Chicago events December 2019. Things to do in Chicago.

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Best events for 12 months

Chicago events December 2019

Artisan market

December 1, 2019
1.9 miles west
Shop from 100 independent vendors of food, fashion, art, and home goods at the Chicago Artisan Market at Morgan Manufacturing, including a kids’ zone. Children age 11 and younger are free. Held in multiple months.

Discount tickets

Games convention

December 1, 2019
(begins Nov. 29)
15.3 miles NW
Wolfcon is for players of board games, computer games, and role-playing games at The Pavilion near the airport. Held in May and November.

Cirque du Soleil

December 1 - 8, 2019
1.7 miles NW
A girl jaded by the hoopla surrounding Christmas is “whisked away to an upside-down, inside-out world where she meets characters inspired by the original timeless poem” in ‘Twas the Night Before at The Chicago Theatre.

Discount tickets

Classic Christmas play

December 1 - 29, 2019
(begins Nov. 16)
multiple locations
A Christmas Carol is Charles Dickens’ holiday classic about Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and three Christmas ghosts.

Nutcracker ballet

December 1 - 29, 2019
(begins Nov. 30)
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. This version by Christopher Wheeldon is set in 1892, with a World’s Fair theme.

Discount tickets

It’s a Wonderful Life: radio play

December 1 - 29, 2019
(begins Nov. 29)
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.

Christmas market

December 1 - 31, 2019
(begins Nov. 15)
1 mile SW
Christkindlmarket is an open-air European holiday market featuring traditional art, handmade gifts, German foods, choirs, and carolers. Free.

Christmas lights - Brookfield Zoo

December 1 - 31, 2019
(begins Nov. 30)
14 miles SW
Holiday Magic has a million twinkling lights, a train display, carolers, ice carvers, a magician, a talking tree, zoo chats, and singing to animals at the Brookfield Zoo. Dates in 2019: Nov. 30; Dec. 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 26-31.

It’s a Wonderful Life: radio play

December 1, 2019 - Jan. 4, 2020
(Nov. 14+)
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

Christmas lights - Lincoln Park Zoo

December 1, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020
(Nov. 29+)
2.5 miles north
ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo features millions of holiday lights, ice carving, music, carousel & train rides, food, and gift shopping (plus photos with Santa some days). Free. Closed Dec. 24 & 25.

Model trains & holiday flowers

Dec. 1, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020
(Nov. 29+)
3 miles north
Model trains wind their way among 700 poinsettias and a Christmas tree during the Holiday Flower Show at Lincoln Conservatory. Open daily. Free.

Holidays around the world

December 1, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020
(Nov. 14+)
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 on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Light show in the garden

Dec. 1, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020
(Nov. 22+)
24 miles north
“The night comes alive with color, imagination, and sound, from a playful choir of singing trees to a spectacular waterfall of light” at new event Lightscape. You walk on a one-mile path that includes “an avenue of luminous linden trees” at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Closed Nov. 28 and Dec. 24 & 25.

Christmas lights - arboretum

Dec. 1, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020
(Nov. 23+)
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 in Lisle. Closed Nov. 25, 28 and Dec. 2, 9, 16, 24, 25.

Holiday train ride

December 2 - 29, 2019
(begins Nov. 23)
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. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Holiday market at the zoo

December 3, 2019
(6:30 to 9:30 p.m.)
2.5 miles north
Shop from local artisans and boutiques at the Holiday Market, set against the glittering backdrop of ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Adult zoo night

December 5, 2019
(6:30 to 10 p.m.)
2.5 miles north
Leave the kids at home and head to Adults Night Out at Lincoln Park Zoo to experience unique animal chats and live entertainment. You must be age 18+ to attend, and age 21+ for the cash bars.

Holiday music

December 5, 2019
(7:30 p.m.)
8 miles north
Student musicians & singers perform a mix of sacred and secular works at Joyola at Loyola University.

Holiday market

December 5 - 8, 2019
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.

Irish Christmas Luncheon

December 6, 2019
1.2 miles south
The $80 Christmas Luncheon includes cocktails (11:15 a.m.) followed by lunch (12:15 p.m.), with Christmas carols, Irish music, and a green Santa Claus at the Hilton Chicago. The public is welcome to attend.

Music festival

December 6, 2019
20.5 miles south
Weishfest is a music festival with national acts at 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park to support charity.

Hinsdale Christmas Walk

December 6, 2019
(5 to 8 p.m.)
21 miles SW
Christmas Walk features Santa’s arrival, carolers, animated characters, live reindeer, a carousel, and a tree lighting in Hinsdale’s Burlington Park.

Family events at the parks

December 6 - 16, 2019
multiple locations
Enjoy parties, plays, craft making, and visits with Santa at Holiday Season Events by Chicago Park District.

Christmas caroling

December 6, 13, 20, 2019
(Fridays 6 p.m.)
0.7 miles SE
Bundle up and prepare to belt out holiday classics when asked to sing along with the choir at Caroling at Cloud Gate outdoors in Millennium Park. Free.

Winter WonderFest

December 6, 2019 - Jan. 12, 2020
1 mile east
Festival Hall at Navy Pier becomes an indoor Winter WonderFest for the holidays, with music, skating, carnival rides, and entertainment. You need ID if you are age 18+, otherwise you need a parent. Children shorter than 3 feet are free. Closed Dec. 25.

Discount tickets

Santa bar crawl

December 7, 2019
1 mile south
Wear a Santa suit to SantaConChicago, a tour of city bars beginning in the bar at Congress Plaza Hotel for age 21+. Free.

Speedo run

December 7, 2019
1.3 miles north
A ticket to Chicago Santa Speedo Run includes an open beer bar beginning at 11 a.m. (or pay extra for beer plus liquor), and a one-mile run/walk at 1 p.m. outdoors in your underwear or festive attire, beginning at She-nannigans for age 21+.

Santa Claus race

December 7, 2019
2.5 miles south
Join thousands of runners dressed as Santa for the Santa Hustle Chicago 5K at Soldier Field, which offers Santa wear, candy, cookies, a medal, and an after-party at Navy Pier. Shorter versions for kids.

Christmas beer

December 7, 2019
(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 at Delilah’s.

Christmas liturgy

December 7, 2019
(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.

The Nutcracker - River Forest

December 7, 2019
(7 p.m.)
11 miles west
Clara dreams that her toy nutcracker comes to life in The Nutcracker at Dominican University.

Discount tickets

Doggie Christmas

December 7, 2019
(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. Bring your dog’s vaccination records.

Japanese dance & drum

December 7 - 8, 2019
0.7 mile north
Taiko Legacy & Reduction [website has sound] both feature Japanese drumming, dance, and street theater at Museum of Contemporary Art. (Reduction is Saturday, and Taiko Legacy is Sunday.)

Craft fair

December 7 - 8, 2019
6 miles north
Shop from independent artisans and chefs at the Renegade Craft Fair at Bridgeport Art Center. Free.

Swedish bazaar

December 7 - 8, 2019
7 miles north
Julmarknad is a Christmas bazaar of Scandinavian food and gift items plus traditional entertainment at the Swedish American Museum. Sunday.

Ballet-free Nutcracker

December 7 - 29, 2019
(begins Nov. 8)
7.4 miles north
Clara struggles to save Christmas in the The Nutcracker, an imaginative, family-friendly version live at Chopin Theatre.

Discount tickets

Baroque holiday music

December 8, 2019
(7:30 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.

Wine & beer tasting

December 11, 2019
(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.

Harry Potter parody

December 11, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020
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

Beer at Zoolights

December 12, 2019
(5:30 to 9:30 p.m.)
2.5 miles north
A ticket to BrewLights gets you a dozen samples of draft beer. You also can buy food for sale, take a photo with Santa, see the holiday lights, and visit animals in their exhibits at Lincoln Park Zoo for age 21+.

Ugly sweater swing dance

December 13, 2019
(9 to 11 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.

The Nutcracker ballet

December 13 - 22, 2019
5 miles north
Youthful members of Ballet Chicago perform the holiday classic The Nutcracker to Tchaikovsky’s score at Athenaeum Theatre.

Discount tickets

Northerly Island adventure

December 14, 2019
3 miles south
See birds of prey and wolves, make “nature-inspired winter crafts,” walk on snowshoes (if there’s snow), and drink cocoa (while it lasts) at Polar Adventure Days on three dates in December, January, and February. Free except parking.

The Nutcracker

December 14 - 15, 2019
27 miles west
Salt Creek Ballet and the New Philharmonic Orchestra perform “a gorgeous new production” of the Nutcracker at McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn.

Handel’s Messiah

December 14 - 15, 2019
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 14 - 15, 2019
(also Nov. 23 - 24)
2.5 miles west
Randolph Street’s Holiday Market offers affordable antique, vintage, and modern goods indoors at 1340 W. Washington Boulevard in November and December. Children age 12 and younger are free. Free parking.

Model train show

December 14 - 15, 2019
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.

Romantic musical

December 14 - 29, 2019
1 mile SW
The Light in the Piazza is a breezy musical about a woman and daughter who travel to Italy and the Italian who falls for the daughter, at Lyric Opera House.

Discount tickets

Jingle Ball concert

December 18, 2019
18 miles NW
Jingle Ball brings big-name music artists every December to Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

Mannheim Steamroller

December 20, 2019
(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

Anime convention

December 20 - 22, 2019
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.

Christmas cirque + magic show

December 21, 2019
(8 p.m.)
16 miles NW
A Magical Cirque Christmas promises “dazzling illusions and breathtaking cirque artists, performing to your favorite holiday music” for all ages at Rosemont Theatre.

Discount tickets

Jewish party

December 24, 2019
(8 p.m.)
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.

Musical: “Mean Girls”

December 25, 2019 - Jan. 26, 2020
0.5 miles SW
A new girl in town takes on the cruel elite at a suburban Illinois high school in Mean Girls, which “delivers with immense energy, a wicked sense of humor, and joyful inside-jokery” [NY Magazine] at James M. Nederlander Theatre.

Discount tickets

New Year’s cruise - a day early

December 30, 2019
(8:30 p.m.)
0.7 miles east
Celebrate a day early on Eve of the Eve Cocktail Cruise with music, dancing, views, and a complimentary glass of champagne on the Anita Dee II, departing from 200 North Breakwater Access for age 21+.

Discount tickets

New Year’s party - a day early

December 30, 2019
1.7 miles SW
Enjoy an open bar, hors d’oeuvres buffet, a band, dancing, and a silent auction at the black-tie-optional charity benefit EVE of the EVE at Chicago Union Station.

New Year’s Eve - restaurants

December 31, 2019
Chicago locations
OpenTable lists restaurants that offer special menus and celebrations on New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve - Swissotel

December 31, 2019
0.4 miles east
Ballroom Blitz New Year’s Eve Party includes an open bar, appetizers & pasta & desserts, champagne all night, a cover band, and DJ music in multiple rooms at Swissotel for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve - The Wit

December 31, 2019
(9 p.m.)
0.4 miles SW
Wear black tie to casino themed New Year’s Eve Monte Carlo for gaming tables, open bar, food stations, DJ music, and a champagne toast on top of the Wit.

New Year’s Eve - Congress Plaza

December 31, 2019
0.7 miles south
A ticket to Chicago New Year’s Eve Party includes unlimited food, drinks, multiple dance floors, nine bands, and DJs.

New Year’s Eve - Hard Rock

December 31, 2019
0.7 miles NW
Rock Around the Clock features the official Chicago Bulls DJ playing dance music (top 40, old school, retro), plus appetizers, cocktails, and a midnight champagne toast at the Hard Rock Cafe for age 21+.

Fireworks at the lake

December 31, 2019
1 mile east
Welcome the new year with New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Navy Pier on Lake Michigan. Gates may close if the crowd capacity is reached. Free.

New Year’s Eve - Drake Hotel

December 31, 2019
1 mile north
Chicago Scene’s New Years Eve Party has multiple ballrooms with DJs, hors d’oeuvres, bartenders, and balloon drops at the Drake Hotel.

New Year’s Eve - Navy Pier #1

December 31, 2019
(8:15 p.m.)
1 mile east
Join 3,000 people at Chicago Resolution Gala, which has multiple DJs, 30 bars, food stations, a champagne toast at midnight, and views of fireworks over the lake in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier for age 21+.

Discount tickets

New Year’s Eve - Navy Pier #2

December 31, 2019
1 mile east
Crystal Gardens New Year’s Eve has dancing to “top 40, pop, hip hop, mash-ups, and house,” party favors, bars, food stations, a champagne toast at midnight, and a terrace to watch the fireworks, at Navy Pier.

New Year’s Eve - Marriott

December 31, 2019
(9 p.m.)
1.1 miles SW
Formal New Year’s Eve Soiree includes drinks, a food buffet, dessert, DJs, and a cover band at JW Marriott for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve - W Chicago

December 31, 2019
1.1 miles SW
A ticket to Chicago New Year’s Eve Party includes food, drinks, and entertainment at W Chicago - City Center for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve - Hilton

December 31, 2019
1.2 miles south
A ticket to New Year’s Eve Party at the Hilton Chicago includes drinks, a buffet, desserts, DJs, a cover band, and a champagne toast at midnight, for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve - industrial chic

December 31, 2019
(8:15 p.m.)
1.9 miles west
Prohibition New Year’s Eve features DJ music (hip hop, pop, R&B, electronic, and top 40), an open bar, and a complimentary champagne toast in historic Morgan Manufacturing.

Discount tickets

New Year’s at the zoo

December 31, 2019
2.5 miles north
See millions of holiday lights, watch artists carve blocks of ice, buy beer/wine/champagne, hear DJ music, play games, and visit the animals during Zoo Year’s Eve at Lincoln Park Zoo for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve bar crawl

December 31, 2019
(8 p.m.)
3.5 miles NW
A ticket to Chicago New Year’s Eve (NYE) Bar Crawl gets you discounts at a dozen bars, a champagne toast at midnight, and no cover charge (although you may have to wait in line to get in) for age 21+. You must check in at The Flat Iron before 10 p.m.

New Year’s Eve on the Lake

December 31, 2019
3.7 miles north
New Year’s Eve on the Lake promises upscale appetizers, a champagne toast, aerialists, a balloon drop, and a view of the Navy Pier fireworks at midnight from Theater on the Lake for age 21+.

New Year’s Eve race

December 31, 2019
3.7 miles north
Beginning and ending at Theater on the Lake in Lincoln Park, New Year’s Eve 5K “showcases the beauty of Lincoln Park and the Lakefront” and is followed by a post-race celebration.

New Year’s Eve in Wicker Park

December 31, 2019
3.8 miles NW
Guys, Dolls & Dancing promises an open bar, two DJs on two floors, a cabaret variety show, a light buffet, and a champagne toast at midnight at Bourbon on Division for age 21+.

Casual New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2019
7.9 miles north
Brew Year’s Eve features 25 craft beers from 10 breweries, cocktails, wine, passed hors d’oeuvres, and live music on three floors of Architectural Artifacts for age 21+. Jeans are OK. Free coat check.

Discount tickets

New Year’s Eve - classical

December 31, 2019
27 miles west
The New Philharmonic plays classical music with guest vocalists at McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn.

New Year’s Eve with knights

December 31, 2019
28 miles NW
Ring in the New Year with the lords and ladies of Medieval Times. Ticket includes admission to the Museum of Torture, a two-hour live tournament, a four-course meal, party favors, DJ dancing, and champagne at midnight (or kids’ beverage) in Schaumburg.

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