Holiday Events in Chicago, Winter 2011–2012

  • Holiday tree at the shops at 900 North Michigan

  • Patrick L. Pyszka

    Ice skating at the McCormick Tribune ice rink

  • What�s Your Art? Celebrating the Art Centers of Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center

  • What�s Your Art? Celebrating the Art Centers of Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center

  • What�s Your Art? Celebrating the Art Centers of Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center

  • Caroling at Cloud Gate

  • Caroling at Cloud Gate

  • Millennium Park: Millennium Park offers Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain and more top attractions.

Holiday tree at the shops at 900 North Michigan

The holiday season is upon us, whether you're ready or not. Here's a growing list of holiday happenings—we're updating it as more events are announced. We're even adding NYE shindigs at the end of the list.

Home for the Holidays
Through December 31
Art Institute of Chicago (111 S Michigan Ave, 312-443-3600, Open daily, but hours vary. FREE with admission.
The Art Institute of Chicago rings in the holiday season with holiday-themed Thorne Miniature Rooms decorated by artists from around the world. The rooms feature toys from Germany, delicacies from Italy and plants from South Africa in addition to several pieces made in the museum. Check out the Impressionist Galleries to see Edgar Degas’s sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen back on view. On November 25, head to the Museum’s front steps for the Wreathing of the Lions ceremony at 10am where the iconic lions will be adorned with evergreen wreaths and the Woosten Choral Ensemble will perform.
For a full list of holiday events:

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Through March 11, 2012
Millennium Park (Michigan Ave between Washington and Madison St, 312-742-1168 Open daily, but hours vary. Weather permitting. FREE admission.
The holiday season isn’t complete without a trip to Millennium Park’s ice skating rink, which draws more than 100,000 skaters annually. Bring your own skates, or rent a pair for $10.


Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
Through January 1
Lincoln Park Zoo (2001 North Clark St, 312-742-2000, Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December 11, Starting December 16 through January 1, activities will be offered nightly. FREE.
Go ahead, try to act tough, but animals and Christmas stuff is adorable.  So take some kids as your cover to Lincoln Park Zoo sometime this holiday season to check out the light displays, with over two million bulbs this year, the animals and of course, Santa.


Dysfunctional Holiday Revue
November 21-January 1
Second City (1616 N Wells St, Mainstage: Mondays (8pm) and Saturdays (4pm); UP Comedy Club (located next door): Tuesdays (7:30pm) and Sundays (4:30pm), $16-$22.
If you’re tired of the same old holiday shows (cough cough Nutcracker cough), check out the Dysfunctional Holiday Revue, featuring a blend of scenes, songs and trademark improv. The show mocks all the ridiculousness that comes with the holiday season, from uneven gift exchanges with your clueless boyfriend to couples therapy with Joseph and Mary. Some performances are held at Second City’s new UP Comedy Club, which features a restaurant and bar with a Chicago-style menu. Check out the website for special additional matinee performances.
Buy your tickets here.

The Holiday Collection at 900 North Michigan Shops
November 25-December 24
900 North Michigan Shops (900 N Michigan Ave, Holiday hours vary.
The 900 North Michigan Shops make holiday shopping a little easier with complimentary coat checks for all shoppers and a holiday parking validation rate for customers who spend $50 or more. The shops will also be holding a giveaway with luxury prizes, including a $500 shopping spree and one-night stay at the Four Seasons, a shoe package and a winter survival gift featuring UGG boots and Chloe sunglasses. Take the kids to see Santa, who will be in attendance everyday.
For a full list of holiday events visit:

November 30-December 21
iO Theater (3541 N Clark St,, 773-880-0199) Wednesdays, 9pm, $10.
iO Improv wants to bring enthusiasm back to Christmas by putting on a show free from the bitter cynicism seen in most comedy holiday shows. The show features sketches and songs from the iO family and a finale where audience members join the cast for a caroling romp through Wrigleyville. Call to reserve tickets.


Kiss Kiss Cabaret Ho Ho Holiday Shows
December 2-31
Green House Theater Center (2257 N Lincoln Ave,, 773-404-7336) Fridays, 11pm, $15-$20 ($60 for NYE show).
Join the Kiss Kiss Croquettes for some holiday fun. The holiday shows feature a nippy new opening, lots of surprises and a heartwarming finale. If you just can't get enough, ring in the new year at the first annual New Year's Eve Hullabaloo featuring a special two-hour show. After the show, dance and drink onstage with the full company. Ticket purchase for NYE includes admission to the show, appetizers, party favors, buffet, open bar and champagne toast.
Buy tickets here, via phone or at the box office. 

Unwrap Wicker Park/Bucktown Passport Launch
December 3-24
Passports can be used at over 56 stores in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area.  For more information and to download your passport go to Passports are FREE.
You’re going to have to brave those overcrowded stores eventually, why not save some cash while you endure it?  Over 55 Wicker Park/Bucktown retailers are participating in UWPB, where shoppers can bring in "passports" that they’ve picked up from any one of the participating stores or downloaded, and use them to get discounts, deals and freebies from clothing stores to restaurants in the area.

Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker
December 9-27
Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (50 E Congress Pkwy,,
800-982-ARTS) Performance times vary, $30-$115.
Catch one of 20 performances of The Nutcracker as The Joffrey Ballet turns the Auditorium Theatre into a winter wonderland full of toys and waltzing snowflakes. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the show, which features both the full Joffrey Company and 118 young dancers from Chicago and beyond. The performances maintain the classic choreography created by Robert Joffrey and feature elegant costumes and an extravagant set.
Purchase tickets here, via phone or at the box office.

Ten Days of Holiday Cheer at deca Bar
December 12-23
Ritz-Carlton, Deca restaurant (160 E Pearson St, 312-573-5160, Mon-Fri, 2:00pm-close
. For more information on events call the Ritz-Carlton Concierge (312-573-5111).
We know you’ll probably be Christmas shopping until midnight December 24th, so take some much needed fuel breaks at deca, where each day has a different special.  Enjoy a free cheese plate when you purchase a bottle of wine on Mondays, or $10 flatbread on Thursdays. No matter which day you make your pit stop, there’ll be something to keep you going, particularly a strong $10 cocktail (Tuesdays).



Hanukkah Party at Touché
December 20
Touché (6412 N Clark St, 773-465-7400, Starts around 10:00pm. FREE.
A little bored with spinning that dreidel? Stop by Touché for the party with Hanukkah Harry (your guess is as good as ours) along with games and prizes, which are sure to put a little kick in some old traditions.

Hanukkah Dinner and Concert
December 21
Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, 847-835-5440, Starts at 5:30pm, concert at 7pm. Adult members $38, non-members $43, child members $32, non-members $37. Children 2 and under, FREE. Tickets available online.
Celebrate Hanukkah this year at the Chicago Botanic Garden where you’ll enjoy a kosher-style buffet, a concert by the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and a chance to check out the Wonderland Express exhibit. 

Christmas Eve Dinner at Deca
December 24
Ritz-Carlton, Deca restaurant (160 E Pearson St, 312-573-5160, Seating starts at 5:00pm, $65 per person. For reservations call (312-573-5083). For more information on events call the Ritz-Carlton Concierge (312-573-5111).
Let the Deca chefs cook you and your family a four-course holiday meal.  It may mean shelling out more money during the holiday season, but after four courses, there’s a good chance you won’t be woken up at 6am on Christmas morning this year. 

Christmas Eve Dinner at The Peninsula
December 24
The Peninsula Hotel (108 E Superior St, 312-337-2888, 6pm-10pm, $90 per person, children’s a la carte menu included in price. For reservations call (312- 573-6685).
Tired of turkey and ham? Head to The Lobby and relish in a Christmas dinner where the traditional grub is with treats like scallop ceviche, beet ravioli and a chocolate bar. That’ll be more memorable than another pumpkin pie.

December 25
Skokie Theater (7924 N Lincoln Ave, Skokie, 773-362-4760, 8pm and 9:30pm, $18 advance, $25 at the door, tickets available at
Hanukkah may get overshadowed by the giant cloud of retail chaos that is Christmas, but with comedy concerts, like Jewmongous, which consist of quirky songs like “They Tried to Kill Us (We Survived, Let’s Eat)”, Hanukkah is taking back some of that spotlight.

Kwanzaa Celebration: The Lighting of The Kinara Candles
December 27-January 1
DuSable Museum of African American History (740 56th Pl, 773-947-0600, Each day at 1pm, FREE with museum admission.
Celebrate Kwanzaa with the lighting of the Kinara Candles. Each day, a different symbolic candle will be lit to commemorate the Kwanzaa holiday.

Ringing in the New Year at The Palmer House
December 31
Grand Ballroom at
The Palmer House (17 E Monroe St, 312-726-7500, 9pm-2am, $155 per person for a VIP ticket. To purchase tickets go to
Who can turn down a fully stocked bloody mary bar? If you are one of the many who can’t, The Palmer House has you covered. Get dressed up in your finest for an evening of food, drinks and party favors. And when you wake up wishing you’d just stayed in, you’ll feel better knowing your $155 went to help benefit the Starlight Children’s Midwest Foundation.

New Year’s Eve Rock ‘n’ Roll Ball at Intercontinental O’Hare
December 31
Intercontinental O’Hare (5300 N River Rd, Rosemont, 847-544-5300,
8pm-2am, general tickets $75, VIP $115, general hotel package $249, VIP package $299. 
Tickets available at For more information go to
Whether you want to rock out to some serious '80s music, get down with old-fashioned rock 'n' roll or bump and grind to house, you’re covered at the Intercontinental. They’ve got three rooms, three different styles of music and all the alcohol you can drink with a four-hour open bar.

Carnivale New year’s Eve Cabaret
December 31
Carnivale (702 W Fullerton Market, 312-850-5005,, 7:30pm–1am
. For reservations call 312-850-5005.
If you’re looking to spice up 2011’s New Year’s Eve (who isn’t?), check out Carnivale’s festivities. With a DJ, drag queen, stilt walker, contortionist, burlesque performers and more, you’re sure to make a New Year’s you’ll remember, at least in bits and pieces.

New Year’s Eve Gala at The Peninsula
December 31
The Peninsula Hotel (108 E Superior St, 312-337-2888, Reception starts at 8pm, $275 per person, $350 with wine pairings. For Reservations call 312-573-6685.
Always wanted to have one of those New Year’s like in the movies?  Well, that’s probably never going to happen.  But if you want to get close, make reservations at The Lobby.  A 13-piece band, four-course dinner, balloon drop and midnight toast will help get your New Year’s to silver screen status. 

New Year’s Eve at the Ritz-Carlton
December 31
Ritz-Carlton, Deca restaurant (160 E Pearson St, 312-573-5160,, seating at 8:30pm, $195 per person. For reservations call 312-573-5083.
Tired of eating Chinese food and drinking cheap beer on New Year’s?  Get off the couch and ring in 2012 with some class at Deca, where you can celebrate with a seafood bar, dry-aged rib eye, foie gras, truffles and 17 deserts.  If that doesn’t get you moving, there’s dancing and drinking, starting with a free glass of champagne.

Chicago Cut Steakhouse New Year's Eve 2011
December 31
Chicago Cut Steakhouse (300 N LaSalle St,, 312-329-1800)
Chicago Cut Steakhouse is already taking reservations for NYE, for meals up until 1:30am on the big night. There will be a surf and turf special ($65) with 30-day aged prime filet mignon with two tristan lobster tails. Jazz vocalist Typhanie Monique  will entertain diners from 9pm-1am. A complimentary champagne toast at midnight will be accompanied by a balloon drop and dancing. Call to make reservations. 

NYE at Bottle & Bottega
December 31
Bottle & Bottega (2900 N Lincoln Ave, 773-313-9133, 8pm–12:30am, $45 per person, BYOB.
So you want champagne bottle service all night for NYE, but you also wouldn’t like to spend your last three months' pay? Then head over to Bottle & Bottega where you can buy your own, probably cheaper, champagne and party into the night without going into debt.  Plus, the cover charge includes a Mexican buffet and painting party.

Moonshine's Going Roaring '20s for NYE!

December 31
Moonshine Brewing Company (1824 W Division St, 773-862-8686, 8pm-3am, $85 advance, $90 at the door, if available. Tickets available at
It’s safe to say the millennium’s been pretty rough, so ring in the New Year by going back to the 1920s speakeasy era at Moonshine Brewing Company.  Includes a full dinner buffet, two DJs, champagne at midnight and 20s style party favors. And, with an open bar from 8pm-1am, you’ll wake up wishing for Prohibition to make a comeback.

Playboy Rings in New Year’s Eve at the Hilton
December 31
Hilton Hotel (720 S Michigan Ave, 312-922-4400, 9:00pm-2:00am, $155, VIP $215, VIP tables and bottle service $1,000-$3,000, overnight stays start at $163. Tickets available at or by calling 312-226-6990.
If you’re into house music, open bars and half naked Playmates (and with that combination, who isn’t?) spend your New Year’s Eve at the Chicago Hilton, where Playboy is hosting one hell of a party.  With performances by Eva Simons, Baby Bash and Chet Haze and B96’s DJ Flipside and Mixmaster Mixin Marc spinning all night, it’s every club fanatic’s dream.

New Year’s Day at Lockwood Restaurant & Bar
January 1
Lockwood (17 E Monroe St, 312-917-3404, 10:00am-2:00pm, $10 with purchase of brunch entrée.
If you want to keep the New Year’s Eve party going, or you just need to get rid of a splitting hangover headache, head over to Lockwood where you can do either with a bottomless Bloody Mary bar.  Choose from three signature Bloody Mary cocktails, or add tequila or sake to mix things up.