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Christkindlmarket 2021
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

December 2022 events calendar for Chicago

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

Zach Long
Emma Krupp
Written by
Zach Long
&
Emma Krupp
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It's the final month of the year and—perhaps unsurprisingly—Christmas events dominate our calendar for the next several weeks, from glühwein-stocked Christkindlmarkets in the Loop and Wrigleyville to holiday pop-ups for shopping, drinking and general merry-making. Regardless of how you celebrate the season, there's plenty of wintertime cheer to be had among the twinkling displays of Christmas lights throughout the city and suburbs or twirling around the many neighborhood ice skating rinks dotting Chicago parks (and if you really don't want anything to do with the holidays, check out the concerts, museum exhibitions and other non-festive events happening this month). Finally, raise a glass to the start of a new year at the best New Year's Eve events and parties happening at Chicago hotels, bars and other locales. We made it through 2022—send the year off on a high note with our list of the best things to do in Chicago this December. 

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2022

Featured events in December 2022

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Wrigleyville

The holidays and all their associated markets and festivities might be over, but you'll still find plenty of ways to keep occupied this winter at Winterland, the 8,000-square-foot ice rink inside of Wrigleyville's Gallagher Way. In January, prepare to bop around in the rink's colorful ice bumper cars, which can be rented for 10-minute rides across the rink seven days a week. In February, learn how to curl during hour-long courses offered at the rink across two weeks of sessions. And of course, if you prefer to keep things simple, feel free to lace up and go skating through February 20. 

  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • price 0 of 4
  • 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. This year's edition of the ribbon will be decorated with designs inspired by Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers" and "Starry Night" paintings, a collaboration between the art exhibition "Immersive Van Gogh" and Chicago Park District.  Admission to the Skating Ribbon is free during weekdays if you bring your own skates; otherwise, reservations are $5 (with skates on weekends on holidays) or $16–$20 if you need to rent a pair. 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.

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  • Art
  • price 2 of 4
  • Old Town

Step inside of Starry Night and The Bedroom in Arles with the help of more than 50 digital projectors in this high-tech exhibition that explores the work of Vincent Van Gogh. Designed by the Italian creative team that worked on the "Atelier des Lumières" exhibitions in Paris, "Immersive Van Gogh" covers 35-foot walls with animated versions of the Dutch painters work, accompanied by a score that blends electronic and classical compositions. The show takes up residence in the Germania Club Building in Old Town, which will go by the name Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago and host additional interactive art exhibitions in the coming years. Occupying four rooms in the space, the "Immersive Van Gogh" presentation is around 35-minutes in length, with mostly-identical projections displayed in each of the rooms throughout the show.

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • price 2 of 4
  • Magnificent Mile

Calling all The Office fanatics: The same team that created "The Friends Experience" is back with another nostalgic pop-culture experience that will make you feel like a Dunder Mifflin employee. Spread across two floors, the pop-up features 17 rooms that recreate sets from the show, including the Scranton Business Park workplace (which features Michael's office, Pam's reception desk and Ryan's closet) and Schrute Farms. Guests will be able to ecreate moments like Kevin's chili spill and the Dundie Awards—and you'll also find a few original props and costumes on display. Don't forget to stop by a gift shop that's dressed up like the Warehouse, featuring merch like "World's Best Boss" mugs, sweatshirts that say "Nard Dog" and staplers (Jello not included). The gift shop will be open to both ticketed and non-ticketed guests, so even those who don't spring for the photo-friendly experience have a chance to buy some branded shirts and tchotchkes.

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  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • price 0 of 4
  • 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. Plus, take advantage of free skating lessons on most Saturdays and Sundays from 8am–9am, where you can learn both beginner- and intermediate-level skills. Note that you'll need to make a free online reservation for both regular skating and lessons this year, and if it seems too warm to skate, call ahead—this rink is open through March 6, weather permitting.

  • Art
  • Mixed media
  • price 0 of 4
  • Suburbs

A deft collage artist who has created pieces for Lou Reed and Steve Earle as well as public installation in CTA stations, Tony Fitzpatrick is hosting his final museum exhibition. While he's not putting down his paintbrush for good, "Jesus of Western Avenue" offers one last chance to see a new collection of multimedia works by the artist, with more than 60 new creations on display. Presented by the Cleve Carney Museum of Art on the College of DuPage campus, the exhibit is housed not far from where Fitzpatrick began making art, acting and writing poetry. 

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  • Comedy
  • Stand-up
  • price 1 of 4
  • Logan Square

Now housed in the space on Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square, the country's longest countinuously running independent comedy showcase continues every Friday and Saturday night. Boasting alumni like Cameron Esposito, Kumail Nanjiani and Hanibal Buress, this stand-up show will introduce you to fresh new faces that may end up starring in Marvel movies or becoming podcast mainstays. Snag an affordable ticket, avoid the two-drink minimum and prepare to laugh your ass off.

  • Art
  • Photography
  • Suburbs

More than 20 years after her untimely death, Princess Diana has once again entered the realm of public obsession thanks to new media like Netflix's The Crown, a Broadway show called Diana: The Musical and the upcoming movie Spencer starring Kristen Stewart. Chicago fans will have yet another way to learn about the life of the iconic princess starting this December, when a traveling exhibition of images and stories chronicling Diana's life lands at the suburban Oakbrook Center mall.  "Princess Diana Exhibition: Accredited Access" showcases photographs from royal photographer Anwar Hussein and his two sons, Zak and Samir—who collectively spent more than four decades photographing Diana and her family—alongside art, murals, artifacts and rarely-told stories from the Hussein family that provide behind-the-scenes context to the photos. The exhibition is broken up into eight themed sections with topics ranging from "glam" to "unguarded," aiming to capture a comprehensive look at Diana's life. Along the way, art installations from multimedia artist Pauline Loctin depict interpretations of Diana's most famous moments. And of course, at the end of the tour, visitors can stop by the exhibition store to grab Diana-themed merch. 

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  • Art
  • Sculpture
  • price 1 of 4
  • Suburbs

See five towering sculptures by South African artist Daniel Popper at the Morton Arboretum's new outdoor exhibition, which spreads the 15- to 26-foot-tall works throughout the natural area. Made of glass-reinforced concrete, wood, fiberglass and steel, the one-of-a-kind pieces in "Human+Nature" depict human figures that evoke the natural landscape they're set amid, including a pair of 36-foot-long hands reaching out from a grove of oak trees and a maternal figure that springs up amid magnolia trees. Access to "Human+Nature" is included as part of timed-entry admission to the Morton Arboretum, and there's a map that will allow you to easily plan your visit and spot all five of the sculptures along the way.

  • Museums
  • Natural history
  • Museum Campus

Explore the colors of the natural world in the Field Museum's latest exhibition, which examines the meaning and function of some of the brightest hues in the world. “Wild Color” explores how plants and animals use color to ward off predators or attract maters, and how the color of gems and minerals can offer clues about their formation. The 7,000-square-foot exhibition is filled with specimens from the Field Museum's extensive collection, including a platypus that fluoresces under UV light and birds in every color (including "super black").

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