Winter has arrived, the temperatures are dropping and some of the coziest places you'll find are Chicago's best music venues. The end of the year means that another crop of exciting New Year's Eve concerts is just around the corner—not to mention a grab bag of fun holiday shows. Take a look at all of the shows we're looking forward to with our guide to the best concerts in Chicago in December.
RECOMMENDED: Our complete calendar of concerts in Chicago
Concerts in Chicago in December
What better way to celebrate the holiday season (and take a break from the barrage of Christmas music being piped into your ears) than with an evening of performances from a cavalcade of contemporary pop stars. Hot on the heels of squashing her feud with Taylor Swift, pop-singer Katy Perry headline's this year's B96 Jingle Bash, with support from "Havana" singer Camila Cabello and masked EDM DJ Marshmello. Normani, Monsta X, Lil Tecca, AJ Mitchell and NCT 127 will also take the stage, so settle in for a long night of earworm melodies.
After taking a year off to complete his cheekily-titled album, My Finest Work Yet, whistlin' violinist Andrew Bird returns to the altar of the Fourth Presbyterian Church for a series of special performances. The winter "Gezelligheid" (a dutch word that roughly translates to "cozy") are something of a holiday tradition in Chicago, and offer a chance for fans to hear Bird play a solo set filled with new arrangements of classic tunes and collaborations with special guests. In the past, Bird has tested out new songs in front of a receptive audience and dabbled in expansive instrumental compositions that are piped through his array of horn speakers.
It's been two whole years since Wilco last played in Chicago, but the beloved locally-based act is coming out of a self-imposed hiatus with a series of "Winterlude" shows, and a new album to boot. The group headlines a four-night stand at the Chicago Theatre behind its latest record Ode To Joy, which finds frontman Jeff Tweedy collaborating closely with drummer Glenn Kotche on a series of "really big, big folk songs" that are augmented by the rest of the band. Tweedy's lyrics grapple with the challenge of finding moments of delight in the midst of an oppressive political climate—the video for the single "Everyone Hides" demonstrates a literal embrace of this theme, sending the band to Chicago landmarks like the Marina City Towers and the Music Box Theater as part of a game of hide and seek. While songs from Ode To Joy will likely to take the spotlight during Wilco's Chicago Theatre residency, a hometown show simply wouldn't be complete without a few deep cuts from the band's extensive back catalog, so go ahead and keep your fingers crossed for "Magazine Called Sunset" and "Student Loan Stereo."
Ever since 1976, Chicagoans have gathered during the holiday season to belt out Handel’s classic oratorio (the one with the famous “Hallelujah!” chorus) backed by a volunteer orchestra and professional soloists at the Harris Theater. You'll need to show up to the event familiar with the score and ready to sing your heart out all evening long, and you might also want to figure out if you're a soprano, alto, tenor or bass.
Radio station 103.5 KISS FM wraps up the year with a barrage of performances by some of pop music's biggest stars at its annual Jingle Ball concert, featuring reunited boy band the Jonas Brother and "Let You Down" rapper NF. The stacked bill also includes French Montana, Niall Horan, Why Don't We, Zara Larsson and Lewis Capaldi.
Holiday prog-rockers Trans-Siberian Orchestra make their annual trip to Rosemont, though you'll have to wait until after Christmas to see this year's seizure-inducing light show set to overwrought versions of seasonal songs. If you're still not tired of hearing the band's inescapable high-octane rendition of "Carol of the Bells," snag a seat and warm yourself in the glow of crackling pyrotechnics at one of TSO's Allstate Arena gigs.