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.

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.

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. Closed Dec. 7, 14, 24, 25.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Cookies & wine

December 3, 2015 (5:30 to 7:30 p.m.)

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 (6:30 to 10:30 p.m.)

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. Cheaper tickets sold out.

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.

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.

Christmas liturgy

December 4, 2015 (5 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Christmas lights - Lincoln Park Zoo

Dec. 4, 2015 - Jan. 3, 2016 (also Nov.)

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.

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.

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 bar crawls

December 5 - 19, 2015

Chicago area

Enjoy food and drink specials.

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

December 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.

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.

Little Women

December 6 - 22, 2015

8 miles north

Little Women is based on the book by Louisa May Alcott about growing up in Civil War America, at 4210 North Lincoln.

Scary stories

December 7, 2015

10 miles north

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Grilled-cheese tasting

December 12, 2015 (11:30, 2:00, 4:30)

4 miles NW

Taste samples from 10 Chicago restaurants at Grilled Cheese Meltdown, which includes two drink tickets at Chop Shop on North Ave.

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 (also Nov.)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 (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 for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve - Marriott

December 31, 2015 (9 p.m.)

1.1 miles SW

Formal New Year’s Eve Soiree includes before & after parties, a buffet, drinks, dessert, and celebrity DJs at JW Marriott for age 21+.

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+.
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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.