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Two women browsing a jewelry stand inside a market
Photograph: Jaclyn Simpson

The best things to do in Chicago this weekend

Find the best things to do in Chicago this weekend with our guide to concerts, exhibitions, festivals and more.

Emma Krupp
Edited by
Emma Krupp
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Welcome to another weekend in Chicago! Believe it or not, we’ve already made it to December—celebrate the arrival of the final month of the year by touring Christmas lights, holiday pop-up bars, festive markets and other seasonal events happening throughout the city. Plus, check out a pre-Kwanzaa celebration in Harris Park and a new indoor version of the Wicker Park Farmers Market at The Robey. Ready to make the most of your days off? Check out the rest of the best things to do in Chicago this weekend. 

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Chicago right now

Time Out Market Chicago
  • Time Out Market
  • West Loop

Get in a holly jolly mood as Time Out Market Chicago welcomes a series of musical acts to perform classic holiday songs throughout the month of December! From lively jazz to multi-genre bands, you’ll find music to keep you feeling merry all month long. Check out a full schedule of performances below: 

December 4: Verzatile, 2-4pm
December 5: Holiday jazz with The John Fournier Quartet, 5-8pm
December 12: Holiday jazz with The John Fournier Quartet, 5-8pm
December 17: Marlow, 1-3pm

Events and to do this weekend in Chicago

  • Shopping

Looking to support artists during the gift giving season? The One of a Kind Show gathers 500 artists and artisans on the seventh floor of the Merchandise Mart building for a seasonal bazaar of handcrafted goods and gourmet food. Browse selections of fine art, ceramics, clothing, pet supplies, toys and tons of other wares, or check out live music and other activities throughout the weekend—and don't hesitate to chat with the artists on-site if you have questions about a specific piece. A portion of this year's ticket sales will benefit the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. 

  • Music
  • Jazz
  • Loop

You've probably heard a rendition of George Frideric Handel's Messiah (especially around Christmas), but this annual concert at the Auditorium Theatre puts the famed German composer's work in a new light. Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah brings together vocalists Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke, and Karen-Marie Richardson as well a chamber orchestra, jazz combo and members of Detroit’s Rackham Symphony Choir for an evening blues, jazz and gospel variations on Handel's classic compositions. Normally held the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the concert returns for its first-ever holiday season run this year, taking over the Auditorium Theatre for two performances. 

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  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • River West/West Town

The Salt Shed hosts this multi-weekend winter market stocked with gifts, jewelry, houseware, vintage clothes and other handmade goods for you to peruse. In between browsing sessions, warm up with a hot cocktail at the beer garden or grab a s'mores kit to toast up treats alongside the venue’s riverfront fire pits. 

  • Shopping

Africa International House’s annual celebration of Kwanzaa is returning for in-person festivities this year, bringing live music, food, workshops, dancing and a marketplace full of handmade goods and memorabilia (designed to highlight the Kwanzaa principle of Ujamaa, which represents cooperative economics) to Harris Park. 

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  • Things to do

Get ready for a festive ride—the CTA Holiday Train and Bus are coming to town! The train is decked out in twinkling holiday lights, with Santa and his reindeer riding outside to wave at families—you can spot the festive locomotive in CTA stations throughout the city from November 25 through December 19. The CTA Holiday Bus, on the other hand, will hit the road on November 29 and make its rounds through December 23. Santa prefers to pop up through the roof when he rides the decked-out bus, so be sure to look up. Check out the full schedule below: 

Train schedule

  • Green Line: November 25, 26, 29
  • Brown Line: November 30; December 1-3
  • Orange Line: November 30; December 1-3
  • Red Line: December 6, 8 and 10
  • Purple Line: December 7 and 9
  • Pink Line: December 13 and 14
  • Blue Line: December 15-17
  • Yellow Line: December 19

Bus schedule

  • November 29, 30: #56 Milwaukee
  • December 1: #91 Austin/#92 Foster
  • December 2: #22 Clark
  • December 3: #22 Clark/#97 Skokie
  • December 6: #74 Fullerton
  • December 7, 8: #66 Chicago
  • December 9: #126 Jackson
  • December 10: #12 Roosevelt
  • December 13: #62 Archer
  • December 14, 15: #49 Western/#X49 Western Express
  • December 16, 17: #3 King Drive
  • December 20: #79 79th
  • December 21: #28 Stony Island
  • December 22: #29 State
  • December 23: #J14 Jeffery Jump
  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Streeterville

Too cold outside? Navy Pier brings all of the winter fun indoors during the holiday season, filling its gigantic 170,000-square-foot Festival Hall with a regulation-size Alpine ice skating rink, kiddie train rides and a 600,000-bulb light show made up of themed sculptures. This year, guests can also check out new attractions like a lit-up maze of birch trees, interactive light sculptures and a reflection pond for resting and photo ops. Each Light Up the Lake ticket also  includes a ride on Navy Pier's 200-foot Centennial Wheel—don't worry, all of the gondolas are fully enclosed and heated!

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  • Art
  • Film and video

Projecting a 25-story-tall video installation on the side of the Merchandise Mart, Art on theMart's winter program showcases moving images from the Joffrey Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, as well as a tribute to Chicago design history spanning the last 100 years. Art on theMART's array of 34 digital projectors display the programs at 7:30pm and 8pm every evening. The show is best viewed from the section of the Chicago Riverwalk between Wells Street and Franklin Street.

  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Loop

The iconic German-inspired holiday market at Daley Plaza brings just over a month of Christmassy celebrations to the Loop. Browse stalls stocked with handmade gifts, German food and plenty of hot beverages to keep you warm while you wander around and soak in the festive atmosphere. Don't leave without trying spiced glühwein, a German hot wine concoction that's best enjoyed in the market's famous boot mugs

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  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Wicker Park

Chicago farmers market season is well past its peak, but you can still get in on the fresh produce action during this winter edition of the Wicker Park market, which is popping up inside The Robey’s lobby on select Sundays from December through April. Browse goods from vendors like River Valley Ranch, Star Farm and Zeitlins Delicatessen—and you can always grab a coffee from The Robey’s espresso bar to sip while you stock up. 

  • Shopping

Make some progress on your holiday gifting list during West Town Winterfest, an annual event where patrons can hop aboard the “Jolly Trolley” for guided shopping tours along different commercial corridors within the neighborhood. Trolley tix are $20, but it’s free to build your own shopping tour on foot—and don’t forget to stop by Homestead on the Roof, where you can check out a holiday market and photo ops with Santa and Mrs. Claus. 

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  • Theater
  • River West/West Town

The American Blues Theater has brought the humble story of George Bailey to life in various Chicago venues for more than 20 years, transforming Frank Capra's classic film into an interactive, 1940s-style radio broadcast production. Arrive 15 minutes early to make the most of interactive audience engagement and prepare for original music, holiday carols and plenty of Christmas cheer. 

  • Things to do
  • Talks and lectures
  • Pullman

Learn more about culture, community and history in Pullman during this talk hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art, in which Pullman artists F.A.B.L.E., Joe Nelson, Steve Soltis and Nailah Stevenson will gather for a conversation about their work for the Voice of the City arts alliance project “Pullman: Laboring Together.” Show up starting at 4pm for refreshments, and hang around afterwards for a reception sponsored by the MCA’s community engagement team. 

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Wrigleyville

You might not ever get the chance to throw a pitch at Wrigley Field, but you can lace up your skates and hit the ice inside the iconic baseball field starting this winter. Winterland at Gallagher Way, the annual holiday experience that normally offers programming (like Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville) beside the field, is officially moving some of its wintry attractions inside the ballpark for the 2022 season, including the 12,000-square-foot Gallagher Ice Rink. Rent a pair of skates and take a spin before checking out on-field games, carnival rides, an ice slide and a miniature train, or grab tickets to ride around on the rink’s ice bumper cars. You can grab drinks at The Lodge, an après-ski style pop-up bar inside the park complete with cozy firepits. 

  • Attractions

Rosemont's Impact Field (home to the Chicago Dogs) hosts the inaugural Sparkle Light Festival, which will house millions of holiday lights among winter attractions like train rides, themed mazes, tubing and tons of other wintry attractions. Wander through five themed "villages" of lights and visit a kids zone filled with interactive activities for little ones. Older attendees can also spring for the fest's $70 Rivers Stadium Club Tickets, which include access to a premium buffet, drinks and unlimited tubing rides on the Alpine Slide. 

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  • Things to do
  • Millennium Park

Every year, Millennium Park is adorned with an epic Christmas tree that remains on display until the beginning of the new year. The larger-than-life attraction is festooned with twinkling lights and crowned with an illuminated star. Spectators can check out the festive tree near Washington Street and Michigan Avenue through Sunday, January 8. Want to see the tree light up for the first time this season? The annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony returns this year on Friday, November 18 starting at 6pm.

  • Art
  • Contemporary art
  • Streeterville

What does “Caribbean art” look like? This new group exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art takes a diasporic approach to answering that question, using weather—and all its changeability and unpredictability—as a metaphor for exploring artistic practices and identity-making within Caribbean art communities across the world. With the tumultuous geopolitical climate of the 1990s as its backdrop, the exhibit highlights work from 37 international artists; it’s also the first major MCA exhibitiobn to presented in both Spanish and English. 

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  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • Loop

Situated on the ground floor of the Chicago Athletic Association, Happy's transforms the hotel's Tank space into a holly, jolly wood-paneled dive bar serving cocktails and bar bites created by Land and Sea Dept. Admission is free and the pop-up is just a short walk from the Millennium Park ice skating rink.

  • 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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  • Things to do
  • Late openings
  • Lincoln Park

To see one of the largest displays of holiday lights within city limits, you need to head to Lincoln Park Zoo, where the annual ZooLights display strings up millions of LED blubs. While most of the animals will be keeping warm inside, visitors are free to wander through the park, snapping photos of the various displays and taking part in a variety of activities throughout the holiday season.There are some new ticketed features to look forward to this year—including a Ferris wheel for ogling the lights from a bird's eye view—and as always, guests will also be able to enjoy hot beverages and snacks at stands throughout the park.

Just like last year, a $5 admission fee will be charged throughout most of the week, with free admission tickets on Mondays. Check out the Lincoln Park Zoo website for information on special ticketed events during ZooLights, including the BrewLights beer festival and a musical tribute to “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • Logan Square

Logan Square cocktail bar Pink Squirrel has been given a full makeover for the holidays. The immersive space is decked out with festive ornaments and you’ll be able to experience it while sipping on milkshakes, shots or cocktails. Activities such as gingerbread house building and duckpin bowling are also offered. Reservations are not required except for bowling.

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Suburbs

A city named after nature's most stunning light show deserves an equally spectacular man-made display. The Rotary Club of Aurora organizes this holiday wonderland in Phillips Park, which allows visitors to drive through and take in a series of twinkling scenes. Hop in the car, drive through the illuminated gate and keep an eye out for shimmering representations of Santa's toy factory, a holiday train and some giant snowflakes. You'll need to make an timed reservation ahead of your visit, but the experience is totally free—though if you're able to make a donation online, the proceeds will go to a selection of local charities.  

  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • River North

Frosty's Christmas Bar near Goose Island brings three levels of festive fun, four bars, two dance floors, life-size toy soldiers and a themed soundtrack that keeps the crowd bumping until 4am every night of the week. Don your favorite holiday attire and enjoy a glass of something boozy and marshmallow-topped while eating Christmas cookies amid the twinkling lights, tinsel and over-the-top decorations.

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  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • River North

Soak in multiple floors of themed decor at the Christmas Inn, the expansive holiday pop-up that takes over the Hubbard Inn for the season. Grab a cocktail (like the Christmas Inn Mule, a cranberry-flavored Moscow Mule) and explore an elegant white Christmas setting on the first level or a Christmas resort on the second level. There's also a private event space on the third floor, plus plenty of festive photo ops and planned themed parties.

  • Theater
  • Drama
  • Loop

The Goodman Theatre’s annual holiday production of the Charles Dickens classic returns to the stage, with Larry Yando taking on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. The play has been a staple of the Goodman's calendar for more than 40 years, allowing returning attendees and new generations to see the quintessential Christmas story unfold before their eyes. Prepare to be visited by three spirits—and don't be suprised if A Christmas Carol's touching tale of redemption makes you shed a few tears.

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  • 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. 

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Suburbs

The Chicago Botanic Garden hosts this annual (and quick to sell out) display of festive lights, giving guests a host of shimmering reasons to visit the forest preserve during the holiday season. Set along an illuminated path, the after-dark experience features a series of installations to explore, including a 110-foot tunnel made up of 100,000 lights and a group of trees festooned in bulbs that "sing" holiday songs. This year, check out new exhibits like Starscape, a series of more than 700 handmade acrylic stars lighting up a 130-foot-long tunnel.

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  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Wrigleyville

Don't feel like going to the Loop for your glühwein fix? The smaller-scale Wrigleyville outpost of Christkindlmarket returns to Gallagher Way this year with just as much holiday cheer as its downtown counterpart. Plus, Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville remains open through the end of the year, so you can extend the spirit of the season to the week after Christmas. 

  • 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.

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  • Things to do
  • Loop

See Christmas lights without leaving your car at Shine Light Shows, a pandemic-era innovation that allows visitors to drive through a gleaming tunnel of more than one million LED lights synchronized with holiday music. This year, the show will offer locations in Northbrook (Northbrook Court, 1515 Lake Cook Rd) and Schaumburg (Wintrust Field, 1999 S Springinsguth Rd). 

  • Theater
  • Children's
  • West Loop

Pinkies up! Little ones and their families are invited to ring in the holiday season in style during The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party, an annual trunk and puppet show at the Chicago Children's Theatre that brings Potter's beloved stories to life with whimsy and humor. The play's young viewers get to interact with characters like Tom Kitten, Simpkin the Cat and Peter Rabbit throughout the 60-minute production, which features live music alongside narration and puppetry. Afterwards, audience members can meet the cast while enjoying juice, cookies and chocolate milk for a proper tea party celebration. 

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  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • Wrigleyville

This immersive, multi-level Christmas pop-up bar boasting wall-to-wall holiday decor returns to Wrigleyville, taking over Deuce's Major League Bar during the most festive time of the year. You'll find photo-ops galore as well as drinks decked out with decorative garnishes and garlands, including large-format cocktails like the Tropical Sleigh Ride and Moët Mistletoe. Feeling hungry? Feast upon festive options like the Christmas burger, which features a turkey patty with cranberry, mustard, stuffing and crispy green beans. Don't forget to snag a reservation before you head to Santa Baby—families are welcome to stop by during the day, but after 8pm it's 21+. For full holiday hours, check Santa Baby's website.

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Suburbs

After debuting a glittery holiday spectacle last year in Rosemont, the Amaze Light Festival is headed to a larger venue in Tinley Park this winter with five themed light-up exhibits, photo ops, a holiday market and more stunning seasonal attractions to explore. General admission tickets include access to the light shows, shops and food and beverage areas, but visitors can also opt for exciting ticket add-ons like Zing's Thrill Hill (an all-ages tubing hill) or the Arctic Express train. 

  • 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. 

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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. 

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  • 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. 

  • Theater
  • Interactive
  • Streeterville

Immerse yourself in the world of tabletop roleplaying games at The Twenty-Sided Tavern, an interactive theater show that guides audiences through a story that "might involve dungeons, and might involve dragons." In addition to audience engagement (like the type you might find at an improv show), The Twenty-Sided Tavern uses Gamiotics, a browser-based software that guests use to vote to make decisions on where the story will go. The result is an ever-changing, fantastical show, so come prepared for an adventure. 

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  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • River North

The weather outside might be frightful, but you'll be plenty cozy inside this festive heated tent pop-up at JoJo's Shake Bar. Treat yourself to over-the-top shakes—like The Winter Wonderland Shake, which is peppermint flavored and topped with cookies, marshmallows and a candy cane—fanciful seasonal cocktails and sweets like Santa's Milk & Cookies Flight, and be sure to grab a table close to the pop-up's 17-foot Christmas tree. Tickets are $10 and include a classic hot chocolate.

  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Loop

The Broadway smash hit Wicked arrives in Chicago for an extended stint at the James M. Nederlander Theatre as part of its North American tour, chronicling the unlikely friendship of the green-skinned outcast Elphaba and popular blonde Glinda (who would go on to become the "wicked" and "good" witches, respectively, of The Wizard of Oz). This production is directed by Tony Award winner Joe Mantello. 

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  • Art
  • Arts centers
  • Humboldt Park

Working in partnership with the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture is bringing a stunning selection of paintings to Chicago—some of which have never been shown outside of Puerto Rico—for an exhibition highlighting several of the island's most important artists. Centered around three curatorial themes (“My Home,” “My People” and “My Island”), the works span from the 18th century to the first half of the 20th century, showcasing artists like José Campeche, Francisco Oller, Miguel Pou and Myrna Báez, among others. Tickets to the exhibition are free, but you might consider a small online donation to the Museo de Arte de Ponce, which is still recovering from damage sustained in a 2020 earthquake.  

  • Art
  • Digital & interactive
  • Grant Park

Using his iPad and a custom app, renowned British painter David Hockney captures the technicolor emergence of spring in Normandy, France—observed en plein air during a trip to the region in early 2020—in this new exhibition of 116 works, including digital "paintings" and two animated videos. Completed amid the onset of COVID-19 lockdowns across the world, Hockney’s vividly rendered works provide a cheerful, celebratory contrast to the loneliness and grief experienced by many people in the early days of the pandemic. 

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  • Art
  • Sculpture
  • Hyde Park

Want to see recreations of Van Gogh's “Starry Night,” Da Vinci's “Mona Lisa” and Michaelangelo's “David”  constructed with Lego bricks? The Museum of Science and Industry's latest exhibition collects the work of Nathan Sawaya, a former lawyer who turned his passion for tiny plastic bricks into contemporary art. “The Art of the Brick” include more than 100 of his creations, include a 20-foot-long T.rex skeleton and a life-sized sculpture of a man pulling his chest apart. The traveling show is the first major museum exhibition to use Lego bricks as its sole medium—and a testiment to the creativity that can be achieved with hundreds of thousands of tiny pieces of plastic.

This Museum of Science and Industry exhibit rquires a seperate ticket for entry, in addition to regular museum admission.

  • Art
  • Digital & interactive
  • Old Town

This 30-minute immersive adaptation of The Nutcracker pairs footage of professional ballet dancers alongside animated characters across more than 500,000 cubic feet of projections, guiding the viewers through an abbreviated version of the iconic tale. Tchaikovsky’s famous score, including numbers like “The March of the Toys” and “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” provides a soundtrack. 

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  • Comedy
  • Sketch shows
  • Lake View

Bye Bye Liver combines two robust Chicago traditions: comedy and heavy drinking. The show opened a decade ago for a three-week run, then kept getting extended. A cast of four to six performers portray characters at the fictional "Franks Bar," telling stories that explore the city's robust drinking culture. Each show incorporates interactive audience drinking games, allowing you to sip a cocktail or beer while taking cues from the cast. And if you're up for a nightcap after the performance, you can stick around for the official after party and mingle with the cast.

  • Things to do
  • Magnificent Mile

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to say that a purple-hued world has opened up on Michigan Avenue, thanks to the arrival of a new Prince-themed immersive exhibition inside the sprawling Shops at North Bridge complex. Step inside to experience everything from a lilac-scented imitation of the bathroom in the “When Doves Cry” music video to a realistic version of Prince’s Paisley Park studio, painstakingly recreated with details like a shelf stocked with the 5-Hour Energy shots Prince kept on hand for recording sessions. And because this is an immersive experience, many of the rooms are equipped with some kind of interactive element, whether you prefer to experiment with sound mixing “Let’s Go Crazy” in the studio, take a personality quiz to get a custom playlist of Prince’s deep cuts or pose for photos atop a replica of the famous “Purple Rain” motorcycle.  

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  • Nightlife
  • Cabaret and burlesque

Settle in for an evening of burlesque performers, belly dancers, drag artists and variety entertainers during this weekly show at Newport Theater. The hour-long show features speciality cocktails and intimate seating arrangements, making this feel like a clandestine speakeasy experience. Bring some singles so that you can tip performers throughout the night!

  • 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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  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • Streeterville

Rosé all day while being surrounded by festive décor with a seaside spin. The Hampton Social’s Streeterville location will turn its rooftop into a merry social scene, complete with special holiday cocktails and a new dinner menu. The experience will be available during Friday nights and all day long on Saturdays and Sundays.

  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • Avondale

Krampus—the folkloric creature that frightens children who have misbehaved throughout the year—returns to Avondale's DMen Tap for a Christmas pop-up that's more naughty than nice. The pop-up launches December 2 with a traditional Krampus parade featuring the marching band Environmental Encroachment (feel free to wear your best Krampus costume when you attend) before continuing on throughout the month with mulled wine, Revolution Brewing's Fist of Krampus holiday ale, gooey raclette sandwiches and plenty of Krampus-themed events.

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  • Theater
  • Experimental
  • Uptown

For more than 30-years, the Neo-Futurists have been delighting late-night crowds with performances that pack 30 miniature plays into a 60-minute show. Returning to in-person programming (attendees must be vaccinated and masked) after more than a year spent in the virtual realm, the company's signature show is more unpredictable than ever, with a handful of compact new plays premiering every week. Within the span of 10 minutes, you may be treated to a poignant monologue about everyday life or an irreverent diatribe delivered by a pantsless member of the cast—all inspired by the experiences of the performers on stage. Always changing and evolving, it's the rare show that truly offers something different everytime you show up to see it.

  • 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.

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  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • Wrigleyville

Located right across from Winterland at Gallagher Way, Wrigleyville cocktail spot Mordecai has decorated its second floor bar with string lights, hanging ornaments, colorful tinsel, mounted wreaths and more. The mixologists are complementing the space with holiday libations like a winter-inspired old fashioned and gingerbread milk punch. Reservations are required so don’t forget to secure a spot before swinging by.

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  • 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.

  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • Wrigleyville

Barbecue specialist Smoke Daddy has transformed its Wrigleyville outpost into a lumberjack-themed winter cabin for the season. The winter wonderland sports lush forest greenery, cheery Christmas trees, lodge-inspired décor and even a seven-foot brown bear. Guests have plenty of creative photo opportunities and can enjoy specialties like Campfire Cider, Eggnog Freeze and tableside s’mores platters alongside the regular selection of smoked meats. There will also be festive events throughout the month, including a Buddy the Elf brunch on December 11 and boozy gingerbread house building on December 19.

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  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • Loop

Fairmont Chicago is bringing back its winter experience, Fairmont Lodge, through February 2023. The hotel’s lobby has been converted into a wonderland full of themed décor, fire pit tables, festive programming and seasonal menu items. Guests can try a Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice cocktail that’s set aflame at the table, or indulge in sweet and savory fondue. There’s also live entertainment Thursday through Saturday.

  • Nightlife
  • Pop-ups and food events
  • River North

If you want some fun and games to accompany your holiday festivities, look no further than Headquarters Beercade. Expect over-the-top photo ops such as naughty and nice thrones, a flying Santa sleigh and a ski lift. The holiday beverage lineup includes a Fireside Old Fashioned and Santa’s Slushie—bourbon cream, cinnamon tequila and honey.

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