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.

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December 2015

Enjoy the best Chicago events, festivals, and things to do in December 2015 with this calendar of events.

Events are listed by starting date, and all dates are confirmed. Mileage is from the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

Christmas market

Dec. 1 - 24, 2015 (Nov. dates uncertain)

1 mile SW

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

Holiday trains - Botanic garden

December 1 - 31, 2015 (Nov. 27 to 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.

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.

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.

Gift show

December 3 - 6, 2015

1 miles west

Find gifts handmade by 600 artists at One of a Kind Show & Sale at Merchandise Mart.

Ballet-free Nutcracker

Dec. 3 - 27, 2015 (begins Nov. 5)

7.4 miles north

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

Christmas lights - Lincoln Park Zoo

Dec. 4, 2015 - Jan. 2, 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. 1-2. Free entry.

Hinsdale Christmas Walk

December 4, 2015

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.

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.

Santa bar crawl

December 5, 2015

0.8 miles south

Wear a Santa suit to SantaCon Chicago, which starts at Beef & Brandy and then heads to city bars.

Christmas beer

December 5, 2015

4.2 miles north

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

Cookie walk

December 5, 2015

11 miles west

Collect a cookie, treat, or hot drink from 40 shops and see entertainment at Winterfest in Oak Park.

Doggie Christmas

December 5, 2015

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.

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 Dec. 26-31.

Motorcycle parade

December 6, 2015

12 miles south

Bring a toy to donate (except a stuffed animal), then watch or join the Chicagoland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade led by Santa at W 83rd St. and Western. Free.

Toy sale

December 6, 2015

29 miles south

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

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.

Bar crawl

December 12, 2015

4.7 miles

12 Bars of Xmas begins and ends at the Cubby Bear, with food & drink specials at other Wrigleyville bars.
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Holiday market

Dec. 12 - 13, 2015 (also Nov. 21 - 22)

2 miles west

Randolph Street’s Holiday Market offers affordable antique, vintage, and modern goods indoors at W Randolph & Washington.

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.

Santa bar crawl - downtown

December 19, 2015

0.5 miles west

The Fireball Santa Crawl includes breakfast, T-shirt, Santa hat, and drink specials at bars in River North.

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.

Craft beer tasting

December 20, 2015

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.

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.

New Year’s Eve - a day early

December 30, 2015

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 - Palmer House

December 31, 2015

0.7 miles south

Big Night Chicago New Year’s Eve Gala includes food, drinks, 4 dance floors, 7 party bands and DJs.

New Year’s Eve - Vertigo

December 31, 2015

0.7 miles north

NYE 2015 includes a hosted cocktail reception, passed hors d'oeuvres, live entertainment, and a midnight champagne toast at Vertigo Sky Lounge.

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

1 mile east

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

New Year’s Eve - Navy Pier #2

December 31, 2015

1 mile east

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

New Year’s Eve - Drake Hotel

December 31, 2015

1 mile north

NYE 2015 has 4 ballrooms with DJs, 45 bartenders, and a balloon drop at the Drake Hotel.

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 - Monster Ball

December 31, 2015

5 miles north

New Year’s Eve Monster Ball is a costume party with appetizers, a zombie band, a champagne toast, and spooky surprises.

New Year’s Eve - film & show

December 31, 2015

6 miles north

New Year’s Eve at Music Box Theatre begins with appetizers, a cash bar, and a stage show. Watch glamorous Moulin Rouge, and then toast the new year with champagne and music.

Scary stories

December 2015 (undated)

10 miles north

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

Beer at Zoolights

December 2015 (undated)

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.

Cookies & wine

December 2015 (undated)

0.4 miles SE

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

1920s party

December 2015 (undated)

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.

Book fair

December 2015 (undated)

1.5 miles south

Chicago Book Expo features local publishers and authors, with a pop-up bookstore, panel discussions, and readings at Columbia College on Wabash. Free.

Sushi tasting

December 2015 (undated)

1.8 miles west

Eat sushi, drink wine & beer, browse art, and support cancer research at Sushi-thon at Mars Gallery.

Artisan food fair

December 2015 (undated)

3.3 miles SW

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

Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl

December 2015 (undated)

5 miles north

Wear your tackiest holiday duds for an afternoon at four bars in Wrighleyville’s Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl.

Family treasure hunt

December 2015 (undated)

1 mile south

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

Tasting in Wicker Park

December 2015 (undated)

3.5 miles NW

Adults with tickets can buy drink specials and $3 to $5 tastes at restaurants on Chicago Christmas Crawl.

Northerly Island adventure

December 2015 (undated)

3 miles south

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

Handel’s Messiah

December 2015 (undated)

Downtown Chicago

It’s a holiday tradition to hear the joyful Handel’s Messiah sung by the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, the first day at Chicago Symphony Center and the second day at Harris Theater.

Christmas spectacular

December 2015 (undated)

0.4 miles SW

Cirque Dreams Holidaze has flying reindeer, jumping gingerbread men, rousing music, amazing costumes, and Santa at the Chicago Theatre.

Holiday trains - Lincoln Park

December 2015 (undated)

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.

Holiday music

December 2015 (undated)

8 miles north

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

Winter WonderFest

December 2015 (undated)

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.

Christmas liturgy

December 2015 (undated)

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.

Baroque holiday music

December 2015 (undated)

13 miles north

Hear classics by Bach, Boccherini, and Vivaldi in stained-glass surroundings at Holiday Baroque at Northwestern University.

Model train show

December 2015 (undated)

27 miles west

LEGO Train Show & Party features a huge diorama of trains that run past skyscrapers, brick mania, and kids’ crafts in Wheaton. Free except parking.

Santa bar crawl - north

December 2015 (undated)

1.3 miles north

Running of the Santas features live music and drink specials at Hangge Uppe Bar (3 p.m.) and McFadden’s (8 p.m.) plus a costume contest.

Nutcracker ballet

December 2015 (undated)

1 mile south

Joffrey Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition that features brilliant costumes, fanciful scenery, entrancing storytelling and Tchaikovsky’s famous score played by the Chicago Philharmonic at Auditorium Theatre.
Next month:January 2016
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December 2015 calendar of events in Chicago, IL: Christmas, holidays, New Year’s Eve parties, festivals, things to do in Chicago, Illinois.