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The best ways to celebrate Hanukkah in Chicago

From latkes to klezmer, the best ways the celebrate Hanukkah in Chicago are waiting for you

Photograph: Nick Murway Jason Vincent (in plaid) leads his chefs in a game of dreidel.

Winter in Chicago isn’t all Christmas events and holiday markets. The Hanukkah pickings are, admittedly, a bit slimmer for Jewish Chicagoans, but that doesn't mean you can't have eight crazy nights. From klezmer concerts to lighting ceremonies to piles and piles of latkes, Chicago has enough family-friendly holiday magic to keep the candles burning all Hanukkah long.

When is Hanukkah 2016?

This year, Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 24 and ends at sundown on January 1.


Best ways to celebrate Hanukkah in Chicago
Photograph: Sara Mays
Things to do, Concerts

Attend the Chicago Botanic Garden's Hanukkah Concert

Take in more than flora this holiday, with a rousing Hanukkah concert at the Chicago Botanic Garden to kick off the eight-night celebration. The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band performs two one-hour concerts at Alsdorf Auditorium on December 29. Ticket prices include full access to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s holiday Wonderland Express exhibition featuring a kiddo-pleasing model train to boot.

The New York Special at Kaufman's Bagel & Delicatessen
Photograph: Jason Little
Restaurants, Delis

Grab special latkes at Kaufman's

icon-location-pin Skokie

Traditional Jewish breads—bagels, rye bread—are Kaufman’s foundation and form the base for dozens of deli sandwiches, like the New York Special (thinly sliced corned beef with chopped liver on rye—ask for mustard, too). Throughout Hanukkah, make sure to stop by this Skokie eatery for zucchini or kosher bacon and pea latkes plus festive blue velvet cake. Might as well grab some whitefish salad and sliced hard salami while you're at it.

Things to do

Celebrate with a candle lighting and game night

Celebrate Hanukkah in the city with Chabad East Lakeview and Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois at Chanukah In The City, a giant menorah lighting and game night. The evening starts with a giant menorah lighting with donuts, latkes, music and more. There, you can get a pass for free arcade games and batting cages at Slugger's from 7:30-8:30. What better way to celebrate the Festival of Lights?

Movies, Drama

Celebrate a great Jewish "Tradition!"

Ring in the first night of Hanukkah with Fiddler on the Roof at the Music Box (December 25 at 6pm). The smash-hit Broadway music tells the story of a poor milkman and his five daughters as they maneuver rising anti-Semitism in Czarist Russia, with a theme of "tradition" that transcends religion, ethniticy, and nationality. You know you know all the tunes.


Drink up new Schmaltz brews

Schmaltz Brewing Company, the nation's only Jewish celebration beer, turns 20 this year. To celebrate, it's rolling out four limited-edition brews: Genesis 20:20, Chanukah, Hanukkah...Pass the Beer, Jewbelation 20, and Shtick in a Box (a variety 12-pack). Try all four on December 16 at Quencher's, December 22 at Joe's Wine Cellar and December 24 at Archie's.

Star of David Evanston
Photograph: Courtesy Skokie Patch
Things to do, Festivals

Take part in the Grand Chanukah Menorah Lighting

Celebrate the Festival of Lights in Evanston this year when a 10-foot menorah will brighten the night at Fountain Square. Mayor Elizabeth B. Tisdahl will offer greetings and help with the lighting in a ceremony that will celebrate the triumph of light over darkness. Musical entertainment and refreshments will be served as well, so round up loved ones and join in at this communal Hanukkah event.

Hanukkah cupcakes at Sprinkles
Photograph: Courtesy Sprinkles
Restaurants, Bakeries

Indulge in Hanukkah Cupcakes at Spinkles

Gelt is great and all, but this year get in on a tastier treat with Sprinkles' Hanukkah box, featuring festively decorated red velvet, dark chocolate and vanilla cupcakes adorned with stars of David and sugar decorations. The box is available throughout the eight nights of Hanukkah. You can order your own box here for a sweet holiday treat.

Things to do, Festivals

Eat your heart out at LatkeFest

Get lots and lots of latkes at this delicious Hanukkah fest centered on our favorite holiday dish. In addition to a scrumptious potato pancake bar, LatkeFest also offers Sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), a dreidel scavenger hunt, Hanukkah song session, magic show and candle lighting. It’s the perfect way to wrap up your celebrations with the whole family and get your fill of fried spuds.