Enjoy all that Chicago has to offer this holiday season
December 7, 2018

The Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light features a 45-foot grand tree, surrounded by 50 other trees
decorated with hand-crafted ornaments and 30,000 lights.

By Susan Fong

A variety of fun events in December can make your holiday season even more interesting and enjoyable. So find a little time during this busy time of year to experience these outdoor and indoor entertainment offerings.

For more information on holiday programs and events, check the websites or call the phone numbers provided throughout this guide.

HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS

360 Chicago, 875 N. Michigan Ave., formerly the John Hancock Observatory, offers TILT, the moving 360 degree thrill ride available on the 94th floor. 360 Chicago has partnered with the Daisie Foundation throughout December. The foundation provides ongoing opportunities for “under-resourced” women and children. All revenue from youth (ages three to 11) TILT ticket sales, a portion of proceeds from a specialty cocktail at Bar 94, and money raised through special donation boxes will go to the nonprofit.

360 Chicago is open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. A holiday model train is displayed during the season. General admission is $22 for adults (ages 12 and older); $15 for youth (ages 3 through 11); and free for children younger than three. A 606 Resident Appreciation Rate offers those with proof of 606 zip code residency a 50% savings on general admission. TILT costs $8 per person, and tickets do not include admission to the observation deck. Buy tickets online or in person at 360 CHICAGO’s ticketing desk, based on availability. For information, call (312) 751-3681 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. At other times, call (312) 654-2892.

Having featured more than 120 voices for over 139 years, the Apollo Chorus of Chicago will perform Handel’s Messiah, complete with an orchestra. This year’s soloists are Jamie-Rose Guarrine, soprano; Annie Rosen, mezzo-soprano; Josh
Lovell, tenor; and Evan Boyer, bass-baritone. Performances will be held Sat., Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. and Sun., Dec. 16, at 2 p.m. at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St. Tickets range from $35 to $70. Call the box office (312) 334-7777 or visit https://my.harristheaterchicago.org.

The Chicago Transit Authority Holiday Train will have Santa ride a highly decorated train with reindeers and trees. Also, elves will hand out candy. The train runs now through Fri., Dec. 21, along various CTA lines. For a complete schedule, go to https://www.transitchicago.com/holidayfleets.

The year’s City of Chicago Christmas Tree will shine in Millennium Park at Washington Street and Michigan Avenue through Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. Deborah Orth and her family donated the tree, with light decorations donated by IBEW Local 134 and the decor at its base from the Millennium Park Foundation.

A holiday model train is on display during the Christmas season at 360 Chicago in the John Hancock Building on the Magnificent Mile.

Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., offers several holiday events with its German inspired Christmas market. Christkindlmarket is celebrating its 23rd year in Chicago. Food, crafts, and gifts abound. Tues., Dec. 11, 1 to 8 p.m. is A Capella Day, with local singing groups showing off their repertoire. Kinder Club also offers three popular activities: Passport; the Advent calendar; and a scavenger hunt for kids and the young-at-heart alike. This year the Christkind will make his appearance each Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. The Christkind is the traditional bearer of gifts in some European countries during the Christmas season. The market runs 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sun. through Thurs., 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fri. and Sat., and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24. Admission is free. Visit www.christkindlmarket.com.

Glessner House Museum, 1800 S. Prairie Ave., will hold its annual Christmas candlelight tours on Sat. and Sun., Dec. 8 and 9, from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. Tours start every 15 minutes and last 45 minutes, showcasing a 19th century Christmas celebration with its décor and crafts and a table setting for eight. Enjoy light refreshments afterward in the coach house. The cost is $15 per person.

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m., come listen to the presentation Prairie Avenue Style: Holiday Edition, as scholar Debra N. Mancoff highlights the art, fashion, and culture of turn of the century Chicago society women. Call (312) 326-1480 or visit www.glessnerhouse.org for more details on these events.

This year marks the 51st anniversary of the window displays at Macy’s on State Street. The store chose to continue with its display theme, Reasons to Believe. The holiday windows will remain on view through Sunday, Jan. 6. Drop by Santaland on the fifth floor, where folks of all ages can visit Santa Claus every day through Christmas Eve, Mon. Dec. 24; hours vary. This wonderland is guaranteed to delight; beverages and holiday treats such as candies, cupcakes, and cookies are available.

Macy’s invites believers of all ages to write a letter to Santa. For every letter dropped off at a Macy’s store or sent online at www.macys.com/believe through Tue, Dec. 24, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. To download stationery, go to https://www.macys.com/social/believe/.

Come see and dine alongside the 45 foot Great Tree in the Walnut Room, Macy’s restaurant, which is on view through Sun., Jan. 6. A Holiday Great Tree Buffet will be offered all day through Sun., Jan. 6.  For more information about Macy’s holiday events, go to www.visitmacysusa.com/macysiconic-events.

The Apollo Chorus of Chicago will perform Handel’s Messiah, complete with an orchestra, at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

CONCERTS

The Chicago a capella classical vocal ensemble will perform Holidays a capella, Silver Bells, celebrating its 25th season. The schedule is as follows: Fri., Dec. 7, 8 p.m. in Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake St., Oak Park; Sat., Dec. 8, 8 p.m., Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston; Sun., Dec. 9, 3 p.m., St. Clement Church, 642 W. Deming Pl., Chicago; Fri., Dec. 14, 8 p.m., Fourth Presbyterian Church, Michigan Avenue at Delaware Place, Chicago; Sat., Dec. 15, 8 p.m., Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville; and Sun., Dec. 16, 3 p.m., Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston. For tickets or more information, visit chicagoacappella.org or call (773) 281-7820.

The Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., will host free weekly holiday concerts and performances in Preston Bradley Hall, produced by the International Music Foundation. The Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, held every
Wed. from 12:15 to 1 p.m., present solo and ensemble performances of classical music by emerging musicians: Dec. 12, Parry Karp, cello, and Jeffrey Sykes, piano, and Dec. 19, Merz Trio. For more information about the music, check the IMF website, http://imfchicago.org/calendar/dame-myra-hess-memorial-concerts-calendar.

In Caroling at Cloud Gate, come join the fun as some local performers from around the city take the lead in holiday sing-a-longs on Fri., Dec. 7; Wed., Dec. 12; and Fri., Dec. 14, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park. Join the festivities and sing your heart out with the holiday classics that are part concert, part sing-along as local Chicago choral groups lead hundreds of celebrants in song. Performing groups this year include the Chamber Choir, the King Singers, Apollo Chorus & ChiArts, and Chicago’s Gay Men’s Choir. Check the City of Chicago website at https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca for more details.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 220 S. Michigan Ave., will perform Merry, Merry Chicago! Performers include members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Michael Krajewski, conductor; Storm Large, vocalist; David Lively, narrator; the Young Naperville Singers choir; and Angie Johnson, artistic director. The repertoire includes classical, traditional, and contemporary favorites. Concert dates are Friday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m.; Sat, Dec. 15, 3 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 16, 1 and 4:30 p.m.; Fri. Dec. 21, 7 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 22, 3 p.m.; and Sun., Dec. 23, 7 p.m.  For detailed information, go to www.cso.org.

The Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave., will present its Christmas Around the World Concert 2018 on Sat., Dec. 8, at 5 p.m. featuring the Paderewski Symphony Orchestra, along with the Wieniawski Youth String Orchestra, for a collection of classical and pop holiday songs from around the world. Family friendly holiday events include a Polish Christmas Market on Sat. and Sun., Dec. 8 and 9, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and a Family Movie Marathon, Sat., Dec. 8, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Sunday, Dec. 16, the Mariachi Institute of Chicago will present its third annual Merry-Achi Christmas Concert, featuring the Los Angeles-based Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar along with the colorful Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles. For more information, call (773) 777-8898 or visit www.copernicuscenter.org.

The Hyde Park Youth Symphony will perform its Side by Side Concert with the Chicago Philharmonic on Sun., Dec. 16, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr., On Fri., Dec, 21, 7 p.m. the HPYS will perform its annual holiday concert in Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th St. Call the office at (773) 595-1318 or go to www.thehpys.org.

The Lakeside Singers will perform their annual Christmas concert, Oh What Fun. In honor of the group’s 20th anniversary this year, it commissioned new works by Jean Belmont Ford and Greg Jasperse. The night also will include many holiday song favorites. All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Concert dates and locations are Fri., Dec. 7, Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St., and Sat., Dec. 8, Grace United Methodist Church, 300 E. Gartner Rd., Naperville. Ticket costs: adults, $35; seniors, $25; and children younger than 12, $10. Call (847) 577-2121 or go to tickets.metropolisarts.com. Tickets also are available at the door for all performances.

The Lira Ensemble will perform Polish and American carols in celebration of Christmas; narration is in English. The performance will be on Sun., Dec. 16, at 3 p.m. at the Polish Museum Of America, 984 N Milwaukee Ave. The event will be preceded by a Polish buffet supper. General admission tickets are $45. Adjacent parking is free. For tickets, call (800) 547-5472 or email lira@liraensemble.org.

Musichorale, a Chicago area community choir, will host its Christmas Noel Concert Gala 72nd Noel, 1947-2018, on Sun., Dec. 9. Performed under the direction of Sarah Silhan Koehler, the choir will entertain with holiday classics. Doors open at 3:20 p.m. in Ozinga Hall at Trinity Christian College, 6601 W. College Dr. (near Rt. 83), Palos Heights, IL. Tickets are $15 in advance or $17 at the door. Call (312) 239-6279 or visit www.musichorale.org.

MUSEUMS

Join the festivities at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Avenue this season. Enjoy the beloved Thorne Rooms, decorated in all their holiday finery. The museum will hold its 37th Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party, a family friendly program on Sun., Dec. 9, at 10:45 a.m., noon, and 1:30 p.m. Celebrating the Christmas Story in Art will be the theme of a Fri., Dec. 14, lecture from noon to 1 p.m. Bring the family in on Sat., Dec. 15, for Build Your Own Gingerbread House—$50 for a family of four (all supplies included). Visit the Vitale Family Room inside the Ryan Learning Center, which offers an encyclopedic collection of hands-on multi-sensory activities, books, puzzles of masterpieces, colorful building blocks, and interactive stories and games.

Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Children younger than 14 always receive free admission. For more information about holiday events or permanent and traveling exhibits, visit www.artic.edu or call (312) 443-3600.

The Chicago Children’s Museum invites children and families from Wed., Dec. 26, through Sun., Dec. 30, at 2:15 p.m. to experience the joys of winter…indoors! The Great Hall turns into a large winter globe, where families can dance and celebrate while thousands of snowflakes float through the air.

Join children and families from around the city to mark the end of 2018 on Monday, Dec. 31. Activities include creating festive crowns, the last dance party of 2018, a countdown to high noon, and a multi-colored confetti finish. The museum opens at 10 a.m., and the festivities begin at 10:30 a.m.

Experience the museum’s many other programs, including the new Zoom Room (the ultimate toy car and track experience), a Tinkering Lab (fun tinkering as the name states), the Arts (sensory discovery), and the Skyline (architecture).

The museum is located at Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Christmas Day. Tickets are $14 for adults and children, $13 for seniors, and free for military personnel. Visit www.chicagochildrensmuseum.org or call (312) 527-1000.

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St., features festively decorated galleries and the themed program Treasures from the White City: The Chicago’s World Fair of 1893. This year, Santa at the Museum is offered on the Sat. and Sun. of Dec. 8 and 9 and Dec. 15 and 16 at 9, 10, and 11 a.m. and noon. Enjoy art projects, story time, and sing-a-longs for the family. On Fri., Dec. 14, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., Beckie Menzie and Brian Michael will perform Holiday Cabaret: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The duo offers a wonderful and hilarious twist on some well-known tunes. For more information, call (312) 482-8933 or log on to www.driehausmuseum.org.

At the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl., on Wed., Dec. 26, noon to 1:30 p.m., enjoy the annual Kwanzaa event, the lighting of the first of seven holiday candles. New exhibits include the Art & Influence of Margaret T. Burroughs (founder of the DuSable Museum) and Clearing a Path to Democracy. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, and $3 for youngsters aged six through 11. Free admission on Tuesdays. Call (773) 947-0600, ext. 255, or log on to www.dusablemuseum.org.

The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., has fun for the whole family. The highlight of this winter will be the Return of Sue, as the world’s biggest, best-preserved, and most complete T. rex will be back on display. Discover the scientist within and explore the Crown Family Play Lab, an interactive, hands-on space where visitors can learn and experience science through play. On Sat., Dec. 15, the museum invites children to Sensory Saturday, a morning of hands-on exploration and discovery, especially designed for those with autism and sensory needs. Reservations are recommended, as space is limited. Sun., Dec. 16, is free admission day. Be a part of the discovery squad from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day by examining the museum’s discovery boxes of specimens and minerals. Call (312) 922-9410 or visit www.fieldmuseum.org.

The Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light exhibit features a 45-foot grand tree, surrounded by 50 other trees decorated with hand-crafted ornaments and 30,000 lights that honor holiday customs from around the world. Snow falls every 30 minutes inside the museum’s rotunda. The Holiday of Lights display remains through Sun., Jan 6.  Special events and exhibits for December include the Moon Room 1969, from now through Sun., Jan. 6; visitors can experience the moon mission that millions of viewers witnessed from their living rooms. A Full Moon Fest will be held Sat., Dec. 22. The museum is located at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive. Call (773) 684-1414 or visit www.msichicago.org for ticket prices, online admission discounts, and hours.

Explore nature at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Dr., through the museum’s exhibits and events. Birds of Prey Animal Show: Raptor Adaptations will be held Wed., Dec. 26, 11 to 11:45 a.m. Learn lots of cool facts about the physical characteristics that help hawks, owls, falcons, and vultures survive and get an up-close look at live birds of prey. At the Make-and-Take Art Workshop, Thur., Dec. 27, 11a.m. to 1 p.m., celebrate your favorite local critters and the winter season through creative make-and-take art projects with artists from Lill Street Gallery.

At Sing-Along with Jeanie B! on Sat., Dec. 29, 11 to 11:45 a.m., come for sing-along and dance-along fun with Chicago musician, composer, and teacher Jeanie B. The Geology Puppet Show, Sun., Dec. 30, 11 a.m. to noon, will feature a theatrical puppet journey through ancient Earth: early rivers carving canyons, prehistoric creatures crawling, and other forces of nature. Entry fees run from $6 to $9. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.naturemuseum.org or call (773) 755-5100.

The John G. Shedd Aquarium invites all to celebrate the holidays with new experiences and returning annual favorites. Kick off a family weekend with a game day at Shedd, explore how animals stay warm during a youth morning event, spend the night at the aquarium during two special themed events, and see special screenings of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D. The aquarium is located at 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr. General admission is $39.95 for adults and $29.95 for children (three to 11 years), but for Chicago residents, the price is $19.95 for adults and $14.94 (three through 11 years). Call (312) 939-2438 or visit www.sheddaquarium.org for detailed program information.

The Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is open for winter outdoor fun.

OUTDOOR FAMILY FUN

Take a break from shopping with Chicago Greeter tours, which are free and can accommodate up to six guests; docents customize tours for you and your group and offer orientation to the City’s public transit system. Tours are offered in more than a dozen languages. Choose from more than 25 diverse neighborhoods and more than 40 interests. For customized tours, register ten days in advance of arrival date. Join the hour long Instagreeter free tours that highlight downtown, Millennium Park, and the Magnificent Mile, which are available year round, Fri. and Sat., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sun., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. No registration required, and all tours depart on the half hour from the Chicago Cultural Center visitor center at 77 E. Randolph St. Call (312) 945- 4231 or visit www.chicagogreeter.com.

The Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co. celebrates the season with its 2.5 hour Holiday Lights Tour, available Mon. through Thurs. at 5:30, 6, and 6:30 p.m., or Fri. through Sun. at 3:30, 5:30, 6, and 6:30 p.m. through Sun, Dec. 23. Beginning and ending the tour at the John Hancock Plaza at 875 N. Michigan Ave., the trolley takes passengers through winter holiday spectacles. The trolley makes stops at Daley Plaza’s Christkindlmarket and then at Lincoln Park ZooLights. Tickets are $32 for adults and $20 for kids ages five through 15; children younger than five must sit on a parent’s lap. Advance purchase recommended. If you’d like to get to know Chicago, then choose from one-, two-, and three-day tours as well as other specialty offerings. Log on to www.chicagotrolley.com or call (773) 648-5000 for details.

Lincoln Park Zoo is hosting the ZooLights winter festival, featuring 2.5 million lights plus holiday activities and crafts throughout this month. It runs nightly from now through Sun. Jan. 6, (excluding Dec. 24 and 25). This year’s activities include photos with Santa through Sun, Dec. 23, free crafts for children, educational chats, 3-D displays, warm wine, train rides, and ice carving. Hours are 4:30 to 9 p.m.

On the Mondays of Dec. 10, 17, and 31 (Dec. 31 closing at 8 p.m.) Lincoln Park Zoo offers free rides on the Carousel and Lionel Train Adventure for families with children as well as one free limited kids’ menu item with paid adult entrée or combo meal at Park Place Café. The zoo is located at 2200 N. Cannon Dr. Call (312) 742-2000 or visit www.lpzoo.org.

The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., now in its 17th season, draws more than 100,000 skaters annually to this multipurpose venue with food, entertainment, and vendors. Located on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Streets, it will remain open through Sun., March 10 (weather permitting). Hours 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Welcome Center open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also open at the same time this year is the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park. Hours vary slightly on both, so check schedules for exact times. Admission is free and open to the public; skate rental is $13 Mon. through Thurs., $15 Fri. through Sun. and holidays. Skate sharpening is $9, and lockers are $1. Skating lessons are offered at 11 a.m. Fri. and 9 a.m. on Sat. and Sun. Log on to www.millenniumpark.org and http://maggiedaleypark.com.

Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., hosts its annual Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest, where festive décor and a glittering forest of nearly 500 trees greet guests decorated with 25,000 ornaments hung on a mile of wire. The fest offers attractions and activities to suit a broad range of tastes for adventure and fun within its 170,000 square foot winter playground. Attractions range from the skating rink to the Polar Extreme Obstacle Course. Take a ride on the Arctic Express Train or the Centennial Wheel. A parent or guardian must accompany guests younger than 18; guests 18 or older must present a valid ID.

The fest runs from now through Sun, Jan. 6. General admission is $20. The fest opens at 10 a.m. Check website for closing times. Call (800) 595-7437 or visit www.navypier.com for online and group admission offers.

Polar Adventure Days will be held at Northerly Island on the Saturdays of Dec. 15, Jan. 26, and Feb. 23 from noon to 4 p.m. Enjoy outdoor and indoor events featuring animals, crafts, and winter activities.

Snowtrekking, a walk around Northerly Island while wearing snowshoes, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Saturdays of Jan. 5, 12, and 19; Feb. 2, 9, and 16; and March 2.

Family Prairie Prowls will be held the Wednesdays of Jan. 9 (hibernation hike and book nook), Feb. 6 (bonfire), and March 6 (bird hike).

Dress appropriately for weather conditions. Northerly Island Park is at 1521 S. Linn White Dr. Call (312) 742-7529. Call (312) 742-PLAY (7529) for a schedule of activities.

Through Sat., Jan. 5, American Blues Theater will present It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago, a 1940s-style radio broadcast.

THEATER AND STAGE PERFORMANCES

The American Blues Theater (ABT) will present It’s A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago through Sat., Jan. 5. ABT treats Chicago audiences to a live 1940s radio broadcast that recreates the entire town of Bedford Falls with Foley sound effects, an original score, and holiday carols. Milk and cookies will be served after each performance, which are at 7:30 p.m. every Wed. through Fri.; 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays; and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Ticket prices are $19 to $59. Call (773) 327-5252 or visit www.americanbluestheater.com.

Chicago’s Cadillac Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., will present Fiddler on the Roof. The play runs from Tues, Dec. 18, through Sun., Jan. 6. This is the story of a father, his five daughters, and his attempts to maintain faith, heritage, and tradition, when his three daughters decide to marry for love during the eviction of the Jews by the Russian Tsar. Tickets range from $22 to $95 and are available through the Broadway in Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000 and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.  

Emerald City Theatre’s production of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas runs through Sun., Dec. 30, at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St. Kick off your family’s yuletide season with the return of this comic take on the classic poem with a couple of dancing mice, a spunky girl, and an Elf-B-I agent. The question in this polar adventure is, what happened to Santa’s naughty or nice list? Tickets start at $16. Call (773) 529-2690 or log on to www.emeraldcitytheatre.com for performance dates and times.

The Goodman Theatre brings Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to the stage of the Albert Theatre with an all-Chicago cast. This timeless holiday classic tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, played for the tenth time by Larry Yando. Performances run through Sun., Dec. 30. Santaland Diaries plays in the Owen Theater and explores what happens when an impoverished actor takes work as “Crumpet the Elf” at Macy’s Santaland. Listen to his wildly funny and rude observations over the holiday season in this show recommended for mature audiences. Get tickets by calling (312) 443-3800 or at the theater’s box office at 170 N. Dearborn St. Visit www.goodmantheatre.org.

The Joffrey Ballet will once again host the Nutcracker, reimagined by Tony Award winner Christopher Wheeldon to present the Chicago 1893 World’s Fair through the eyes of a child and featuring live accompaniment by the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. Choose among performances from now through Sun. Dec. 30; times vary from 2 to 7 p.m. All performances take place at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy. For tickets, call (312) 386-8905 or visit joffrey.org/nutcracker

Mercury Theatre, 3745 N. Southport Ave. A cast of two brings new life to the beloved story of Peter Pan. Join Wendy and Peter as they make their way to Neverland and back. Sat. and Sun. at 11 a.m. through Dec. 23. Tickets are priced at $20. Call (773) 325-1700 or log on to www.mercurytheatrechicago.com.

Christmas Bingo: It’s a Ho-Ho-Holy Night by Vicki Quade returns to the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. This is an interactive comedy in which audience members play bingo while answering questions about Christmas, wacky myths, and outrageous facts. The show ends Sun. Dec. 30.

Also at the Royal George, Late Night Catechism continues into its 20th year. This is an interactive play in which audience members are either rewarded with glow in the dark rosaries or punished by going on stage.

Come and dance in your seat or jump right in as WaistWatchers Musical takes a hilarious and lighthearted look at four women dishing on food, diets, exercise, friendship, love, and sex through Mon., Dec. 31. Call (312) 988-9000 for a complete list of performance times and prices or log on to www.theroyalgeorgetheatre.com.

Second City presents The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly Sweater. This year’s holiday revue pulls from a mix of Second City’s archives. Laugh into the New Year at the absurd and comical aspects of the holiday season. Ticket prices are $31 to $56. Performances run through Mon., Dec. 31, in the UP Comedy Club at Second City Theatre, 230 W. North Ave. Obtain tickets by calling (312) 337-3992 or log on to www.secondcity.com.

Emerald City Theatre’s production of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas offers a comic take on the classic poem with a couple of dancing mice, a spunky girl, and an Elf-B-I agent.

SPECIAL TREATS

The Palmer House Hilton at 17 E. Monroe St. hosts the Magic Parlor, featuring Chicago magician and mind reader Dennis Watkins. The third-generation magician and mentalist captivates the audience with classic sleight of hand, mind reading, and wonder-filled wisdom passed down from his grandfather. Performances are Fridays at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 4:30, 7:30, and 9:30 p.m. Additional performances will be scheduled around the holidays, too.  For more information or to make reservations, go to http://www.themagicparlourchicago.com.

At the Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., take a stroll around the annual holiday flower show, open through Sun. Jan 6. This year’s theme, Tickled Pink, highlights a display of pink poinsettias amidst a sea of deep green trees, evoking sugar plum dreams. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with extended hours to 8 p.m. on Wed. Admission is free. Call (312) 746-5100 or log on to www.garfield-conservatory.org.

For Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, this is her 15th year of displaying Christmas Trees from Around the World, a show of 90 three-foot-high trees decorated by members of ethnic and religious communities to show their heritage. Also on display on counters in the Treasurer’s Office are a Christian Nativity scene, an African American Kwanzaa Kinara, a Hindu Prayer Thali, a Jewish Menorah, and a Muslim Ramadan Mubarak. Displays will be up until Wed., Jan. 2, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 112 of the Cook County Building, 118 N. Clark St., Chicago. Call (312) 603-3826 or log on to www.cookcountytreasurer.com.

The Tree House Humane Society will host its annual Holiday Open House and Shelter Lighting Ceremony on Sat., Dec. 8, from 5 to 8 p.m. at 7225 N. Western Ave. Decorated with more than a thousand lights throughout the shelter, the event is a family friendly fun fest. Purchase a tribute light in honor or memory of a loved one or beloved pet. Suggested donation is $5 or cat or dog food. Call (773) 262-4000 or log
on to www.TreeHouseAnimals.org.