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December 2020 events calendar for Chicago

Find the best holiday activities in Chicago, including free things to do, and picks from theater, art and music

Winter WonderFest
Photograph: Nick Ulivieri Photography Winter WonderFest

It may be cold and there might be some snow on the ground, but December is one of the most magical months of the year in Chicago—and with so many great things to do in the coming weeks, there's no reason to hibernate for the winter. Find some holiday cheer at a variety of Chicago Christmas events, show off your skills at a Chicago ice skating rink or marvel at one of the city's dazzling displays of Christmas lights. Throughout December you can also sip a steaming beverage at Christkindlmarket or catch seasonal favorites like The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol. And don't forget to make plans to attend a New Year's Eve party before 2020 arrives. It's the final month of the year, so make the most of the remaining days by filling them with the best things to do in Chicago this December.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2020

Featured events in December 2020

Winterland at Gallagher Way
Photograph: Heidi Zeiger Photography
Things to do, Ice skating

Winterland at Gallagher Way

Gallagher Way, Wrigleyville

The Cubs may be hibernating for the winter, but Gallagher Way provides some excellent reasons to hang out in Wrigleyville during baseball's off-season. The public square's Winterland event series offers an array of seasonal, family-friendly activities, including an 8,000-square-foot ice rink, curling and skating lessons, holiday movie screenings and visits from Santa Claus. Beloved holiday bazaar Christkindlmarket also hosts an outpost at Gallagher Way, bringing shopping and glühwein north of the Loop. Plus, look out for wreath-making workshops, breakfasts with Santa and a tree lot at Big Star.

Photograph: Patrick L. Pyszka
Things to do, Ice skating

Ice Skating in Millennium Park

Millennium Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park

Skate under the Chicago skyline and within eyeshot of the Chicago Christmas Tree at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Admission to the rink is free, and you can rent skates for $13–$15. The most popular time to hit the rink is in the evening, so show up earlier if you don't feel like waiting in line for your chance to slide around. Take advantage of free skating lessons on Fridays at 11am and Saturdays and Sundays at 9am. If it seems too warm to skate, call ahead—this rink is open through March 8, weather permitting.

Photograph: Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Things to do, Ice skating

Ice Skating at Maggie Daley Park

Maggie Daley Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park

Situated in the heart of downtown Chicago, with the city's sweeping skyline as a backdrop, the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is a winter attraction unlike any other. Skaters can lace up and wind around a winding ice-covered path that's twice the length of a lap around a traditional rink. Admission to the Skating Ribbon is always free, and skate rentals are available for $13–$15. The Ribbon stays open through March (weather permitting) and even offers limited hours on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Theater shows in December 2020

Photograph: Lowell Thomas

Dance Nation

Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lincoln Park

Caroline Neff, Tim Hopper, Audrey Francis and Karen Rodriguez star in this tale of a pre-teen dance group fighting for a spot in nationals in scenic Tampa Bay. Writer Clare Barron (You Got Older) calls for a multi-generational group of women to play the young protagonists, and director/choreographer Lee Sunday Evans promises to put them all through their paces.