Chicago events calendar for December 2015. Festivals, fun things to do, Christmas events, Christmas lights, Christmas market, New Year’s Eve parties in Chicago, IL.

Best events for 12 months
Best events for 12 months
December 2015
December 2015

Enjoy the best Chicago events, festivals, and things to do with this calendar of events.

Mileage is from the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

Rock musical

December 1, 2015 (7:30 p.m.)

5 miles north

Theatremania calls Rent a “passionate, exuberant, uplifting, and joyous” story of young New York artists living in the shadow of AIDS, at Athenaeum Theatre on World AIDS Day. Discount tickets $17.

Classic comedy

December 1 - 13, 2015

16 miles north

You Can't Take It With You is a zany feel-good play about an eccentric family at Northlight Theatre in Skokie.

Discount tickets Dec. $29.

Christmas market

December 1 - 24, 2015 (begins Nov. 20)

1 mile SW

Christkindlmarket is an open-air European holiday market on Daley Plaza featuring traditional art, handmade gifts, German foods, choirs, and carolers. Free.

Family musical

December 1, 2015 - Jan. 2, 2016

3.8 miles north

A brother in sister travel back in time to meet young Louis Armstrong in the jazzy musical A Night in New Orleans based on the Magic Tree House books, at Apollo Theater. Discount tickets $12.

Christmas lights - arboretum

December 1 - 31, 2015 (Nov. 20 - Jan. 2)

27 miles west

See colorful tree lights and interactive laser lights on a one-mile walk at Illumination, and then warm up at the fire pit at the Morton Arboretum. See schedule. Discount adult tickets $13.

Harry Potter parody

Dec. 1 , 2015 - Jan. 3, 2016

0.8 miles north

Potted Potter is a live show with minimal props that crams all 7 Harry Pottery books into 70 goofy minutes at Broadway Playhouse. Discount tickets $37.

Holiday trains - Lincoln Park

December 1 - 31, 2015 (Nov. 27 - Jan. 3)

3 miles north

Model trains wind their way through a miniature village among Poinsettias during the Winter Flower & Train Show at Lincoln Park Conservatory. Free.

Holidays around the world

December 1 - 31, 2015 (Nov. 19 - Jan. 3)

8 miles south

See trees decorated to represent many cultures plus weekend ethnic song-and-dance performances during Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at the Museum of Science & Industry. Closed Nov. 26 & Dec. 25.

Holiday trains - Botanic garden

December 1 - 31, 2015 (Nov. 27 - Jan. 3)

24 miles north

Wonderland Express features trains running through an indoor garden past miniature buildings at Chicago Botanic Garden. See events schedule. Closed Dec. 25.

Funny French play

December 1 - 31, 2015 (Nov. 29 - Jan. 17)

1.3 miles east

The Heir Apparent is a bawdy French comedy of mistaken identity, performed in rhyming verse at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Discount tickets $29 to $54.

Beer at Zoolights

December 2, 2015 (5:30 to 10 p.m.)

2.5 miles north

A ticket to BrewLights gets you a dozen samples of draft beer, with food for sale at Lincoln Park Zoo. Then see the lights and hear music at the lion house.

Irving Berlin show

December 2 - 6, 2015 (also Nov.)

2.8 miles NW

Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin tells stories about the famous composer and plays his music (God Bless America, White Christmas, Puttin' on the Ritz, etc.) at Royal George Theatre. Discount tickets $40.

Architecture films

December 2 - 16, 2015 (6 p.m. Wednesdays)

0.4 miles south

See a film followed by a talk with an architect at Spotlight: Architecture+Space+Design on the second floor of the Chicago Cultural Center. Free.

Christmas comedy

Dec. 2 - 20, 2015 (begins Nov. 28)

2.8 miles SW

Unruly kids take over the church pageant with hilarious results in family-friendly The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at Provision Theater.

Discount tickets for Dec. $11, child $8.

Holiday drag show

December 2 - 20, 2015

3.4 miles north

Barney the Elf is a musical parody of the film Elf with a queer twist at Greenhouse Theater. Discount tickets $13.

Christmas play

December 2 - 27, 2015 (begins Nov. 14)

multiple locations

A Christmas Carol is Charles Dickens’ holiday classic about Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and three Christmas ghosts.

Jewish comedy

December 2 - 27, 2015 (also Nov.)

2.7 miles NW

The Chicago Tribune calls Bad Jews a “savagely good comedy” about a devout sister & secular brother who spar at Royal George Theatre. Discount tickets $25 to $38.

Magic show

December 2 - 30, 2015 (8 p.m. Wed)

3.3 miles north

The Magic Cabaret entertains with mind-boggling sleight of hand and audience participation in small Greenhouse Theater Center. Discount tickets $10.

Oliver! in Lake Forest

Dec. 2 - 20, 2015 (also Nov.)

31 miles north

Oliver! is a musical about a London orphan, based on the classic book Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, at Citadel Theatre. Discount tickets $19.

Rock legends concert

December 2, 2015 - Jan. 17, 2016

3.8 miles north

Million Dollar Quartet recreates the night Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins played together at Sun Records and includes 21 rock hits performed live at Apollo Theater. Discount tickets $37.

Who killed JFK?

Dec. 2, 2015 - Jan 31, 2016 (also Nov.)

0.4 miles west

Your worst paranoid nightmares are realized when Assassination Theater presents a theory about who killed President John F. Kennedy, at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Discount tickets $15 to $25.

Cookies & wine

December 3, 2015 (sold out)

0.4 miles SE

Taste wine and cookies, and bring home three dozen chef-made cookies at Cookies & Cheer at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park.

1920s party

December 3, 2015 (sold out)

2 miles north

Come as a gangster or flapper to The Last Speakeasy, a Prohibition-era party with music, dancing, a casino, and cocktails at the Chicago History Museum.

Holiday music

December 3, 2015 (7:30 p.m.)

8 miles north

Student musicians & singers perform secular seasonal hits and jazz variations at Joyola! at Loyola University.

Comedy show in Skokie

December 3, 2015 (7:30 p.m.)

16.8 miles north

See the best new comedians from the TV show Last Comic Standing at North Shore Center for the performing Arts. Discount tickets $25.

Gift show

December 3 - 6, 2015

1 mile west

One of a Kind Show and Sale features handmade gifts by 600 artists at the Merchandise Mart.

Shakespeare in Evanston

December 3 - 6, 2015 (also Nov.)

14 miles north

As You Like It is a romantic comedy of mischievous misunderstandings, pleasing poetry, and hilarious happenstance at Northwestern University. Discount tickets $10.

Funny, romantic operetta

December 3 - 13, 2015 (also Nov.)

1 mile SW

The Civic Opera House takes on an an art-nouveau look for The Merry Widow, the story of a rich widow and the men who court her. Discount tickets $35 to $142.

Drama about an opera diva

December 3 - 13, 2015 (also Nov.)

5 miles north

The Lisbon Traviata is the comic story of a flamboyant opera queen with a tragic ending at The Athenaeum Theatre. Discount tickets $16.

Magic lounge

December 3 - 17, 2015 (8 p.m. Thurs.)

7 miles north

Chicago Magic Lounge is an old-school magic show with great close-up magic, bar magic, table-hopping magicians, and main stage acts in beautiful Uptown Underground for age 21+. Discount tickets $13.

Dysfunctional holiday play

December 3 - 20, 2015 (also Nov.)

5 miles north

Holidaze is a series of short plays that capture the crazy, zany, funny chaos of the holiday season at Athenaeum Theatre. Discount tickets $14.

Jazz musical

December 3 - 20, 2015

5 miles north

Hear rowdy, humorous songs by Fats Waller from the early days of jazz at Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Stage 773.

Discount tickets $30.

Taxi play

December 3, 2015 - Jan. 10, 2016

8 miles north

At times frightening, hilarious, and poignant, Hellcab is the story of a Chicago taxi driver and his interesting passengers at Profiles Theatre. Discount tickets $20.

Gospel Christmas

December 4, 2015 (7:30 p.m.)

11 miles west

The Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show features gospel and soul holiday tunes at Dominican University in River Forest. Discount tickets $7 to $24.

Hinsdale Christmas Walk

December 4, 2015 (4 to 8 p.m.)

21 miles SW

Christmas Walk features Santa’s arrival, carolers, giant storybooks, ice carvers, a trackless train, and a tree lighting in Hinsdale’s Burlington Park.

Family holiday show

December 4, 2015 (7:30 p.m.)

27 miles west

Kenny Rogers wrote the music, and Alan Thicke stars in The Toy Shoppe in Glen Ellyn, which The New York Times called “a glorious homespun family delight.” Discount tickets $20.

French market

December 5 - 6, 2015 (preview Dec. 4)

7.5 miles north

Lycée French Market has 80 vendors, a bistro, a bakery, chef demos, live French music, and a children’s pavilion at 1929 W. Wilson Avenue.

Holiday market

December 4 - 6, 2015

29 miles NW

Holiday Lights Gift and Craft Fair offers 500 booths of gifts, foods, and decorations for holiday shoppers at Arlington International Racecourse.

Adult variety show

December 4 - 19, 2015 (also Nov.)

7 miles north

Kiss Kiss Cabaret is a fun mix of burlesque, off-color comedy, music, magic, and variety acts at Uptown Underground. Reviews.

Discount tickets $13.

Comic Nutcracker

December 4 - 20, 2015 (also Nov.)

12 miles north

Clara & the Nutcracker is a tutu-free version of the holiday tale full of pratfalls, goofy songs, inept ballet dancing, and memorable characters at Piccolo Theatre in Evanston. Discount tickets $14.

Nutcracker ballet

December 4 - 27, 2015

1 mile south

Joffrey Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker features brilliant costumes, fanciful scenery, entrancing storytelling, and Tchaikovsky’s famous score played by the Chicago Philharmonic at Auditorium Theatre. Discount tickets $65.

Ballet-free Nutcracker

Dec. 4 - 31, 2015 (also Nov.)

7.4 miles north

Clara struggles to save Christmas in the imaginative, family friendly version of The Nutcracker onstage at the Chopin Theatre.

Discount tickets $32.

Christmas lights - Lincoln Park Zoo

Dec. 4, 2015 - Jan. 3, 2016 (dates below)

2.5 miles north

ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo features millions of holiday lights, ice carvings, music, carousel and train rides, food, and gift shopping (plus photos with Santa some days). Open Nov. 27-29, Dec. 4-6, 11-23, 26-31, Jan. 1-3. Free entry.

Artisan food fair

December 5, 2015

1.9 miles west

Open Market is an annual artisan food fair with 40 chefs and vendors at Revel Fulton Market.

Christmas beer

December 5, 2015 (12 to 5 p.m.)

4.2 miles north

Delilah’s bills its event as the most comprehensive Christmas and Winter Beer Tasting in North America. Admission is $20 at the door.

Christmas liturgy

December 5, 2015 (7:30 p.m.)

8 miles north

Lessons and Carols tells a story in nine short Bible readings and adds Christmas carols, hymns, and choral music in the chapel at Loyola University.

Cookie walk

December 5, 2015 (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

11 miles west

Collect a cookie, treat, or hot drink from 45 shops and see entertainment at Winterfest in Oak Park.

Doggie Christmas

December 5, 2015 (12 to 2 p.m.)

32 miles NW

Your dog can dress for a costume contest, hunt for treats, and get photographed with Santa indoors at Jingle Paws by the Schaumburg Park District.

Craft fair

December 5 - 6, 2015

6 miles north

Shop from independent artisans and chefs at the Renegade Craft Fair at Bridgeport Art Center. Free.

Swedish bazaar

December 5 - 6, 2015

7 miles north

Julmarknad is a Christmas bazaar of Scandinavian food and gift items plus traditional entertainment at the Swedish American Museum.

Fast-talking comedy

December 5 - 14, 2015 (also Nov.)

1.2 miles north

Scandalous in the 1930s, Noël Coward’s Private Lives is a witty play about two divorcees who reignite old passions in Paris, at Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Discount tickets $20.

Holiday bar crawls

December 5 - 19, 2015

Chicago area

Enjoy food and drink specials.

Dinner cruise

December 5 & 19, 2015

1 mile east

Enjoy a three-course meal with a champagne cocktail and views of the Chicago skyline aboard the luxurious Odyssey, leaving Navy Pier. Discount tickets $82.

Christmas lights - Brookfield Zoo

December 5 - 31, 2015 (dates below)

14 miles SW

Holiday Magic is a million twinkling lights, a laser light show, a magic show, animal visits, and songs at the Brookfield Zoo. Dec. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, and 26-31.

Winter WonderFest

Dec. 5, 2015 - Jan. 10, 2016

1 mile east

Festival Hall at Navy Pier becomes an indoor Winter WonderFest for the holidays, with music, carnival rides, and entertainment. Expect crowds. Free entry. Closed Dec. 25.

Baroque holiday music

December 6, 2015 (3 p.m.)

13 miles north

Hear classics by Bach and Handel in stained-glass surroundings at Holiday Baroque, followed by a wine reception, at Northwestern University. Discount tickets $19.

Toy sale

December 6, 2015 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

29 miles south

Browse new and vintage toys from 250 vendors at Tinley Park Annual Holiday Toy Show at Tinley Park High School.

Scary stories

December 7, 2015

10 miles north

Deathscribe is five contest-winning audio nightmares performed live with sound effects at Mayne Stage.

New opera

December 7, 2015 - Jan. 17, 2016

1 mile SW

Lyric Opera presents Bel Canto, based on Ann Patchett’s novel about a hostage crisis, at the Civic Opera House. Discount tickets $25 to $95.

Wine & beer tasting

December 9, 2015 (6 to 8 p.m.)

24 miles north

Holiday Cheers! is a seasonal tasting of local spirits, wines, and winter brews surrounded by Wonderland Express train exhibits at Chicago Botanic Garden.

Sherlock Holmes family show

December 9, 2015 - Jan. 3, 2016

9.4 miles north

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose is a charming holiday whodunit with festive live accompaniment and a closing sing-along at Raven Theatre. Discount tickets $10.

Modern dance

December 10 - 13, 2015

0.5 miles south

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performs works by four inventive artists in the Winter Series at Harris Theater in Millennium Park.

Discount tickets $35.

Ugly sweater swing dance

December 11, 2015 (9 to 11 p.m.)

5 miles NW

Wear your tackiest to Ugly Sweater Party, which includes a beginner’s class, open dancing, mingling, and a performance at Duet Dance Studio. BYOB.

Short films

December 11 - 12, 2015

1.1 miles south

See a variety of nearly 100 short films at the Chicago International Reel Shorts Film Fest at the Museum of Contemporary Photography.

Holiday tap dance

December 11 - 13, 2015

2.4 miles SW

Tidings of Tap! features whimsical interpretations of holiday songs by Chicago Tap Theatre and nonstop rhythm at UIC Theatre. Discount tickets $18.

Ugly Sweater Run/Walk

December 12, 2015 (11 a.m.)

2 miles south

Wear your ugliest sweater for the Ugly Sweater Run 5K and after-party at Soldier Field.

Discount tickets $30.

Northerly Island adventure

December 12, 2015 (12 to 4 p.m.)

3 miles south

See birds of prey and wolves, hear folk music and a storyteller, walk on snowshoes (if there’s snow), make a craft, and have cocoa (while it lasts) at Polar Adventure Days. Free except parking.

Old Town food & drink crawl

December 12, 2015

3.5 miles NW

Adults with tickets can buy drink specials and $3 to $7 tastes at restaurants on Chicago Christmas Crawl.

Discount tickets $35 for two people.

Craft beer tasting

December 12, 2015 (2 to 6 p.m.)

32 miles south

A ticket to Winter Solstice Craft Beer Fest gets you 10 beer samples and 2 food samples, with 100 beers for sale and live music at Blarney Stone Pub, Oak Forest.

Beer tasting

December 12, 2015 (2 p.m.)

35 miles NW

The Beer Fest Beat Down includes 25 beer-tasting tickets, food vendors, and Lucha Libre wrestling at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.

Holiday market

Dec. 12 & 13, 2015 (all dates below)

2 miles west

Randolph Street’s Holiday Market offers affordable antique, vintage, and modern goods indoors at W Randolph & Washington on Nov. 28, 29; Dec. 12, 13. Discount tickets $10.

Model train show

December 12 - 13, 2015

27 miles west

LEGO Train Show features a huge diorama of trains that run past skyscrapers, brick mania, and kids’ crafts, plus a ticketed party the first evening in Wheaton. Free except parking.

The Nutcracker ballet

December 12 - 20, 2015

5 miles north

Youthful members of Ballet Chicago perform the holiday classic The Nutcracker to Tchaikovsky’s score at Athenaeum Theatre.

Discount tickets $14.

Magic show

December 12 - 28, 2015

0.7 miles south

The Magic Parlour [sound] is an evening of close-up magic by an award-winning magician in the beautiful Palmer House Hilton Hotel. Discount tickets $49.

Family treasure hunt

December 13, 2015

1 mile south

Kids make four activity stops then have a tea party with entertainment and party favors at Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party at the Art Institute.

Wine, spirit, and beer festival

December 18 - 19, 2015 (12 or 6 p.m.)

0.5 miles SW

Libation Tastin’ offers food and beverage tasting, live performances, and DJ dancing at Block 37.

Anime convention

December 18 - 20, 2015

16 miles NW

Con Alt Delete celebrates Japanese animation and “nerd culture” with games, panels, vendors, and dances at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont.

Handel’s Messiah

December 19 - 20, 2015

0.5 miles south

It’s a holiday tradition to hear the joyful Handel’s Messiah sung by the Apollo Chorus of Chicago at Harris Theater. Discount tickets $13.

Japanese dance & drum

December 19 - 20, 2015

0.7 mile north

Taiko Legacy features Japanese drumming, dance, and street theater at Museum of Contemporary Art.

Traditional Christmas carols

December 19 - 20, 2015

Evanston & Lisle

Hear the “a cappella” group Bella Voce and a guest harpist perform A Ceremony of Carols.

Affordable Nutcracker

December 19 - 20, 2015

27 miles west

Chicago Festival Ballet and the New Philharmonic Orchestra perform a beautiful and lively Nutcracker at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.

Discount tickets Dec. 20, $22.

Holiday train ride

December 19, 2015 - Jan. 3, 2016

1.4 miles SW

Take a one-hour train ride through downtown Chicago as you drink cocoa on the Polar Express, which travels roundtrip from Union Station at Jackson Boulevard.

Walking tour & brunch

Dec. 19, 2015 - May 28, 2016 (Sat. 9:30 a.m.)

0.4 miles SE

Pedway Brunch Tour is a 3-hour excursion starting at the Radisson Blu Hotel and following the city’s heated pedestrian walkway, with an included buffet brunch at Houlihans. Discount tickets $25.

Austrian music & dance

December 27, 2015 (2:30 p.m.)

1 mile south

Costumed dancers and singers bring the waltzes of Strauss to life, as a full orchestra plays at Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert at the Symphony Center.

Family basketball show

December 29 - 30, 2015

18 miles NW

The famous Harlem Globetrotters demonstrate ball handling wizardry, rim-rattling dunks, trick shots, and comedy at Allstate Arena in Rosemont. Discount tickets $31.

New Year’s Eve - a day early

December 30, 2015 (8 p.m. to 1 a.m.)

1.5 miles SW

Enjoy an open bar, appetizers, live music, dancing, and a silent auction at the black-tie-optional charity benefit EVE of the EVE, Chicago Union Station.

New Year’s Eve - restaurants

December 31, 2015

Chicago locations

Find a list of restaurants that offer special menus and celebrations for New Year’s Eve at OpenTable.

New Year’s Eve - Hard Rock

December 31, 2015 (9 p.m.)

0.2 miles south

New Year’s Eve Soiree has multiple ballrooms, live & DJ music, buffets, and 30 bartenders at the Hard Rock Hotel.

New Year’s Eve - Palmer House

December 31, 2015 (9 p.m.)

0.7 miles south

Big Night Chicago New Year’s Eve Gala includes food, drinks, 4 dance floors, 8 party bands, and DJs.

New Year’s Eve - Drake Hotel

December 31, 2015

1 mile north

Chicago Scene’s New Years Eve Party has 4 ballrooms with DJs, 45 bartenders, and a balloon drop at the Drake Hotel.

New Year’s Eve - fireworks

December 31, 2015

1 mile east

Welcome the new year with New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Navy Pier at midnight. Free.

New Year’s Eve - Navy Pier #1

December 31, 2015 (9 p.m.)

1 mile east

Crystal Gardens New Year’s Eve has dancing to mainstream music, party favors, 20 bars, hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast at midnight, and a terrace to watch the fireworks, at Navy Pier.

New Year’s Eve - Navy Pier #2

December 31, 2015 (8:15 p.m.)

1 mile east

Resolution Gala is a formal affair in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier with 30 bars, buffet stations, live DJ, a champagne toast at midnight, and views of fireworks over the lake.

New Year’s Eve - Hilton

December 31, 2015

1.2 miles south

A ticket to the giant New Year’s Eve Soiree at the Hilton Chicago includes drinks, a buffet, DJ music, and before and after parties at other locations.

New Year’s Eve - beer

December 31, 2015

3 miles west

Brew Year’s Eve features 12 breweries pouring 30 craft beers, with live music, passed hors d’oeuvres, and a dessert buffet on three floors of Salvage One.

New Year’s Eve - comedy

December 31, 2015 (8 p.m. to 2 a.m.)

5 miles north

The New Year's Eve Party includes a buffet dinner, 2 improv comedy shows, 2 drink tickets, and midnight champagne at Under The Gun Theater for age 21+.
< November    change month    January >
contact us

© December 2015 calendar of events in Chicago, IL: Christmas, holidays, New Year’s Eve parties, festivals, things to do in Chicago, Illinois.