Chicago offers holiday delights to make the season bright
December 6, 2019

The Chicago Transit Authority-Allstate CTA Holiday Trains will include a Santa Train and an Elves Workshop train. There also is a holiday bus this year.

By Susan Fong

The holiday season can be very busy with shopping and preparing to celebrate with family and friends, but it is important to take time to enjoy the festivities as well. The Chicago area provides attractions that help you experience the holidays in both the great outdoors and via indoor entertainment venues, making it easy to find activities to enjoy, even during this busiest season of the year. The following is Gazette Chicago’s annual guide to the holidays.

HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Holidays are festive at 360 Chicago, 875 N. Michigan Ave., beginning with family-friendly visits by Old St. Nick and an adults-only New Year’s Eve night. Santa Claus lands on the Sundays of Dec. 15 and 22 to complement weekly Sunday Funday activities that offer kid-friendly sleight of hand magic by Myster AJ, music performances by Mr. Dave Music, and the chance to meet and pose for pictures with Old St. Nick. Residents living in the 606 ZIP codes receive 50% off general admission (does not apply to ticketed special events). The 94th floor will host 360 Chicago’s fourth annual New Year’s Eve celebration for guests 21 and older, with a package providing general admission beginning at 9 p.m., unlimited rides on TILT (a moving 360-degree thrill ride), a live DJ, party favors, two glasses of sparkling wine, and a view of the New Year’s Eve fireworks display. 360 Chicago is open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. General admission is $22 for adults (ages 12 and older); $15 for youth (ages three through 11); and free for children younger than three. TILT costs $8 per person, and tickets do not include admission to the observation deck. For more details, call (312) 751-3681 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. At other times, call (312) 654-2892.

With more than 120 voices, the Apollo Chorus of Chicago will perform Handel’s Messiah, complete with an orchestra. Performances will be held Sat., Dec. 14, at 7 p.m., and Sun., Dec. 15, at 3 p.m. at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St. Tickets range from $30 to $70. Call (312) 334-7777 or visit https://my.harristheaterchicago.org.

The Chicago Transit AuthorityAllstate CTA Holiday Trains will include a Santa train and an Elves Workshop train. In addition, there will be an Allstate CTA holiday bus. All will run through Monday, Dec. 23. For a complete schedule, go to https://www.transitchicago.com/holidayfleets.

This year’s City of Chicago Christmas Tree in Millennium Park is Chicago’s 106th annual celebratory conifer and will be on view near Washington St. and Michigan Ave. A blue spruce from Elgin IL, donated by the Gene Nelson family, it stands 55 feet high. View the tree through Mon., Jan. 6, 2020.

Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., offers several holiday events. Christkindlmarket celebrates its 24th year in Chicago, offering an array of sweet and savory German holiday treats. Visitors also can enjoy holiday and traditional crafts. Children can visit Kinder Club, which offers three popular activities: Passport; the Advent calendar; and a scavenger hunt for kids and the young-at-heart alike. The Christkind, a traditional bearer of gifts, will be present at the market each Sat. from 2 to 4 p.m. through Christmas Eve, Tues., Dec. 24. The market runs from 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 its final day, Christmas Eve. Admission is free. Visit www.christkindlmarket.com.

Glessner House Museum, 1800 S. Prairie Ave. Holiday events begin on Sat., Dec. 7, with the annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party. Come and create a mini gingerbread house to take home. No experience is necessary, and supplies are included. Event times are 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 2:30 p.m. Recommended for ages three to 13; an adult must accompany children. The museum’s annual Christmas candlelight tours are scheduled Sat. and Sun., Dec. 14 and 15, and Sat., Dec. 21, 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. Cost is $15 for non-members and $12 for members; prepaid reservations required. Log on to www.glessnerhouse.org.

This year marks the 52nd anniversary of Macy’s window displays on State Street. The store chose to continue its “belief” theme this year with Believe in the Wonder. The holiday windows will remain on view through Sun., Jan. 5. Drop by Santaland on the fifth floor, where folks of all ages can visit Santa Claus every day through Christmas Eve, Tues. Dec. 24. Hours vary. With holiday goodies to delight all, Santaland is a nod to Marshall Field’s original Cozy Cloud Cottage. Macy’s also invites believers of all ages to write a letter to Santa. For every letter the store receives, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million, to create life-changing wishes for critically ill children all across the country. Write a letter online at https://www.macys.com/social/believe/. Enjoy Macy’s 45-foot Great Tree in the Walnut Room restaurant. A holiday great tree buffet is offered all day every day through Sun., Jan. 5. For more information, go to www.visitmacysusa.com/macysiconic-events.

Macy’s window displays include cute characters and charming holiday scenes under the theme Believe in the Wonder. They will be on view through Jan. 5.

CONCERTS

Chicago a cappella continues its annual tradition of Holidays a cappella with a new collection of songs that includes Renaissance and contemporary works, Christmas carols with a new twist, and festive music for Hanukkah. This year’s arrangement of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Carol of the Bells, and The Dreidl Song, is prepared by guest music director Paul Nicholson. Concerts are as follows: Fri., Dec. 6, 8 p.m., Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville; Sat., Dec. 7, 8 p.m., Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston; Sun., Dec. 8, 3 p.m., St. Clement Church, 642 W. Deming Pl., Chicago; Fri., Dec. 13, 8 p.m., Fourth Presbyterian Church, Michigan Avenue at Delaware Place, Chicago; Sat., Dec. 14, 8 p.m., Church of the Holy Spirit, 400 E. Westminster Rd, Lake Forest; Sun., Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m., Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake St., Oak Park. 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. Concert dates are Dec. 11, Inga Kashakashvill, piano; and Dec. 18, Véronique Mathieu, violin, with Jasmin Arakawa, piano. For more information, check the IMF website, http://imfchicago.org/calendar/dame-myra-hess-memorial-concerts-calendar.

In Caroling at Cloud Gate, come join the fun as local performers from around the city take the lead in holiday sing-a-longs on the Fridays of Dec. 6, 13, and 20, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park. Sing holiday classics with the evening’s performers. This year’s choirs are Mark Hubbard and The Voices, Chicago Children’s Choir, and the Wicker Park Choral Singers. Admission is free. Check the City of Chicago website at https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca for more details.

The Chicago Philharmonic and the Marcus Roberts Trio will perform holiday music on Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St.  Call (312) 957-0000 or emailchicagophilharmonic.org

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 220 S. Michigan Ave., on the weekend of Fri., Dec. 6, 7 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 7, 3 p.m.; and Sun., Dec. 8, 3 p.m., will present the film Home Alone! with live music as part of CSO’s film and music series. On Mon., Dec. 16, join in as Ireland’s Keith & Kristyn Getty and friends at Sing! An Irish Christmas, offer a holiday sing-a-long. This year they will perform Merry, Merry Chicago! as follows: Sat. and Sun., Dec.14 and 15, 3 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.; Sat. Dec. 21, 3 p.m.; Sun, Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m.; and Mon, Dec. 23, 3 p.m. For additional holiday programming, go to events at www.cso.org.

The Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. For two days, the center will hold its annual Come to the Magical Polish Christmas Market on Sat. and Sun., Dec. 14 and 15, from noon to 7 p.m. Vendors will offer gifts and other handmade items including ornaments, gingerbread houses, jewelry, and wine. Enjoy delicious traditional Polish Christmas food such as red borscht, pierogis, and Polish sweets. Gifts will be available for purchase. Highlights of children’s activities include a Santa’s workshop, face painting, balloon animals, and the opportunity to take a picture with Santa. Later on Sat., Dec.14, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., attend the musical production Believe in the Magic of Christmas, a fun, heartwarming, musical production that celebrates the spirit of Christmas. This year’s concert production features Anthony Kawalkowski’s 38-piece orchestra, including both vocalists and a children’s choir, against a backdrop of visuals and video. For more information, call (773) 777-8898 or visit www.copernicuscenter.org.

The Hyde Park Youth Symphony will perform its annual holiday concert on Thurs., Dec. 19, 7 p.m. at Performance Hall in Logan Center, Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. Call (773) 236-1347 or email ed@hpys.org to reserve tickets.

The Lakeside Singers celebrate their holiday concert, It’s The Best Time Of The Year!, with special guest artist Bobby Lewis and featuring a fun filled eclectic mix of carols from Norway and Appalachia, a klezmer rendition of Deck the Halls, a visit from Scrooge, and gospel and jazz music. Concert dates are: Sat., Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m., Grace United Methodist Church, 300 E Gartner Rd., Naperville; Mon., Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m., Metropolis Arts Center, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights; Fri., Dec. 13, p.m., St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron St., Chicago; and Sat., Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m., Nichols Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave Evanston. Purchase tickets on the Metropolis website, www.metropolisarts.com, by calling (847) 577-2121, or at the door.

The Lira Ensemble will perform Lira: A Polish Celebration—Carols, Patriotic Song, and Dance. Lira Ensemble, composed of singers, dancers and chamber players, has expanded its holiday program to spotlight music and dances from Stanislaw Moniusko, a mix of ever-changing, colorful, and authentic Polish historic and folk music. Concert date is Sun., Dec. 8, 3 p.m. at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Adjacent parking is free. For tickets, call (800) 547-5472 or email lira@liraensemble.org.

Lincoln Park Zoo celebrates 25 years of ZooLights with hundreds of luminous displays and many seasonal activities.

MUSEUMS

Join the festivities at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., this season. A lecture on the holiday Thorne Rooms will be held Sat. Dec. 7, noon to 1 p.m., featuring Lindsay Mican Morgan, keeper of the Thorne Miniature Rooms, sharing her decorating secrets on the holiday traditions. On Thurs., Dec. 12, noon to 1 p.m., educator Jeff Nigro will guide the audience through the complex diorama of the Neapolitan crèche, which includes the Nativity and musicians, dancers, and peddlers. Families can come to a build your own gingerbread house event on Sat., Dec. 14, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 2 to 4:30 p.m. in the Stock Exchange Trading Room; tickets for a family of four cost $65 for members and $80 for non-members. Create an edible dream home with the family while listening to classic holiday tunes and enjoying sweet and savory bites. 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 to its Snow Globe Party daily from Thurs., Dec. 26, through Mon., Dec. 30, at 11:15 a.m. 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 2019 at its Noon Year’s Eve on Tues., Dec. 31. Activities include creating festive crowns, the last dance party of 2019, 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 other holiday events, including Holiday Play-Doh Workshop, Wonderland Windows, Young Artists: Decorate, as well as some of its permanent and traveling exhibits. 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 $19 for adults and children, free for children younger than one year, for members, and for military personnel. Visit www.chicagochildrensmuseum.org or call (312) 527-1000.

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St., offers its holiday shopping open house Mon., Dec. 9, between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The event is free; the museum will open the store on its third floor. Sounds of the Season takes place the Fridays and Saturdays of Dec. 6 and 7 and 13 and 14 in the afternoons; live music will provide a seasonal atmosphere as an array of performers play holiday favorites in the historic ballroom. This event is free with admission.

Santa visits the Driehaus on the Saturdays and Sundays of Dec. 7 and 8 and 14 and 15. Tickets are timed for 9, 10, and 11 a.m. and noon. Get a picture taken with Santa. After the photo session, get in the spirit with holiday games, live music, and performances and explore the museum. For admission information, exhibits, and lectures, call (312) 482-8933 or log on to www.driehausmuseum.org.

At the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl., enjoy Kwanzaa celebrations on Thurs. and Fri., Dec. 26 and 27, noon to 2 p.m. Learn about Kwanzaa customs: lighting the first of seven holiday candles, music, and food. New exhibits include the Art and the Influence of Margaret T. Burroughs (DuSable’s founder) and Clearing a Path to Democracy. Hours are Tues. through Sat., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sun., noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $8 to $10 for adults, $5 to $7 for students and seniors, and $2 to $3 for youngsters ages six through 11. 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. Visit Sue the T-Rex, and in the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, get to know the many creatures that have roamed the earth throughout history, from single-celled organisms to our extended human family. Experience a variety of fossils, animated videos, and hands-on interactive displays that tell the story of evolution, the process that connects all living things. With younger children, parents can opt for the Crown Family PlayLab, an interactive, hands-on space that makes learning an adventure and offers an invitation to curious kids to become junior scientists for the day. Join 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.

At the Museum of Science and Industry, Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light return, highlighting the customs of more than 50 countries. Guests can connect with their heritage as they explore dozens of trees and displays, while learning about traditions celebrated across the globe. Hundreds of volunteers from Chicago’s diverse communities have decorated the nearly 60 trees and displays. More than 50 local cultural groups will perform live music and dances in the museum’s main auditorium inside the West Pavilion. Families can create snow-filled ornaments and snack on holiday treats. Take a photo with the Grand Tree—a 45-foot, floor-to-ceiling tree featuring more than 45,000 lights. Guests also can enjoy “snow” falling every half hour inside the museum’s main floor. 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. The museum plans special programs during the holidays to help inspire kids to enjoy science and nature including the Jabberwocky Marionettes Puppet Show, which tells a fun story with an animated cast of amphibian, reptile, insect, and bird puppets as they explore an exciting new world. On Sat., Dec. 28, at 11 a.m., join the Fox Conservation Fund at the Mammals and More Animal Show to learn about some of the world’s unusual animals: get up close with critters including sloths and an armadillo.

Stop at the pop-up hot chocolate bar by Katherine Anne Confections. The company’s namesake will bring its famous hot chocolate bar, rich chocolate, homemade marshmallows, local honey, and many delicious toppings on Thurs., Jan. 2, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Join the fun-filled sing-along story time with KiKi Queens Drag Queen Story Hour on Sat., Jan. 4, at 11 a.m. Also, make sure to experience the chance to warm up in the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, complete with serene pools of water, flowers, tropical trees, and 1,000 butterflies. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.naturemuseum.org or call (773) 755-5100.

The John G. Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr. On Fri., Dec. 20, families and groups can experience the aquarium like never before—at night at Asleep with the Fishes. Overnights are designed for families with children ages five through 12. Activities include animal encounters, aquatic crafts, and a scavenger hunt. On Wed., Dec. 18, visit the Shedd After Hours Polar Party. Learn about mammals while feasting on seasonal favorites and thawing out with a sugar cookie cocktail. Join the trivia contest or enter the sweater contest. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer returns and shines in an all-new magical 4-D experience. Kick off a family weekend with a game day at the Shedd and explore how animals stay warm during a youth morning event. Shedd Aquarium is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more details about holiday hours and pricing, call (312) 939-2438 or visitwww.sheddaquarium.org/plan-a-visit/.

At the Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier, guests can dash through an indoor winter wonderland with 170,000 square feet of holiday-themed fun.

OUTDOOR FAMILY FUN

Want to know the city better? Try Chicago Greeter with a friendly and knowledgeable guide to give an insider’s orientation to the city. Register at least ten business days in advance for a free two- to four-hour guided tour. Greeters can customize visits based on language and interests. Chicago Greeter has more than 200 volunteers waiting to share their expertise and passion about the city. If you are short on time, try the hour-long Instagreeter free tours that highlight downtown, Millennium Park, and the Magnificent Mile. These tours are available year round. 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 for schedules or reservations.

The Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co. celebrates the season with its 2.5 hour Holiday Lights Tour. Experience holiday magic with Chicago’s most spectacular light displays at the city’s most popular destinations. A pair of ZooLights 3D glasses and a complimentary bag of Hot Cocoa CaramelCrisp from Garrett Popcorn await each rider.

Home for the Holidays is a four-hour trolley extravaganza co-created with help from the Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, and Andersonville Chambers of Commerce. Hop on a trolley to tour Lincoln Square and Andersonville with their German and Swedish roots respectively. The tour is a meet and greet, with surprise appearances by local proprietors and time to explore a multitude of unique and locally owned shops.

O Christmas Tree Jingle Bus provides a warm coach bus ride to Chicago’s most iconic holiday trees, exhibits, and festivals. Tickets are $35 to $49 for adults and $20 for kids ages five through 15; children younger than five must sit on a parent’s lap. Advance purchase recommended.

Also available are one-, two-, and three-day tours as well as specialty offerings. Log on to www.chicagotrolley.com or call (773) 648-5000 for details.

Lincoln Park Zoo, 2200 N. Cannon Dr., celebrates 25 years of ZooLights with hundreds of luminous displays and many seasonal activities. ZooLights features photos with Santa through Mon., Dec. 23; 3-D displays; warm spiced wine, beer, and holiday snacks; gift shopping; live ice-sculpture carving Fri. through Sun.; strolling carolers Mon. through Thurs.; a light maze; a 65-foot Ferris wheel; and a musical light show. Family nights are the Mondays of Dec. 16, 23, and 30. Breakfast with Santa is Sun., Dec. 15, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Chris White Trio will perform a tribute to A Charlie Brown Christmas on Sun., Dec. 15, at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Zoo Year’s Eve for adults will be Tues., Dec. 31, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Call (312) 742-2000 or visit www.lpzoo.org

The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., now in its 18th season, draws more than 100,000 skaters annually to this multipurpose venue with food, entertainment, and vendors. Situated in Millennium Park, it will remain open through early March, weather permitting. Hours are 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. Sat. and Sun. Log on to www.millenniumpark.org and http://maggiedaleypark.com.

At Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., ’tis the season for holiday fun at the 19th annual Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest, which opens Fri., Dec. 6, and runs through Sun., Jan. 12. Guests can dash through an indoor winter wonderland as Chicago’s iconic lakefront destination transforms its Festival Hall into a dazzling spectacle with 170,000 square feet of holiday-themed fun. Enjoy new and returning favorites such as the Alpine Slide, Arctic Express, and visiting aerialists. Check the website for opening and closing times. Ticket prices vary by date and range from $10 to $28. Call (800) 595-7437 or visit www.navypier.com for online and group admission offers.

Polar Adventure Days will be held at Northerly Island the Saturdays of Dec. 14, Jan. 25, and Feb. 29 from noon to 4 p.m. Enjoy outdoor and indoor events featuring animals, crafts, and winter activities such as snowtrekking, a walk around Northerly Island while wearing snowshoes. Dress appropriately for weather conditions. Northerly Island Park is at 1521 S. Linn White Dr. Call (312) 745-2910 for a complete schedule of activities.

The Cadillac Theatre will present Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Performances of the classic musical show will run through Sun., Dec. 15.

THEATER AND STAGE PERFORMANCES

The American Blues Theater (ABT) Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., will feature It’s A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago. In its 18th year, the show runs through Sat. Jan. 4. The ABT cast recreates a 1940s radio broadcast in Bedford Falls with an original score, Foley sound effects, and holiday carols. After each performance, the cast serves milk and cookies. Ticket prices are $19 to $69. Call  (773) 654-3103 or visit www.americanbluestheater.com.

Chicago’s Cadillac Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., will present Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Performances begin Tues., Dec. 10, and run through Sun., Dec. 15. White Christmas is a musical show set in a magical Vermont inn, with the two male leads falling for a stunning sister act in the process. The show is a classic filled with some of Berlin’s greatest songs.

Phantom of the Opera follows, with 16 performances beginning Wed. Dec. 18, and running through Mon. Jan. 5. This production from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh returns with a cast and orchestra of 52, making this one of the largest Phantom of the Opera productions now on tour. Go to http://cadillacpalacetheatre.com/cadillac-palace-theatre-tickets/ for schedule and pricing.

Emerald City Theatre at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St., returns with its beloved production of Corduroy, an adaptation of Don Freeman’s classic book about a small bear’s search for a missing button that leads to the friendship of a lifetime. After hours, a department store comes alive and it is up to Corduroy to outsmart the night watchman as the bear waits for his new pal Lisa to return with her mother. Call (773) 529-2690 or log on to www.emeraldcitytheatre.com. Tickets start at $16 and are available through Ticketmaster.

The Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., features Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol at its Albert Theatre with an all-Chicago cast. This timeless holiday classic tells the heartwarming story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s discovery of kindness, compassion, and redemption. Performances run through Sun., Dec. 29. Santaland Diaries: My name Is Crumpet 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. The show runs through, Sun. Dec. 29. Get tickets by calling (312) 443-3800 or at the theater’s box office. Visit www.goodmantheatre.org.

The Joffrey Ballet will once again host the Nutcracker. On Christmas Eve, 1892, months before the grand opening of the 1893 World’s Fair, a young girl and her mother prepare for a Christmas Eve potluck. A visit from the Great Impresario sets off a whirlwind journey of romance and adventure in Christopher Wheeldon’s reimaging of the classic story. Choose among performances from now through Sun. Dec. 29; 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.

Photo by Scott Rylander
Mercury Theatre on Southport Avenue will present several different holiday-themed shows featuring a variety of musical styles throughout December.

Mercury Theatre, 3745 N. Southport Ave. will offer three very different shows this December. Running Sat., Dec. 7, through Mon., Dec. 9, Big Red and the Boys present a non-traditional evening of songs, stories and spirits as Brassy Big Red opens her living room to share both holiday stories and humor. An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas starring Evan Tyrone Martin follows and runs through Sun. Dec.15. Cozy up in the Venus Cabaret Theater for a festive celebration of songs by the legendary crooner. Mercury Theatre closes the month with Merry Christmas Darling: Heidi Kettenring Sings Karen Carpenter. A local favorite, Heidi Kettenring lends her signature warmth to the timeless treasures and holiday hits of Karen Carpenter. This show runs Fri., Dec. 20, through Sun., Dec. 29. For exact date and times, call (773) 325-1700 or log on to www.mercurytheatrechicago.com.

Christmas Bingo: It’s a Ho-Ho-Holy Night at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St., brings in what it calls “the two best things about being Catholic: Christmas and Bingo.” The show ends Sun., Dec. 29.

Also at the Royal George, Late Night Catechism continues into its 21st year. This two-act solo performance features a nun giving instructions to the class (the audience) in an interactive fun fest. Call (312) 988-9000 for a complete list of performance times and prices or log on to www.theroyalgeorgetheatre.com.

Second City, 230 W. North Ave., lets you enjoy the absurd and comical aspects of the holiday season with its four December shows: Do You Believe In Madness? on the main stage; Grinning from Fear to Fear on the ETC Stage; and Best of the Holidays and Deck the Hallmark at the UP Comedy Club.

Performances run through Mon., Dec. 30. For tickets, call (312) 337-3992 or log on to www.secondcity.com.

SPECIAL TREATS

The Palmer House Hilton at 17 E. Monroe St. hosts the Magic Parlor, featuring Chicago magician and mind reader Dennis Watkins in Chicago’s longest running magic show. 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 during five shows weekly, with additional performances around the holidays. For information or reservations, go to www.themagicparlourchicago.com.

The Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., enters its 110th year of celebrating the holiday season with a colorful and inspired display of plants and flowers. This year’s show will feature white birch wind chimes, burgundy poinsettias, and deep green conifer trees. Explore the show house to learn about invisible forces that affect the lives of plants. The show runs through Sun., Jan. 5. Admission is free. Call (312) 746-5100 or log on to www.garfield-conservatory.org.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas marks her 16th 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 Fri., Jan. 3, 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. 7, at 4 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.