Chicago’s Top Holiday & Seasonal Events

Chicago’s Top Holiday & Seasonal Events

Chicago’s Top Holiday & Seasonal Events

Happy Holidays! With a distinct chill in the Chicago air, we have officially made it to the most wonderful time of the year. From the city’s top shopping destinations, including a one-of-a-kind art show and a beloved antique market, to holiday entertainment opportunities, including a festive musical and elevated cookie exchange, unique gifts for everyone on one’s shopping list and more, we have rounded up our picks for how to celebrate the holiday season this year! Might you be interested in covering? Please let me know if you need additional information on any of the items below. Thank you for your consideration!

Give The Perfect Gift For A Boater, Traveler, Sailor and Outdoorsman

Offering Chicagoland a glimpse of summer time fun – in the middle of January – two of the Midwest’s favorite outdoors shows announce their return in 2019. The Progressive® Insurance Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show®, the Midwest’s largest indoor boat show, is dropping anchor at McCormick Place, January 9 – 13. Packed with jaw dropping power and sailboats and high-tech RVs, showgoers will have the opportunity to board, view, and shop over 600 boats and 100 RVs and the latest in outdoor and marine accessories and technology. The Progressive Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo, the annual “Sportsfishing Spectacular,” will return January 24 – 27 at the Schaumburg Convention Center, bringing the latest in fishing and outdoor gear perfect for both the novice and experienced angler, or anyone interested in the outdoors. Both shows will also offer an extensive lineup of seminars and hands on family activities for children of all ages. For more information, please visit www.sportshows.com/chicago/ and www.ChicagoBoatShow.com.

Chicago Auto Show Photo courtesy Ray Hanania

Chicago Auto Show Photo courtesy Ray Hanania

Enjoy The Great Outdoors, Glamping Style

To celebrate winter fun, Raised, an Urban Rooftop Bar, is inviting both Chicago residents and visitors alike to cozy up this Windy City winter with a special outdoor activation that will be running all season long. For the entire winter, this buzzed about rooftop destination is decking out its outdoor area with lush blankets, pillows, trees and greenery to bring an urban glamping experience to Downtown Chicago. Additionally, Raised will be offering a special menu of winterized food and beverage items for guests to enjoy. Those looking to warm up while getting cozy outside can sip on hot cocktails from the winter menu including Scotch Toddy with Monkey Shoulder, Rhine Hall Le Normande, Nux Alpine Walnut liqueur, Apple Butter bourbon, and topped with hot water, Bourbon Toddy with FEW Bourbon, Allspice liqueur, sweet potato honey syrup, and topped with water, and Gin Toddy with FEW Barrel-Aged Gin, Drambuie, pure honey, and topped with hot apple cider. Raised will also be featuring a special s’mores kit complete with graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows, and an individual fire-lit toaster. For more information, visit www.raisedbarchicago.com/events.html.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

Randolph Street Market brings the holiday cheer and continues its 15th anniversary celebrations with its Indoor Holiday Markets on Saturday, December 15  and Sunday, December 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This shopping wonderland provides locals and visitors alike with over 125 vendors offering the most unique and stylishly crafted mix of smartly priced antiques, vintage and modern goods, perfect for the gift-giving season with a fun and festive atmosphere. Both family-friendly events are designed to be the perfect one-stop shop for all your holiday needs, featuring expert sellers, makers, and entertaining powerhouses ready to answer any decorating, party planning and fashion questions you might have with hundreds of unique items for the fashionistas, interior designers, stylish men and fun-loving kids on anyone’s list. For more information, visit www.randolphstreetmarket.com/event/randolph-street-holiday-market-november/

Catch Your Favorite Holiday Film on the Big Screen

ArcLight Cinemas – Chicago, the premier moviegoing destination in Lincoln Park is thrilled to announce a special, seasonal film series featuring six nights of holiday movies. From nostalgic to romantic – hilarious to action-packed, ArcLight Cinemas has carefully curated a selection of timeless stories for film lovers to enjoy this season. ArcLight Presents…Let it Snow begins on Monday, November 19 and runs through Monday, December 17 at 7:30 p.m. The schedule of the beloved films includes special screenings of A Christmas Story, Love Actually, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Home Alone, Tokyo Godfathers, and Die Hard. Tickets for the ArcLight Presents…Let it Snow series are $12.50 (adults). For more information and to reserve your seats now, please visit www.arclightcinemas.com/en/movies/arclight-presents.

Be Smitten For Sweets

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, 200 North Columbus Drive, is home to several exciting holiday events this year. Making it’s triumphant return, Fairmont Chicago’s Cookies and Cheer event is slated for Thursday, November 29 and Friday, November 30 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. One of the most highly-anticipated and consistently sold-out social events of the holiday season, the 5th Annual Cookies and Cheer will give guests the opportunity to mix and mingle with Fairmont’s esteemed culinary staff, enjoy wine and an array of seasonal cookies, and take home three dozen gourmet cookies of their choice, wrapped in custom luxury packaging. On the following day, December 1, the hotel is hosting a kid-friendly Kids Cookie Camp where youngsters can experience an ultimate night of holiday fun under the supervision of bonded, background checked, first-aid certified child care professionals from Sitters Studio, so parents can sit and relax or enjoy a night out on the town. Guests looking to sweeten their tastebuds with cocktails to match may sip seasonal cocktails with gourmet cookies as part of the limited time smitten for sweets menu, while those looking to indulge in sweet serenity may enjoy mySpa’s several deliciously sweet treatment packages throughout the entire holiday season. For more information on Fairmont Chicago and their holiday events, please visit www.fairmont.com/chicago/promotions/cookie/.

Get Festive With Brews and Holiday Favorites

Perfect for those who love beer, especially holiday beers, HopCat – Chicago, Chicago’s most-comprehensive beer destination stocked with 130 beers on tap, 100+ bottles from around the world, and more than 30 local Illinois-made craft beers, is hosting their Noon Whistle Beer Dinner on Tuesday, December 4. Featuring new dishes paired with select beers from Whistle Brewing Company located in Lombard, IL, guests will enjoy a five beer, four-course menu for $50 per person featuring the following exciting pairings. For the full menu and to purchase tickets, please visit noonwhistledinner.evenbrite.com. 

Shop Truly Unique Gifts For That Special Someone – At One Trendy Spot!

One of the only events at which guests can attend fashion runway shows, listen to talented musicians, add to their fine art collection, indulge at a gourmet market, and get all of their holiday shopping finished all in one place, The 18th annual One of a Kind Holiday Show, has announced its official 2018 features and events schedule. Returning to The Mart, 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, December 6-9, 2018, The One of a Kind Show will feature more than 600 independent artists from across North America and beyond with a wide range of unique and eclectic offerings including accessories, bath & body items, ceramics, fashion, fiber art, furniture, glass, gourmet goods, holiday products and more on the show floor and as part of several specially highlighted activities including fashion shows, gourmet cafes and more. For tickets or more information, visit www.oneofakindshowchicago.com.

Sing Along To The Holiday’s Most Famous Tunes

Celebrate a whole year of holidays in one wonderful musical with the regional premiere of Irving Berlin’s joyous HOLIDAY INN, running through January 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Theatre. Inspired by the 1942 classic film, HOLIDAY INN features a beloved score by one of the greatest songwriters in American history, Irving Berlin. HOLIDAY INN is the story of Jim, who leaves the bright lights of show business behind to settle down at his farmhouse in Connecticut… but life just isn’t the same without a bit of song and dance. Jim’s luck takes a spectacular turn when he meets Linda, a spirited schoolteacher with talent to spare. Together they turn the farmhouse into a fabulous inn with dazzling performances to celebrate each holiday, from Thanksgiving to the Fourth of July. With thrilling dance numbers, laugh-out-loud comedy and a parade of hit songs, including “Blue Skies,” “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” “Heat Wave,” “White Christmas,” “Shaking the Blues Away” and many more, this year-round romance is sure to bring the holiday spirit to the Marriott Theatre and beyond. To reserve tickets, please call The Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847.634.0200 or visit www.MarriottTheatre.com.

Get A Thrill at London’s Longest-Running West End Play Now Playing in Chicago

Over eight million people have lived to tell the tale of one of the most successful – and thrilling – theatre events ever staged, and it’s coming to shock audiences in Chicago this fall. THE WOMAN IN BLACK – London’s long-running West End play – will open at Chicago’s Royal George Theatre in November with all the stage thrills that have led audiences in London to shriek in fear for 30 years. For the Chicago production, director Robin Herford will recreate his original staging for the first time in the U.S., with a Chicago-based cast. Susan Hill’s Gothic ghost story, adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt, is set in an isolated windswept mansion with tragic secrets hidden behind its shuttered windows. There, a young lawyer encounters horrific visions in the house set amidst the eerie marshes and howling winds of England’s forbidding Northeast Coast. With just two actors,The Woman in Black offers audiences an evening of unremitting drama and sheer theatricality as they are transported into a chilling and ghostly world. To purchase tickets, please call the Royal George Theatre Box Office at 312.988.9000 or visit www.thewomaninblack.com.

Shop Novelty Gift Sets For The Avid Hunter or Fisherman

Hunting for the perfect gift this holiday season will be as easy as looking to Follow the Action® Product Lines, a Chicagoland-based outdoor apparel and gift sets company sold online at www.followtheaction.com and on Amazon. Unique to their category, the Follow the Action® team thoughtfully crafts their designs with the sportsman in mind – each fishing and hunting graphic is 100 percent authentic, right down to the scales of each type of fish. Designed by a team of true outdoor enthusiasts themselves, no detail is overlooked and the Follow the Action® products are known to impress the most avid anglers, hunters and outdoorsmen with their true-to-life authenticity. The “Premium Gift Set,” their go-to gifting option, ranges from $23-26 and comes conveniently packaged in a decorative gift box that uniquely displays its contents: a Follow the Action® 100 percent cotton fishing or hunting t-shirt and a mug of the same design. Follow the Action® gift sets offers a “Freshwater Fishing Series,” a “Saltwater Fishing Series” and a “Hunting Series,” ensuring the perfect design option for every interest, region and sport season of the year. For a full list of fun gift sets for all outdoorsmen on your list, please visit www.followtheaction.com.

Take The Kids on a Winter Break Day Trip

One of the nation’s most unique museums is right in our backyard! The National Hellenic Museum (NHM) possesses the largest collection of Greek American artifacts and recorded oral histories anywhere in the world and has completed the incredible feat of producing two highly unique exhibitions back-to-back within just a few months of each other, a huge funding feat for any museum. The world class museum has grown over its 35-year history and features educational classes and programs linking generations of Americans to the Hellenic legacy, a rich repository of 20,000+ artifacts, photos, historic newspapers, books and an impressive archive of 450+ recorded histories. New exhibits include Lives Afloat: The Greek Refugee Crisis through the Lens of Tasos Markou 2015-2017, filled with beautiful and telling photographs, and George Kokines: Layers Revealed, the first ever retrospective exhibition of the artist, which traces Kokines’ artistic development and accomplishments in Abstract Expressionism as well as his journey to embrace his Greek American identity. For more information or to set up a visit, visit www.nationalhellenicmuseum.org

Visit Lincoln Park’s Holiday Gift Hub

The perfect winter wonderland destination for holiday shopping and family-friendly entertainment, NEWCITY is home to various dining, activity options and top retailers and restaurants including ArcLight Cinemas, AT&T, Capital One Café, Dicks Sporting Goods, Evereve, It’Sugar, German Kitchen Center, Earl’s Kitchen + Bar, James & Sons Fine Jewelers, Kings Dining & Entertainment, Mariano’s, Lovesac, Luxury Eyesight, Max and Leo’s Artisan Pizza, Modshop, Nando’s PERi PERi, Saks Off Fifth, Yard House and Z Gallerie. With free parking Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., guests can shop with less hassle and great selection, plus, be ready for their free, family-friendly Winter Carnival on December 8. For more information on NEWCITY, visit www.experiencenewcity.com.

Shop All Things Toys

With brick and mortar toy stores closing across the country, retailers are looking for unique and innovative ways to bring the sense of wonder and joy that these types of stores provide to parents and children during the holiday season. At the forefront of this initiative is Paper Source, a premier paperie and gift retailer. Through a variety of activations and exclusive gift offerings, Paper Source is working to ensure that parents and children across the country are provided with the feeling of being in a toy store at all their locations. To keep the magic alive, Paper Source will be offering a special “Letters to Santa” program that will be available for children to participate in throughout the holiday season and is rolling out an exclusive line of holiday gift items for children. For more information or to purchase your holiday gifts, please visit www.papersource.com.

Get Fit and Fight Holiday Sweet Guilt

A top workout nationally, Orangetheory Fitness is the perfect way for people to burn off fat and get in shape before indulging in delicious holiday treats. With 49 locations in Chicagoland and hailed byThe New York Times as “the best one-hour workout in the country” and by The Franchise Times as “one of the fastest-growing franchises in the country,” Orangetheory® Fitness is a one-of-a-kind, group personal training workout that uses intervals of cardiovascular and strength training. Their heart-rate-monitored training is designed to maintain a target zone (known as the “orange zone”), no matter what the fitness level of the individual, they will be stimulating metabolism and increasing energy. For more information, visit www.orangetheoryfitness.com.

Give Back and Donate Toys to Catholic Charities

In the spirit of giving back, Jet’s Pizza has partnered with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago during the holiday season to offer one free small, one-topping Detroit –style pizza to each customer that brings in an unused and un-wrapped toy to one of the participating locations. In conjunction with this promotion, Lyft will be offering complimentary pickup and delivery of the toys to Catholic Charities. This free small pizza offer is available from November 26 through December 9 on in-store orders only. Catholic Charities 71st Annual Celebration of Giving toy drive provides gifts to more than 25,000 children and families who would otherwise be without anything to open this Christmas. For more information, please visit www.jetspizza.com.

See A Family Fun Performance Adapted From Roald Dahl’s Famous Book

Emerald City Theatre will open the Chicago premiere of Fantastic Mr. Fox, adapted for the stage by David Wood from the book by Roald Dahl, at Victory Gardens Theater on December 14, 2018. Emerald City Theatre is staging the production on the mainstage of Victory Gardens, with a design team that includes pedigreed designers with Broadway actors, musicians and a cast that includes two of Chris Jones’ Hot New Faces: Isa Arciniegas and Brianna Buckley. Journey deep underground with the badgers, weasels, rabbits – and yes, foxes – for a celebration of courage, family, and community. Mr. Fox knows he must be clever to save his family from a trio of spiteful farmers, but in a twist of tunnels, he becomes the hero of the forest! David Wood’s exuberant adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic book, accompanied by live music, is a Chicago premiere. Tickets start at $20 and are available at victorygardens.org/event/fantastic-mr-fox/.

Give The Gift Of Music For The Classical Music Lover

Celebrate the season of love and equality by giving the gift of music performed by the Chicago Sinfonietta and their MLK Tribute Concert on Saturday, January 20 at 3 p.m. at Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville and Monday, January 22 at Symphony Center in Chicago. One of the nation’s most diverse orchestra’s, Chicago Sinfonietta has presented a concert to celebrate the birth and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. since its inception – a testament to the group’s mission of diversity, inclusion, and equity. This season, former Project Inclusion Freeman Conducting Fellows Kellen Gray and Kedrick Armstrong will helm the podium for a breakout performance including a spoken word performance of Dr. King’s speeches. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visitwww.chicagosinfonietta.org/1819season/mlk-tribute/

Get Into The Nerdy Spirit

Star Wars meets Ocean’s 11 as four friends plan to steal a treasure trove of Star Wars memorabilia in ALL CHILDISH THINGS, the new comedy heist by Joseph Zettelmaier, whose previous First Folio Theatre productions include Salvage, The Gravedigger, Dr. Seward’s Dracula, and The Man-Beast. When a cohort of life-long buddies and Star Wars fans come up with the perfect caper, everything starts off as smoothly as a Jedi mind trick until the Dark Side starts to beckon. Will divided loyalties and greed lead their partnership to implode like the Death Star or will the Force be with them? ALL CHILDISH THINGS runs January 23 through February 24, 2019. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.firstfolio.org.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.

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