The North Shore is lighting all the way up this holiday season with many merry ways to celebrate for all ages. From immersive experiences surrounded by extravagant light shows to shopping, sports and a sleigh-full of events to revel in traditions and make new ones. Our full calendar of events can be found here and for other itinerary ideas click here.
It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Oil Lamp Theater, Glenview
You could do something festive every day of the month with festivities fit for everyone. Along with the Santa sightings and special shopping bazaars, welcome the season at the Hometown Holiday Celebration in Evanston (Dec. 8) when shops around and along Main-Dempster Mile welcome neighbors with warm bevvies and holiday treats with caroling and tree tours. Take a few laps around the rink in your finest for an Ugly Sweater Holiday Skate at the Winnetka Ice Arena (Dec. 10; 490 Hibbard Rd., Winnetka). The Wheeling Park District hosts a Family Gingerbread House Decorating (Dec. 16; 100 Community Blvd., Wheeling). Or take in a holiday performance with options ranging from the classics you know and love to sure-to-be new favorites.
Shine Light Show, Northbrook Court, Northbrook
Holiday Lights All Aglow
Surround yourself with the dynamic experience of a magical evening of light and sound. The sensational Lightscape is an after-dark illuminated trail with a new path and new installations uniquely created for Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe; through Jan. 8, 2023). Let the kiddos interact with light and color as they explore hues and patterns in Kohlights: A Mesmertastic Holiday Lightacular! at Kohl Children's Museum (2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview; Nov. 25–Dec. 29). Shine Light Show at Northbrook Court (1515 Lake Cook Rd., Northbrook; through Jan. 1, 2023) boasts the North Shore’s largest drive-thru world of light synchronized to holiday music.
Sketchbook Brewing Co., Skokie
The Happiest Hour
A sure-fire way to enhance the seasonal glee is to kick-back with some North Shore on the Rocks. Meet up with friends at local pubs, breweries and wine hot spots. Take some bevvies home for your own parties, dinner and otherwise. Visit merry proprietors offering up new flavors to compare like this brilliant bunch of brewers: Double Clutch, Hangar Two by Tangled Roots, Sketchbook, Macushla, Temperance, Peckish Pig, Smylie Brothers and Ten Ninety. A couple of distilleries (FEW Spirits and Take Flight Spirits) and a winery (Lynfred Winery) showcase liquid loveliness with tastings and more. Or find fabulous selections and expert guidance from The Wine Goddess and Beer on Central.
Northwestern Men's Basketball, Northwestern University, Evanston
Big Ten Basketball
Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern University, various dates
Cheer on the purple and white when the Big Ten Men's Basketball Challenge — that’s high-octane NCAA Division I college basketball — races across the home court in Welsh-Ryan Arena (2705 Ashland Ave., Northwestern University, Evanston). Wildcats Men’s Basketball ramp up their strategy for March Madness with four home games this month (Dec. 11, 17, 20 and 29). After a solid showing last season, catch the young and talented Northwestern Women’s Basketball team as they leap into high gear against their rivals this season (Dec. 10, 17, 22 and 28).
Winter Arts + Crafts Expo, Evanston Art Center, Evanston
20th Annual Winter Arts + Crafts Expo
Evanston Art Center, 1717 Central St., Evanston
Nov. 19–Dec. 20
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 for everyone who’s been nice (and maybe just a little bit naughty).
Ghost Army Exhibit, Illinois Holocaust Museum, Skokie
Ghost Army: The Combat Con Artists of World War II
Illinois Holocaust Museum, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie
Through Jan. 2, 2023
This fascinating exhibit is well worth adding to your outings this month. The top-secret U.S. Army’s 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, known as the “Ghost Army,” was a carefully selected group of 82 officers and 1,023 artists, engineers, professional soldiers and draftees who could simulate two whole divisions (approximately 30,000 soldiers!). They used inflatable tanks and vehicles, fake radio traffic, sound effects and even phony generals to fool German forces. Playing sound effects from 500-pound speakers mounted on half-tracks, they could sound like men and tanks moving into position from up to 6,000 yards away. Don’t miss this extraordinary tale!
Evanston Made Pop-Up Holiday Market, Evanston
Evanston Made Pop-Up Holiday Market
832 Dempster St., Evanston
Through Dec. 20
Get into the spirit of the season and swing by this lovely market of local makers. It’s a treat for the eyes as a gallery visit with this vibrant, art-filled experience for arts enthusiasts and patrons supporting hundreds of creative entrepreneurs in Evanston. The pop-up market features not only art exhibits but sales of handmade goods — some with extra local flavor — by Evanston Made members, as well as “Meet the Makers” nights, mixers, art demos and more.