Things to do Dec. 30-Jan. 5: New Year's Eve celebrations, light shows and more
Festival of Lights and Tree Sale: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Friday, Dec. 30, at Cosley Zoo, 1356 N. Gary Ave., Wheaton. Thousands of twinkling lights, hot chocolate and more. Lights turn on at 3 p.m. Free admission, donations are appreciated. cosleyzoo.org.
Light Up the Lake: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Saturday, Dec. 31, at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. The interactive holiday experience incorporates light sculptures, a lighted birch tree maze, stomp light activity, ice skating, a holiday train, visits with Santa and a free ride on the Centennial Wheel. Adults: $27, kids 3-12: $17. navypier.org/light-up-the-lake.
Winter WNDRland: Noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 28-29; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 30-31; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1; noon to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 2-3, at the WNDR Museum, 1130 W. Monroe, Chicago. Features a new interactive light-up Santa's Sleigh installation, photos with Santa and holiday-themed elements throughout existing fan favorite installations. General admission from $32, VIP experience $50, kids 3-12 from $22, free for kids 2 and younger. wndrmuseum.com/location/chicago.
"A Christmas Story, The Musical": 1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29; 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30; 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, at The Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive. Lincolnshire. This show brings the beloved 1983 movie about the Parker family to musical life on stage. $59-$64. (847) 634-0200 or MarriottTheatre.com.
"Elf the Musical": 1:30 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 6 p.m. Sundays through Jan. 8 at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. Musical stage adaptation of the holiday film. drurylanetheatre.com/elf-the-musical.
"A Christmas Carol": 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 28-29; 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30; and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. High-end production of Charles Dickens' classic. Tickets start at $35. goodmantheatre.org.
"Dear Evan Hansen": 2 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28, and Friday, Dec. 30; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29; and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., Chicago. Features a book by Tony Award winner Steven Levenson; a score by Grammy, Tony and Academy Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; and direction by four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif. $30-$110. broadwayinchicago.com.
Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic: 3-9 p.m. daily through Saturday, Dec. 31, at Brookfield Zoo, 8400 31st St., Brookfield. The lights festival features more than two million twinkling LED lights, illuminated animal sculptures, a tunnel of lights, a skating rink ($7 per person), a drop-off for letters to Santa and more. Reservations are required for South Gate entry; reservations are not required for North Gate entry. Adults: $24.95; kids 3-11: $17.95; seniors: $19.95; parking: $13.40. czs.org/HolidayMagic-2.
Winterland: 3-9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays, through Jan. 8 at Gallagher Way, 3635 N. Clark St., Chicago. A carousel, market vendors, food and beverage offerings, a 12,000-square-foot ice rink, carnival rides and games, ice bumper cars, music and more. The expanded event extends inside Wrigley Field. General admission free; admission to Wrigley Field is $5. gallagherway.com.
Amaze Light Festival: 4-10 p.m. daily through Jan. 8 at Odyssey Fun World, 19111 Oak Park Ave., Tinley Park. An all-immersive storybook experience with five themed worlds of light displays, activities, holiday music and dynamic live performances. Adult: $36, kids: $30; VIP adult: $86; VIP child: $80. amazelightfestival.com.
Illumination, Tree Lights: 4:30-9:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 7 at Morton Arboretum, 4100 Route 53, Lisle. Explore six new displays of light, sound and color along the 1-mile walking path, including a special Human+Nature display and an experience featuring 150 colorful lanterns. Stop by the firepits to roast marshmallows or purchase snacks and beverages at the concession tents. Members: $11-$22; nonmembers: $16-$27. mortonarb.org.
Lightscape: 4:30-11 p.m. various dates through Jan. 8 at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe. Experience nature in winter along a walking path featuring light, fire, color and music in such displays as the re-imagined fire garden and Winter Cathedral. Timed tickets cost $30 for members, $32 for nonmembers for adults; $14/$16 for kids; free for kids 2 and younger; tickets purchased the day of the event cost $2 more. (847) 835-6801 or chicagobotanic.org/lightscape.
Sparkle Light Festival: 4:30-9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 28-30, and 4:30-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 31-Jan. 1, at Impact Field, 9850 Balmoral Ave., Rosemont. Immersive displays of millions of holiday lights and outdoor holiday activities, including train rides, winter tubing, themed mazes and more. The two-story Alpine Slide is an extra $22 for unlimited rides. A special menu of festive food and beverages will be available. Adults: $25; kids 2-12: $20. (847) 636-5450 or sparklerosemont.com.
Winter Lights: 4:30-9:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 8 at Central Park, Jorie Boulevard and Forest Gate Road, Oak Brook. A free half-mile illuminated walk along paved pathways. The path will be closed during inclement weather. obparks.org/winterlights.
Kohlights: 5-7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 27-29, at Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview. An interactive holiday light display designed for children featuring a series of exhibits like the Twinkle Train, Prism Promenade and the Shadow Play Snowbank. $20-$25, $5 off for members. kohlchildrensmuseum.org.
Santa's Rock 'N' Lights: 5-10 p.m. daily through Sunday, Jan. 1, at the Lake County Fairgrounds & Event Center, 1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake. Be wowed by a mile of lights dancing to music during this drive-through animated lights show. $29.99-$34.99; online ticket purchase is required. santasrocknlights.com.
Willow Hill Lights Show: 5-10 p.m. daily through Sunday, Jan. 1, at Willow Hill Golf Course, 1350 Willow Road, Northbrook, This drive-through holiday lights show features a 1.6-mile route with more than one million lights, three drive-through tunnels and a 30-foot Christmas tree. $40 per car. willowhillswintermagic.com.
Nights of Lights: Dusk to 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 8 at Adams Park, Main and Wesley streets, Wheaton. See more than 55,000 lights and a new animated light display at the fountain. Free. downtownwheaton.com/nightsoflights.
Shine Light Show: 6-10 p.m. daily through Sunday, Jan. 1, at Northbrook Court, 1515 Lake-Cook Road, Northbrook, and Wintrust Field, 1999 S. Springinsguth Road, Schaumburg. Drive-through light shows feature a wonderland of more than one million lights synchronized to holiday music. $32.99-$42.99; fast pass add-on is an extra $20. One ticket per vehicle; online purchase is required. shinelightshow.com.
Home for the Holidays Lighted Christmas Trail: 7-10 p.m. daily through Monday, Dec. 30-Jan. 2, at Shiloh Park, 25th Street and Emmaus Avenue, Zion. The drive-through trail showcases more than 50 Christmas light displays with 100,000 lights. cityofzion.com.
"The Sound of Music": 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 5:30 p.m. Sundays through Jan. 14 at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical as directed by Amber Mak. The Grand Gallery is decorated for the season with a giant two-story Christmas tree. Tickets start at $28. paramountaurora.com.
The Second City's "Jingle Bell Ruckus": 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. Second City performs a fast-paced, interactive comedy holiday revue that skewers holiday film classics, family gatherings, Christmas carols and more. May contain adult language and themes. Tickets through Dec. 30 are $35; Dec. 31 tickets are $50 and include a champagne toast. metropolisarts.com.
"It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play": 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 28-30, at the Oil Lamp Theater, 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview. Seven actors bring the entire town of Bedford Falls to life in a 1946 radio play complete with sound effects. $35-$45. oillamptheater.org.
"A Christmas Carol": 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, and noon Friday, Dec. 30, at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace. See the 30th anniversary of Drury Lane Theatre's production of Charles Dickens' holiday tale, designed for a younger audience. Tickets start at $52. drurylanetheatre.com/Theatre-for-Young-Audiences.
"The Golden Girls -- The Lost Episodes, The Obligatory Holiday Special": 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 29-30, at the Hoover-Leppen Theatre, 3656 N. Halsted St., Chicago. Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, Sophia and their wacky friends and relatives return in all-new episodes written by Artistic Director David Cerda and directed by Spenser Davis. $24-$29. theatreinchicago.com.
Blue Man Group: Various dates and times at the Briar Street Theatre, 3133 N. Halsted, Chicago. Masks are encouraged but are optional. Show is recommended for kids 3 and older. $49-$69. briarstreetbroadway.com.
Christmas Tree Lane: Daily through Saturday, Dec. 31, at Depot Park, 90 E. Woodstock St., Crystal Lake. The fourth annual event features 40 decorated trees. Hosted by Downtown Crystal Lake and the City of Crystal Lake. downtowncl.org.
"The Immersive Nutcracker": Various times through Sunday, Jan. 1, at Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago, 108 W. Germania Place, Chicago. Experience "The Nutcracker" brought to life on a majestic scale featuring Tchaikovsky's "The March of the Toys" and "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and more. Tickets start at $30. lighthouseartspace.com/artspace/chicago.
"Little Women": Various times and days through Jan. 15 at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 31st St., Oak Brook. World premiere of an adaptation written by First Folio Artistic Associate Heather Chrisler. $29-$59. firstfolio.org.
Friday, Dec. 30
New Year's Eve-Eve Family Celebration: 10-11:30 a.m. or 12:30-2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, at Station 34, 34 S. Main St., Mount Prospect. A kid-friendly New Year's Eve-Eve celebration with music, dancing, entertainment, food and a balloon drop. $12. downtownmountprospect.com.
New Year's Eve Family Party: 4-6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, at the Vernon Hills Park District Sullivan Community Center, 635 N. Aspen Drive, Vernon Hills. Ring in 2023 with a party featuring food, music, games and more. All ages must register. $5; free for kids 2 and younger. vhparkdistrict.org.
New Year's Beach Ball Drop Pool Party: 6-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, at the Vaughan Athletic Center, 2121 W. Indian Trail, Aurora. Ring in the new year with the New Year's Beach Ball drop countdown. Plus, enjoy the waterslides, an inflatable obstacle course, splash zones, a zero-depth pool, music and more. $12-$15. foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.
Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert: 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, at the Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. A re-creation of the beloved Neujahrskonzert, the concert that has welcomed the New Year for more than 80 years in Vienna and all over the world. $49.50-$97.90. cso.org.
Latin Fire: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, at the Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way, Elgin. A celebration of Latin American orchestral hits paired with performances of Costa Rican trumpeter José Sibaja and vocalist Mónica Abrego. Tickets start at $20. (847) 931-5900 or hemmens.org.
"Irving Berlin's White Christmas": 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, at Center Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Presented by Music Theater Works and based on the classic film "Irving Berlin's White Christmas." $39-$106. northshorecenter.org.
Radiance NYE Concert: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 30-31, at the Lake County Fairgrounds & Event Center, 1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake. Music from Subtronics, Of the Trees and Level Up on Friday and Liquid Stranger, Rusko and Daily Bread on Saturday. General admission: $114 per day, $184 for both days; VIP: $152 per day, $252 for both days. nyeradiance.com.
Saturday, Dec. 31
New Year's Eve Bash: 8:30-11 a.m. and 1-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview. The morning session includes music from Wendy and DB while the afternoon event features a DJ and dance party. Both times include juggling shows, party hat making and horns, family photos and a confetti drop at "midnight." $23 for members, $35 for nonmembers, and free for kids younger than 1. kohlchildrensmuseum.org/special-events/nye/
Noon Year's Celebration: 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 31, at Salt Creek Sports Center, 647 Consumers Ave., Palatine. Ring in the New Year early with a bounce house, dancing, a craft, photo op and games followed by a countdown and balloon drop at noon. $10-$12, free for parents. saltcreekpd.com.
Noon Year's Eve Party for the Family: 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 31, at Cornerstone Church, 41W170 Russell Road, Elgin. Noon Year's Eve Party with pizza, games, photo opportunities and a balloon drop at noon. Free, but reservations requested. b.link/noon-years-eve.
Family New Year's Eve Bash: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Vaughan Athletic Center, 2121 W. Indian Trail, Aurora. Enjoy a midday celebration with inflatables, crafts, games, a DJ and a balloon drop at noon. $11-$14. foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.
New Philharmonic's New Year's Eve Pops & Viennese Celebration: 1:30, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the McAninch Arts Center's Belushi Performance Hall, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. New Philharmonic will be joined by bass-baritone Mischa Bouvier and the electric violin band CoverGirls. $67-$77. atthemac.org/events/nye22/.
Family New Year's Eve Party: 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Prairie Lakes Community Center, 515 E. Thacker St., Des Plaines. Ring in 2023 with games, snacks, inflatables, a professional DJ and more. $10 per resident, $12 for nonresidents before Dec. 30; $15/$17 on Dec. 31. Free for adults who are accompanying a child. dpparks.org.
Steve Cochran's NYE Comedy Show: 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. Longtime Chicago radio personality Steve Cochran will headline with special guests John DaCosse, Mike Toomey and Tim Benker. $37-$52; tickets for RaueNOW members start at $25.90. rauecenter.org.
95 WIIL ROCK Tom & Stino Big Ball New Year's Eve Bash: 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, to 1 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, at Holiday Inn Convention Center, 6161 W. Grand Ave., Gurnee. Featuring Modern Day Romeos, Keith Magnine, a buffet dinner, party favors, a champagne toast at midnight and more. $110. 95wiilrock.com.
New Year's Eve Family Party at Enchanted Castle: 6-10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at Enchanted Castle Family Entertainment Center, 1103 S. Main St., Lombard. Ring in 2023 with food, a special balloon drop, a toast and a countdown celebration. Reservations required. $46.95. enchanted.com.
New Year's Eve Family Party at Haunted Trails Burbank: 6-10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at Haunted Trails Family Entertainment Center, 7759 S. Harlem Ave., Burbank. Food and games and ring in the New Year with a special balloon drop, toast and countdown celebration. Reservations required. $41.95. hauntedtrailsburbank.com.
New Year's Eve Family Party at Haunted Trails Joliet: 6-10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at Haunted Trails Family Entertainment Center & Picnics, 1423 N. Broadway St., Joliet. Food, games and indoor attractions plus a special balloon drop, toast and countdown celebration. Reservations required. $41.95. hauntedtrailsjoliet.com.
Folkstage New Year's Eve Celebration of Rich Warren: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Featuring Tom Paxton, Reggie Harris, Claudia Schmidt, Vance Gilbert, Anne Hills and special guests. $100. oldtownschool.org.
New Year's Eve 1922: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, to 1 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, at Rock Bottom Brewery, 1 W. Grand Ave., Chicago. Enjoy two hours of live jazz by the Steve Knight Trio preceding a two hour showcase of comedy, song, drag, burlesque and more. 21-and-older event. $60. cli.re/25513-new-years-eve-1922.
New Year's Eve Party at The Drake Hotel Chicago: 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Dec. 31, at The Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton, Chicago. Party Vegas-style with six ballrooms of entertainment, local DJs, two balloon drops, champagne toast at midnight and more. $159-$395. chicago-scene.com/new-years-eve-chicago.
New Year's Eve with American English: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. Ring in the new year with the Beatles tribute band. $29.50-$50. events.rauecenter.org.
New Year On The Pier: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, to 1 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, at the Aon Grand Ballroom, 840 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. Live entertainment on the big stage, dance floor, countdown spectacular and fireworks show at midnight. $100-$240. navypierevents.greencurtainevents.com.
New Year's Eve with Roxy Bellows: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at The Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave., Skokie. Roxy Bellows performs show stoppers and ballads in a show made up on the spot. $35. cli.re/26053-new-years-eve-with-roxy-bellows.
NYE Celebration, "I Am King" The Michael Jackson Experience: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Des Plaines Theatre, 1476 Miner St., Des Plaines. Featuring the internationally acclaimed Michael Jackson tribute artist Michael Firestone joined by Broadway musicians and dancers along with Chicago's Own Piano Man Band. $49. desplainestheatre.com.
Ringing in a Rockin' New Year with Infinity: 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles. Rock band INFINITY rings in the New Year. $49. arcadalive.com.
A Funeral for 2022: 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, to 1 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, at The Bit Theater, 4034 Fox Valley Center Drive, Aurora. After the special comedy show, the theater will turn into a dance party with a complimentary champagne toast. Tickets start at $25. bitimprov.com/tickets.
Purple Disco Machine, Disco Extravaganza: 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago. This is an 18-and-older event. $63-$254. aragonballroom.org.
Sky High NYE: 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Dec. 31, at Virgin Hotels Chicago, 203 N. Wabash Ave, Chicago. Welcome 2023 up in the clouds. The celebration will feature performances from Basura Boys, Dead Space, Dom Brown and more. $30-$75. virginhotels.com/chicago/nye.
Timeless New Year's Eve: 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center, 3500 Midwest Road, Oak Brook. Relive the days of the Rat Pack and ring in the 2023 New Year. $125-$450. Buy tickets at eventbrite.com.
Tribute to Talking Heads: 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Epiphany Center for the Arts: Epiphany Hall, 201 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago. Celebrate New Year's Eve with Big Suit's Tribute to Talking Heads. $25-$160. epiphanychi.com.
Zoo Year's Eve at Lincoln Park Zoo: 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Lincoln Park Zoo, 2400 N. Cannon, Chicago. Millions of dazzling lights, cash bars, a DJ, games, giveaways and more. Animal buildings will be open, and there will be a dance party in the lion house. For ages 21 and older only. $40. lpzoo.org.
The Den's New Years Laughin' Eve: 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at The Den Theatre, Heath Main Stage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Stand-up comedy performances from Chicago superstars Lucia Whalen and Nate Armbruster, music from DJ Thee David Davis, party favors and a midnight countdown with a surprise drag queen. $40. thedentheatre.com.
Ring in the New Year With Preacher Lawson: 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Chicago Improv, 5 Woodfield Road, Schaumburg. Features a New Year's countdown with party favors and complimentary champagne. For ages 18 and over. $50. improv.com/chicago.
Sunday, Jan. 1
2023-New Year-Comedy Slam: 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, at Holiday Inn Countryside, 6201 Joliet Road, Countryside. Hosted by HBO's Funnylady Sonya D. $25. standupandlaughtour.com.
Thursday, Jan. 5
Magical Creatures Fan Fest: 10:30-11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, at the Geneva Public Library, 127 James St., Geneva. Dress up for a variety of games and crafts inspired by unicorns and dragons. gpld.org/event/7438809.