Chicago events calendar for December 2017. Festivals, fun things to do, Christmas events, Christmas lights, Christmas market, New Year’s Eve parties in Chicago, IL.

Best events for 12 months

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

Miles are from the Wrigley Building in Chicago.

Cookies & wine

December 1, 2017 (begins Nov. 30)

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 1, 2017 (6:30 to 11 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.

Hinsdale Christmas Walk

December 1, 2017

21 miles SW

Christmas Walk features Santa’s arrival, carolers, giant storybooks, ice carvers, a trackless train, and a 5 p.m. tree lighting in Hinsdale’s Burlington Park.
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Christmas musical

December 1 - 3, 2017 (begins Nov. 21)

0.7 miles SW

See Irving Berlin’s song-and-dance extravaganza White Christmas, based on the classic film starring Bing Crosby, live at Cadillac Palace Theatre.

Holiday market

December 1 - 3, 2017 (begins Nov. 30)

29 miles NW

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

Christmas market

December 1 - 24, 2017 (begins Nov. 17)

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.

Nutcracker ballet

December 1 - 30, 2017

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.

It’s a Wonderful Life: radio play

December 1 - 30, 2017

20.1 miles north

It’s a Wonderful Life recreates a live radio play based on the film about a man seeking purpose in life at the Oil Lamp Theater in Glenview. Closed Mondays.

Christmas play

December 1 - 31, 2017 (also Nov.)

multiple locations

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

Christmas ship musical

December 1 - 31, 2017 (begins Nov. 24)

4.8 miles north

The Christmas Schooner tells the moving story of a 19th-century captain who risks everything to bring the Christmas spirit to Chicago, at Mercury Theater.

Holiday train ride

December 1, 2017 - Jan. 1, 2018

1.4 miles SW

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

Christmas lights - arboretum

Dec. 1, 2017 - Jan. 1, 2018 (Nov. 17+)

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.

Christmas lights - Lincoln Park Zoo

Dec. 1, 2017 - Jan. 7, 2018 (Nov. 24+)

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). Free entry.

Holiday trains - Lincoln Park

Dec. 1, 2017 - Jan. 7, 2018 (Nov. 24+)

3 miles north

Model trains wind their way through a miniature village among poinsettias during the Holiday Flower Show at Lincoln Conservatory. Free.

Holidays around the world

Dec. 1, 2017 - Jan. 7, 2018 (Nov. 16+)

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. 23 & Dec. 25.

Holiday trains - Botanic garden

Dec. 1, 2017 - Jan. 7, 2018 (Nov. 24+)

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.

Santa bar crawl

December 2, 2017

1 mile south

Wear a Santa suit to SantaCon Chicago, which starts at Congress Plaza Hotel and then heads to city bars. You must sign into Facebook to see the Facebook page. Free.

Santa Claus race

December 2, 2017

2.5 miles south

Join thousands of runners dressed as Santa at Soldier Field for the 5K Santa Hustle, which offers Santa wear, candy, cookies, a medal, and an after-party. No dogs.

Cookie walk

December 2, 2017

11 miles west

Pay $20 and then collect a cookie, treat, or hot drink from 45 shops in Oak Park during Winterfest. Also see the schedule for free entertainment in Oak Park.

Holiday cirque show

December 2, 2017 (8 p.m.)

16 miles NW

The talented cast of Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular performs feats of strength, skill, and grace to holiday music played by a live symphony at Rosemont Theatre.

Discount tickets $85.

Doggie Christmas

December 2, 2017

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. Bring your dog’s vaccination records.

Craft fair

December 2 - 3, 2017

6 miles north

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

Swedish bazaar

December 2 - 3, 2017

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 2 - 31, 2017

14 miles SW

Holiday Magic has a million twinkling lights, a magic show, model train, animal visits, and carolers at the Brookfield Zoo. Dec. 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, and 26-31.

Winter WonderFest

December 2, 2017 - Jan. 7, 2018

1 mile east

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

Baroque holiday music

December 3, 2017 (3 p.m.)

13 miles north

Hear classics by Bach and Handel at Holiday Baroque in a chapel with giant stained-glass windows at Northwestern University.

Toy sale

December 3, 2017 (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 4, 2017

4 miles north

Deathscribe is five contest-winning audio nightmares performed live with sound effects at Lincoln Hall.

Wine & beer tasting

December 6, 2017 (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.

Beer at Zoolights

December 7, 2017

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.

Holiday music

December 7, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)

8 miles north

Student musicians & singers perform a mix of sacred and secular works at Joyola! at Loyola University.

Gift show

December 7 - 10, 2017

1 mile west

One of a Kind Show and Sale (holiday edition) features handmade gifts by 600 artists, entertainment, and food at the Merchandise Mart. Repeats in April.

Steampunk party

December 9, 2017

6.7 miles NW

Electric Moulin Mansion promises “a spectacular night filled with exotic shows, world-class musicians, and colossal artwork” plus cocktails at Stan Mansion.

Christmas liturgy

December 9, 2017 (4 & 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.

Beer festival

December 9, 2017 (1 to 5 p.m.)

35 miles NW

A ticket to Mother Truckin’ Beer Fest gets you 25 tasting tickets and an opportunity to shop from food trucks at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.

Holiday bar crawls

December 9 & 16, 2017

Chicago area

A ticket gets you special food and drink prices at bars.

The Nutcracker ballet

December 9 - 10 and 15 - 17, 2017

5 miles north

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

Christmas concert

December 14 - 17, 2017

multiple locations

Hear beautiful and inspiring music at Holiday Brass & Choral Concert by Music of the Baroque.

Mannheim Steamroller

December 15, 2017 (8 p.m.)

16 miles NW

Grammy Award-winning composer Chip Davis presents Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, performed live with acoustic-electronic seasonal hits and multimedia effects at Rosemont Theatre.

Discount tickets $49 to $66.

Anime convention

December 15 - 17, 2017

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.

Holiday market

December 16 - 17, 2017 (also Nov. 18 - 19)

2 miles west

Randolph Street’s Holiday Market offers affordable antique, vintage, and modern goods indoors at W Randolph & Washington on Nov. 18, 19; Dec. 16, 17.

Discount tickets 2 for $11.

The Nutcracker

December 16 - 17, 2017

27 miles west

Chicago Festival Ballet and the New Philharmonic Orchestra perform a beautiful and lively Nutcracker at McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn.

Japanese dance & drum

December 17, 2017 (2 p.m.)

0.7 mile north

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

Jewish party

December 24, 2017

1 mile NW

Join 1,500 people at the Matzo Bash for two hours of hosted cocktails and appetizers, plus DJ dance music on two floors at Sound-Bar.

New Year’s party - a day early

December 30, 2017

0.8 miles west

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

Austrian music & dance

December 30, 2017 (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 - restaurants

December 31, 2017

Chicago locations

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

New Year’s Eve - Westin

December 31, 2017

0.5 miles west

New Year’s Eve Soiree offers multiple rooms with DJ music and views at The Westin Chicago River North.

New Year’s Eve - Palmer House

December 31, 2017

0.7 miles south

A ticket to Big Night Chicago New Year’s Eve Gala includes unlimited food, drinks, four dance floors, seven party bands, and DJs.

Fireworks at the lake

December 31, 2017

1 mile east

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

New Year’s Eve - Drake Hotel

December 31, 2017

1 mile north

Chicago Scene’s New Years Eve Party has multiple ballrooms with DJs, hors d’oeuvres, 40 bartenders, and a balloon drop at the Drake Hotel.

New Year’s Eve - Navy Pier #1

December 31, 2017

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, 2017

1 mile east

Join 3,000 people at Resolution Gala, which features four DJs, 30 bars, buffet stations, a champagne toast at midnight, and views of fireworks over the lake in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve - Marriott

December 31, 2017

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, 2017

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.

Casual New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2017

3 miles west

Brew Year’s Eve features 20 craft beers from 10 breweries, cocktails, wine, passed hors d’oeuvres, a pizza buffet, and live music on three floors of Salvage One for age 21+. Jeans are OK. Free coat check.

New Year’s Eve - comedy

December 31, 2017

5 miles north

The New Year’s Eve Party includes a buffet dinner, a drink ticket, two improv comedy shows, and midnight champagne at Under The Gun Theater for age 21+.

German New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2017

7 miles north

A ticket to New Year’s Eve at Dank Haus includes an open bar with German beer, wine, and cocktails, plus a heavy hors d’oeuvres buffet, a champagne toast, and dancing to an eight-piece orchestra at Dank Haus. The Champagne Room has views of the fireworks.

New Year’s Eve - classical

December 31, 2017 (5:30 & 9 p.m.)

27 miles west

The New Philharmonic plays classical music with a guest vocalist at McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn.

New Year’s Eve with knights

December 31, 2017

28 miles NW

Ring in the New Year with the lords and ladies of Medieval Times. Tickets include hors d’oeuvres, admission to Museum of Torture, a 2-hour live tournament, a 4-course meal, party favors, a balloon drop, DJ dancing, and champagne toast (juice for kids) in Schaumburg.

Family treasure hunt

December 2017 (undated)

1 mile south

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

Speedo run

December 2017 (undated)

1.6 miles north

A ticket to Chicago Santa Speedo Run includes an open bar at 11 a.m. in McFadden’s followed at 1 p.m. by a 1.2-mile run/walk outdoors in your underwear or festive attire for age 21+.

Northerly Island adventure

December 2017 (undated)

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.

Ugly sweater salsa dance

December 2017 (undated)

6.4 miles NW

Wear your tackiest to the Ugly Sweater Party, which includes a beginner’s class, open dancing, mingling, and a performance at Duet Dance Studio for age 21+. BYOB.

Eco-friendly art fair

December 2017 (undated)

8.7 miles north

Holiday Remix is an arts & crafts market for things remixed, reused, and recycled at Broadway Armory Park in Edgewater. Repeats in June.

Craft beer tasting

December 2017 (undated)

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.

Handel’s Messiah

December 2017 (undated)

0.5 miles south

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

Old Town food & drink crawl

December 2017 (undated)

3.5 miles NW

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

Christmas beer

December 2017 (undated)

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 for 20 samples.

Family Nutcracker

December 2017 (undated)

34 miles north

The Nutcracker is a one-hour musical fantasy featuring Marie, a nutcracker that comes to life, a mouse king, a sugar plum fairy, and music by Tchaikovsky at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire.
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© December 2017 calendar of events in Chicago, IL: Christmas, holidays, New Year’s Eve parties, festivals, things to do in Chicago, Illinois. ord-12