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A woman in a black puffer jacket takes a photo of a light-up display beyond a fence
Photograph: Courtesy of The Morton Arboretum

November 2023 events calendar for Chicago

Pack your month with the best activities, concerts, free things to do and festivals

Emma Krupp
Edited by
Emma Krupp
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Welcome to November in Chicago! You've got about a week of breathing room after Halloween before holiday events begin in earnest, from twinkling Christmas lights displays to the first days of Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza and Wrigleyville. And of course, don't forget about Thanksgiving in Chicago—we've got suggestions on where to eat at restaurants or pick up takeout should you not feel like preparing a whole turkey this year. Hoping to avoid the holidays altogether? Take a spin on the Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon or huddle away from the wintry weather at Chicago museums as temperatures start to plummet. Say goodbye to fall in Chicago with the help of our list of the best things to do in Chicago this November. 

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2022

Featured events in November 2022

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Streeterville

Yer a wizard, Harry! Or at least, you can pretend to be one at this immersive Harry Potter experience that’s popping up at Water Tower Place through May 2023. Visitors are invited to step into Harry’s life at Hogwarts with interactive features like Quidditch lessons, Charms and Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, sipping sweet drinks at the Butterbeer Bar, Patronus-seeking in the Forbidden Forest and learning their Hogwarts house via the Sorting Hat, among other magical experiences. FYI: In addition to regular operating hours, the exhibition is open on “select” Tuesdays and Wednesdays and may offer different hours around holidays. 

  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • 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. Reservations for the popular ice rink should be made in advance, as they tend to fill up quickly.

Admission to the Skating Ribbon is free Monday through Thursday and for 11am sessions Friday through Sunday (and $5 for other time slots Friday through Sunday, as well as holidays) if you bring your own skates. No skates? Entry is $16–$22 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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  • Museums
  • Science and technology
  • Hyde Park

Tap into feelings of childhood nostalgia at the Museum of Science and Industry’s newest exhibit, a colorful glimpse into the world of Mold-A-Rama™ machines. Explore a collection of popular, rare and experimental souvenirs, learn about the history of the machines’ production and breathe in the iconic scent of their plastic toymaking—you can even take home a few new Mold-A-Rama™ souvenirs if you’re looking to expand your collection. 

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Loop

Pullman has long been recognized for its history as one of the country’s first industrial company towns, and a nexus for the burgeoning U.S. labor rights movement at the turn of the 20th century. Yet while South Pullman receives investments for architectural preservation and revitalization, North Pullman—though built around the same time as its southern counterpart—features neglected buildings in need of restoration. In this new exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago-based architect Armel Sagbohan maps both sides of the neighborhood using photos and sketches to propose a plan to address that divide, envisioning a new future for North Pullman that considers the unique needs of the neighborhood and its residents. 

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  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • Millennium Park

Skate under the Chicago skyline and within eyeshot of the Chicago Christmas Tree at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Plus, take advantage of free skating lessons on most Saturdays and Sundays from 9–10am, 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 5, weather permitting.

  • Art
  • Sculpture
  • Suburbs

See eight 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 eight  sculptures along the way.

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  • Sports and fitness

Slide past an indoor skydiving center and Fogo de Chão on the Chicago Wolves Ice Rink at Rosemont's Parkway Bank Park, where you can hit the ice on the weekends up until December 22, and then every day from December 22 through January (including holidays). The rink, which is free to access, will also be open on Sundays through the end of February.

  • Museums
  • Natural history
  • Museum Campus

Delve into the often-mystifying process of death in this surprisingly life-affirming exhibit at the Field Museum, which explores dying through a variety of natural and cultural processes. Attendees can explore highlights like a full-sized ofrenda made by Chicago artist Norma Rios-Sierra, a replica of a whale's body on the ocean floor and check out a variety of interactive media and soundscapes to help ponder some of life's big questions about death. 

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  • Comedy
  • Uptown

This weekly “live magazine” is a cavalcade of culture, politics and wit featuring journalists, actors, comedians and musicians offering idiosyncratic reports on the news of the day. Head to Uptown’s iconic Green Mill for drinks, hot takes and laughs; the longstanding Saturday afternoon edition tends to run about two and a half hours.

  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Ukrainian Village

Add some shopping to your Saturday morning brunch routine by visiting Handmade Market at the Empty Bottle. You can sip a mimosa while checking out the wares of local vendors selling funky jewelry, clothing, handbags and paper crafts. You probably need a gift for someone—or yourself—right? Handmade Market takes over the Bottle on the second Saturday of the month from October through April.

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