Neighborhood News – Chicago Loop, Millennium Park, Edgewater, River North, Andersonville

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, truly, and all Chicago is celebrating…join in and embrace Chicago’s many neighborhood celebrations and winter fun!

It’s a version of The Nutcracker no one saw coming, as reimagined by the Joffrey Ballet’s Christopher Wheeldon. Here, instead of a classic young Clara, we have “young Marie and the Nutcracker Prince, (who) go on a Christmas Eve journey through the 1893 World’s Fair, a dazzling spectacle of sights, sounds, and enchantment.” Performed at Joffrey’s new artistic home, the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, the show runs from December 4-26. Tickets range from $35-$177.

When water turns to ice, there’s only one thing to do! Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park, returns for its 20th anniversary season. The rink is open daily through March 6 (weather permitting.) Take advantage of the Park’s free beginner and intermediate skating lessons and hockey skills instruction from 8–9am on most Saturdays and Sundays. Wheelchairs, both electric and manual, are allowed on the ice. Admission is free, but online tickets and reservations are required. Check the website for schedule and details.

Another great option is to Gogh Skating at Maggie Daley Park’s Ice Skating Ribbon, 337 W. Randolph. According to Timeout Chicago, the skating ribbon will be decorated with designs inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” and “Starry Night” paintings, in collaboration with the art exhibition ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ and the Chicago Park District. Check the website for ticket prices, skate rentals and reservations. 

During this Hanukkah week, what better way to celebrate than seeing Strawdog Theatre Company’s production of the Caldecott Award-winning book, Hershel and the Hannukkah Goblins. The story starts when a troupe of actors comes to town to find no one celebrating Hanukkah. They put on a show to save the holiday! Can they bring back the spirit of Hanukkah to the town? Will Hershel of Ostropol (Morgan Lavenstein) outsmart the goblins? Music, puppets, and a little bit of magic tell the story for all ages. The show runs through December 12 at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge Ave. Performances are Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm and 4pm. Free, but a goodwill donation will be appreciated. All mask mandates must be followed. 

Combining the best of music, light, and art, projected on the side of Chicago’s legendary Merchandise Mart, Art on the MART, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, creates light shows with a message. Three shows are running simultaneously now through December 30: Shaping the Future uses mosaics as a frame for teen performances, murals and original music composed by the After School Matters Future Music Creators program, led by instructor Gerald Bailey. The Nutcracker, Joffrey Ballet features images of their Christmas classic, set to music from Tchaikovsky’s beloved score. Harmonic AI, Ouchhh Studios Harmonic AI was created by training artificial intelligence with jazz compositions made by Chicago’s most famous jazz musicians. The resulting animation is a visual representation of Chicago’s musical legacy. Performances run nightly at 7:30pm and 8pm. Free.

For a Scandinavian celebration of the holiday season, head to Andersonville, just north of East Lakeview, for the first annual Andersonville Holiday Market, featuring Swedish vendors, vintage holiday market vendors and local artisans, topped off with Glögg (mulled wine) and roasted nuts under multiple big tents with heating and filtered air circulation for safety protocols. 

Julmarknad (Good Christmas) on Saturday, December 4,  at the Swedish-American Museum,  5211 N. Clark St. Julmarknad is the Museum’s annual Christmas Bazaar, where gifts, ornaments, food and more are available in traditional Scandinavian and modern handicrafts. Special visit from Santa, performances, and crafts make it an event for the whole family! In cooperation with Late Night Andersonville, the museum will be open Friday, Dec. 3, until 8pm, and for Julmarknad on Saturday, Dec. 4, 10am-5pm, and Sunday, Dec. 5, 10am-4pm. Check the website for additional information.

Alison Moran and Dean’s Team Chicago