggan tunnel, winter mini golf, an ice skating rink and more indoor attractions to Navy Pier.
Dec 6, 7: Take a guided trolley tour of local shops or enter the Santa Sprint down Division Street at West Town Winterfest.
Dec 6, 7: Rogers Park's Polar Palooza offers up summer festival fun into the dead of winter, featuring live music, a synthetic ice skating rink and food vendors.
Dec 13: The Sears Centre hosts tastings from 30 breweries in addition to Lucha Libre wrestling at Beer Fest Beatdown.

FOOD & DRINK

Dec TBD: Kevin Hickey (Bottlefork) opens the Duck Inn, a Bridgeport gastropub.
Dec TBD: The Bristol and Balena teams come together with Formento's, a Italian red-sauce joint, helmed by chef Tony Quartaro.
Dec TBD: A second Labriola Ristorante & Café restaurant opens at 535 N Michigan Avenue, and will offer all-day dining, plus a bar.

Note: Food & Drink openings are subject to change and can be delayed; call ahead before setting out.

FILM

Dec 5: Reese Witherspoon stars as a woman who sets out on a 1,100-mile hike while recovering from a recent tragedy in Wild.
Dec 19: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies brings the trilogy to a conclusion as Bilbo and the dwarves brace for war.
Dec 25: It wouldn't be holiday movie season without a musical. This year, the star-studded Into the Woods combines all of your favorite fairy tales into one epic story that looks beyond the happily-ever-afters.

COMEDY

Dec 4-7: In Living Color alum David Alan Grier weaves animated physicality and bits of characters into his observational stand-up at the Improv in Schaumburg.
Dec 16: Prepare yourselves for a 24-hour marathon of entertainment as Second City celebrates the anniversary of its doors opening in 1959 with its annual The Second City That Never Sleeps event.
Dec 29: Former iO performer and current Daily Show correspondent Jordan Kelpper heads back to Chicago for a one-night show.
Dec 30, 31: Since joining Saturday Night Live last season, Sasheer Zamata has become a valuable member of the cast and now she's bringing her stand-up show to Chicago.

ART

Dec 12—Jan 4: Local artist JC Rivera showcases new drawings and paintings (including variations on his signature bear in boxing gloves) at Galerie F.
Dec 18–May 17:
 The MCA's latest exhibit looks back on the drawing and sculptures of Chicago-based artist Richard Hunt.

THEATER

Dec 2—Jan 18: In Shakespeare's fantastical adventure tale, Pericles roams various lands, makes friends and enemies and gains and loses (and regains) a wife and child.
Dec 4—Feb 8: A large cast of New Orleans characters gathers in a motel parking lot to hold a funeral for a burlesque performer who's not dead yet in Lisa D'Amour's new play, Airline Highway.
Dec 5—Dec 28:
In Twist Your Dickens, or Scrooge You!, the Goodman's new holiday collaboration with the Second City, Dickens's characters cross over into a number of other beloved Christmas stories.
Dec 10–Jan 4:
The touring production of Disney's Broadway adaptation of its cult-hit 1992 movie musical Newsies hits town for a four-week run.
Dec 13—Jan 4: Ruffians remount Burning Bluebeard, the alternately wistful, sidesplitting and chill-inducing excavation the Christmas 1903 production of Mr. Bluebeard, where 600 audience members perished in a fire.
Dec 16—Jan 4: Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1957 TV tuner version of Cinderella, featuring songs like "Impossible/It's Possible" and "Ten Minutes Ago," gets an update for the touring version of its Broadway revival.

MUSIC

Dec 2: St. Vincent and Future Island take a victory lap as 2014 indie-rock winners with the WXRT Big Holiday Concert at the Chicago Theatre.
Dec 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12: Wilco takes fan requests, looking back over its 20-year career in a set of epic homecoming shows at Riviera Theatre.
Dec 6: Ariana Grande, 5 Seconds of Summer, Pharrell, Lil Jon and more turn down for what at Allstate Arena at the B96 Jingle Bash.
Dec 6: Sam Smith plays a holiday gig with Fitz & The Tantrums for a radio station at the Chicago Theatre.
Dec 18: Still need more jingle? Iggy Azalea, Calvin Harris, Fall Out Boy and more hit the Kiss FM Jingle Ball at Allstate Arena.
Dec 21, 22: The ever popular Do It Yourself Messiah returns to Harris Theater. It's like singing in the shower in public.
Dec 31: From emo to EDM, there are dozens of ways to ring in 2015. Andrew W.K., Bob Mould, Zed's Dead and more are in town for New Year's Eve concerts.

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