The Most Wonderful Time: Chicago-Area Holiday Concerts, Events

By Adela Skowronski |

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The Joffrey Ballet's The Nutcracker (Photo: Cheryl Mann)

The Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker (Photo: Cheryl Mann)

The holiday season welcomes a plethora of performances from near and far, leaving Chicago-area audiences with a myriad of spectacles… and choices! To help you decide, WFMT has compiled a list of some of these concerts. Gather your loved ones, purchase your tickets and make some magical, musical memories!

Goodman Theatre’s A Christmas Carol

Nov. 19-Dec. 31 at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago

Goodman’s seasonal staple returns for a 45th year, and its Scrooge, Larry Yando, returns for his 15th. 2022’s installment of this Christmas classic extends all the way to the end of the year, plenty of time to wow a new generation of audiences to add to the nearly two million who have seen it over the years.

From $35

Joffrey Ballet Performs The Nutcracker

Dec. 3-27 at Lyric Opera House, Chicago

One of the best known ballets performed by one of the world’s biggest ballet companies. Join the Joffrey Ballet for its annual run of The Nutcracker. Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon sets Tchaikovsky’s classic against the wondrous backdrop of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

From $36

Music Box Christmas Sing-Along & Double Feature

Dec. 9-24 at Music Box Theatre, Chicago

It’s classic Christmas movies and caroling all in one event! Prior to holiday movie screenings, Music Box Theatre organist Dennis Scott is joined by none other than Santa Claus to lead audiences in sing-a-longs of classic holiday tunes. Then, choose between seeing White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life, or buy tickets to both for a double dose of holiday spirit. 

$14 single feature, $21 double feature; discounts for members and children under 13

Chicago a cappella Presents – Holidays & Hanukkah a Cappella!

Christmas Concerts: Dec. 9 in Chicago; Dec. 17 in Naperville; Dec. 18 in Evanston
Hanukkah Concerts: Dec. 10 in Chicago, Dec. 10 in Wilmette

Enjoy Christmas music from Puerto Rico, France, Germany, and more, plus a special run of Hanukkah programs. The repertoire has been compiled over 25 years of Chicago a cappella’s performances.

From $35

Bella Voce 

Dec. 9 in Chicago; Dec. 10 in La Grange; Dec. 11 in Evanston

The 40th season of Bella Voce culminates with a beautiful holiday performance! In an a cappella Christmas concert, enjoy the musical stylings of this acclaimed group this holiday season.

Tickets: $65; discounts available for students and children

Mexican Christmas in Chicago!

Dec. 9 in Evanston; Dec. 10 in Lakeview, Chicago; Dec. 11 in Little Village, Chicago

In what is swiftly becoming an annual staple, Chicago’s Newberry Consort reprises its collaboration with EnsAmble Ad-Hoc to present a musical feast for the ears! The two ensembles team up to play two different types of Mexican baroque-era music — one inside the cloister walls and one without — by composers from both Old and New Spain. Rarely heard instruments such as the bajón (Spanish baroque bassoon), Leona (large guitar from Veracruz), and the quijada de burro (a percussion instrument made from a donkey’s jawbone) will also join in.

$25 adults, discounts available; free for children

Chicago Chamber Choir Presents A Christmas Carol

Dec. 10 in Evanston; Dec. 11 in Chicago

WFMT’s own Robbie Ellis is the narrator of this interesting twist on a classic tale! This holiday season, Chicago Chamber Choir presents Benedict Sheehan’s A Christmas Carol, a setting combining Charles Dickens’ story with pieces for choir and ensemble.

$30 adults; discounts available for students and children

Chicago Master Singers: Christus Natus Est

Dec. 10 & 11 at Glenview Community Church, Glenview

A banquet of Christmas music across the ages, including an acclaimed work by Cecilia McDowall that lends the program its name.

From $15

Vox Venti – Holiday Gems Both Familiar and New

Dec. 10, 7:30 pm at St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church, Chicago

New Chicago ensemble Vox Venti takes pride in their passion for performing the music of living composers, especially by LGBTQ+ composers, women composers, and composers of color.

This concert will feature works by ensemble founder Ed Frazier Davis, Melissa Dunphy, Moses Hogan, Herbert Howells, and Graham Meyer, and Juhi Bansal.

Tickets: From $25

Duke it out! Nutcracker 

Dec. 10, 2:00 pm at Nichols Concert Hall, Evanston

What happens when you put classical (Tchaikovsky) and jazz (Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn) versions of The Nutcracker side-by-side? Find out at this one time only concert! Curated by Dance Chicago, the program features members of Braeburn Brass and Music Institute of Chicago Ensemble-in Residence, Quintet Attacca. 

In-person sold-out; livestream available for $10 

Chris White Trio plays “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Dec. 11, 5:00 pm and 7:30 pm at Café Brauer, Chicago

The magic of A Charlie Brown Christmas comes to the Lincoln Park Zoo! Enjoy a day out with the animals, before sitting down for a concert tribute to one of the holiday’s most popular albums. Performing the jazzy music from the beloved holiday special will be the Chris White Trio. 

From $30; discounts available

Celtic Woman: A Christmas Symphony

Dec. 11 at Auditorium Theater, Chicago

International singing sensation Celtic Woman join forces with Chicago Philharmonic musicians in a program presents traditional Irish carols alongside contemporary hits and uplifting anthems.

From $39

Niles Metropolitan Chorus’ DIY Messiah

Dec. 11 in Lake Forest; Dec. 13 in Des Plaines

Join the Niles Metropolitan Chorus to celebrate 10 years of their DIY Messiah! Whether you’re a professional singer or have no singing experience, enjoy the experience of singing along with a professional performing group. Featuring soloists Desiree Hassler, Stephanie Schoenhofer, Justin Berkowitz, and Aaron Wardell.

$20 ($25 at door); free children under 12; discounts available

Lira Ensemble: Polish Carols (& American too!)

Dec. 11 & 18 in Chicago; Jan. 8 in Niles

Polish folk ensemble Lira Singers perform their annual holiday concert in regional folk outfits. Enjoy the concert alongside English narration, a full orchestra, and dancing. A taste of authentic Polish Christmas in Chicago.

$30; free for college students & children under 18

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performs the Brandenburg Concertos

Dec. 14 at Harris Theater, Chicago

Musicians from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center make their annual sojourn to Chicago to perform Bach’s indispensable collection of concertos.

From $30

White Christmas – Live

Dec. 14- Jan. 1 at Northshore Center for the Performing Arts, Skokie

Many people revisit the film White Christmas on an annual basis, but here’s a rare chance to see the show performed live on stage. Enjoy classic Irving Berlin songs such as “Blue Skies,” “How Deep is the Ocean”, and of course the perennial holiday favorite, “White Christmas” onstage at the Northshore Center for the Performing Arts.

From $19.50

10th Anniversary Celebrations of Tim Warfield’s Jazzy Christmas

Dec. 15-18 at Jazz Showcase, Chicago

Enjoy Christmas staples performed in the interpretation of saxophonist Tim Warfield and his band. The small jazz ensemble will be joined by vocalist Lucy Yeghiazaryan and visit many of the tunes off of Warfield’s Jazzy Christmas album, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

From $30

Music of the Baroque’s Holiday Brass & Choral Concert

Dec. 15 in River Forest; Dec. 16 in Chicago; Dec. 17 in Winnetka; Dec. 18 in Evanston [waitlist]

This year’s batch of holiday concerts by the Music of the Baroque takes place in some of Chicago’s most beautiful spaces. Celebrate the season with familiar carols, sacred chants, and a plethora of works bringing medieval Europe to the present day.

From $25

CSO’s Merry, Merry Chicago!

Dec. 16-23 at Symphony Center, Chicago

Every year, the halls of Symphony Center are decked with boughs of holly, and conductor Alastair Willis leads members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a spirited holiday program! The annual CSO tradition includes a flurry of classics, including Carol of the Bells, Christmas in Chicago, White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, and more. 

From $49; discounts available

Holiday Performances at Constellation Chicago

Dec. 16-23 at Constellation Chicago, Chicago

North Side jazz go-to Constellation Chicago hosts a banquet of holiday-oriented concerts. Included is a recreation of an old Muppets Christmas special, a 24-hour comedy music marathon benefit featuring luminaries like Fred Armisen and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and shows for the Winter Solstice. There’s a lot to take in, so be sure to peruse their listings.

From $5

Mariachi Herencia de Mexico

Dec. 16 & 17 at Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago

Grammy-nominated Mariachi Herencia de Mexico performs a plethora of Mexican and American holiday favorites! Enjoy a colorful blend of holiday traditions in one family-friendly concert. 


Chicago Choral Artists Candlelit Holiday Concerts

Dec. 17 & 18 at Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest

A blend of holiday tunes, contemporary pieces, and Baroque cantatas performed in the warmth of candlelight. Works will emphasize themes of light and life; gratitude and hope.

$45; discounts available

Classical Music Chicago’s DIY Messiah

Dec. 18, 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm at Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago

Sing along to Handel’s Messiah while accompanied by a professional ensemble! A Chicago holiday tradition since 1976, this year’s vocal soloists include soprano Michelle Areyzaga and countertenor Ryan Belongi, performing under maestro Stanley Sperber and an ensemble of organ and strings. This fun annual concert blurs the lines between audience and performer.

Free; suggested donation

Christmas Brasstacular

Dec. 18 at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Wilmette

Ring in the holiday season with a concert of carols, popular songs, and a triptych of pieces for Hanukkah! Lakeshore Brass will be joined by percussion instruments for a cheerful, family-friendly concert experience.

Free; suggested donation $20

This story will be updated to add more great holiday events and concerts!