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Chicago Loop Alliance releases ‘Holidays in the Loop’ list highlighting 2021 festivities

Posted  16 months ago

Press contact: Jessica Cabe | PR and Communications Manager, Chicago Loop Alliance jessica@chicagoloopalliance.com | 312-782-9160

MEDIA: Photos and video available for download


CHICAGO—In order to ensure Chicagoans and visitors enjoy the holiday season to the fullest, Chicago Loop Alliance has once again launched the annual “Holidays in the Loop” guide. Downtown businesses and attractions are featured in printed pocket guides distributed around the city and suburbs; three State Street CTA kiosks; social media promotions; and through a regularly updated online guide.

“We certainly made the most of the holiday season last year under the circumstances, but we’re so thrilled to see many of our beloved traditions return in a post-vaccine world,” said Chicago Loop Alliance President and CEO Michael Edwards. “The theaters are back, Christkindlmarket is back, our city’s in-person tree lighting is back—this is exactly the joyful and safe holiday season we all need and deserve. The Holidays in the Loop guide we’ve put together will help anyone maximize the most wonderful time of the year downtown, where Chicago’s holiday traditions are made.”

For ideas on how to make the most of the holidays in Chicago’s official downtown, check out the listings below. For more details, visit LoopChicago.com/Holidays. Share your Loop holiday moments on social media using #BackInTheLoop for a chance to win a $1,000 Loop staycation package.

Performing Arts

What: Teatro ZinZanni
When: Now playing
Where: Spiegeltent ZaZou – Cambria Hotel, 32 W. Randolph St.
Description: Described as the “Kit Kat Klub on acid,” Teatro ZinZanni brings to Chicago an international cast of premier entertainers for its anticipated engagement. Teatro ZinZanni’s founder Norm Langill will continue to direct the production. The menu will continue to be designed by Chicago’s own Debbie Sharpe – The Goddess of The Goddess and Grocer. The included four-course gourmet feast features multiple entrée selections, including vegan options. A fabulous ala carte cocktail menu, wine and beer list, and special occasion treats round out the dining experience.

What: “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”
When: Nov. 2-7
Where: CIBC Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St.
Description: “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. Featuring a stunning array of beloved songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and the title song, “Beautiful” has a book by and Tony Award-nominee and Academy Award-nominated writer Douglas McGrath, direction by Marc Bruni, choreography by Josh Prince, and took home two 2014 Tony Awards and a 2015 Grammy Award.

What: “Paradise Square”
When: Nov. 2-Dec. 5
Where: James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St.
Description: Within this galvanizing story of racial harmony undone by a country at war with itself, we meet the denizens of a local saloon called Paradise Square: the indomitable Black woman who owns it; her Irish-Catholic sister-in-law and her Black minister husband; a conflicted newly arrived Irish immigrant; a fearless freedom seeker; an anti-abolitionist political boss and a penniless songwriter trying to capture it all. They have conflicting notions of what it means to be an American while living through one of the most tumultuous eras in our country’s history.

What: Disney’s “Frozen”
When: Nov. 19, 2021-Jan. 22, 2022
Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St.
Description: From the producer of “The Lion King” and “Aladdin,” “Frozen,” the Tony-nominated Best Musical, is now on tour across North America and the critics rave, “It’s simply magical!” (LA Daily News). Heralded by The New Yorker as “thrilling” and “genuinely moving,” “Frozen” features the songs you know and love from the original Oscar-winning film, plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters, Oscar winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez and EGOT winner Robert Lopez. Oscar winner Jennifer Lee (book), Tony and Olivier Award winner Michael Grandage (director), and Tony winner Rob Ashford (choreographer) round out the creative team that has won a cumulative 16 Tony Awards. An unforgettable theatrical experience filled with sensational special effects, stunning sets and costumes, and powerhouse performances, “Frozen” is everything you want in a musical: It’s moving. It’s spectacular. And above all, it’s pure Broadway joy.

What: “A Christmas Carol”
When: Nov. 20-Dec. 31
Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.
Description: Chicago’s “perfect holiday treat for the family” (ABC-7) returns to stage for its 44th annual production—following the popular 2020 Audio Adaptation, experienced by 100,000+ worldwide. Goodman Theatre’s classic “A Christmas Carol” is the heartwarming story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s discovery of kindness, compassion and redemption—a must-see Chicago holiday tradition now in its fifth decade, enjoyed by nearly 2 million theatergoers. “Topnotch performances, spirited song-and-dance numbers” (Newcity), “amazing sets, gorgeous costumes and eye-popping effects” (Chicago Reader) bring to life “the best Christmas story ever told” (Time Out Chicago).

What: “Home Alone” in Concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
When: Nov. 26-28
Where: Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.
Description: Don’t miss this beloved holiday favorite on the big screen at Symphony Center as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs John Williams’ delightful, Academy Award-nominated score. “Home Alone” is hilarious, heart-warming fun for the entire family.

What: “’Twas the Night Before…” by Cirque du Soleil
When: Nov. 26-Dec. 5
Where: The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St.
Description: “’Twas the Night Before…” by Cirque du Soleil is the exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas classic as only Cirque du Soleil can imagine. This vibrant acrobatic spectacle about the joy of sharing and friendship promises to spark lasting memories in the hearts of children and adults alike. Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever Christmas show, “’Twas the Night Before…” is a flurry of Christmas cheer, rip-roaring fun and hugely lovable characters, while introducing audiences to the magic of Cirque du Soleil and helping families create new holiday traditions.

What: Leslie Odom, Jr. – The Christmas Tour
When: Dec. 4
Where: CIBC Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St.
Description: Leslie Odom, Jr., is a multifaceted, award-winning vocalist, songwriter, author and actor. With a career that spans all performance genres, he has received recognition with Tony and Grammy Awards as well as Emmy and, most recently, two Academy Award nominations for his excellence and achievements in Broadway, television, film and music. Odom most recently starred in the critically acclaimed Amazon film adaptation of “One Night in Miami…,” in which he performed the songs of legendary singer Sam Cooke. His portrayal of the soul icon and musical performance of the original song “Speak Now” was met with widespread praise and critical acclaim, earning him multiple award nominations. He can currently be heard voicing the character of Owen Tillerman in Season 2 of the Apple TV+ animated musical-comedy series “Central Park” and starring in David Chase’s “Sopranos” prequel “Many Saints of Newark.”

What: A&A Ballet’s “The Art Deco Nutcracker”
When: Dec. 4
Where: Athenaeum Theater, 2936 N. Southport Ave.
Description: Set in 1920s America, A&A Ballet's “The Art Deco Nutcracker,” featuring Tchaikovsky's beloved score, is a fresh, yet traditional take on the beloved holiday favorite. The Chicago Tribune has described it as “A glossy rendition filled with gorgeous, glitzy costumes,” and The Cincinnati Enquirer writes that Kremnev has “brought dance to a whole new level.” “The Art Deco Nutcracker” is Kremnev's eighth full-length ballet. His work has been presented at the world-renowned Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Lincoln Center in New York, and the Opernhaus Zurich in Switzerland, among other prestigious venues across the globe. The Huffington Post describes his choreography as “encompassing the best and brilliance of what movement can be while breaking boundaries of what we know.”

What: The Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
When: Dec. 4-26
Where: Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive
Description: The Joffrey Ballet's "The Nutcracker" is a must-see tradition boldly reimagined for a new generation. Christopher Wheeldon’s reimagined classic follows young Marie and the Nutcracker Prince on a Christmas Eve journey through the 1893 World’s Fair, a dazzling spectacle of sights, sounds and enchantment. This annual holiday tradition celebrates the magic of the season and the rich cultural heritage of Chicago. 

What: Sarah Brightman – “A Christmas Symphony”
When: Dec. 10
Where: Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive
Description: The world’s biggest-selling soprano and legendary Grammy Award-nominated artist, Sarah Brightman, begins a new Christmas tradition this year with her first-ever A Christmas Symphony Tour. Last year, Brightman entertained with her first-ever Christmas livestream concert Sarah Brightman: A Christmas Symphony, and it warmed hearts worldwide as the ultimate holiday event. Given the overwhelming response, and in celebration of her favorite time of year, Brightman begins a new Christmas tradition this year with her first-ever A Christmas Symphony Tour. Accompanied by an orchestra and a choir, Brightman decks the halls with show-stopping renditions of classics from the Christmas canon, along with personal holiday favorites and her greatest hits. A Christmas Symphony is sure to be an unforgettable Christmas spectacle during the most wonderful time of the year.

What: “Pretty Woman: The Musical”
When: Dec. 14-19
Where: CIBC Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St.
Description: “Pretty Woman: The Musical,” based on one of Hollywood’s most beloved romantic stories of all time, is now on tour. Starring Broadway superstar and Tony Award-nominee Adam Pascal as Edward Lewis and rising star Olivia Valli as the charming and charismatic Vivian Ward, “Pretty Woman: The Musical” springs to life with a powerhouse creative team led by two-time Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell (“Hairspray,” “Kinky Boots,” “Legally Blonde”). Brought to the stage by lead producer Paula Wagner, “Pretty Woman: The Musical” features an original score by Grammy winner Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance (“Summer of ’69,” “Heaven”), and a book by the movie’s legendary director Garry Marshall and screenwriter J. F. Lawton. “Pretty Woman: The Musical” will lift your spirits and light up your heart. “If you love the movie, you’ll love the musical!” (BuzzFeed News). Are you ready to fall in love all over again?

What: Merry, Merry Chicago!
Where: Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.
When: Dec. 17-23
Description: Chicago’s favorite musical holiday celebration returns to Symphony Center! Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and special guests share music of the holiday season in this festive program for the whole family.


What: 30th Annual Wreathed Lions at the Art Institute of Chicago
Where: 111 S. Michigan Ave.
When: Nov. 28, 2021-Jan. 7, 2022
Description: The beloved lions get their festive attire for the 30th year. Stop by to see them all dressed up and then head inside for the many wonderful exhibits of the Art Institute, including Barbara Kruger's “Thinking of You, I Mean Me, I Mean You.” The Art Institute is the second largest art museum in the country with a collection of approximately 300,000 works of art. The Art Institute of Chicago collects, preserves and interprets works of art of the highest quality, representing the world's diverse artistic traditions, for the inspiration and education of the public and in accordance with the profession's highest ethical standards and practices. With an annual visitation of about 1.5 million, the Art Institute is one of the most popular attractions for Chicago residents and visitors alike.

What: American Writers Museum
Where: 180 N. Michigan Ave.
Description: For a one-of-a-kind Chicago museum experience downtown, visit the American Writers Museum. As one of the most unique Chicago museums downtown, its mission is to celebrate the enduring influence of American writers on history, identity, culture, and daily lives.

What: Art on theMART: The Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
Where: Merchandise Mart, 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza
When: Nov. 25-Dec. 30
Description: Don’t miss this larger-than-life experience of the Joffrey’s magical holiday tradition set to the music of Tchaikovsky’s beloved score. The performance runs nightly at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., in partnership with Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. The projections — displayed on theMART’s 2.5-acre river-facade — can be viewed for free from the jetty section of the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Wells Street and Franklin Street.

What: Chicago Architecture Center
Where: 111 E. Wacker Drive
Description: The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is the city’s new all-in-one architecture experience: a museum with two floors of exhibits and a gateway to more than 85 boat, walking, bus, bike and L tours. Opened to the public in 2018, the CAC’s riverfront location is in the heart of the city, where Michigan Avenue meets the Chicago River, featuring nearly 10,000 square feet of exhibition space filled with super-sized models—and views—of iconic skyscrapers. Center exhibits focus on Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, housing types, leading architects and future projects, and include the largest scale model of the city, with more than 4,200 miniature buildings, interactive touchscreens, and a cinematic backdrop animating key moments in its history.

What: Christkindlmarket
Where: Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St.
When: Nov. 19-Dec. 24
Description: The Christkindlmarket unites cherished German and European tradition with international flair and local charm. Inspired by the 16th century Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, one of the first outdoor markets of its kind, the Christkindlmarket is well-known for its vendors’ high quality gifts and food, holiday cheer and for being the ideal place for families to make unique memories.

What: City of Chicago’s 108th Christmas Tree
Where: Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St.
When: Nov. 19, 2021-Jan. 9, 2022
Description: The official tree lighting returns in-person Nov. 19. Chicago’s “official” Christmas tree, the 108th Annual City of Chicago Christmas Tree in Millennium Park, will shine brightly through the holiday season.

What: CTA Holiday Train and Bus
Where: Throughout the Loop
Description: CTA's holiday train details and schedule are typically announced in late October.

What: Gene Siskel Film Center
Where: 164 N. State St.
Description: The Gene Siskel Film Center hosts more than 1,500 screenings and 200 filmmaker appearances every year. Since 1972, the film center has presented cutting edge cinema to an annual audience of 85,000. Programming includes annual film festivals that celebrate diverse voices and international cultures, premieres of trailblazing work by today's independent filmmakers, restorations and revivals of essential films from cinema history and insightful, provocative discussions with filmmakers and media artists.

What: Macy’s State Street
Where: 111 N. State St.
Description: The iconic flagship store on State Street gets the ultimate holiday treatment, featuring holiday window displays, their Great Tree in the Walnut Room and more. Shop, dine and mingle with Santa for stocking up on gifts for the entire family.

What: Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon
Where: 337 E. Randolph St.
When: Nov. 19, 2021-March 3, 2022
Description: It's time for one of your favorite Chicago holiday and winter traditions, ice skating on the Maggie Daley Park Ribbon. The quarter mile ribbon offers incredible views of the city and an atmosphere of good old-fashioned fun for all ages. Lace up your skates, grab a hot chocolate at the Rink Café and hit the ice. You will think you are a million miles away from the city until you look to the west to see the most magnificent skyline in the world. Skating the ribbon offers the best of both worlds, a true winter bucket list item. Reservations will be required and capacity limits will be enforced.

What: Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Where: North Michigan Avenue
When: Nov. 20
Description: The Lights Festival returns to the Mag Mile with over 200 trees illuminated along Michigan Avenue. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse lead a parade of fabulous floats, giant helium balloons, exciting marching bands, celebrities, musical performances, Santa Claus and more.

What: McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Where: Millennium Park, 1 N. Michigan Ave.
When: Nov. 19, 2021-March 6, 2022
Description: Take a spin on the ice during the 20th season of this Chicago winter tradition. Skating is free and reservations are required. Skate rental is available for an additional fee on a first come, first served basis.

What: Millennium Park Holiday Sing-Along
Where: Cloud Gate, 201 E. Randolph St.
When: Fridays, Nov. 26-Dec. 17
Description: Bundle up and belt out some holiday classics as local Chicago choral groups lead hundreds of celebrants in song at this iconic work of art in Chicago’s gorgeous Millennium Park. The new Millennium Park Holiday Sing-Along (previously “Caroling at Cloud Gate”) will invite Chicagoans and visitors to sing out and celebrate Chicago’s diverse holiday traditions on Fridays at 6 p.m. This series has been reimagined to be more inclusive of Chicago’s many faith backgrounds, cultures and holiday music traditions. Millennium Park winter programming will also include pop-up performances through the park in November and December.

What: Santa at the Berghoff
Where: 17 W. Adams St.
When: Nov. 26-27 and Dec. 4, 11, 18, and 22-23
Description: Santa has confirmed he will be back this year! Share some schnitzel with Santa this holiday season at the Loop's historic Berghoff Restaurant. His sleigh will be making stops on the above dates from 1-7 p.m.

What: Skydeck Chicago
Where: Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Drive
Description: Skydeck Chicago is the observation deck located on the 103rd floor of the iconic Willis Tower. Along with spectacular views of the city and region, the Skydeck is also home to The Ledge, a series of glass balconies extending 4.3 feet outside the building. In addition, their private dining and event space offers 360-degree views in this world-class venue.

What: Tours with Mike
Where: Various locations
Description: Tours with Mike aims to make architecture and history fun and interesting through walking, virtual and app-based tours. Tours with Mike is home of the Ugly Buildings Tour, a fun, educational roast architecture ignored. In his free time for 15 years, Mike McMain was an award-winning volunteer docent for the Chicago Architecture Center, creating some of their most popular tours for countless people from around the world. Tours With Mike makes his profession his passion as he creates and delivers an eclectic mix of fun, high-quality tour experiences. When you do a tour with Mike, you know you're getting an expert guide passionate about Chicago.

What: ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo
Where: 2001 N. Clark St.
When: Nov. 19, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022
Description: Enjoy a twinkling winter wonderland complete with festive activities. Tickets are $5 per person; free admission on Mondays and Tuesdays. Chicago’s favorite holiday tradition is back and better than ever in 2021 with a new Pepper Family Wildlife Center at the heart of the zoo, a new holiday lights experience on the Main Mall, and an exciting new light show on the South Lawn. Also new this year: sensory-friendly visit times and an impressive 18-foot holiday tree sure to inspire festive oohs and aahs.


Shop along State Street, that great street, for all your holiday needs. From apparel, to bath and body, to electronics and specialty shops, you’ll find what you need for the entire family. Find your options at LoopChicago.com/Shop.


In between shopping, seeing a show or visiting an attraction, fuel up at one of the Loop’s many great restaurants. You’ll find a variety of cuisine with plenty of grab-and-go or sit-down options. Take a look at all the Loop’s dining scene has to offer at LoopChicago.com/Eat.

About Chicago Loop Alliance

Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA)’s mission is to create, manage and promote positive and inclusive programs that attract people to the Loop and accelerate economic recovery. CLA is a membership organization as well as the sole service provider for Special Service Area#1-2015, and the Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation produces public art projects and events. For more information, please visit here.