Top five events for Chicago holiday fun


Manual Cinema Bandcamp, Joffre, Houston Chronicle, Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Botanic Garden’s “Lightscape,” Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s “Merry, Merry Chicago!,” Lincoln Park Zoo’s “ZooLights,” Manual Cinema’s “Christmas Carol,” and Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” are all events in Chicago that can be experienced this holiday season.

Erich Raumann, Reporter

Whether you are looking to listen to some holiday music, take a nighttime walk or watch a play from home, Chicago has you covered. Experience the arts this season with these five festive events. 

Chicago Botanic Garden’s “Lightscape”

Tickets: $24-28

Location: 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe

Festive lights illuminate the Chicago Botanic Garden this winter. The “Lightscape” combines beautiful greenery and holiday cheer in a 1.25-mile walk, which is paved and accessible to everyone. Tickets are available every day from 4:30-11p.m until early January, but plan ahead as tickets consistently sell out weeks early.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s “Merry, Merry Chicago!”  

Tickets: $35-200

Location: 220 S. Michigan Ave.

In “Merry, Merry Chicago!” Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs renditions of classic holiday music ranging from “Jingle Bells” to “Night in Vienna”. Transportation is easy. The concert hall is less than a block away from the Adams/Wabash CTA L station. However, getting a ticket may be more difficult: there are six showings from Dec. 17-23. In some of them, the cheapest seating is above $50.

Lincoln Park Zoo’s “ZooLights”

Tickets: Free to $5

Location: 2001 N. Clark St.

Filled with light tunnels and Christmas decorations,  “ZooLights” is a nighttime event throughout the Lincoln Park Zoo. The lights are on almost every night until Jan. 2, but visitors must pay a $5 entry fee all days except Monday and Tuesday. The park is open from 4-10 p.m.

Manual Cinema’s “Christmas Carol”

Tickets: $15

Location: Virtual

Manual Cinema’s “Christmas Carol” is a great way to experience holiday art in the comfort and safety of their homes. While the Chicago theater company isn’t putting on any live productions this season, their pandemic-era interpretation of the classic Christmas play is streaming on-demand until Jan. 3. Done in a uniquely meta, hand-drawn puppet style, the performance is a nice option if you are too cozy to leave your house. 

Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

Tickets: $35-200

Location: 10 E. Randolph St.

The Joffery Ballet’s prestigious rendition of “The Nutcracker” is on display this season. By Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, the reimagined version of the dance is set during the Chicago World’s Fair and weaves the city’s tradition into the European classic. The last performance is on Dec. 26, so buy tickets early to avoid a steep upcharge. Proof of vaccination is required.