The holidays aren't the same in Chicago without these events, exhibits, and productions.



On a snowy Christmas Eve in 1983, the operator of the Music Box Theatre decided to show two old holiday movies and sing a few Christmas carols during the intermission. Now, 32 years later, the Music Box Christmas Sing-A-Long & Double Feature has become an extravaganza (Dec. 11-25) with people from all around Chicagoland having made this old-fashioned event part of their holiday tradition. Each year, revelers are greeted by none other than Santa Claus who welcome the audience and, accompanied by the theater organist, leads them in the singing of the most cherished Christmas carols of all time before taking in screenings of “White Christmas” or cheering for Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey during a showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Goodman Theatre's "A Christmas Carol"

Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol”

The Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theatre is an ongoing tradition during the holidays in Chicago. The story, set in 19th-century England, follows the prominent Ebenezer Scrooge who receives unexpected visits from past, present, and future ghosts who convince him to change his ways and become a kinder person (runs through Dec. 27).

Stage 773’s hilarious holiday cavalcade “It’s a Wonderful Santaland Miracle, Nut Cracking Christmas Story… Jews Welcome!” is a family friendly, interactive show featuring familiar Christmas carols, original musical numbers, dance, sketch comedy, puppets, and everything in-between. Stage 773 puts their twist on the traditional holiday show, packing the world’s most beloved stories and traditions into one extravagant event. The show runs through Dec. 27.


Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum runs through Jan. 2 transforming a wintertime walk in the woods into a colorful, inspiring experience like no other. Bundle up and venture down the one-mile path, surrounded by 50 acres of woodlands bathed in theatrical LED lighting in shades of vivid electric blue, hot pink, and neon green. Along the way, a series of experiences—programmed lighting, video and sound seamlessly integrated into the landscape—encourage visitors to see trees in a different light. From Meadow Lake Magic whose dazzling lights create the illusion of skipping stones on Meadow Lake to Symphony Woods, where visitors can watch lights appear to dance to the music of the beloved Nutcracker Suite, it’s a must-experience holiday adventure.

Museum of Science and Industry’s "Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light" exhibit

Museum of Science and Industry’s “Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light” exhibit

Experience the beloved annual holiday tradition with the Museum of Science and Industry’s 74th annual “Christmas Around the World” and “Holidays of Light” exhibits. This year’s colorful theme is inspired by the Museum’s temporary exhibit Robot Revolution. In the Rotunda, the 45-foot Grand Tree will be decked out with more than 30,000 twinkling colorful lights and hundreds of ornaments and trimmings in bright, vibrant shades. Make sure to experience the “snow” that falls every half hour. The Museum’s Main Floor dazzles with 50, 12-foot trees beautifully decorated by volunteers from Chicago’s ethnic communities representing their diverse culture and holiday traditions. Holidays of Light, now in its 20th year, is a multicultural display of holidays that celebrate light or enlightenment. Each year, the display highlights the traditions of the Chinese New Year, Diwali (a Hindu and Sikh festival), Kwanzaa (celebrated by African Americans), Ramadan (celebrated by Muslims), Hanukkah (a Jewish holiday), Visakha Puja Day (a Buddhist holiday), and St. Lucia Day (a Swedish tradition). The celebrations run through Jan. 3.

Written By Amber Holst

Amber Holst is Vice President & Editorial Director at Concierge Preferred. A native Chicagoan, she’ll happily bend your ear about why Top Notch burgers are a must (as is an Original Rainbow Cone) and can often be found procuring milk candy in Chinatown after dim sum with her partner in crime or rooting on her beloved Green Bay Packers (yes, that’s right) at Will’s Northwoods Inn. Lover of cured meats, prosecco, and good old fashioned “slashies” she considers herself fortunate to be able to promote her hometown for a living. Fun fact? She can play the accordion.

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