Letters to Santa  

Now through Dec. 25, east side of Riverside’s historic water tower: Children’s letters to the man in the bright red suit can be dropped off in a special mailbox.  Letters received through Dec. 20 will get a response. Brought by Riverside Parks and Rec. 10 Pine Ave., Riverside.

Holiday Light Recycling

Now through Jan. 15, Riverside Public Library and North Riverside Public Library: Lights will be processed, sorted by component and recycled back into useful products. Working, non-working, indoor or outdoor holiday lights can be dropped off during normal business hours. Proceeds benefit Lions Clubs International. Brought by Riverside Township Lions Club. 1 Burling Rd., Riverside, and 2401 Desplaines Ave., North Riverside.

Celebrate with Live Music
at FitzGerald’s

Thursday and Friday, Dec. 12 and 13, 8 p.m.: Kick off the holiday season with Ron and Naomi’s Christmas Special – one part Andy Williams, one part Prairie Home Companion, one part Pee Wee’s Playhouse. $15.  

Saturday, Dec. 14, 9 p.m.:

At the Brave Combo Holiday Spectacular hear a world-music mix plus holiday tunes. $20.

Wednesday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m.: Rob Parton Big Band performs “Christmas Reunion,” with music of Count Basie, Duke Ellington and various seasonal favorites. $15; $5, 17 and under.

Friday, Dec. 20, 8 p.m.: Hear The Redmonds Holiday Show along with Petty Union (Tom Petty tribute band) and 24/7 (Kid Rock band). $12, advance; $10, at door with a non-perishable food item. 

Friday, Dec. 20, 8 p.m., SideBar: At Christmas with The Beatles, hear high-energy Beatles polkas, Beatles parodies with a Christmas twist and Beatlejam (Chicago Beatles’ jam band). $10.

Saturday, Dec. 21, 9 p.m.: At The Heavy Sounds Stax Holiday Revue, experience a holiday blast of soul and funk. $15.

Saturday, Dec. 21, 9 p.m., SideBar:  “Chicago’s most original cover band,” Lovehouse, performing their Rockin’ Holiday Party show. $5. 

Sunday, Dec. 22, 7 p.m., SideBar: The Anderson Holiday Jamboree, benefiting Ascend Together, of Gambia. $15. 

Tuesday, Dec. 31, 9 p.m.: Spend New Year’s Eve with Expo ’76 & the Total Pro Horns plus Robert Cornelius. Hear ’70s AM radio ear candy to road house dance tunes, New Wave to jazzy blues, folk and more. $40, includes party hats, favors and champagne toast.

Tickets/more: fitzgeraldsnightclub.com/calendar. 6615 Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn.

“A Dickens Carol”

Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., Saturdays, 4 p.m., and Sundays, 2 p.m., through Dec. 29, Madison Street Theatre: See the story of A Christmas Carol from Charles Dickens’ point of view, based on real-life events. Set in London in 1842, this ghost story could melt the heart of any Scrooge. In collaboration with Ovation Academy. $35; $28, seniors; $15, students/children. Tickets: ovationacademy.org, MSToakpark.com, 708-222-7564. 1010 Madison St., Oak Park.

“An Xmas Cuento Remix”

Fridays, 7:30 p.m., Saturdays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sundays, 3 p.m., and Thursday, Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m., through Dec. 29, 16th Street Theater: Celebrating Latinx culture and modern music, see a new Christmas Carol (Cuento). To Dolores, who runs a pub, Christmas is a scam. When her niece Anita faces eviction, Dolores turns her away into the cold. Can three sassy spirits turn this female Scrooge from bad to good? $25 to $32. Tickets/more: 16thstreettheater.org/. 6420 16th St., Berwyn.

Local Art and Gift Markets

Friday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Bead in Hand: Peruse the creative jewelry for sale at the Staff Jewelry Show. One of a kind items include bracelets, earrings and necklaces made with wirework, embroidery, off-loom weaving, Japanese braiding and more. 145 Harrison St., Oak Park.

Friday, Dec. 13, 5 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 14, 11 to 4 p.m., Oak Park Art League:  Featuring original artwork and high-end crafts, meet the makers at this Holiday Art Market. Info: 708-386-9853, oakparkartleague.org. 720 Chicago Ave. 

Friday, Dec. 13, 5 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Compound Yellow: Visit the Multiple Goods Fair, a showcase for artists, designers, makers, and craftspeople who have come together with their creative, useful, well-made, sustainable and conceptual objects. Opens with a preview party on Friday; first 20 people get a prize. More: facebook.com/events/717227252108571/. 244 Lake St., Oak Park.

Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Through Dec. 22, Hemingway District: At the Out of the Box Art Market, shop for local arts and crafts from pottery to cork creations to kaleidoscopes. 133 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park.

Friday, Dec. 20, 6 to 10 p.m., Oak Park Arts District: At the Third Friday Gallery Walk, galleries, studios, restaurants and more are open late (hours vary) for special events, including live music, workshops and displays of art for purchase. Participating studios include Whatever Comes to Mind, Expressions Graphics, Dancing Krow Studio, Gallery PINK and Buzz Café, which will feature photography by local teen Holden Green and music by Prophet of the Elk. Harrison St. between Austin and Ridgeland, and Lombard south of Harrison. 

“Light and Miracles”

Friday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m., Pilgrim Congregational Church: Hear songs of the season sung by Sounds Good!, a non-audition choral program for ages 55+ under the direction of professional artists in the Chicago area. Free. More: soundsgoodchoir.org. 460 Lake St., Oak Park.

DIY: Drop-in Beaded Snowflakes
and Bracelets

Fridays, 2 to 5 p.m., and Saturdays, 1 to 4 p.m., through Dec. 21, Bead in Hand: Create a beaded snowflake in a choice of three sizes ($6, $12, $15). Also, visit during winter break drop-ins to make snowflakes or memory-wire bracelets ($6), on select dates from Dec. 22 through Jan. 4. Info: beadinhand.com/holiday-extravaganzas.html. 145 Harrison St., Oak Park.

Unity Temple Restoration
Foundation Holiday Concert

Saturday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m., Unity Temple: The Oak Park String Academy joins the Chicago Consort (from the Western Springs School of Talent Education) for a special holiday performance at the Frank Lloyd Wright UNESCO World Heritage designated site. $10, suggested donation. Tickets/more: utrf.org/chamber-music-series/. 875 Lake St., Oak Park.

“Sing We Joyous!”

Saturday, Dec. 14, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 15, 4 to 6 p.m., First United Church: Hear the family-friendly show featuring the Oriana Singers, City Voices, Pro Musica Youth Chorus and the Sing We Joyous Orchestra perform the annual Christmas show with this year’s theme – Stars. Show includes performance on tuned wine glasses, audience sing-along and the always-new and comedic rendition of “Twelve Days of Christmas.” $25; free, 8 and under. Tickets: singwejoyous2019.brownpapertickets.com or at the door. 848 Lake St., Oak Park.

Holiday Magic and Zoo Year’s Eve

Saturdays and Sundays, through Dec. 22, and Thursday through Tuesday, Dec. 26 to 31, 4 to 9 p.m., Brookfield Zoo: Be dazzled by more than one million LED lights, including a new 600-foot-long tunnel featuring colorful lights synchronized to music. Converse with the giant “talking” tree, see ice carving demonstrations, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus (through Dec. 22), enjoy performances, go ice skating and more. Many animal areas are open, hear a Zoo Chat or see a Dolphins in Action presentation (6 p.m. nightly). Zoo opens at 10 a.m.; guest can stay for Holiday Magic activities starting at 4 p.m. On Dec. 31, families can ring in 2020 at the Zoo Year’s Eve celebration. Holly Jolly Theater features an early countdown at 8 p.m. with a DJ, games and more. Families with younger children can celebrate inside Hamill Family Play Zoo. Youngsters can make festive noisemakers and celebrate 2020 with a countdown at 7:30 p.m. $21.95; $15.95, ages 3-11/seniors; free, 2 and under. Discounted tickets available at Chicagoland Meijer locations. $14, parking. More: CZS.org/HolidayMagic, 708-688-8000. 8400 31st St., Brookfield.

“Frozen” Breakfast with Santa

Saturday, Dec. 14, 8:30 a.m. to Noon, Auditorium, Riverside Township: Enjoy crafts, games and food and get professional photos taken while visiting the jolly old man. Choose a time slot – 8 to 9:30 a.m. or 10 to 11:30 a.m. Brought by the Riverside Junior Woman’s Charity. $10 per child. Tickets/more: riversidejuniors.org/santa. 27 Riverside Rd., Riverside.

Stories with Santa

Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., River Forest Library:  This all-ages holiday program features stories, crafts and visits with Santa upstairs by the fireplace. Pictures with Santa will be posted to the library website and caregivers may take their own keepsake photos too. Free, drop-in program. Questions: 708-366-5205. 735 Lathrop Ave, River Forest.

Cookies and Cocoa with Santa

Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Nineteenth Century Club: Enjoy face painting, holiday music with sing-a-long and shopping for gifts and crafts. Bring your camera or smartphone for photos with Santa. $5; $20; per family. Inquire: 708-386-2729. 178 Forest Ave., Oak Park. 

Breakfast with Santa and Elf

Sunday, Dec. 15, 9 to 10:30 a.m., Village Commons: Eat a pancake breakfast, play games, make a craft and visit with Santa and Buddy the Elf (bring your camera). $6. Brought by North Riverside Parks and Rec. Register in person or call: 708-442-5515. 2401 Desplaines Ave., North Riverside.

“Hershel and the
Hanukkah Goblins”

Sunday, Dec. 15, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 22, 1 and 4 p.m., Temple Har Zion: The Strawdog Theatre Company, Chicago, is bringing its production to River Forest. See the stage adaptation of the Caldecott Honor winning book by Eric Kimmel. Will Hershel of Ostropool outsmart the goblins who haunt the old synagogue so that villagers can celebrate Hanukkah? All ages. $24; $18.50, 12 and under. Tickets: wsthz.org. Also playing through Dec. 29 at Strawdog Theatre, Chicago. More: strawdog.org. Temple Har Zion: 1040 N. Harlem Ave., River Forest.

Vintage Holiday TV Shows

Sunday, Dec. 15, 1 to 4 p.m., Meeting Room, Brookfield Public Library: Celebrate the season with holiday episodes of classic TV shows including The Avengers, The Twilight Zone and The Dick Van Dyke Show. Register: brookfield.evanced.info/signup/Calendar. 3609 Grand Blvd., Brookfield.

Gaudete Festival

Sunday, Dec. 15, 4 p.m., St. John Lutheran Church: Be immersed in the spirit of the original Medieval- and Renaissance-style Gaudete Festivals while hearing period carols and original compositions, which include dance, instrumentation, singing and more. A light supper reception follows. $15; $17, at door. Tickets: 708-366-3226, stjohnforestpark.org/Gaudete. 305 Circle Ave., Forest Park.

“Holidays a cappella”

Sunday, Dec. 15, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Pilgrim Congregational Church: Chicago a cappella perform a collection of familiar and unusual songs, including Christmas spirituals, contemporary classics, traditional carols in new arrangements and music for Chanukah. $43; preferred seating; $35, general; $32 seniors; $20, under age 30. Tickets/more: chicagoacappella.org, 773-281-7820. 460 Lake St., Oak Park.

“An Off-White Christmas”
Staged Reading

Monday, Dec. 16, 1 to 2:30 p.m., Nineteenth Century Club: Meet Chicago Literary Hall of Fame founder and Executive Director Donald G. Evans of Oak Park, who is the author of a collection of unconventional short stories on the holiday season. Actors who participated in the recently released audio book will be doing a reading of the story “Bah.” A Q&A with Evans and illustrator Hannah Jennings follows. Books available for sale and signing. $15, suggested donation. 178 Forest Ave., Oak Park.

“It’s A Wonderful Life”

Wednesday, Dec. 18, 1* and 7 p.m., Lake Theatre: In this classic 1946 film, Jimmy Stewart’s character may not ever get out of the small town where he grew up, but his angel, Clarence, will show him that life is worth living, no matter where that might be. *1 p.m. show is a Dementia Friendly Film Screening. $6, matinee; $8.50, evening. 1022 Lake St., Oak Park.

Holidays Around the World

Wednesday, Dec. 18, 4 to 5 p.m., Meeting Room, Dole Library: Discover world holidays through crafts, games, books and artifacts from the Multicultural Collection. Ages 5 . More: oppl.org/calendar. 255 Augusta St., Oak Park.

Voices of Oak-Leyden

Wednesday, Dec. 18, 6 to 8:30 p.m., Veterans Room, Main Library: Catch the holiday tour of The Oak-Leyden Adult Choir, comprised of participants in Oak-Leyden’s Lifelong Learning Centers and Residential Services. They are said to bring “joy to all who hear them.” 834 Lake St., Oak Park. 

Holiday Brass and Choral Concert

Thursday, Dec. 19, 8 p.m., Grace Lutheran Church:

Music of the Baroque presents “joyful carols, solemn chant and jubilant works for brass” in a program with music dating from the 300s to the 17th century. $25 to $70. Tickets/more: baroque.org, 312-551-1414. 7300 Division St., River Forest.

Home for the Holidays

Saturday, Dec. 21, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Downtown Oak Park: Enjoy the old-fashioned holiday spirit and shop local. Horse-drawn sleigh rides – board at 106 N. Marion Hot cocoa and cookies, warming tent on Westgate

Santa roaming the streets and posing for photos (noon to 3 p.m.). Carolers perform holiday favorites (noon to 2 p.m.)

Free. On Marion St. between Lake St. and North Blvd.

Khanike Night

Monday, Dec. 23, 6 to 9 p.m., Buzz Café: There are two seatings. First, 6:00 to 7:15 p.m., for families and children; second, 7:30 to 8:45 p.m., for teens and adults. Buzz provides latkes, salad. Guest provide singing and Freylach. $8.50 per person. Reservations: goo.gl/cjLrvw. Questions: mikebass9@gmail.com. 905 S. Lombard Ave., Oak Park.

Kwanzaa Celebration 

Sunday, Dec. 29, 2 to 5 p.m., Veterans Room, Main Library: Join members of the community to celebrate Kwanzaa, a celebration of family, community and culture. All ages. Inquire: npriddy@oppl.org. 834 Lake St., Oak Park.

Noon Year’s Eve

Monday, Dec. 31, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., River Forest Public Library: Be the first to celebrate; countdown to 2020 with activities, dancing and snacks with a festive flair. Children of all ages with caregivers. 735 Lathrop Ave., River Forest.

New Year’s Eve Countdown Celebration

Tuesday, Dec. 31, Noon to 4 p.m., Wonder Works Children’s Museum: Countdown to 2020 with games, crafts, refreshments and more at this event geared to families with young children. $13; $5, members. Not part of regular museum admission. More: wonder-works.org. 6445 W. North Ave., Oak Park.

Queerios Holiday Party

Saturday, Jan. 4, Noon to 4 p.m., Meeting Room, Maze Library: Queerios is a library-based meeting space for those in grades 6 to 12 in the LGBTQ community and their allies. Come celebrate the holidays with a potluck (bring a favorite holiday dish, cookies, candy or just yourself). Also, make buttons and play a Murder Mystery game. Pizza provided. Held in partnership with OPRF High School’s A Place for All and the Rainbow Tribes of both Julian and Brooks Middle Schools. Question: jvaughn@oppl.org. 845 Gunderson Ave., Oak Park.

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