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53 exciting openings in Chicago in December

Written by
Grace Perry

They may be among the shortest of the year, but December days (and nights) are jam-packed with new ways to explore Chicago. The holiday season is upon us, and along with it our perennial favorites: Christkindlmarket, Zoolights and all that classic holiday theater. But don’t worry—if you’re already sick of jingle bells and twinkling lights, there are plenty of things to do that are unrelated to Christmas. From stadium concerts to contemporary art to Golden Girls live shows, December is a great month to be in Chicago. How many of these openings will you show up for?

RECOMMENDED: Our complete December events calendar


Dec 1, 8, 15: Give your pipes a workout during Caroling At Cloud Gate, where Chicagoans sing their favorite holiday tunes with the guidance of local choral groups.

Dec 1–Jan 7: Navy Pier kicks off its annual indoor holiday carnival Winter Wonderfest, which includes rides, giant slides, and a skating rink.

Dec 2: Nancy, a podcast from WNYC Studios that tackles millennial perspectives on LGBTQ topics, will record a live episode at the Athenaeum Theatre.

Dec 2: Shop pop-ups and trunk shows, then check out a holiday movie matinee at Logan Theatre at Holidays on the Square.

Dec 2–31: See more than a million LED lights, a giant talking tree, a train display and more at Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo.

Dec 2, 3: Belt out classic songs like “Edelweiss” and “My Favorite Things” along with Julie Andrews at the Music Box’s annual Sound Of Music Sing-A-Long.

Dec 7: Take a 21+ trip to the zoo at BrewLights, where craft beer and Christmas light displays join forces for a very merry holiday.

Dec 7: Enjoy all the best parts of the season crammed into one awesome night at Time Out Chicago presents: Ugly Sweaters, Spiked Mug Cocktails and S’mores!

Dec 9: MCA Family Day is back with interactive programming for kids and their adults. Check out classic toys, create sculptures and collaborate with other families.

Dec 9–24: The Music Box Christmas Show returns for another season, with double features of White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life throughout the month.

Dec 11: We’ll screening holiday favorites at Lagunitas and Baderbrau Breweries for nine evenings at Time Out Chicago’s Ultimate Holiday Movie Series.

Dec 12: Eat, drink and shop at the holiday edition of Sauce Night Market, the Night Market Before Christmas at Chicago Athletic Association.

Dec 13: Take in the Swedish Yuletide tradition of the St. Lucia Festival of Lights, in (where else?) Andersonville.

Dec 31: Bid adieu to 2017 at this fantastic lineup of New Year’s Eve fêtes throughout Chicago, including black tie affairs, craft beer events and Motown parties.


Dec 2: Queens of the Stone Age brings towering riffs to the Aragon, with support from hip-hop heroes Run the Jewels.

Dec 2: Local drummer and improviser Makaya McCraven performs "in-the-round," playing in the center of Thalia Hall's floor.

Dec 5: Hip-hop superstar Jay-Z brings his reflective new record, 4:44, to the arena, joined by Chicago's own Vic Mensa.

Dec 7: Taylor Swift tops the bill at the annual B96 Jingle Bash, joined by a lineup that includes the Backstreet Boys and Fifth Harmony.

Dec 9: Singer-songwriter Angel Olsen shows off her acrobatic voice at the Riviera Theatre.

Dec 10: It's an indie-rock holiday miracle, as Spoon and Real Estate unite to perform at 93XRT's Christmas concert.

Dec 11–14: Returning to Fourth Presbyterian Church, Andrew Bird greets the holidays with his annual series of intimate "gezelligheid" (Dutch for cozy) concerts,

Dec 12, 13: Spend a night at the Civic Opera House as dour rockers the National spend two evenings on the ornate stage.

Dec 13: Show up for another parade of pop stars at the KISS FM Jingle Ball, which features sets from the Chainsmokers, Demi Lovato, Kesha and more.

Dec 15–23: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra greets the season with Merry, Merry Chicago, featuring carols, a children's choir and a visit from Santa.

Dec 18, 19: Warm up your pipes and belt out a few "hallelujahs" at the Harris Theater's annual Do-It-Yourself Messiah concert.

Dec 20: Recent Grammy nominee SZA unpacks the complexities of modern romance with her silky R&B ballads.

Dec 21–23: Percussionists Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang greet the Winter Solstice with series of improvised, early-morning concerts.

Dec 23: Chance the Rapper's little brother Taylor Bennett headlines this last-minute holiday bash at Metro.

Dec 28: Christmas may be over, but you can still eke some holiday cheer out of the triumphant riffs of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Dec 29–31: Party for three nights with Twin Peaks as the local rockers take over Thalia Hall for a trio of shows with some of their closest musical friends.

Dec 30, 31: Dayton, Ohio's finest power-pop export Guided by Voices headlines the final Empty Bottle shows of 2017.

Dec 30, 31: After a whirlwind year, local rapper Noname holes up at Lincoln Hall to mark the arrival of 2018.

Dec 30, 31: Celebrate the New Year in celestial style with storied avant-garde act Sun Ra Arkestra.

Dec 31: If you need electronic beats and bass drops on the final evening of 2017, watch EDM duo Adventure Club headline Reaction New Year's Eve.


Dec 1–30:  Joffrey Ballet performs its 2016 Nutcracker choreography, again set in Chicago against the backdrop of the 1893 World's Fair.

Dec 5–Jan 28: The touring production of Beautiful—The Carole King Musical follows singer-songwriter of Tapestry fame, this time with Chicago actor Sarah Bockel in the title role.

Dec 6–Jan 20: The undeniably “Popular” Broadway hit Wicked returns to the Oriental Theatre.

Dec 7–Jan 28: Steppenwolf premieres BLKS, poet Aziza Barnes’s first play, which depicts a day in the life of four young women of color in New York City.

Dec 7–10: Hubbard Street Dance celebrates choreographer Crystal Pite with its Winter Series, which includes a reprise of her A Picture of You Falling.


Dec 1–23: Abstract "color bombs" and vibrant cowboys fill the walls of "The Golden Claw," a new exhibit by artist Kurt Herrmann.

Dec 1–30: Still life installations created from found objects in current a former homes are the subject of "Once There Was There Wasn’t," a collection of photos by Svetlana Bailey.

Dec 9–31: Evanston printmaker Jay Ryan curates a collection of prints by some of his favorite ink-pullers, tasking the artists with depicting ways to "Stay Positive."

Dec 15–Jan 27: Painter Jackie Saccoccio presents a collection of swirling, dripping canvases in her latest solo exhibition, "Spectral Hole."


Dec 1: Illinois native and comedian of Parks and Recreation fame Nick Offerman brings his Full Bush stand-up tour to the Chicago Theatre.

Dec 3, 10, 17: Sketch duo Shitty Bitches, composed of Kristin Phillips and Sierra Carter, present A Very Shitty Bitchmas at iO Theatre.

Dec 6–Jan 3: Sketch group Huggable Riot debuts its third annual holiday sketch revue, “Miracle on 45th’s Tweet” at the Annoyance Theatre.

Dec 6–Jan 10: Handbag Productions premieres brand-new live episodes of the beloved camp sitcom at Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes.

Dec 7: Annoyance Theatre alumni Beth Stelling returns to her old stomping grounds for a headlining show at Thalia Hall.

Dec 8: Podcaster, heavy metal fan and self-deprecating stand-up Jim Norton brings his act to Thalia Hall.

Dec 8–Dec 29: All-LatinX comedy teams Spic and Tan and Mario join forces for an hour-long show, “Bad Hombres” at iO Theatre.


Early Dec: Seattle-based roaster Caffè Umbria will open an outpost in Logan Square that will include a coffee training lab, roastery and café.

Dec 6: Wisconsin dive bar feels are the name of the game at The Pink Squirrel, a forthcoming Logan Square bar from industry vet Dustin Drankiewicz (Deadbolt, Moneygun, Punch House).

Mid-Dec: Taylor Gourmet, an import from Washington, D.C., will begin slinging hoagies in the Loop this month.

Note: Restaurant and bar openings are subject to change and can be delayed; We recommend calling ahead.

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