Remember the Twelve Days of Christmas? Now the holiday season fills up a month or more. But with our handy guide, you should be able to ensure a winter’s worth of seasonal cheer.
AARON NEVILLE AND HIS QUINTET
Neville and his brother Charles perform holiday classics as well as some of his greatest hits, hopefully including 1966’s “Tell It Like It Is.” The Venue, 777 Casino Center, Hammond, (866)711-7463. Dec 10, 7:30pm. $29.50-$49.50.
AMERICAN STARS IN CONCERT FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Each Christmas, people celebrate the birth of one of history’s greatest stars and the crucial, crunch-time guide work of another (literal) star. It’s only logical to make some stars of the prime-time variety—Idols, perhaps?—on your annual merry-making. Paramount Arts Centre, 23 E. Galena, Aurora, (630)896-6666. Dec 19, 8pm. $48.
3RD ANNUAL ANOTHER YEAR WITHOUT A WITTY TITLE CHICAGO CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR!
A rotating roster of sixteen short holiday-themed comical plays performed by A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company. The Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln, (312)409-6435. Fridays and Saturdays, 8pm. $15 or two for $25, $12 for students.
ART AND FAITH OF CRECHE
An exhibition with more than a hundred contemporary Nativity scenes from around the world. Loyola University Museum of Art, 820 N. Michigan, (312)915-7600. Dec 5-Jan 17. Free with general admission of $5-$6 and free on Tuesdays.
BREAKFAST WITH SANTA
Have brunch with Santa and his elves, plus former Bears player Jerry Azumah. If you bring a handmade ornament to for the stadiums Christmas tree, you have a chance to win prizes. Also bring an unwrapped toy to benefit the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation. United Club at Soldier Field, 1410 S. Museum Campus, (312)235-7162. Dec 5, 10am. $50, $25 for kids 3-12, RSVP required.
A BRONZEVILLE NUTCRACKER
Kids, teens and professional dancers put on their adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s ballet to an original score by Every People Jazz Workshop. The story’s set on the South Side and is about a girl who learns that an ordinary gift can become an extraordinary experience. Harold Washington Cultural Center, 4701 S. King, (773)373-1900. Dec 11 and 12, 7pm. $25.
11TH ANNUAL BUCKTOWN HOLIDAY ARTSHOW
One hundred local and national artists display their crafts and gifts, including photography, jewelry, watercolors and more. Make a trip down before stopping at the department stores; these people need the money more than they do. Holstein Park Fieldhouse, 2200 N. Oakley, (312)742-7554. Dec 12 and 13, 11am-5pm. $2.
CAROLING AT CLOUD GATE
Share your holiday cheer with The Bean by joining different groups of carolers for this weekly sing-along. Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph, (312)742-1168. Fridays through Dec 18, 6pm. Free.
37TH ANNUAL CHICAGO WALDORF HOLIDAY FAIR
Now in its thirty-seventh year, this event has got it near-perfect. Artists from across the nation participate in the showcase that features food from local restaurants, craft workshops, live entertainment, kids’ activities and a raffle. Chicago Waldorf School, 1300 W. Loyola, (773)381-1322. Dec 5, 9am-5pm. $5.
14TH ANNUAL CHRISTKINDLMARKET
Always popular, this annual open-air German market at the Daley Plaza features German food, drinks and handmade goods like ornaments and clothing from over fifty vendors. Beer! Potato pancakes! Ornaments! Yes! Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington, (312)494-2175. Nov 25-Dec 24. Free.
68TH ANNUAL CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD/14TH ANNUAL HOLIDAYS OF LIGHT
A staple exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, see how Christmas is celebrated around the world with over fifty Christmas trees, music, dancing and exhibits of other winter holidays, including Diwali, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore, (773)684-1414. Nov 20-Jan 3. Free with general admission of $9-$13.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
The classic tale of mean ol’ Ebenezer Scrooge. With the economy still in the gutter, there are probably going to be even more Scrooges this holiday season, so go watch this story and be thankful you don’t have it as bad as Tiny Tim. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, (312)443-3800. Nov 20-Dec 31. $25-$74, $10 for students.
26TH ANNUAL CHRISTMAS SING-ALONG AND DOUBLE FEATURE
Two feel-good Christmas classics—“It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas”— are coupled with caroling. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport, (773)871-6604. Dec 18-Dec 24. $16 for double feature, $11 for single.
86TH ANNUAL CHRISTMAS SPIRITS: I’M A LAWYER, GET ME OUT OF HERE!
Over sixty singing and dancing law students, attorneys and judges perform in The Chicago Bar Association’s satire of local and national political celebrities. Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo, (312)922-1999. Dec 8-Dec 12, 8pm. $60.
8TH ANNUAL DANCE-ALONG NUTCRACKER
Dress up as a character from Tchaikovsky’s ballet and hit the dance floor with professional dancers. There are also pre-performance workshops at 11am and 2 pm for those who want to learn warm-up techniques and basic dance steps. Preston Bradley Hall at Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, (773)744-6630. Dec 6, 12pm and 3pm. Free.
Dave Koz (and his friends Rick Braun, David Benoit, Brenda Russell and Peter White) returns to celebrate another Smooth Jazz Christmas. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, (800)982-2787. Dec 5, 8pm. $45-$85.
The runner-up from “American Idol”‘s seventh season stops by for his “Christmas from the heart” tour promoting his new album of the same name. Bring earplugs to drown out the squealing tweens. Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee, Waukegan, (847)263-6300. Dec 11, 8pm. $35-$42.50.
THE DAVID BOWIE HEPZIKAT VELVET FLARNEY SOLSTICE SPECTACULAR…LIVE FROM SPACE! (DAVID BOWIE’S CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 1977 NETWORK EDIT)
Mick Jagger, Annie Lennox, Iggy Pop, Marianne Faithfull, Charo, the ghost of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie appear in a seventies-style Christmas special. Yes, it’s fictional, and no, the real musicians don’t make any appearances. National Pastime Theater, 4139 N. Broadway, (773)327-7077. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec 19, 11pm. $15, $10 for students.
DELIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
A lonely anchorwoman puts a personal ad on Craigslist and the Craigster Fairy takes her on a journey through GLBT-themed burlesque, boylesque, drag, etc. performances to find the meaning of the holiday season. Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, (773)327-5252. Thursdays-Saturdays Nov 27-Dec 19. $15-$20.
Join the chorus in this annual public show of Handel’s “Messiah.” Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph, (312)334-7777. Dec 21 and Dec 22, 7pm. Free, with tickets required and limited to two per order.
Santa gets a surprising visit from a daughter he never knew he had, which leads to chaos as he balances his work and the demands of fatherhood. Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee, (773)598-4549. Nov 28. $10.
FLORIDA DEVEREAUX DOES THE HOLIDAYS
A musical comedy for the whole family about a washed-up actress who attempts a comeback with a public-access-TV holiday special. Prop Thtr, 3504 N. Elston, (773)539-7838. Thursdays-Saturdays, Dec 3-Dec 20, 8pm and Sundays, Dec 3-Dec 20, 2pm. $15, $10 for kids under 10, $25 for Dec 4 performance.
GIFTING GREEN ACTIVITY ROOM
Come on down and make eco-friendly gifts including recycled ornaments, recycled magazine envelopes and gift boxes. Perfect for those on a tight budget this holiday season. Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon, (773)755-5100. Sundays and Saturdays, Dec 5-Dec 20, 11am-3pm. Free with museum admission or $6-$9.
THE HA-HA-HOLIDAY SHOW
Holiday-themed short scenes, songs and games, all put together with the help of audience suggestions. The early show is family friendly, but keep the kiddies at home for the late show. Laugh Out Loud Theater, 601 N. Martingale, Schaumburg, (847)240-0386. Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30pm and 9:30pm, through Dec 26.
HOLIDAY FLOWER SHOW
Dislike Holiday decorating? Garfield Park Conservatory has you covered. They’ve done the put-you-in-the-spirit decorating for you—poinsettias and other holiday horticulture included. Garfield Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park, (312)746-5100. Nov 28-Jan 10. Free.
HOLIDAY POPS CHORUS
Leave caroling to the professionals and head to this star-studded concert featuring the Southport Orchestra and the Children’s Chorus from Alphonsus Academy and Center for the Arts. Scott Arkenberg conducts and Rob Elgas of WMAQ-NBC5 hosts. Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph, (312)334-7777. Dec 9, 7:30pm. $20-$50.
HOLIDAY SHORT SHORTS
Two comedic acts from the “Triple Feature” series. “Breathing on Cougarness” follows the experiences of two man-eaters during the holidays, while “Holiday Hunger Pains” follows a hitchhiker who gets more than he expected after accepting a ride. The Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, (773)561-4665. Thursdays Dec 3-Dec 17, 8pm. $10.
THE HOLIDAY SHOW
Get some guilt free shopping done at Architectural Artifacts’ Atrium. Over eighty artists put their wares up for a silent auction, and after placing your bid, you can shop the holiday sale. Architectural Artifacts, 4325 N. Ravenswood, (773)348-0622. Dec 13, 10am-5pm. Free.
4TH ANNUAL HOLY $#!% IT’S CHRISTMAS! WHERE DID JESUS GO?
A fast-moving holiday sketch revue with songs and dance. Donny’s Skybox Theatre, 1608 N. Wells, (312)337-3992). Fridays Nov 20-Dec 18, 10:30pm. $10, $8 for students.
IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT QUEEN
A girl tries to convince Nick Nolte online to appear at a celebrity benefit holiday pageant, the story of Jesus told with the help of Queen’s music. Chemically Imbalanced Theater, 1420 W. Irving, (773)865-7731. Fridays and Saturdays, 8pm, through Dec 19. $15.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: LIVE AT THE BIOGRAPH!
Frank Capra’s classic tale of the travails of one George Bailey comes to life as a radio play, complete with commercials. This is one of two very similar productions, from the two factions coming out of the divorce of American Theater Company from most of its ensemble. American Blues Theater at the Biography, 2433 N. Lincoln, ( 773)871-3000. Through December 27. $20-$50.
9TH ANNUAL IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: THE RADIO PLAY
And here’s the other one. The American Theater Company’s production based on the popular film is performed as a radio show with live music, advertisements and Foley sound effects. Stay after the show for milk and cookies. American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron, (773)409-4125. Nov 27-Dec 27. $35-$50.
JACK’S CHEAP CHRISTMAS
Music and comedy by Cheap Trick, The Dan Band and Frank Caliendo. Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim, Rosemont, (847)635-6601. Dec 10, 7:30pm. $10.43-$100.
15TH ANNUAL JAZZ CHRISTMAS
Come down to Union Church’s annual event to see renowned musicians, pianist Willie Pickens, saxophonist Bobby Watson and vocalist Frieda Lee perform. All proceeds from the show benefit the Centers for New Horizons. Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn, (773)363-6063. Dec 18, 8pm. $40-$50.
JINGLE BELL RUN/WALK FOR ARTHRITIS 5K
Throw on a holiday costume and get ready to run for this annual benefit. Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore, (312)372-2080. Dec 5, 7am. $25-$35, $15 for kids.
JINGLE BELLES! (THE NAUGHTY LIST)
The annual holiday show by The Belmont Burlesque Revue featuring striptease and variety acts. The Playground Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, (773)871-3793. Dec 5 and Dec 12, 12am. $10.
JUDITH OWEN AND HARRY SHEARER’S HOLIDAY SING-A-LONG
This annual performance of new and old holiday songs and comedy was created by comedian/actor Harry Shearer (“The Simpsons,” “This is Spinal Tap”) and his wife, singer-songwriter Judith Owen. The Bobs and Jim Peterik guest. Space, 1245 Chicago, Evanston, (847)492-8860. Dec 2, 8pm. $30-$35.
JULMARKNAD HOLIDAY FEFSTIVAL
This traditional Swedish holiday market features music, gifts, dance and more. Swedish American Museum Center, 5211 N. Clark, (773)728-8111. Dec 5 and 6.
THE MADAME BARKER HOLIDAY VARIETY SHOW
Molly Brennan hosts this local show of holiday-themed music, comedy, magic and burlesque acts. Rick Bayless (of Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/Xoco) cooks onstage with the cast at the Dec 4 and 11 shows. Prop Thtr, 3504 N. Elston, (773)539-7838. Nov 27, Dec 4 and Dec 11, 10:30pm. $10 at the door.
MILLENNIUM PARK ICE SKATING
The rink’s open now, so skate on over for some old-fashioned holiday fun. McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. The 2009-2010 season runs from Nov 20-Mar 14.
MILLY’S ALMOST ALL KID HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR
A parade for kids is followed by two talent shows. Wear a costume, and you’re guaranteed to have fun. Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, (773)728-6000. Dec 13, 3:30pm and 5:30pm. $12.
MIRACLE NEAR STATE STREET
The Fray, Colbie Caillat and Kris Allen perform. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, (800)982-2787. Dec 4, 7:30pm. $49.50-$75.
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET
A new musical adaptation of the classic film. You know, the one where the guy’s all “I’m Santa” and everyone else is like “WTF.” Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, (773)327-5252. Fridays and Saturdays, 8pm, and Sundays and Saturdays, 2:30pm, through Jan 3. $40.
A musical story for kids where the list of good boys and girls goes missing. Oops. Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th, (773)445-3838. Dec 1-Dec 23. $10.
NATIVE ARTS HOLIDAY BAZAAR
With an eclectic collection of beadwork, leatherwork, jewelry, pottery, dolls and more created by Native American artists, you’re sure to find a unique gift for a Mr. or Ms. Picky. Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central, Evanston, (847)475-1030. Suggested donation is $2.50-$5, $10 maximum per family.
THE NUT TAPPER
Tap away your troubles with a different dance take on your favorite holiday harbinger. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, (773)935-6860. Dec 13, 4pm. $20-$25.
THE JOFFREY BALLET PRESENTS THE NUTCRACKER
While holidays (and holiday guests) always seem to arrive early and stay late, Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” only hangs around for two weeks. Don’t miss the acclaimed troupe performing their version of this Christmas classic. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, (800)982-2787. Dec 11-Dec 27. $25-$100, not for kids under 5.
THE JOFFREY BALLET’S NUTCRACKER TEA
Meet the cast of the Joffrey’s Nutcracker for an afternoon of tea and children’s activities. Champagne is available for an additional $10. Lockwood Restaurant, 17 E. Monroe, (312)917-3404. Saturdays Nov 28-Dec 26. $35, $25 for kids under 12. RSVP required.
A NUTTY NUTCRACKER CHRISTMAS
A rockin’, fresh holiday spectacular that’ll please the entire family. This adaptation follows Fritz and the Nutcracker through Christmas Wood, and when the Mouse King cooks up, Fritz and Nutcracker must save the day. Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln, (773)935-6100. Nov 19-Jan 2. $15, $12 for kids.
OAK RIDGE BOYS
The Oak Ridge Boys have rung in the New Year for nineteen straight years at Star Plaza, and now they’re starting a new tradition by playing annual Christmas shows here, too. Star Plaza Theatre, 8001 Delaware, Merrillville, (219)769-6600. Dec 13, 4pm. $39.
ONE OF A KIND SHOW AND SALE CHICAGO
Shopping can be kind of boring sometimes, but not at One of a Kind Show and Sale Chicago. It has fashion shows and live music that will leave you longing for another shopping trip and a longer Christmas list. Merchandise Mart, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, 8th floor, (800)677-6278. Dec 3, noon-9pm, Dec 4, 11am-9pm, Dec 5, 10am-7pm, Dec 6, 10am-5pm. $12 for adults, $9 for students and seniors, free for children 12 and under.
THE OSMOND BROTHERS
Wayne, Jay, Jimmy and Merrill Osmond celebrate their fiftieth year in entertainment with this Christmas show. Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago, Joliet, (815)726-6600. Dec 15, 7:30pm. $29-$47.
PICTURES WITH SANTA
Pack up the kids and your fluffy friends to get their picture with Mr. Claus. Included in the price is a print to take home, a 2010 calendar and a stocking stuffed with goodies for your pet. Dog-a-holics, 3608 N. Southport, (773)857-7600. Dec 5, 11am-4pm and Dec 6, 11am-4pm. $30.
RENEGADE CRAFT FAIR HOLIDAY SALE
One of Chicago’s larger craft fairs continues, featuring gifts from over 150 local, national and international artists. Come browse the handmade jewelry, clothing and comics, among a plethora of other goodies. Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, 1419 W. Blackhawk, (773)227-2707. Dec 5 and Dec 6, 11am-7pm. Free.
RUDOLPH, THE RED-HOSED REINDEER
An adults-only musical parody featuring Rudolph as a cross-dresser. Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark, (773)784-6969. Dec 3-Jan 2. $10-$15.
RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER
The classic tale of Rudolph in a funny, family-friendly retelling of said story. The Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, (773)561-4665. Nov 27-Dec 18. $15, $10 for kids under 12.
Duh. Hop up on jolly Ol’ St. Nick’s lap, tell him what you want for Christmas and get a picture. Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington, (312)744-3315. Nov 26-Dec 24. Free.
THE SANTALAND DIARIES
An adaptation of David Sedaris’ essay detailing his experiences and struggle to maintain dignity as a Macy’s Christmas elf. Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, (773)327-5252. Nov 27-Jan 2. $24.
2ND ANNUAL SANTA’S GREAT AMERICAN DEPRESSION HOLIDAY SHOW! AMERICA 2: SON OF SANTA’S GREAT AMERICAN DEPRESSION HOLIDAY SHOW! AMERICA
Actors from Second City and iO perform holiday-themed sketch comedy. The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee, (773)283-7071. Fridays and Saturdays, 10pm and Sundays, 5:30pm, through Dec 13. $10.
SECOND CITY’S DYSFUNCTIONAL HOLIDAY REVUE
It’s Second City, so go if you’re looking to laugh over parodies of Christmas traditions. Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th, (773)445-3838. Dec 19 and Dec 26, 8pm. $25.
SNOW WHITE AND THE DRAG QUEEN WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS
An evil Madame tries to ruin Christmas for a family of drag queens. Basically, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for adults. Hydrate, 3458 N. Halsted, (773)975-9244. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec 12. $10.
SONGS OF GOOD CHEER
Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn and Mary Schmich and musicians head a caroling party at the Old Town School of Folk. Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, (773)728-6000. Dec 18-Dec 19, 7:30pm, and Dec 20, 5pm. $36-$40.
ST. LUCIA FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Go caroling with a candlelit procession in Andersonville to honor Saint Lucia, the young Christian martyr. Afterward, swing by the museum for sing-alongs and refreshments. Swedish American Museum Center, 5211 N. Clark, (773)728-8111. Dec 13, 4:45pm. Parade is free, $1 or canned good donation for post-party.
THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA
Songs and skits created by CPS students and produced by comedians, musicians, playwrights and actors. The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland, (773)275-5255. Thanksgiving-themed show, Nov 30, 8pm and holiday-themed shows Dec 21 and Dec 28, 8pm. $5-$10.
32ND ANNUAL TOYS FOR TOTS MOTORCYCLE PARADE
This annual mega event is as massive as it is beneficial to the greater community with thousands of riders delivering toys of all kinds so they can be donated to families in need. Even if you’re not riding, you can lend a hand by donating toys at any of the many stops along the routes. Dan Ryan Woods, 8300 S. Western, (708)771-1062. Dec 6, 9:30am. Free, toy donation required (no stuffed animals).
14TH ANNUAL 12 BARS OF CHRISTMAS PUB CRAWL
Dress up as a high school student and spread Christmas cheer by having a beer or twelve. Price includes admission, a t-shirt, gym bag and $2.50 12-ounce Miller Lite bottles or drafts. Cubby Bear Wrigleyville, 1059 W. Addison, (773)327-1662. Dec 12, 8:30am. $30.
A VERY MERRY UNAUTHORIZED CHILDREN’S SCIENTOLOGY PAGEANT
A nativity pageant is the background for this satirical look at the life and work of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells, (312)943-8722. Sundays, 3pm, Fridays and Saturdays 8pm, Saturdays, 5pm, through Jan 3. $25, $20 for students.
VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS TOURS
Tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park home, decked out for the holidays, and learn about the Wright family’s Christmas celebrations. Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, 951 Chicago, Oak Park, (708)848-1976. Dec 12 and Dec 19, 9am-11am. Free.
A holiday concert featuring members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, as well as the Welcome Yule! Children’s and Dance Ensemble. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, (312)294-3000. Dec 18-Dec 23. $20-$98.
WHINING IN THE WINDY CITY: HOLIDAY EDITION
Actress Jackie Hoffman’s original musical comedy solo show about showbiz, jerky kids and the holidays. Royal George Theatre Center, 1641 N. Halsted, (312)988-9000. Mondays Nov 30-Dec 21, 7:30pm.
Keeping the tradition of elaborate holiday tourist traps alive, Navy Pier transforms itself into a winter wonderland complete with a skating rink, inflatable games and a bungee run. Santa and his elves will be on hand every day ‘til Christmas to listen to kid’s holiday wishes. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, (312)595-PIER. Dec 4-Jan 3. $16-$19.
Eighty model trains travel through Chicago landmarks, waterfalls and holiday trees in this 10,000-square-foot exhibit, tiny trains wind through more than 80 miniature Chicago landmarks, waterfalls, holiday trees and more. New on the map this year is Barack Obama’s Hyde Park home and Michelle Obama’s childhood home. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook, Glencoe, (847)835-5440. Nov 27-Jan 3. $6-$10.
This year at this annual event, more than two million lights add some holiday cheer to Lincoln Park Zoo. The activities include visits with Santa, kid’s activities and ice carving demonstrations. Lincoln Park Zoo, 2200 N. Cannon, (312)742-2000. Nov 27-Jan 3. Free.
Assembled by Kelly Hecker