Live Music Returns To Navy Pier With ���Chicago Live Again���

By Susan Fong

Last year’s holiday season was a difficult one, as many people found themselves staying home and not seeing family and friends because of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). This year, people are getting out more and are looking for holiday entertainment. The Chicago area provides great attractions and activities to enjoy.

When venturing out to enjoy entertainment, remember to bring a mask, and it is a good idea to check if a venue requires vaccine cards or test results and to practice proper social distancing.

The Museum of Science and Industry features the return of  Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light, as some of the events and programs available this holiday season.



Chicago Transit Authority/Allstate holiday train featuring Santa, reindeer, and decorations has returned, but riders must be masked and should socially distance as much as possible. For the holiday train schedule, go to

Christkindlmarket Chicago celebrates its 25th anniversary and is back in person as well as online in 2021. Visitors can enjoy this holiday tradition at two locations this season through Friday, Dec. 24. Christkindlmarket Chicago at the Daley Center hours are Sun. through Thurs., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Special Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. See Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville hours are Mon. through Thurs., 3 to 9 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sun., 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Special holiday hours: Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31), 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. See A virtual marketplace, taking place for the second year in a row, makes it possible to purchase Christkindlmarket collector’s items online. Indoor dining in the Timber Haus returns at the downtown location, so make your reservations. For a complete list of offerings, visit

Chicago’s official Christmas tree, the 109th annual

City of Chicago Christmas Tree in Millennium Park, will shine brightly near the intersection of Michigan Ave. and Washington St. through Sunday, Jan. 9. The Benavides family of the Logan Square neighborhood donated this year’s 51-foot blue spruce. Millennium Park is open daily, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. For information about where to enter and exit the park and other details, visit

Glessner House, 1800 S. Prairie Ave., will offer several Christmas events and tours during December. A children’s Gingerbread House Decorating Party will take place Sat., Dec. 4. Tickets are $15. On Sun., Dec. 5, enjoy a holiday luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. A holiday wine event will take place on Tues., Dec. 7; tickets are $50. Special Christmas Candlelight Tours will take place on the evenings of Sat. and Sun., Dec. 11 and 12 and 18 and 19; tickets are $18. Christmas decorations will be on display all month, and the museum showcases them during regular public tours it offers Wed., Fri., and Sat. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Photo courtesy Greektown Chicago

Greektown karavakia (small boats) are on display at Athena Restaurant and in other locations through Jan. 15.

Greektown Chicago along Halsted Street dresses with blue and white lights as it kicks off the holidays with festive public programs and events. The Holiday Shopper’s Reward Program offers a $50 rebate when shopping and dining in Greektown through Friday, Dec. 31. Greektown Chicago opened its Christmas festivities with Greek Christmas karavákia (small boats) on display through Sat., Jan. 15. In Greece, an old Christmas tradition calls for decorating karavákia with paint, lights, and other materials. The Greektown Arts Committee carried on the tradition, inviting local artists and others to decorate little boat models, displayed in shop windows and in prominent places for public viewing. Continuing the festivities, enjoy Greektown’s annual holiday tree lighting with carols on Sun., Dec. 12, at 3 p.m. at Elysian Field at the corner of Halsted and Van Buren Streets. For a detailed description of events, go to

Harris Theater at Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph St., will bring back the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for its 11th season on Wed., Dec. 8. On Sat. and Sun., Dec. 11 and 12, the theater will help Apollo Chorus of Chicago celebrate this venerable chorus’s 150th season. On Tues., Dec. 14, the Glenn Miller Orchestra returns to Chicago for an evening of big band swing music. Log on to

Macy’s on State Street cus-tomers are invited to enjoy dining under the 114th annual Great Tree in the Walnut Room after viewing the 54th annual holiday windows. The window theme, Tiptoe & the Flying Machine, takes visitors on a journey of discovery and triumph as a cute but shy reindeer named Tiptoe takes to the sky to help Santa Claus bring joy to children. More information is available at The Great Tree stands 45 feet tall and hangs from the ceiling through Sun., Jan. 9. For Walnut Room reservations, go to The store’s annual Believe campaign unites Macy’s and Make-A-Wish to give believers of all ages the opportunity to send letters and deliver wishes. Now through Fri., Dec. 24, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish (up to $1 million) for every letter sent to Santa online at or written at a Believe mailbox station located in Macy’s stores nationwide. Santa Claus returns to delight children at the State Street location this holiday season in Santaland, open for in-store visits through Fri., Dec. 24. To provide a safe and enjoyable environment, winter wonderland visits are by advance reservation only at Reservations open five days in advance of the desired visit date. 

Skating at the 

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park returns for its 20th anniversary season, open daily through Sun., March 6 (weather permitting). Admission is free, but the rink requires online reservation tickets. The rink has scheduled free skating lessons  from 8 to 9 a.m. on most Saturdays and Sundays through March 6, teaching beginner and intermediate ice skating and hockey skills. Reservations required. Customers must arrive no more than 30 minutes prior to their purchased admission session, and the rink allows only a limited number of skaters per session. The rink bases on site ticket sales on session availability; sessions become  available two weeks in advance of the session date. For information on skate rental or sharpening pricing and to make reservations, go to

Millennium Park Holiday

Sing-Along (previously “Caroling at Cloud Gate”) invites Chicagoans and visitors to sing out and celebrate Chicago’s diverse holiday traditions on Fridays at 6 p.m, through Dec. 17 and on Sunday, Dec. 12, at 4 p.m. The City has reimagined this series to be more inclusive of Chicago’s many faith backgrounds, cultures, and holiday music traditions. The Holiday Sing-Along is made possible by the Millennium Park Foundation with support from the Pritzker Traubert Foundation. See


 Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park features a multi-sensory Van Gogh-themed ice-skating experience. The park requires skaters to make a reservation, limiting spots to allow skaters to skate safely and maintain social distancing. It requires masks while skating and in the park at all times. Log on to and


Chicago a cappella features both live and virtual programming. Hear choral treasures from Norway, the Republic of Georgia, and Puerto Rico, plus music for Chanukah, the spiritual Sistah Mary, and new takes on carols and seasonal favorites such as I’ll Be Home for Christmas. Ensemble member Joe Labozetta has created a program rich with beautiful harmonies, meaningful messages, and energetic fun. Chicago a cappella has scheduled concerts from Sat., Dec. 4, though Mon., Dec. 20 at a variety of locations. For reservations and subscriptions, go to


Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. is open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The building is home to theater events, films, lectures, art exhibitions, and family events. Every year, the Chicago Cultural Center presents hundreds of free performances and exhibitions by international, national, regional, and local artists, musicians, and performers, providing a showcase where the public can enjoy and learn about the arts. For a calendar of events, offerings (such as the Learning Lab), and current exhibitions and concerts, go to

Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts, held every Wed. from 12:15 to 1 p.m., have moved to the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, 55 E. Wacker Dr. The series presents solo and ensemble performances of classical music by emerging musicians. The concerts honor Dame Myra Hess, who during World War II persuaded the British government to open the National Gallery to hold music recitals every weekday. Concerts take place on Dec. 8 and 15 with Igor Pikayzen on violin and Tatyana Pikayzen (Dec. 8)  and Hyejin Cho (Dec. 15) on piano. For more information, check the International Music Foundation website at

The Joffrey Ballet will once again host the Nutcracker at the Lyric Opera House.


Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St., on Sun., Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the sanctuary and also livestreamed will celebrate itsFestival of Advent Lessons and Carols, featuring Advent hymns and the texts about the journey to the manger. See or call (312) 787-4570.


Lakeside Singers are presenting their holiday concert It’s a Wonderful Feeling in a variety of city and suburban locations. A local performance is scheduled for Sat., Dec. 11, at 8 p.m. at St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron St. Purchase tickets online at Tickets also will be available at the door. The venue requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the concert. All concertgoers and other personnel must wear masks while inside.

Second Presbyterian Church, 1936 S. Michigan Ave., Sun., Dec. 12, will have an 11 a.m. worship service and a 3 p.m. Messiah sing-a-long. The church will provide booklets, or bring your own score. Admission is free, but the church appreciates offerings and/or donations for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. All are welcome. A holiday reception follows. Call (312) 225-4951 or log on to


Athenaeum Theatre Productions will host three shows on its mainstage this December. On Sat., Dec. 4, at 2 and 7 p.m., A & A Ballet will present the Art Deco Nutcracker from Alexei Kremnev. On Sun., Dec. 5, at 2 p.m. the Lakeview Orchestra will present Harry Potter and the Big Grey Wolf featuring music of films and fairy tales with magic and mayhem. Ballet Chicago will offer its version of the Nutcracker Fri. through Sun, Dec. 10 and 12, and Thurs. through Sun., Dec. 16 through 19. Fri. and Sat. evening performances are at 7 p.m., and Sat. and Sun. matinees are at 2 p.m. For tickets, call (773) 935-6875, go to, or reserve tickets at


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. Choose among more than 26 performances from Sat. through Sun., Dec. 4 through 26; times vary from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. All performances take place at Lyric Opera House at 20 N. Wacker Dr. The venue requires all attendees eligible to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccine (ages 12 and older) to show proof of vaccination and to wear a mask. For tickets, call (312) 386-8905 or visit


At the 

Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., view the museum’s exhibitions and special events or explore the permanent collection online, featuring thousands of artworks. Log on to or call (312) 443-3600.

Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave., Suite 127, is open Fri., Sat., and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It offers a rotating calendar of programs in the Tinkering Lab, the Art Studio, and Pritzker Playspace. Exhibits include the Cloud Buster and Zoom Room.  The museum requires all guests aged two and older to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. For more information, go to


Richard H. Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie St., offers exploration and ongoing conversations about art, architecture, and design of the late 19th and early 20th centuries within the restored Samuel Mayo Nickerson Mansion. Or, enjoy a virtual program from the comfort and safety of your home. Find virtual tours at For a schedule of holiday programming, go to

At the

 DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl., new exhibits include the March, a virtual reality exhibit about the 1963 march on Washington, DC, and the Harold Washington Story. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, and $3 for youngsters ages six through 11. Free admission on Tues. Log on to or call (773) 947-0600.

The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., allows visitors to explore the natural world and dig into the stories behind the science. An experiential exhibit, Wild Color, includes representations of animals, plants, aquatic life, minerals, meteorites, and audiovisuals organized by color through Sat., Jan. 8. Log on to or call (312) 922-9410 for more information.


Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., features the return of  Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light, highlighting customs from more than 50 countries and cultures. The exhibit of ethnic-themed Christmas trees runs through Mon., Jan. 3. Celebrate the golden age of travel with themed décor and a spotlight on the Pioneer Zephyr train and the Take Flight exhibit’s 727 airplane. In addition, guests can visit Santa and take a souvenir photo with him on select days. To learn about this and other programming, log on to


Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Dr., offers nature- and science-themed programs and activities such as Critter Connections, creative art lessons, and outdoor explorations. Go to or call (773) 755-5100.

Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., is open 9 5 p.m. Its Underwater Beauty exhibit ranks as the most diverse in the aquarium’s history, representing more than 100 species from across the globe. Displayed in different rooms, each highlighting unique and beautiful aquatic adaptations, Underwater Beauty celebrates how animals adapt beautifully to thrive in their environment. Reservations required. For a complete list of programs and permanent exhibits, go to



BYOB Party Bus Holiday Lights Tour runs from 4 to 8:30 p.m. nightly, hosted by Wami Live Inc. The tour visits Chicago’s top holiday attractions, driving by the Magnificent Mile, the Millennium Park Christmas Tree, State Street, Macy’s holiday display, and Christkindlmarket. For more information and reservations, go to

Garfield Park Conservatory,300 N. Central Park Ave., is open Wed. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., last entry at 6:30 p.m.; Thurs. through Sun. 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., last entry at 3:30 p.m.; and closed Monday and Tuesday. Admission is free. Home to thousands of plant species from around the world throughout eight indoor display gardens, the conservatory is open year round so visitors can enjoy lush flora and tropical temperatures indoors or explore more than ten acres of outdoor gardens, nature play spaces for children, and a water lily pond. Log on to or call (773) 638-1766.

Learn about Chicago history, architecture, the Chicago River and the lakefront on a free

 InstaGreeter tour of the Loop. Vaccinated participants are not required to wear a mask—but have one available in case your greeter leads you into a building requiring masks. Unvaccinated participants must be masked at all times. Pre-registration not required for hour-long guided walks of downtown. InstaGreeter offers one-hour walks Fri. through Sun. with two walks per day leaving at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. from the Chicago Cultural Center’s Randolph Street Lobby.

This year’s Lincoln Park Zoo ZooLights will again feature hundreds of luminous LED displays and seasonal experiences, all under the glow of millions of lights.  

New at

Lincoln Park Zoo, 2200 N. Cannon Dr. this holiday season are the Pepper Family Wildlife Center, a holiday lights experience on the Main Mall, a light show on the South Lawn, and an 18-foot holiday tree. This year’s ZooLights again will feature hundreds of luminous LED displays and seasonal experiences, all under the glow of millions of lights. At Zoo Year’s Eve, Fri., Dec. 31, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day, Sat., Jan. 1, 2022, ring in the new year surrounded by one of the biggest light shows in Chicago. Warm up with s’mores by the fire at Snowy’s Spirits & S’mores and toast 2022 with champagne at midnight, presented in partnership with River North Fests. For information, call (312) 742-2000 or visit


Morton Arboretum at 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL, offers its ninth annual Illumination: Tree Lights as a walking experience. Explore 50 acres of the arboretum’s  trees during this spectacle of color, light, and sound through Sun., Jan. 2. Journey along a one-mile walking path amid festive music and  lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter and stop in one of the concession tents for a snack or beverage. For schedules, reservations, and ticket prices, go to


American Blues Theater sports a new location, Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. For more than 20 years, American Blues Theater has treated audiences to a live retelling of Frank Capra’s classic It’s A Wonderful Life in a 1940s radio broadcast style. Performances run through Fri., Dec. 31. Runtime is 90 minutes, with no intermission. Call (773) 871-3000 or email


Blue Man Group,3133 N. Halsted St. you will rock, laugh, and party as three bald and blue men explore the world and, together with the audience, discover music, comedy, and surprises at every turn. Call (773) 348-4000 or log on to

Cadillac Theatre presents the play Frozen,

a journey through a magical realm, as one of the events and programs available this holiday season.

Chicago’s Cadillac Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., presents the play Frozen through Sat., Jan. 22, taking visitors on a journey through a magical realm with handsome princes, beautiful princesses, and magical talking snowmen. Tickets available at

Chicago Children’s Theatre, 170 S. Racine Ave., offers the Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party through Fri., Dec. 24. Four Beatrix Potter favorites come to life in an interactive trunk and puppet show, complete with original music. In This Ability,a virtual production running through Mon., Jan. 3, when an international cat-star escapes from O’Hare and gets lost on the streets of Chicago, who will come to the rescue? Akeh, a young autistic person, uses his popular hashtag #thisability to start the search for the runaway kitty. For more programing and ticket information go to

Chicago Children’s Theatre offers the Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party through Fri., Dec. 24.


Chicago Shakespeare on Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago hip-hop sensations the Q Brothers Collective heat up the holiday season with Q Brothers Christmas Carol, an ad-rap-tation of Charles Dickens’s classic. Fully decked out in the holiday spirit, the Yard at Chicago Shakespeare features more than two miles of twinkling lights as the ghosts of hip-hop past, present, and future lead Scrooge on a journey of rhythm, rhyme, and redemption. The show runs through Thurs., Dec. 23. For reservations, call (312) 595-5600 or log on to

Goodman Theater, 170 N. Dearborn St., brings Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to the stage of the Albert Theatre with an all-Chicago cast. The holiday classic tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, played for the 14th time by Larry Yando; tickets are available in a range of prices. Goodman’s OwenTheatre presents its New Stages Festival—now in its 17th year—an annual celebration of  new works produced as developmental productions and staged readings. December offers six newer playwrights. All workshop productions, special events, and staged readings are free with reservations. Obtain tickets by calling (312) 443-3800 or through the theater’s box office at 170 N. Dearborn St. Visit

Goodman Theater brings Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to the stage of the Albert Theatre with an all-Chicago cast.

Lookingglass Theater, 821 N. Michigan Ave., is presenting the play Her Honor Jane Byrne through Sun., Dec. 19. It’s 1981, the city’s long neglected problems boil over, and Chicago’s first woman mayor moves into Cabrini-Green. For more information or tickets, go to   

Mercury Theatre, 3745 N. Southport Ave., offers Sister Act,the feel-good musical comedy smash based on the 1992 film. The play runs through Sun., Jan. 2. When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, police put her in protective custody in the one place they are sure she will not be found: a convent. Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with both the rigid lifestyle and uptight mother superior. Go to or call (773) 360-7365.

Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., features Light Up The Lake, the Chicago area’s biggest indoor, temperature-controlled light garden, which has large-scale light-sculpture displays, an Alpine ice rink, a holiday beer garden, kiddie train rides, Santa’s Merry Main Street and Gift Market, and a visit with Santa. Light Up The Lake runs through Sun., Jan. 2, in Festival Hall. Log on to www.navypier.


Second City, 1660 N. Wells St., the mainstage show Together at Last offers a non-stop celebration of how we have persisted and even thrived during these impossibly difficult times. Showing at Second City’s e.t.c. Theater, 230 W. North Ave., is The Best Decision You’ve Ever Made, addressing the elephants in the room and inviting them to the dungeon basement dance party. Come and celebrate the holidays with Deck the Hallmark, A Greeting Card Channel Original, at Second City, presented made-for-cable movie-style as a scorching send-up of  holiday films that warm our hearts, wear out cliches, and keep former child actors employed. Call (312) 337-3992 or log on to

Theater In Chicago features comprehensive listings, news, reviews, and pre-theatre dining suggestions for shows now playing in the Chicago area as well for as future productions. For a complete list of holiday and other theater productions, go to


Fox In A Box Escape Room Chicago, 47 W. Polk Street, Suite L5, offers indoor activities that the whole family will enjoy. Come and play in any of the escape rooms: the Bank, the Prison, the Bunker, or the Zodiac. With kid-friendly rooms or the option to do adults-only, these rooms are sure to excite and get your brain working in overtime. Reservations required at or call (312) 878-7899.


Magic Parlor at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St., features Chicago magician Dennis Watkins, who captivates audiences with classic sleight of hand, mind reading, and wonder-filled wisdom. Shows are Fri. at 7 and 9:30 p.m. and Sat. at 4, 7, and 9:30 p.m.  For more information or reservations, log on to

Van Gogh, the Immersive Experience,takes over theLighthouse Art Space at the Germania Club, 108 W. Germania Pl., through Sunday, Feb. 6. Become immersed in Van Gogh’s works—from his sunny landscapes and night scenes to his portraits and still life paintings— to experience art as never before. Lose yourself in 500,000 cubic feet of projections that animate van Gogh’s artworks and spotlight a few of his famous letters. Wander through entrancing, moving images that highlight brushstrokes, detail, and color to illuminate the mind of a genius. For reservations, go to

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Going places: Holiday classics, festivities, happenings return to New York City

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