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 (7 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 has hundreds of booths selling food, gifts, and decorations to holiday shoppers at Arlington International Racecourse.

Christmas caroling

December 1, 8, 15, 2017 (6 to 7 p.m.)

0.7 miles SE

Bundle up and prepare to belt out holiday classics when asked to sing along with the choirs at Caroling at Cloud Gate outdoors in Millennium Park.

Christmas market

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

1 mile SW

Christkindlmarket is an open-air European holiday market featuring traditional art, handmade gifts, German foods, choirs, and carolers on Daley Plaza. Also located at Park at Wrigley and Naperville. 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.

Ballet-free Nutcracker

December 1 - 30, 2017 (also Nov.)

7.4 miles north

Clara struggles to save Christmas in the The Nutcracker, an imaginative, family-friendly version live at Chopin Theatre.

Discount tickets $25 to $32.

Classic 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 projections on a one-mile walk at Illumination, with fire pits to warm you up along the way at Morton Arboretum. Closed Nov. 23, Dec. 24 & 25, and Mondays (except Jan. 1).

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 through Dec. 23). See schedule. 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. Open daily. 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.

Adult variety show

December 1, 2017 - Jan. 26, 2018

7 miles north

Kiss Kiss Cabaret is a fun mix of burlesque, off-color comedy, music, magic, song, and variety acts for age 18+ Fridays and Saturdays at Uptown Underground.

Discount tickets $12 to $14.

Speedo run

December 2, 2017 (11 a.m.)

location uncertain

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

Santa bar crawl

December 2, 2017 (noon)

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.

Christmas beer

December 2, 2017 (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 for 20 samples.

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.

Doggie Christmas

December 2, 2017 (noon 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. 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 1, 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.

Discount tickets $19.

Scary stories

December 4, 2017

4 miles north

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

Italian superstar

December 6, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)

2.9 miles west

Smooth tenor Andrea Bocelli performs with the acclaimed Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra and Chorus at the United Center.

Discount tickets $85 to $198.

It’s a Wonderful Life: radio play

December 6, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)

5 miles north

It’s a Wonderful Life recreates a live radio play based on the popular movie about a man seeking purpose in life at Stage 773. Afterwards, join the cast for milk and cookies.

Discount tickets $29.

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.

Steampunk Christmas Carol

December 6 - 16, 2017

10.4 miles north

Charles Dickens meets Jules Verne in Steampunk Christmas Carol, a fanciful tale set in Victorian England and full of strange machines powered by gas, gears, and electricity in Rogers Park.

Discount tickets $9.

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.

It’s a Wonderful Life: radio play

December 7 - 30, 2017 (begins Nov. 30)

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.

Discount tickets $18.

The Nutcracker ballet

December 8 - 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.

Discount tickets $17.

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.

Eco-friendly art fair

December 9, 2017

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. Free.

Beer festival

December 9, 2017 (1 p.m., VIP noon)

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.

Family treasure hunt

Dec. 10, 2017 (10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)

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.

Christmas concert

December 14 - 17, 2017

multiple locations

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

Ugly sweater swing dance

December 15, 2017 (9 to 10:30 p.m.)

6.4 miles NW

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

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.

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.

Northerly Island adventure

December 16, 2017

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 on three dates: Dec. 16, 2017; Jan. 20, 2018; Feb. 24, 2018. Free except parking.

Handel’s Messiah

December 16 - 17, 2017

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.

Holiday market

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

2.5 miles west

Randolph Street’s Holiday Market offers affordable antique, vintage, and modern goods indoors at 1340 W. Washington Boulevard. Free parking.

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.

Discount tickets $22.

Japanese dance & drum

December 17, 2017 (2 p.m.)

0.7 mile north

Taiko Legacy [sound] has Japanese drumming, dance, and street theater at Museum of Contemporary Art.

Adult night at the planetarium

December 21, 2017 (6 to 10 p.m.)

2.5 miles SE

Adler After Dark offers open access, unlimited shows, entertainment, information about “space tourism” and no-host bars at Adler Planetarium for age 21+.

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.

Peter Pan in Evanston

December 26, 2017 - Jan. 1, 2018

14 miles north

Based on a classic book, Peter Pan tells the story of Peter, Wendy, Tinkerbell, pixie dust, and pirates at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston.

Discount tickets $25 to $35.

Fun basketball show

December 28 - 29, 2017

18 miles NW

The talented Harlem Globetrotters perform ball handling wizardry, rim-rattling dunks, trick shots, and comedy bits in an entertaining show.

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 - Congress Plaza

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 (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, 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.

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.

Casual New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2017

7.9 miles north

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 Architectural Artifacts for age 21+. Jeans are OK. Free coat check.

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.
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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