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65 Things to Do in Chicago in December

Illumination
Illumination Photo: Michael Hudson
Through Dec. 11
Theater

The Complete Deaths

Navy Pier

Not counting the nameless extras downed during war scenes, there are 74 deaths in the plays of William Shakespeare. The UK physical comedy company Spymonkey puts them all into a single production, with a comic faces-of-death look at the Bard’s myriad stabbings, poisonings, fisticuffs, and the like.

Details:Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. $48–$58. chicagoshakes.com

Through Dec. 24
Seasonal

Christkindlmarket

Loop

Now in its 21st year, the Christkindlmarket is something of a holiday institution. The compact layout can make for a traffic jam (especially the week before Christmas), but it’s hard to turn cynical with spiced wine and warm apple strudel on a cold winter’s night.

Details:Daley Plaza. Free. christkindlmarket.com

Through Dec. 30
Theater

The Nutcracker

Noble Square

The House Theatre’s ballet-free theatrical take on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic focuses on the story’s darker elements: Young Clara is mourning the death of her older brother when she receives the magical nutcracker and embarks on a trial of Christmas Eve catharsis.

Details:Chopin Theatre. $15–$45. thehousetheatre.com

Through Dec. 31
Comedy

The Second City’s Holidazed and Confused Revue

Old Town

The holiday season is a time of joy, yes, but also a time of stress. In this R-rated balm for the Yuletide gripes, Chicago’s premier improv theater wrestles with traditions big and small, celebrating and skewering customs in equal measure.

Details:Up Comedy Club. $31–$46. secondcity.com

Through Jan. 2
Seasonal

Illumination

Lisle

At this year’s mile-long light show, the Morton Arboretum invites guests to hug the trees (quite literally): Certain trunks will ignite in color and sound when touched or spoken to. If that seems a bit too trippy, wait out the show in a complimentary warming station.

Details:Morton Arboretum. $6–$22. mortonarb.org

Through Jan. 8
Theater

The Other Cinderella

Uptown

In this contemporary take on the story of Cinderella, Black Ensemble Theater founder Jackie Taylor situates the damsel in a modern-day city (and tones way down on the distress).

Details:Black Ensemble Theater. $45–$65. blackensembletheater.org

Dec. 1
Electronic

Booka Shade

Logan Square

These German DJs were veterans of electronic music before it ballooned in mainstream popularity. The duo most recently rereleased their 2006 showstopper Movements, an album whose melodic flourishes ushered in a new era of house music after the minimalist ’90s. Catch them on this rare stateside tour.

Details:Concord Music Hall. 8 p.m. $25. ticketfly.com

Dec. 1–Jan. 29
Theater

The Christians

Lincoln Park

What happens when the pastor of a megachurch concludes that there’s no hell? Playwright Lucas Hnath, who once planned on becoming a priest, explores that scenario in this tale of a church divided.

Details:Steppenwolf. $5–$86. steppenwolftheatre.org

Dec. 1–Apr. 2
Art

Art AIDS America

Lincoln Park

The first-ever exhibition examining how the AIDS crisis changed American art features 100-plus works by artists who either died of the disease or had their communities devastated by it, including Judy Chicago, Roger Brown, Keith Haring, Félix González-Torres, Annie Leibovitz, and Robert Mapplethorpe. As the crisis coincided with the revolution of postmodern art, the resultant work is full of myth, truth, emotion, and life.

Details:Alphawood Gallery. Free. artaidsamericachicago.org

Dec. 2
Theater

Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs

Loop

In this globally acclaimed performance, award-winning star of stage (Cabaret) and screen (The Good Wife) Alan Cumming sings handpicked tunes of love and loss—theatrical catnip for any self-respecting musical theater nerd.

Details:Broadway in Chicago at Oriental Theatre. 8 p.m. $47–$77. broadwayinchicago.com

Dec. 2
Podcast

Live Wire with Luke Burbank

Lincoln Park

Burbank’s voice should ring some bells among the NPR crowd: Since 2006, he’s been a panelist (and occasional fill-in host) on Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! His new podcast, Live Wire, is a freewheeling variety hour of music, comedy, and other local talent gracing the stage. This taping features special guest (and Late Late Show bandleader) Reggie Watts.

Details:Lincoln Hall. 8:30 p.m. $20–$35. lh-st.com

Dec. 2
Art

New Age Now

Logan Square

This fundraiser with a New Age theme for the local publisher Green Lantern Press features performances, drinks, and a silent auction doling out Thai massages and paintings—all wrapped in a 19th-century-spiritualism-meets-’60s-psychedelic package.

Details:Sector 2337. 6 p.m. $15–$100. sector2337.com

Dec. 2–3
Sports

Chicago Elite Classic

University Village

How do Chicago high school hoops stack up against the rest of the country? Find out at this fifth annual event, which features 14 local teams (including defending state champ Curie) and eight outside powers in a two-day set of matchups. Among the draws: Tar Heel commit Jalek Felton of South Carolina’s Gray Collegiate Academy and super soph R.J. Barrett of Florida’s Montverde Academy.

Details:UIC Pavilion. $10–$15. chicagoeliteclassic.com

Car Town
Car Town Photo: Tony Fitzpatrick
Dec. 2–3
Art

The Electric Stage

Loop

The performance collective Manual Cinema presents this live-action show mimicking a film, which features shadow puppetry, vintage projectors, handmade sound effects, and a live ensemble. The production emulates the futurist machine art of László Moholy-Nagy, whose retrospective exhibition is currently on view.

Details:Art Institute of Chicago. $10–$25. artic.edu

Dec. 2–4
Market

Lycée French Market

Ravenswood

Chicago’s dual-language French school Lycée Français de Chicago transforms into a Parisian marché, featuring authentic Gallic fare, live entertainment, and handmade specialty gifts for sale.

Details:Lycée Français de Chicago. $8–$35. Free for students and children. lyceechicago.org

Dec. 2–11
Dance

Same Planet Performance Project

Albany Park

This dance company’s artistic director, Joanna Rosenthal-Read, presents her latest work, Honey, at Dovetail Studios, a dance and fitness center she opened in 2015. Fueled by 1970s disco, Honey explores the risks and rewards of the era through modern dance.

Details:Dovetail Studios. $15–$22. spdwdance.org

Dec. 2–23
Art

Car Town

Wicker Park

In perhaps his best new collage series in years, Tony Fitzpatrick toasts the people who built Chicago with portrayals of signs he’s spotted in working-class neighborhoods. Displayed among Fitzpatrick’s love poems for Chicago are collaborations with street-wear brand Saint Alfred, such as T-shirt and hat designs.

Details:AdventureLand Gallery. Free. adventurelandgallery.com

Dec. 3
R&B

Michael Kiwanuka

Lincoln Park

English singer Michael Kiwanuka tore onto the scene in 2012 with Home Again, a gorgeous and easygoing record of tunes that would make Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and Curtis Mayfield proud. On his July 2016 follow-up, Love & Hate, Kiwanuka situates himself in the new millennium, experimenting with production tricks and studio flourishes.

Details:Park West. 8 p.m. $20. ticketfly.com

Marc Maron
Marc Maron Photo: Barbara Davidson/Los Angeles Times
Dec. 3
Comedy

Marc Maron

Lake View

Before Marc Maron ever grazed the iTunes top 10 with his interview podcast, WTF, the Jersey native was a staple of New York’s ’90s alternative comedy scene. Here, he reprises his stock brand of confessional ranting on the Too Real tour.

Details:Vic Theatre. 7:30 and 10 p.m. $41. jamusa.com

Dec. 3
Jazz

Marquis Hill Blacktet

Highland Park

Hard-hitting jazz trumpeter Marquis Hill returns to Ravinia, where he formerly honed his skills at the festival’s summer conservatory, Steans Music Institute. Round out the evening with a dinner package in the park’s beautiful Freehling Room.

Details:Ravinia. 8:30 p.m. (dinner at 6:30). $5–$50. ravinia.org

Dec. 3
Rock

Stevie Nicks

Near West Side

After more than four decades in music, Stevie Nicks has begun looking back on her career. In 2014, the singer released an album of reimagined demos (originally recorded between 1969 and 1987) called 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault. Expect a healthy dose of those tracks on this tour with pop-rock pillars the Pretenders.

Details:United Center. 7 p.m. $50–$320. ticketmaster.com

Dec. 3–4
Dance

Deeply Rooted Dance Theater

Hyde Park

Artistic directors Gary Abbott and Kevin Iega Jeff open Deeply Rooted’s 20th season with Jagged Ledges, a piece fusing ballet, modern, and African techniques, which honors those living with HIV/AIDS. Nicole Clarke-Springer and Joshua L. Ishmon also premiere works exploring social issues via yin (Femme) and yang (When Men …).

Details:Logan Center for the Arts. $25–$150. deeplyrootedproductions.org

Dec. 3–4
Seasonal

Julmarknad

Andersonville

The Swedish American Museum carts out a variety of handicrafts for this annual holiday bazaar. Tomten—Scandinavia’s gnome-like stand-in for Santa—makes an appearance each day around 1 p.m.

Details:Swedish American Museum. $2 donation. swedishamericanmuseum.org

Dec. 3–4
Crafts

Renegade Craft Fair

Bridgeport

Not your mom’s craft fair: More than 200 vendors sling modern DIY goods at the holiday edition of this thrice-a-year event.

Details:Bridgeport Art Center. Free. renegadecraft.com

Dec. 3–Jan. 1
Seasonal

The Polar Express

West Loop

The titular train in Chris Van Allsburg’s tale departs at midnight on Christmas Eve, but Chicago’s version adopts a more forgiving schedule (departures from 12:10 to 8:45 p.m). Expect hot chocolate poured by dancing porters, a storytelling conductor, and souvenir sleigh bells on this decked-out Amtrak ride.

Details:Union Station. $35–$67. chicagothepolarexpressride.com

Dec. 3–Jan. 2017
Art

iDon’t

Pilsen

This group exhibit claims that we define ourselves through our refusals: Vegetarians don’t eat meat, pacifists don’t resort to violence, and Linda Evangelista won’t “get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.” Six Chicago artists, including up-and-coming painter Jenn Smith and social provocateur Chris Smith, respond to our culture of exclusion, dissent, and negation.

Details:Slow. Free. paul-is-slow.info

Dec. 4
World

Marc Anthony

Rosemont

A holdover from the 1990s Latin invasion, Marc Anthony continues to churn out some of salsa’s most invigorating records. Most recently, the New Yorker has earned critical plaudits for appearances on tracks by Alejandro Sanz and the late Juan Gabriel. Expect a mix of recenthits and ’90s FM throwbacks at this big-box arena show.

Details:Allstate Arena. 7 p.m. $59–$448. ticketmaster.com

Dec. 4
Classical

Avalon String Quartet

Loop

This versatile ensemble has for years strung together a series at the Art Institute, frequently touring the complete quartets of a single composer. Here, Avalon juxtaposes Henri Dutilleux’s Ainsi la Nuit, a petite alternate-tonality masterpiece played to mark its composer’s centenary, with Beethoven’s late quartet op. 132.

Details:Art Institute of Chicago. 2 p.m. Free with museum admission. avalonquartet.com

Dec. 4
Rock

Whitney

Pilsen

After a rocky year comprising deaths, an eviction, and the breakup of their former band, Smith Westerns, Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich emerged as the core duo of Whitney. With the local indie rockers’ uphill battle came an accordingly rich debut, Light Upon the Lake, a sparse, beautiful record sure to net them a devout following. Catch the hometown heroes before they move to larger venues.

Details:Thalia Hall. 7:30 p.m. $15–$20. ticketweb.com

Dec. 6
Classical/Seasonal

Chanticleer

Gold Coast

It’s Christmastime, and that means the all-male vocal ensemble Chanticleer arrives with a festive performance of seasonal tunes. The concert blends medieval chants, kaleidoscopic 20th-century pieces, and jazzy arrangements (better than any program you’d catch from your average college a cappella group).

Details:Fourth Presbyterian Church. 7:30 p.m. $39–$61. cso.org

Dec. 6
Luncheon

Chicagoans of the Year

Loop

Chicago magazine honors its 2016 award winners.

Details:Four Seasons Hotel. Noon. $120. chicagomag.com/coy

Dec. 6
Fashion

A History of Counter-Fashion

Streeterville

Two artists who call themselves the Rational Dress Society present a fashion show examining the role of clothing during times of political change, from the French Revolution to the present day. Case in point: Their own designer jumpsuit is a “universal garment” for all genders in 248 sizes.

Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. 6 p.m. Free with museum admission. mcachicago.org

'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time'
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Photo: Joan Marcus
Dec. 6–24
Theater

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Loop

Simon Stephens’s five-time Tony winner is part murder mystery, part thriller, and a wholly enthralling dive into the world of a brilliant teen on the autism spectrum. A murdered dog propels a plot that keeps up its momentum through the show’s unforgettable final scene.

Details:Broadway in Chicago at Oriental Theatre. $25–$98. broadwayinchicago.com

Dec. 7
Zoo

Adults Night Out at ZooLights

Lincoln Park

Leave the kids at home (and bundle up) for this holiday edition of the popular summer series, featuring talks, a cash bar, a cover band, and, of course, the Lincoln Park Zoo’s beloved light display.

Details:Lincoln Park Zoo. 6:30 p.m. $12–$15. lpzoo.org

Dec. 7
World/Electronic

A Tribe Called Red

Lincoln Park

The DJ trio has become synonymous with “powwow step,” a brand of hip-hop that incorporates music from the First Nations, Canada’s aboriginal people. Expect call-and-return chants and danceable beats at this intimate club show.

Details:Lincoln Hall. 8 p.m. $15. lh-st.com

Dec. 7–10
Poetry

Festival of Poets Theater

Roscoe Village, Logan Square

At this four-day event blending poetry and theater, scribes Alex Waterman, Michael Pisaro, Carla Harryman, and Jon Raskin enliven their rhymes with original dance, music, and sculpture.

Details:Links Hall and Sector 2337. $10–$40. linkshall.org​

Dec. 7–Feb. 19
Theater

Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth

River North

Everyone knows the granny-hunting wolf and the red-hooded ragamuffin who skipped into his path. But for playwright Doug Hara, there’s more to the fairy tale than a woodland excursion gone awry. Inspired by sci-fi writer Neil Gaiman’s take on the story (and featuring puppetry by Manual Cinema), Hara’s genre-bending show takes audiences down a rabbit hole of reimagined fairy tales.

Details:Lookingglass. $20–$80. lookingglasstheatre.org

Dec. 8–9
Comedy

Jerry Seinfeld

Loop

The guy behind the “show about nothing” returns to his roots in standup, landing at the opulent Chicago Theatre for four performances.

Details:Chicago Theatre. $50–$175. thechicagotheatre.com

Dec. 8–10
Classical

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Loop

The CSO strolls down a Baltic avenue in a subscription concert headed by the Estonian-born conductor Neeme Järvi. The program is anchored by two major works by the Finn Jean Sibelius: Karelia Suite and Symphony No. 5. Local resident and Latvian-raised violinist Vadim Gluzman, one of the cofounders of the North Shore Chamber Music Festival, solos on Prokofiev’s flickering Violin Concerto No. 1.

Details:Symphony Center. $34–$222. cso.org

Dec. 9
Classical

Joyce DiDonato

Loop

The ebullient mezzo-soprano has recorded an album of baroque arias called In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music that’s no starchy, courtly diversion. She exhorts her listeners to choose peace for themselves and the world through pieces such as “Dido’s Lament” from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and never-before-recorded works from near-forgotten Neapolitans. Here she promises to practically bleed these arias live on stage.

Details:Harris Theater. 7:30 p.m. $35–$125. harristheaterchicago.org

Dec. 9–11
Dance

Hyde Park School of Dance

Hyde Park

This South Side ballet school’s narrated run of The Nutcracker boasts a behemoth cast and crew, with 206 dancers and more than 100 volunteers. This year’s performance features an all-new hip-hop battle scene between mice and toy soldiers.

Details:Mandel Hall at University of Chicago. $10–$33. hydeparkdance.org

Dec. 9–18
Theater

Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde

Edgewater

By the end of his life, Oscar Wilde had gone from the toast of London to a penniless, imprisoned outcast. The cause of his downfall? Loving a man. Moisés Kaufman’s drama covers the criminal proceedings against Wilde, shining a light on the society that raised up and then razed one of history’s greatest writers.

Details:Promethean Theatre Ensemble at City Lit Theater. $15–$25. prometheantheatre.org

Dec. 9–Jan. 29
Theater

Honky Tonk Angels

Rogers Park

In this triennial exhibition, the Hyde Park Art Center pairs emerging and midcareer artists, such as Tony Tasset and Maria Gaspar, with individual patrons who commission customized works. The pieces are revealed at the show’s opening.

Details:Theo Ubique Theatre at the No Exit Cafe. $20–$53. theo-u.com

Dec. 9–Feb. 5
Art

Not Just Another Pretty Face

Hyde Park

In this triennial exhibition, the Hyde Park Art Center pairs emerging and midcareer artists, such as Tony Tasset and Maria Gaspar, with individual patrons who commission customized works. The pieces are revealed at the show’s opening.

Details:Hyde Park Art Center. $35 suggested donation. hydeparkart.org

Dec. 10–11
Seasonal

Lego Train Show

Wheaton

For 15 years, members of the Northern Illinois Lego Train Club have brought their holiday display to Wheaton, boasting hundreds of feet of miniature track woven through scenes both mundane and cinematic.

Details:Cantigny Park. Free–$5. cantigny.org

Dec. 10–11
Classical/Seasonal

Messiah

Loop

The holiday season boasts more Messiahs than a medieval art gallery, but the Apollo Chorus has cranked out melismas and hallelujahs every year since 1879. To promote unity and hone expression, the volunteer vocal group sings several movements without sheet music.

Details:Harris Theater. $30–$70. harristheaterchicago.org

Dec. 10–11
Market

Randolph Street’s Holiday Market

West Loop

A potpourri of vintage, modern, handcrafted, and upcycled tidings awaits shoppers at Randolph Street Market’s annual holiday edition. The real winter treat? Complimentary gift wrapping.

Details:Plumbers Union Hall. $3–$8. randolphstreetmarket.com

Dec. 10–30
Dance

Christopher Wheeldon’s Nutcracker

Loop

See “How to Reboot a Holiday Classic” for more.

Details:Auditorium Theatre. $35–$150. joffrey.org

Dec. 10–Jan. 27
Opera

The Magic Flute

Loop

Boasting one of opera’s clunkiest plots, The Magic Flute is better listened to than dissected. Lyric’s staging centers on a prototypical suburban house resting on a turntable, where the story of a dragon, a bird catcher, and a kidnapping enraptures kids onstage. Somehow, the convoluted tale makes more sense with children as the audience.

Details:Civic Opera House. $17–$299. lyricopera.org

Dec. 10–Jan. 28
Art

CD Wu

South Loop

The emerging Chicago artist’s first-ever solo exhibit includes paintings adorned with sculpted neon lights that bathe their surroundings in moody color.

Details:Shane Campbell Gallery. Free. shanecampbellgallery.com

Dec. 10–Mar. 19
Art

The Stars Were Aligned for a Century of New Beginnings

Gold Coast

Egyptian artist Basim Magdy’s first U.S. museum survey explores the feeling of hope that preceded the 2011 Arab Spring—a stark contrast to the country’s current political climate—through photography, video, drawings, and installations.

Details:Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $7–$12. mcachicago.org

Dec. 11
Art

35th Annual Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party

Loop

Bring along the family for this year’s kid-friendly run through the Art Institute’s permanent collection. As in previous years, expect posthunt snacks and tea in the Stock Exchange Trading Room.

Details:Art Institute of Chicago. 10:45 a.m., noon, and 1:30 p.m. $20–$75. artic.edu

Los Lobos
Los Lobos Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times
Dec. 11–14
World

Los Lobos

West Loop

Forty years into their career, Los Lobos may have fallen into a predictable touring cycle—but fans don’t seem to mind. In 2015, the California quintet released their 20th album, Gates of Gold, spanning everything from country and cumbia to zydeco. Though their shows have begun blending together, they’re as fun and energetic as ever.

Details:City Winery. $60–$80. citywinery.com/chicago

Dec. 14
Classical

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass

Loop

Coincident with a major band and orchestra conference in Chicago, the CSO’s annual showcase of its horn section attracts a packed house of brass fanatics. Partly an outlet for seldom-heard ensembles (last year’s featured a trombone quartet), the concert feels looser than most at Orchestra Hall but still musically up to snuff—not unlike the stereotype about brass players.

Details:Symphony Center. 8 p.m. $33–$128. cso.org

Dec. 14
R&B

Maxwell and Mary J. Blige

Near West Side

The seven-years-in-the-making second installment of Maxwell’s BlackSUMMERS’night trilogy finds the R&B singer experimenting with subbier synths and unorthodox song structures. Unchanged are his beyond-belief pipes and heartfelt lyrics. Consider coheadliner Mary J. Blige icing on the cake.

Details:United Center. 7 p.m. $40–$700. ticketmaster.com

Dec. 14–16
Folk

Andrew Bird’s Gezelligheid Shows

Gold Coast

The unwieldy “Gezelligheid” translates roughly to “cozy” in Dutch, and that’s exactly the mood at these annual Andrew Bird shows at Fourth Presbyterian Church. Here, the ex-Chicagoan’s signature violin loops are front and center—projected through a pair of old-school Victrola horn speakers that lend a uniquely warm timbre.

Details:Fourth Presbyterian Church. Sold out; see resellers.

Dec. 14–Jan. 8
Theater

The Phantom of the Opera

Loop

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s chandelier-crashing megamusical returns to Chicago for the umpteenth time. Will the angelic young soprano escape the fiend beneath the Paris Opera House? It matters not: Phantom is gaudy, bombastic, and perennially irresistible.

Details:Broadway in Chicago at Cadillac Palace Theatre. $30–$157. broadwayinchicago.com

Dec. 15–18
Classical

Music of the Baroque

Various neighborhoods

Music of the Baroque’s Holiday Brass & Choral Concerts series pushes all the buttons of Christmasy classical. Baroque? The era speaks Yule in every proper cadence. Brass? The trumpets shall sound. Choirs? Of the heavenly host. Oh, and there are handbells, too.

Details:Various locations. $30–$90. baroque.org

Dec. 17
Soul

Aretha Franklin

Loop

The Queen of Soul told the Detroit Free Press last year that she would retire from touring in 2017—and save for a single show scheduled in her home state next April, she appears to be following through. Catch the bona fide legend at what could be her final show in Chicago—and her last show ever outside of Michigan.

Details:Chicago Theatre. 8 p.m. $50–$150. ticketmaster.com

Dec. 17
Electronic

Lane 8

Logan Square

Under the stage name Lane 8, DJ Daniel Goldstein has carved out a space for beauty in the oft-raucous genre of electronic music. Consider the artist’s placid sound a contender to break into a mainstream still saturated with deafening bass drops.

Details:Concord Music Hall. 9 p.m. $15. clubtix.com

Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird Photo: Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune
Dec. 18
Dance

Chicago Tap Theatre

Skokie

Featuring tap dance and live tunes toasting Christmas, Hanukkah, and all things winter, Tidings of Tap! has become one of the city’s go-to holiday dance staples. This year, the show moves into the northern burbs for a one-off at Skokie’s 900-seat North Shore Center.

Details:North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. 3 p.m. $24–$40. northshorecenter.org

Dec. 18
New Music

Concert for Peace

West Town

For 18 years, Fulcrum Point New Music Project has carved a day from the calendar to promote peace through music. Often a program of world-music-inflected contemporary work, the concert this year draws from marquee composers in the new-music sphere: Terry Riley, a hippie minimalist pioneer; David Lang, a clever and accessible conceptualist; and Ted Hearne, the group’s up-and-comer.

Details:Alhambra Palace. 4 p.m. $10–$25. fulcrumpoint.org

Dec. 19
Classical

Brandenburg Concertos

Loop

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, a troupe of superb small-ensemble musicians, decreed in 1993 a new holiday tradition at its New York home: a concert spanning all six of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. The tradition stuck, and now the ensemble does it in Chicago, too, in its sixth season visiting the Harris, playing one instrument to a part on some of the most clockwork-crafted, decorous music ever composed.

Details:Harris Theater. 7:30 p.m. $25–$55. harristheaterchicago.org

Dec. 31
Seasonal

Chi-Town Rising

Loop

For the second year, Chicagoans can flock to the river and count down to midnight as a behemoth LED star climbs the Hyatt Regency’s West Tower—this time with more free areas designated for standing. Not interested in enduring the elements? Catch the action on NBC-5.

Details:Hyatt Regency. 7 p.m. Free. chi-townrising.com

Dec. 31
Seasonal

New Year’s Eve at Navy Pier

Navy Pier

While the midnight fireworks display is free for all, the cruise companies Odyssey, Mystic Blue, and Spirit of Chicago all offer climate-controlled views from the lake. If booze cruising sounds a bit decadent, DMK Burger Bar and Fish Bar also sport front-row views to the big show.

Details:Navy Pier. Free–$260. navypier.com

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