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The Best 2018 Winter Events Near Chicago

By Laura Slowick | Dec 01, 2018

For those of you who are already pulling out your favorite recipes for holiday dinners and deciding where you’ll place your tree this year, we’ve got good news: Christmas fun in Chicago starts early and ends late. Here’s our favorite list of fun winter shows, date night ideas, family friendly events, and shopping!


A Christmas Carol

Don’t want to be a humbug this holiday? We’ve got the solution: enter into the Christmas spirit by watching Charles Dickens’ famous play “A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theatre any time between November 17th and December 30th. Book your tickets here!

The Nutcracker

If you or your children have never seen a ballet, The Nutcracker is easily the first show you should see. From December 1-30, The Joffrey Ballet offers 29 showings of The Nutcracker at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Listen to live music from The Chicago Philharmonic as you enjoy this special holiday ballet with choreography by Tony Award winner Christopher Wheeldon. You may purchase tickets here.

Handel’s Messiah

Excepting perhaps Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, Handel’s Messiah is one of the most iconic Christmas scores ever composed. Buy your tickets to this culturally enriching night/afternoon out at Harris Theater for Music and Dance on December 15th at 7pm or December 16th at 2pm, and the Apollo Chorus of Chicago  will treat you to their 139th performance of this classic work. Find more details here.

Romantic Date Night

Ice Skating

After spending an evening ice skating at Millenium Park, you’ll know why every holiday romantic comedy features an outdoor ice skating scene. Nothing is more picturesque than holding hands under the stars and city lights while gliding over pristine ice! Admission to the rink is free, and skate rentals are only $12-$14.

Wine Tasting

Did we say nothing is more romantic than ice skating? We might just have to make an exception when it comes to Eataly’s extensive menu of delicious Italian wines from 20 different regions. Buy your ticket now for Saturday, December 8th, from 2-3:30pm and enjoy a guided tasting of 5 different Italian wines, each paired with delicious antipasti.

Family Fun

LEGO Exhibit

There’s something about the magic of LEGOs that never dies. It’s easy to stop by and visit the Northern Illinois LEGO Train Club’s largest annual show as a break in your shopping day. Admittance is free (with $5 parking), and you can drop by the Cantigny Visitors Center any time between 9am and 8pm on Saturday, December 8th, or 9am and 4pm on Sunday, December 9th.

Wonderland Express

Take a trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden to view beautiful light displays decorating colorful plants and wreaths. A ticket to Nichols Hall admits you to a storybook wonderland where a model train circles around more than 80 mini versions of famous Chicago landmarks. The exhibit is open November 23rd through January 6th. Learn more here.


Craft Fairs, Bazaars, and Markets

Whether you shop from independent artisans at the Renegade Craft Fair, taste Scandinavian food and make crafts at Julmarknad, find gifts and decor at the Holiday Lights Gift & Craft Fair, or explore the famous European Christkindl Market, you’re sure to find a gift for everyone at Chicago’s many holiday craft fairs, bazaars, and markets. You can find a more extensive calendar of holiday activities in the Chicago area here.

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Tags: Winter, Winter Events, Chicago, Chicago Events

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