November 2018 events calendar for Chicago

Pack your month with the best activities, concerts, free things to do and festivals
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
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Fall in Chicago is in full swing, Christmas music is starting to invade coffee store playlists and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Yes, November is finally here, and there's so much to do in Chicago this month. In addition to sipping Glühwein at Christkindlmarket, you can check out a festival devoted to barrel-aged beers, see the Lincoln Park Zoo illuminated in string lights, catch Michelle Obama at United Center and so much more. Once you've sorted out your Thanksgiving travel arrangements, start plotting out the month with our guide to the best things to do in Chicago this November.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2018

 

Featured events in November 2018

Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Things to do, Late openings

ZooLights

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park Zoo | Chicago, IL, Lincoln Park
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When the weather gets cold and most of the animals head indoors, Lincoln Park Zoo tranforms into a a field of twinkling bulbs. ZooLights decorates the beloved zoo with themed displays, perfect for a seasonal Instagram. Throughout the month, you'll also find ice-sculpture carvers and carolers joining the fun, as well as hot beverages available for purchase. This year, ZooLights adds several ticketed events, including a Holiday Market (Nov 27), an adults-only night (Nov 29), a live performance of music from A Charlie Brown Christmas (Dec 9) and a Zoo Year's Eve celebration (Dec 31). 

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Christkindlmarket

icon-location-pin Daley Plaza, Loop
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You haven't experienced the holidays in Chicago until you've stepped inside this giant open-air market inspired by a similar seasonal tradition in Nuremberg, Germany. You'll be able to do some shopping at booths set up throughout Daley Plaza, where you'll find handcrafted German items like nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, beer steins and glass ornaments. It's also worth stopping by Christkindlmarket to grab a sausage and some potato pancakes, or to sip a steaming mug of Glühwein, a traditional hot spiced wine.

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Wein & Lager Bier Halle at 513 S. Halstead
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago History Museum
Museums, History

“Brewing Up Chicago: How Beer Transformed a City”

icon-location-pin The Field Museum | Chicago, IL, Museum Campus
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The Chicago Brewseum presents its first exhibition at the Field Museum, exploring the long history of beer in Chicago. Visitors will learn about the German-American immigrants who built some of the city's first breweries, introducing lager to the masses. You can also sit in a replica of the Sauganash Tavern (Chicago's first saloon) and check out a collection of beer-related artifacts, including an original Pabst blue ribbon and a 19th-century brewmaster’s kettle. Unfortunately, guests can't drink inside the exhibit, but the Field's Museum's bar will be happy to serve you a contemporary brew.

Christmas Around The World and Holidays of Lights at The Museum of Science and Industry
Photograph: J.B. Spector
Things to do, Exhibitions

“Christmas Around the World”

icon-location-pin Museum of Science and Industry | Chicago, IL, Hyde Park
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Every year, the Museum of Science and Industry puts up its 45-foot-tall Grand Tree and surrounds the towering pine with more than 50 trees that represent Chicago's various communities and their respective holiday celebrations. Visitors can admire the 30,000 lights that cover the trees and stick around for the "snow" that falls from the rotunda every 30 minutes. During the weekend, live performances of holiday music fill the room, lending some additional seasonal cheer to your day at the museum.

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

Ice Skating in Millennium Park

icon-location-pin McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink, Downtown
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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 Sunday at 9am. If it seems too warm to skate, call ahead—this rink is open through March 10, weather permitting.

Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Things to do, Ice skating

Ice Skating at Maggie Daley Park

icon-location-pin Maggie Daley Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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The Maggie Daley Park ice ribbon looks like a Mario Kart track, but you won't have to worry about dodging banana peels while you glide around the quarter-mile circuit. As you skate around the park's climbing wall and admire skyline views, you'll be able to stop for a cup of hot chocolate. The ribbon stays open through March (weather permitting) and will host a Skate with Santa on Saturday, December 15 from 10am to noon. 

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Illumination
Photograph: Courtesy Morton Arboretum
Things to do, Festivals

Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum

icon-location-pin Morton Arboretum, Suburbs
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When the weather gets cold, the trees at Morton Arboretum light up in a sea of color at this popular winter event. Guests at Illumination walk down a one-mile path through the forest, admiring the magical display and seasonal music. New features at this year's edition include tree-like sculpture from artist HYBYCOZO, a tree that changes colors when you hug it and campfires stocked with hot drinks and s'mores.

Caroling at Cloud Gate
Photograph: Peter J. Schulz
Things to do, Performances

Caroling at Cloud Gate

icon-location-pin Millennium Park, Chase Promenade, Millennium Park
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Show up in front of Cloud Gate (otherwise known at “The Bean”) to belt out holiday classics at this series of winter concerts and sing-alongs. It's free to attend and it's just a short walk to the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink if you want to go for a quick skate after you sing.

Free things to do in November 2018

ZooLights
Photograph: Todd Rosenberg
Things to do, Late openings

ZooLights

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park Zoo | Chicago, IL, Lincoln Park
icon-calendar

When the weather gets cold and most of the animals head indoors, Lincoln Park Zoo tranforms into a a field of twinkling bulbs. ZooLights decorates the beloved zoo with themed displays, perfect for a festive seasonal Instagram. Throughout the month, you'll also find ice-sculpture carvers and carolers joining the fun, as well as hot beverages available for purchase. This year, ZooLights adds several ticketed events, including a Holiday Market (Nov 27), an adults-only night (Nov 29), a live performance of music from A Charlie Brown Christmas (Dec 9) and a Zoo Year's Eve celebration (Dec 31). 

Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Christkindlmarket

icon-location-pin Daley Plaza, Loop
icon-calendar

You haven't experienced the holidays in Chicago untill you've stepped inside this giant open-air market inspired by a similar seasonal tradition in Nuremberg, Germany. You'll be able to do some shopping at booths set up throughout Daley Plaza, where you'll find handcrafted German items like nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, beer steins and glass ornaments. It's also worth stopping by Christkindlmarket to grab a sausage and some potato pancakes, or to sip a steaming mug of Glühwein, a traditional hot spiced wine.

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

Ice Skating in Millennium Park

icon-location-pin McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink, Downtown
icon-calendar

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, but if you don't own a pair of skates, you'll have to pay to rent some. 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. You can take advantage of free skating lessons on Fridays at 11am and Saturdays and Sunday at 9am. If it seems too warm to skate, call ahead—this rink is open through March 10, weather permitting.

Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Things to do, Ice skating

Ice Skating at Maggie Daley Park

icon-location-pin Maggie Daley Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
icon-calendar

The Maggie Daley Park ice ribbon looks like a Mario Kart track, but you won't have to worry about dodging banana peels while you glide around the quarter-mile circuit. As you skate around the park's climbing wall and admire skyline views, you'll be able to stop for a cup of hot chocolate. The ribbon stays open through March (weather permitting) and will host a Skate with Santa on Saturday, December 15 from 10am to noon. 

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Caroling at Cloud Gate
Photograph: Peter J. Schulz
Things to do, Performances

Caroling at Cloud Gate

icon-location-pin Millennium Park, Chase Promenade, Millennium Park
icon-calendar

Show up in front of Cloud Gate (otherwise known at “The Bean”) to belt out holiday classics at this series of winter concerts and sing-alongs. It's free to attend and it's just a short walk to the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink if you want to go for a quick skate after you sing.

Illustration: Emory Douglas
Art, Contemporary art

“ICONIC Black Panther”

icon-location-pin Stony Island Arts Bank, South Shore
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Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party’s Illinois chapter, this group exhibition celebrates the legacy of a group that spoke out against racism and inequality. Featuring work by established and emerging artists, “ICONIC Black Panther” includes pieces by Emory Douglas (the former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party), Chicago-based artist Rashayla Marie Brown and sculptor Celine Browning.

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Brook Hsu
Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Deli Gallery, New York
Art, Contemporary art

“Let me consider it from here”

icon-location-pin Renaissance Society, Hyde Park
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Constance DeJong, Saul Fletcher, Brook Hsu and Tetsumi Kudo are artists from different parts of the world, but this group show finds connections in the personal experiences their respective work explores and reinterprets. The exhibition will also feature readings of new work by poets Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Simone White and Lynn Xu.

GreenMill.venue01.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams
Comedy

The Paper Machete

icon-location-pin The Green Mill, Uptown
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This twice-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, while the new “Cocktail Hour” Wednesday show is a tight 90 minutes with no intermission.

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Comedians You Should Know
Photograph: Melissa Mamroth
Comedy, Stand-up

Comedians You Should Know

icon-location-pin Timothy O'Toole's, Streeterville
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This weekly night of comedy, curated by a group of funny dudes, puts local stand-ups on your radar. It's totally free and BYOB, so why not?

Nightlife, Alternative nightlife

Duro

icon-location-pin Berlin, Lake View
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This biweekly nocturnal Latinx and LGBTQ gathering is always filled with clever decorations, dancing queens and underground Latin club music from resident DJ [X]P. It also serves Jarritos cocktails.

Theater shows in November 2018

Writers Theatre
Photograph: Steve Hall
Theater

Twelfth Night, Or What You Will

icon-location-pin Writers Theatre, Suburbs
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Shakespeare’s classic rom-com centers around Viola, a shipwrecked twin who disguises herself as a dude and ends up in a complicated love triangle. Gender is bent, curmudgeons get their comeuppance and the food of love will surely play on in this production from Writers Theatre Artistic Director Michael Halberstam.

Theater

The Steadfast Tin Soldier

icon-location-pin Lookingglass Theatre, Magnificent Mile
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Ensemble member Mary Zimmerman directs this Christmas pantomime based off of the classic short story by Hans Christian Andersen. The story of the brave little tin soldier is gussied up with live music, acrobatics and spectacle galore.

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Theater

Rightlynd

icon-location-pin Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, Sheffield & DePaul
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Ike Holter’s Chicago saga continues with the story of a lone Alderman’s stand against a powerful real estate corporation aiming to gentrify her neighborhood. Lisa Portes directs the cast led by Monica Orozco.

Theater

Plainclothes

icon-location-pin The Den Theatre, Wicker Park
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During the busy holiday season, security guards at a Magnificent Mile department store face corporate pressure after a shoplifter puts half their team in the hospital. Spenser Davis and Kanomé Jones direct this retail rigmarole.

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Theater

Familiar

icon-location-pin Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lincoln Park
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Playwright Danai Gurira (best known for her roles in Black Panther and The Walking Dead) offers up this funny, fast-paced story of a Zimbabwean-American family preparing for their eldest daughter’s wedding in wintry Minnesota.

Photograph: Sam Grant
Theater

HeLa

icon-location-pin Greenhouse Theater Center, Lincoln Park
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Three stories—one from 1951, another from 1981 and a third from the distant future—intersect in this new play from writer J. Nicole Brooks. The result is a mashup of afrofuturism, astronaut Carl Sagan and the true story of Henrietta Lacks.

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