December is a magical time to visit Chicago. The month is jam-packed with holiday cheer, from charming Christmas markets to snowy ice skating rinks to favorite holiday shows. You can catch a ballet, explore an enchanted lit-up  forest, marvel at holiday trees from around the world, ring in the New Year with fireworks over the water, and so much more. Make the most of this wonderful time with these can’t-miss December events in Chicago.

The Nutcracker by the Joffrey Ballet (Dec. 1 – 29)

Christkindlmarket (Dec. 1 – 24)

Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier (Dec. 6 – Jan. 12)

Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Gardens (Through Jan. 5)

Lightscape at Chicago Botanic
Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden

Christmas Around the World and Holiday of Lights at Museum of Science and Industry (Through Jan. 5)

Ice skating in Millennium Park (Through March 2020)

Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum (Through Jan. 5)

Free admission at Adler Planetarium (Dec. 2 – 3, 7, 12 – 13)

Free admission at Shedd Aquarium (Dec. 4)

SantaCon (Dec. 7)

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Dec. 7 – 29)

Millennium Park ice skating
Millennium Park ice skating

Dance-Along Nutcracker at Chicago Cultural Center (Dec. 8)

Caroling at Cloud Gate (Dec. 6, 13 & 20)

Fun with Gingerbread Architecture (Dec. 8 and 21)

Free admission to Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (Dec. 5)

Music Box Christmas Sing-a-Long & Double Feature (Dec. 12 – 24)

Chanukah Pop Up Market (Dec. 12 – 15)

Pre-Kwanzaa Marketplace (Dec. 13 – 14)

National Museum of Mexican Art
National Museum of Mexican Art

Chicago Architecture Biennial Family Tour (Dec. 14)

Breakfast with Santa at Lincoln Park Zoo (Dec. 15)

After Dark at National Museum of Mexican Art (Dec. 5)

Lights and Lagers at Brookfield Zoo (Dec. 6)

Chicago Wine Fest (Dec. 7)

BrewLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
BrewLights at Lincoln Park Zoo, photo by Phil Parcellano

Shedd Yoga Flow (Dec. 7)

Renegade Chicago (Dec. 7 – 8)

Cirque du Soleil’s Twas the Night Before (Through Dec. 8)

Historic Pullman Candlelight House Walk (Dec. 8)

BrewLights at Lincoln Park Zoo (Dec. 12)

One of a Kind Show
One of a Kind Show

One of a Kind Holiday Show (Dec. 5 – 8)

MSI After Hours: Naughty or Nice (Dec. 6)

Children’s Lantern Parade at Christkindlmarket (Dec. 4)

Winterfest in West Town (Dec. 7)

Hyde Park Holly Day (Dec. 7)

Christkindlmarket

Santa Hustle 5k at Soldier Field (Dec. 7)

TBOX Bar Crawl (Dec. 14)

Handmade Market Chicago at Empty Bottle (Dec. 14)

Gingerbread House Workshop at Morton Arboretum (Dec. 14 – 15)

Holiday movie night at Gallagher Way (Dec. 5, 12, 19 & 26)

Art After Work at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (Dec. 19)

Hopewell Holiday Bazaar (Dec. 14)

Inside Navy Pier Winter WonderFest
Nick Ulivieri Photography

Christmas Candlelight Tours at Glessner House (Dec. 14, 15 & 21)

Chicago Legends Basketball Doubleheader (Dec. 21)

Holiday Cocktail Festival (Dec. 21)

Winter Wonder Market at Navy Pier (Through Dec. 24)

Mean Girls (Opens Dec. 25)

Bring Your Own Vinyl at Stony Island Arts Bank (Dec. Dec. 29)

Hebru Brantley’s Nevermore Park (Through Dec. 29)

NYE fireworks

A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre (Through Dec. 29)

Plant Shop Pop-Up at Heavy Feather (Dec. 22)

Trans Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve & Other Stories (Dec. 30)

Zoo Year’s Eve at Lincoln Park Zoo (Dec. 31)

NYE at Eataly: Mezzanotte (Dec. 31)

New Year’s fireworks (Dec. 31)