THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – No Shortage of Holiday Festive Fun!

Still overstuffed and need help digesting your Thanksgiving meal? Well, you’re in luck this weekend as the holiday season is here in Chicago and, as usual, there’s no shortage of festive, fun things to do!

There’s a new holiday adventure taking place at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood now through January 2ndLight Up the Lake (replacing Winter Wonderfest) fills up the Pier’s gigantic 170,000 square foot Festival Hall with indoor winter fun and is all decked out for the holidays too.  It’s Chicagoland’s biggest indoor, temperature-controlled event featuring a collection of oversized light sculptures displaying over 600,000 lights that include a giant Teddy Bear, a 25-foot-tall deer, a 60-foot light tunnel and a 40-foot tree. There’s also an Alpine ice rink with free skate rental, a Bavarian Biergarten, Enchanted Choo-Choo train rides, Santa’s Merry Main Street and a holiday gift market!  Plus, each ticket includes a free ride on the Pier’s 200-foot Centennial Wheel with fully enclosed and heated gondolas!

Back by popular demand for a third year, Stretch Bar & Grill (3485 N. Clark St.) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood will open as Elf’d Up now through January 3rd.  The 2003 holiday movie Elf takes center stage at this bar and grill that will be decorated from floor to ceiling with more than 1,000 elves of all shapes and sizes, a 10-foot Christmas tree, an upside-down Christmas tree, strands of festive lights, specific tributes to the movie such as figurines, wall quotes, snowflakes, Schylling Jester Jack in the Boxes, cut outs of Buddy the Elf and Miles Finch, and much more!  Plus, each table comes equipped with the four main food groups – candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup.  If you want to catch a glimpse of Buddy the Elf himself, he’s known to pop-by between Thursday and Sunday from time to time! It’s a casual neighborhood Christmas bar that never charges a cover and treats patrons to complimentary fresh elf-shaped cookies nightly at 10 p.m.

Returning for its 20th anniversary season, Hell in a Handbag Productions brings to you its most popular holiday musical Christmas Dearest now through December 31st to the Ebenezer Lutheran Church (1650 W. Foster Ave.) in the Andersonville neighborhood.  Joan Crawford (played by David Cerda) returns in Handbag’s very own version of A Christmas Carol. It’s 1953 and Joan is desperate to reignite her career with the new film, Oh, Mary! However, the stress of surviving Hollywood has turned Joan into a tyrant! She needs a miracle and fast. Will she find it?  You’ll have to attend this event to find out!

The Chicago Theatre (175 N. State St.) in The Loop will host Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever Christmas show ‘Twas the Night Before… this Sunday through December 5th. This show promises to spark lasting memories in the hearts of families this holiday season with an exhilarating spin on this beloved Christmas classic poem with a flurry of love, Christmas cheer, rip-roaring fun, and hugely lovable characters!  The only difference is they will be doing crazy flips and death-defying aerial stunts too!

Enjoy this holiday season with family and friends at Brookfield Zoo’s (8400 W. 31st St.) 40th annual Holiday Magic now through December 31st.  Zoo-goers can stroll along the walkways illuminated with over one million twinkling LED lights, walk through a 600-foot-long tunnel featuring colored lights synchronized to music, pose for a selfie next to the Santa Claus cutout, spot larger-than-life lit animal sculptures, be dazzled by a 41-foot-tree that dances to choreographed music, and much, much more!  Plus, catch this year’s new features – an illuminated gingerbread house and “Sea of Lights,” a mile-long display of colored lights along the West Mall! In addition, restaurants will be open as well as gift shops offering an array of unique items. Please note that advanced, timed-entry reservations are required.

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago