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News / City Life

The five best things to do this weekend

The Nutcracker at Joffrey Ballet
Photograph: Cheryl Mann The Nutcracker at Joffrey Ballet

1. Catch the last dance

Joffrey Ballet brings a more than 20-year Chicago tradition to a close with its final performance of The Nutcracker, accompanied by the Chicago Philharmonic playing Tchaikovsky's classic score. The show opens tonight and performances run through Sunday, December 27. (Auditorium Theatre, 50 E Congress Pkwy, Friday 7pm, Saturday 2 & 7pm, Sunday 2pm. $32–$129)

2. Hear the lion roar

See The Lion King—not the movie, silly—but the Disney hallmark adapted for the stage. The production, which has been running on Broadway for 18 years, finally returns to Chicago for the first time since 2010. (Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W Randolph St, Friday 7:30pm, Saturday 2 & 7:30pm, Sunday 1 & 6:30pm. $35–$135)

3. Bask in winter wonder

Navy Pier probably isn't every Chicagoan's cup of tea, but Winter WonderFest is a different story. You don't even have to be in the holiday spirit to enjoy mini golf, a Blackhawks ice skating rink and carnival rides. If you need a little encouragement before walking in, parents and adults age 21 or older can always skip over to one of the many restaurants for a beer beforehand. (Navy Pier Family Pavilion Stage, 600 E Grand Ave, 10am–close. General admission $10, activity tickets $25)

4. Run like Santa

When was the last time you saw a few hundred Santa Clauses running down Lake Shore Drive? Beards and hats are doled out to the runners of the annual Santa Hustle 5K. Cookies, candy and other treats are available for spectators at this Christmas run, and participants are invited to Navy Pier to warm up for an after-party. Proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society. (Soldier Field, 1410 S Museum Campus Dr, 9am. $50, advance $45)

5. Shop your heart out

Buy stuff. Lots of stuff. This seasonal fair features local and regional artisans selling all sorts of handmade items such as jewelry, home goods and loads of baubles, doodads and kitschy wares to warm your heart. While you're at it, come hang out with us at booth 15, where we'll be handing out free succulents all weekend long. If you can't make it, at least sign up for our giveaway. You could win $2,000 in crafts from Renegade vendors. We'll also be taking sign-ups at the fair, so stop on by! (Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W 35th St, Saturday & Sunday 11am. Free)