Our suggestion: Try swapping cocktail hour with some warm vino at the Christkindlmarket (don't forget the strudel!). And, for gifts that are as fun to give as they are to receive, you can't beat the stellar finds at the One of a Kind Arts Show. Round it all off with the Goodman Theatre’s 25th annual staging of A Christmas Carol, and we think you'll agree — Chicago's officially the capital of holiday cheer. Ahead, eight sparkling events to make this an unforgettable season. Just remember: They're all BYOM (bring your own mistletoe!).
Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Lights
What: From Pilsen to Chinatown to Lincoln Square, Chicago truly is the city of neighborhoods, and no event celebrates our city’s amazing diversity of ethnic holiday traditions like this exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. Launched in 1942 with a single Christmas tree dedicated to the Allies of World War II, Christmas Around the World now features a 45-foot Grand Tree featuring 30,000 lights surrounded by 50 smaller trees, which are decorated by volunteers from Chicago’s many ethnic communities. Enjoy school choirs from across Chicagoland and various ethnic dance troupe performances while you take in trees that celebrate the holidays everywhere, from Belize to the Philippines. Who needs a plane ticket?
When: November 15 through January 6
Where: Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 Lake Shore Drive (at East 57 Street); 773-684-1414.
Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
What: We haven’t been this excited about hitting the ice since the last time we watched Blades of Glory. One of the most popular Chicago attractions in the winter is the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, which was the first part of Millennium Park to open in 2001. Own your own skates? Admission to the picturesque rink is free, and rentals are $10. And while the rink attracts more than 100,000 skaters a year, it’s lively, not claustrophobic, so even if you don’t venture onto the ice, grab a coffee and belly up to the railing for some of the best people-watching in town.
When: November 16 through mid-March
Where: Millennium Park, 201 East Randolph Street (between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive); 312-742-1168.
A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre
What: A Christmas Carol is, at this point, almost like the theatrical version of the Mona Lisa — you've seen the story presented in so many incarnations, from kids’ plays to cartoons to watered-down sitcom retellings, that the genius of the original work can be lost in the shuffle. But the Goodman Theatre has been selling out its annual holiday presentation of the Dickens’ classic for 35 years by concentrating on bringing out all of the story’s innate drama on the stage. Here, Scrooge, played by Jeff Award-winning actor Larry Yando for the fifth time, is one memorably mean SOB before his epic redemption — just the way Dickens would have wanted him to be.
When: November 17 through December 29
Where: The Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn Street (at Randolph Street); 312.443.3800.
Photos: J.B. Specter, Museum of Science and Industry, Courtesy of City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Liz Lauren/Courtesy of Goodman Theatre
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