Jingle bells aren’t the only things that rock on the North Shore! Embrace all the holiday season has to offer this year with a bounty of sparkling lights, fun entertainment, cheer and more. Come to the North Shore for all the holiday joy you could want: What’s There to Do in Chicago’s North Shore. Do it!
Let it Shine Lightshow, Northbrook
Santa Sightings, Tree Lightings and Holiday Happenings
Various locations and dates
Decking the halls and the streets across the North Shore, many towns, shops and attractions will make up your Holiday HQ. Check out the listings regularly as Santa has been known to visit several local spots for photo ops and wish lists. Fill in your calendar with spectacular drive-through holiday lightshow extravaganzas, shopping deals and more.
Maze Home, Winnetka
Red Invitation Sale
Various locations in Winnetka, Northfield and Glencoe
Dec. 5 (plus extended dates with select merchants)
Enjoy a festive kick off to your holiday shopping at the 41st Annual Red Invitation Sale when you visit area retailers. Many local stores will have extra specials that day with discounts, gift wrapping, festive fun, some freebies and more. Take a trip to Downtown Winnetka, Hubbard Woods and Northfield to fire up your holiday shopping locally. Find great gifts for him, her, the kids and the home with exclusive merchandise, toys, books, clothing and more. Bring a friend and make a day of it.
Winter Arts + Crafts Expo, Evanston Art Center, Evanston
19th Annual Winter Arts + Crafts Expo
Evanston Art Center, 1717 Central St., Evanston
Nov. 20 through Dec. 12
The Winter Arts + Crafts Expo always wows with original, handmade works of jewelry, ceramics, fiber arts, metal, glasswork, paintings, photography, mixed media and more. A perfect opportunity for families to shop for everyone on their holiday gift list, the Winter Expo is one of the largest and most celebrated shows of its kind in the Chicago area. Find unique treasures at several price points with all proceeds from the Expo benefitting the ongoing exhibition, education and outreach programs at the Art Center.
Lightscape, Chicago Botanic Garden
Light Shows Galore
Various locations, dates
Make new holiday memories at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape (1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe; Nov. 12, 2021 through Jan. 2, 2022), the dazzling event that sold out in its debut year. Take in the enchanting lightshow that delights the senses as you explore a new after-dark, winding route surrounded by thousands of twinkling lights and inventive new installations. Stay in your lane with drive-through light show experiences at Let it Shine Lightshow (Northbrook Court, Northbrook; through Jan. 9) and Willow Hills Winter Magic (Willow Hill Golf Course, 1350 Willow Rd., Northbrook; Nov. 20, 2021through Jan. 2, 2022).
Salt Creek Ballet's The Nutcracker, North Shore Center for Performing Arts, Skokie
Jolly Holiday Performances
Various locations, dates
Take in a show to get in the festive swing. Embrace the season with everyone’s favorite classic performed live on stage with It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play at Oil Lamp Theater (1723 Glenview Rd., Glenview; Nov. 26 through Dec. 30). The world premiere of Mr. Dicken’s Hat at Northlight Theatre (9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; Nov. 26 through Jan. 2) is a warm winter’s tale filled with original music and a host of colorful characters. Catch the return of the family-affordable traditional Salt Creek Ballet’s The Nutcracker at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts (9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; Dec. 11–12). On the same stage, Music Theater Works presents Billy Elliot: The Musical, based on the international smash-hit film and featuring a score by Sir Elton John (Dec. 23, 2021 through Jan. 2. 2022).
Kohlights, Kohl Children's Museum, Glenview
Kohlights: A Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular!
Kohl’s Children’s Museum
2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview
Weekends, Nov. 26 through Dec. 31
The show must “glow” on! The area’s newest holiday light display, Kohlights, puts kids in charge. More than just a walk through the festive lightshow, this latest outdoor activity extravaganza at the Kohl Children’s Museum lets children actually control and change the lights. It’s literally a different lightacular experience every time. Learn while you play with light and color as you create new hues and patterns in this safe and interactive installation.
Rise Up Exhibit, Illinois Holocaust Museum, Skokie
Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie
Through May 8, 2022
The summer of 1969 saw the modern gay rights movement in the U.S. ignited by a police raid of the Stonewall Inn. After what became known as the “Stonewall Uprising,” America’s LGBTQ+ population continued to fight for equal rights and representation. Rise Up shares the voices and stories of this movement showcasing 85 historic images and artifacts. A virtual panel, Beyond Borders: LGBTQ+ Refugees, Immigrants, and Human Rights Today, (Dec. 16) will feature personal stories from LGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees, as well as from legal experts.
Northwestern Men's Basketball, Northwestern University, Evanston
Northwestern Wildcats Basketball
Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern University, various dates
Catch the fire of NCAA Division I college basketball when Big 10 hoops action turns up the heat on the courts in Welsh-Ryan Arena (2705 Ashland Ave., Evanston). The Wildcats Men’s Basketball start setting their sights on March Madness with four home games this month (Dec. 12, 18, 20 and 30) against teams from New Jersey to Springfield. Not to be outdone, the Women’s Basketball team storms the baskets in five games on the Northwestern campus.
Dishwasher Dreams, Writer's Theatre, Glencoe
Writer’s Theatre, 325 Tudor Ct., Glencoe
Dec. 9, 2021 through Jan. 23, 2022
Irreverently performed by stand-up comedian Alaudin Ullah — with live accompaniment by tabla percussionist Avirodh Sharma — this exhilarating tour-de-force will have you empathizing with, while simultaneously laughing over, Alaudin’s experiences of immigration, the Yankees and the complex nature of the American Dream. Alaudin is on the verge of success when a family crisis defers his dreams. While confronting his family history, he takes us on a moving and hilarious journey from 1930s colonial India to New York’s Spanish Harlem to present-day Hollywood for a once-in-a-lifetime audition.
Happy Noon Year, Community Recreation Center, Wheeling
Happy Noon Year
Community Recreation Center, 100 Community Blvd., Wheeling & Fountain Square, Downtown Evanston
Dec. 31; Wheeling - 11:00 am–12:15 pm; Evanston - 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Welcome and celebrate a shiny New Year early with the kids at Happy Noon Year in Wheeling! Bring the littles and join in festivities that include games, music, a balloon drop and a sparkling grape-juice toast. Each participant receives a glow-stick necklace, party hat and noisemaker. Advanced registration is required by everyone in your family who is attending. (No day-of registration. Space is limited; two time slots available.) Ring in an early New Year's Eve with the kiddos at Downtown Evanston's Noon Year's Eve celebration at Fountain Square. Party like it's already 2022 (just a few hours early) with a photo booth, hot cocoa and other treats. Start the festivities early by making noise makers at places throughout Downtown Evanston!
UPCOMING JANUARY HIGHLIGHTS
More Big Ten NU Basketball
Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern University, various dates
The hoop action continues into the New Year! Cheer on the Wildcats at Welsh-Ryan Arena (2705 Ashland Ave., Evanston) with the Men’s Basketball on the rise and Women’s Basketball taking on more Big 10 rivals.
D.C.’s Reflecting Fools (formerly Capitol Steps)
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie
Jan. 28–30, 2022
Please don’t storm the Capitol Steps! The stairway to heavenly political satire originally laid by those legendary comic Steps continues upward with DC’s Reflecting Fools—the new musical parody group created by the performers and co-writer from the Steps. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of burned 2020 presidential ballots, DC’s Reflecting Fools hold up a mirror to our crazy political culture, providing hilarious song parodies and “foolish reflections” that continue to inspire belly laughs.
Northlight Theater, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie
Jan. 20 through Feb. 20, 2022
Hailed by critics as “jaw-dropping” and “explosively dramatic,” Fireflies is “a powerful tale of love flashing its light in the dark.” As the Civil Rights Movement ignites the South, charismatic Rev. Charles Grace needs a new speech to galvanize people. But it is Olivia, his pregnant wife, who writes those fiery speeches, and playing the supporting role is wearing thin. As the growing weight of secrets threatens her marriage—and a nation’s hatred threatens her child’s future—Olivia must rediscover the place that love has in her world.
A Site of Struggle: American Art Against Anti-Black Violence
The Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston
Jan. 26 through Jul. 10, 2022
How has art has been used to protest, process, mourn and memorialize anti-Black violence in the United States? Originating at Northwestern's compelling Block Museum of Art, A Site of Struggle explores how artists have engaged with the reality of anti-Black violence and its accompanying challenges of representation in the U.S. throughout 100+ years. The exhibit takes a new approach to looking at the intersection of race, violence and art by investigating the varied strategies American artists have used to grapple with anti-Black violence.