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By: Caitlin Brown

For a certain segment of the population, the first day of November is reserved for the transition of holiday decorations–pumpkins and ghosts are relegated to the back of the closet, and Christmas lights, wreaths, or other symbols of this massive holiday season are unleashed in full, unapologetic glory. And while I hate to admit it, yes, I am part of this group, yes, I do–shamefully–buy into this consumer cash cow of a season, and yes, I’m ready for Christmas carols on the radio. Bring on the Bing Crosby.

So, for all those who are ready, unabashedly, to begin blaring Michael Buble’s holiday tracks, lighting fir tree-scented candles, and donning ugly sweaters, here’s a list of Chicago’s upcoming holiday events:

For comic relief:

If you’re interested in something a little more edgy than a Hallmark holiday movie marathon, then these shows will you get you in the holiday mood without the nauseating overdose of flannel-clad male leads and Christmas miracles.

Photo credit to The Annoyance Theatre.

The Annoyance Theatre Christmas Pageant, Saturdays at 7:00 PM, November 10th-December 22nd. This annual Christmas Pageant breathes new life into two holiday classics: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Equal parts cynical and family-friendly. Tickets are $20, or $14 for children under 12.

Photo credit to The Second City.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Sweater at The Second City will pick you up once the initial rush of the holidays lets you down. Welcome in the season with The Second City’s exploration of everything that makes the holidays the best–err, worst–time of the year. Showings available from November 13th to December 30th. Tickets can be purchased here.

For sightseeing:

The traditional suburban experience of piling into the car to look at neighborhood Christmas lights is taken to another level in the city of Chicago. From Christmas trees the size of buildings to light festivals galore, these various activities will inspire holiday cheer of epic proportions.

Photo credit to the Museum of Science and Industry.

Join the Museum of Science and Industry in celebrating all of the ways that the world is connected through the holidays at Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light. There, you can see 50 different Christmas trees decked out to display the holiday season for different cultures. The event will begin November 15th and will continue until January 6th. Special events will be held during the weekends, so be sure to check out their schedule!

No holiday season in Chicago would be complete without the annual tree lighting ceremony. Witness the wonder of Chicago’s 105-year old traditional ceremony in Millenium Park on November 16th. This year’s tree is a 60-foot Norway Spruce from Elmhurst (the trees are always chosen from submissions in Illinois). The event will begin at 6 PM and is free for all to enjoy.

The 27th Annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, beginning November 16th at 4 PM and resuming the 17th at 11 AM, will bask Pioneer Court in the sights and sounds of Christmas with light decorations, live music, food, and even a visit from Saint Nick himself. The parade will commence on the 17th as bands march and cartoon figures fly down Dusable Bridge. The evening will end with a fireworks display.

For some shopping:

Finally, what would the holiday season be if not an excuse for excessive consumerism? Instead of heading out to densely, nightmarishly packed department stores, or, since its 2018, sitting for hours scrolling through Amazon pages to do your holiday shopping, experience one of Chicago’s most beloved traditions: the Christkindlmarket.

Photo credits to christkindlmarket.com.

The real Chicago piece-de-resistance for the holidays is the Annual Christkindlmarket. This year marks Chicago’s 23rd market, running from November 16th to December 24th at the Daley Plaza. Christkindlmarket is the largest open-air Christmas festival in the city and takes inspiration from holiday markets in Germany. Enjoy traditional food and drinks (I live for the warm mulled wine, Gluhwein) while perusing vendor stalls for beautifully crafted gifts.


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