PLEASE NOTE: Events may be postponed or simply canceled. Please call ahead to make sure they are still scheduled to take place.

1 Glühwein and Dine

Get your mittened hands around a tiny ceramic boot filled with mulled wine as the Christkindlmarket returns in person. The beloved German-inspired holiday market sets up shop at both Daley Plaza (Nov. 19–Dec. 24) and Gallagher Way (Nov. 19–Dec. 31) following a pandemic gap year.


Alaudin Ullah
Photograph: Amir Hamza

2 Soap Opera

Writers Theatre returns to live performance with Dishwasher Dreams, a solo piece written and performed by standup comic Alaudin Ullah, who traces his Bengali father’s immigration to the United States, along with Ullah’s own arc as a South Asian kid with Hollywood aspirations. Dec. 9–Jan. 23.


Photograph: Lincoln Park Zoo

3 Do the Zoo

Wander through a colorful winter wonderland as Lincoln Park Zoo flips the switch for ZooLights. New features for 2021 include a nightly light show on the South Lawn. Nov. 19–Jan. 2.

4 Shop Small

Shop hyperlocal at the Empty Bottle’s monthly Handmade Market, where you can browse unique wares from more than 30 local makers. Dec. 11.


‘Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins’
Photograph: Strawdog Theatre Company

5 Haunted Hanukkah

Adapted from Eric Kimmel’s Caldecott-winning picture book and first staged in 2018, Strawdog Theatre Company’s musical Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins has quickly become a holiday-season family favorite. Nov. 20–Dec. 12.


Watkins Family Hour
Photograph: Jacob Boll

6 Sibling Revelry

Sean and Sara Watkins have been acclaimed musicians since they were kids. Brother Sister, their second record under the name Watkins Family Hour, was released in 2020, and a much-delayed album tour finally brings them to the Old Town School of Folk Music. Dec. 15.


7 A Date With Dickens

A holiday tradition since 1978, Goodman Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol returns to the stage, complete with Larry Yando in his 14th outing as Ebenezer Scrooge. Nov. 20–Dec. 31.

8 Spiel of Fortune

You might know queer Southern comic Fortune Feimster from her quirky TV roles on The Mindy Project or Kenan, but they won’t fully prepare you for the endearing joyfulness of her standup storytelling. She plays an early and a late show at the Vic Theatre. Dec. 18.


‘The Nutcracker’
Photograph: Courtesy of Joffrey Ballet

9 Crack a Smile

The Joffrey Ballet refreshed its annual production of The Nutcracker in 2016, setting the magical story against the backdrop of the Chicago world’s fair of 1893. See it for the first time in the company’s new home at the Lyric Opera House. Dec. 4–26.

10 Get Into It

For almost 15 years, Chicago emo revivalist Evan Thomas Weiss has been releasing music as Into It. Over It. Weiss and company play two nights, with two distinct set lists, at Sleeping Village. Dec. 29–30.