Ready or not, the holidays are here. But what does that mean in this pandemic year?
No festive office parties or pub crawls with friends. No pictures with Santa, till the virus spread ends.
Though most things are canceled, some things are not. So forget about what could have been, and make do with what we’ve got.
Chicago theater and film
The Goodman Theatre has adapted its classic, long-running production of “A Christmas Carol” into an audio play. It will stream for free, Dec. 1-31. Get full details.
The Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” has been reimagined as a series of projections, displayed on the massive facade of the Merchandise Mart as part of the Art on the Mart series. The presentation, set to Tchaikovsky’s well-known score, runs nightly at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. through Dec. 31. View the installation from the Chicago Riverwalk, between Wells and Franklin streets. Free. Get more information here.
For nearly 20 years, the American Blues Theater has staged “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago” as if it were a 1940s-era radio play. This year, the company is transferring the retro concert to Zoom. So, a faux radio play, still performed live, on Zoom. Running through Jan. 2. Get ticket information here.
Lookingglass Theatre will stream “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” written and directed by Mary Zimmerman, from a story by Hans Christian Andersen. Available Dec. 1-27. Get ticket information here.
The Music Box Theatre has moved its annual Christmas singalong shows to the Chi-Town Movies Drive-In, where four screenings each of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas” are set to take place from Dec. 11 to Dec. 24. More information is available here. Private theater rentals are also available.
The Davis Theater’s pop-up drive-in at Lincoln Yards is screening a bevy of holiday-themed movies. Tickets for several, including “Elf” and “Home Alone,” have already sold out, but slots for “Scrooged,” “Gremlins” and “A Die Hard Christmas” are still available. Get full details here.
Chicago Tribune columnists Mary Schmich and Eric Zorn, along with musicians from the Old Town School of Folk Music, have led an annual caroling party at Old Town School for more than 20 years. “Songs of Good Cheer” has been shifted online for 2020, recorded as a livestream broadcast, available to ticket holders Dec. 18-20. Download the songbook and sing along at home. Ticket information is available here.
Last year, the Jonas Brothers headlined Kiss-FM’s Jingle Ball at Allstate Arena. This year, the show’s going virtual on Dec. 10 via the CW app or cwtv.com. Scheduled performers include Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd and Sam Smith. Read more here.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s online platform offers both free and premium paid content. The latter includes “Home for the Holidays” on Dec. 17, featuring Corelli’s Christmas Concerto and J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, as well as works performed by members of the CSO brass section. Get ticket information here.
Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus presents “A Christmas Carol: Haunted Homo Holiday,” a virtual, updated version of the Dickens’ classic, with original music. The show runs Dec. 4-6. After each performance, the cast will host a holiday music singalong on Zoom. Get ticket information here.
Get your fill of festive music on 93.9 Lite-FM, where it’s been all Christmas tunes all the time since October.
Outdoors and online
Ice skating at the Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is open through Feb. 28. Masks and reservations are required. The cost is $5 if you bring your own skates or $16-$20 for skate rental.
The Christkindlmarket has gone online with its gifts, ornaments, sweets and more from Germany through Dec. 31. Merchandise includes the 2019 “boot mug,” allowing all those who purchase it to travel back to a happier time. Gluwhein not included. Visitors to the market’s website will also find various virtual events and experiences, including demonstrations of German cooking.
For many Chicagoans, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Macy’s State Street store (aka, Marshall Field’s) to see the holiday windows and treat themselves to a meal at the Walnut Room. The windows haven’t gone anywhere, though this year’s display has been very much influenced by the events of 2020. The theme takes the form of a thank you letter to “first responders, essential workers, marchers for equality and Chicagoans who showed their grit, good humor and hopeful spirit during a tumultuous year.” The decorations will be on view through Jan. 3; 111 N. State St. Meanwhile, the Walnut Room is offering takeout holiday meals, a first in its 113-year history. Get complete details here.