Now a beloved Chicago tradition, The Goodman Theatre ushers in the holiday season with its adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic holiday story A Christmas Carol. Audiences look forward to the "bah humbugs," the electrifying arrival of the ghosts, the jubilant musical numbers and dancing, and Scrooge's joyful rediscovery of life, love and the Christmas spirit. Goodman's Carol continues to lift heats and spirits after four decades more than a million visitors, and the timeless holiday tale promises to be merrier and more magical than ever. The Daily Herald says the play is "the crown jewel of the holiday season" -- find out for yourself or relive the magic again.
Holiday & Christmas Plays in Chicago
A List of Holiday & Christmas Shows in Chicago This 2023 Season
Are you ready to immerse yourself in the enchanting world of holiday cheer and Christmas magic? Look no further, as we present to you the definitive guide to Chicago's best Holiday & Christmas Shows for 2023. Whether you're a fan of musicals, plays, family-friendly entertainment, dance performances, or classical masterpieces, Chicago has something spectacular in store for you this holiday season. With the holidays near, here is a list of a few shows that may get you in the holiday spirit.
Check back soon as we continue to add more shows as the holidays and Christmas get closer.
Most Popular Holiday & Christmas Shows in Chicago
'Twas the Night Before... is an exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas classic as only Cirque du Soleil could imagine. This festive show about the wonders of sharing and friendship promises to spark lasting memories in the hearts of families this holiday season. Join Isabella, a curious girl who's become jaded by the hoopla surrounding Christmas, as she is whisked away to an upside-down, inside-out world where she meets characters inspired by the original timeless poem.
Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical is the record-setting Broadway holiday sensation which features the hit songs "You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome Christmas" from the original animated special. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is "two sizes too small," decides to steal Christmas away from the Holiday loving Whos. Magnificent sets and costumes inspired by Dr. Seuss' original illustrations help transport audiences to the whimsical world of Whoville and helps remind us of the true meaning of the holiday season. Don't miss what The New York Times calls "AN EXTRAORDINARY PERFORMANCE! 100 times better than any bedtime story."
George Bailey, the Everyman from small town Bedford Falls whose dreams of escape and adventure were stopped by family obligation and civic duty, has fallen onto desperate times. Only a miracle can save him from despair. Filled with original music and classic holiday carols, this critically acclaimed, warm "holiday favorite makes the bell ring every time." (Chicago Tribune) For 20 years, American Blues has treated audiences to a live retelling of the Frank Capra classic in a 1940s radio broadcast tradition, making It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! the second longest-running holiday play in Chicago!
It's three days before Christmas and Mayor Fox has just announced a Christmas talent contest with a grand prize of fifty dollars! Meanwhile, times are tough for Ma and Emmet Otter since Pa passed away, and winning that prize money would allow them to secretly buy each other a Christmas gift. Emmet considers forming a jug-band with his friends, but in order to do that he'll have to put a hole in Ma's washtub. The problem is, Ma earns money by doing other folks' laundry in the washtub. Ma thinks about hocking Pa's old toolbox so she can make a costume for the contest, but Emmet uses those tools to do odd jobs. As Christmas Eve and the talent contest quickly approach, will Ma and Emmet sacrifice what little they have, or will their Christmas wishes come true?
Other Holiday & Christmas Shows in Chicago
Set in 1920's 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 with a sumptuous costume and set design inspired by the unique sophistication of the Art Deco era. The Art Deco Nutcracker is Alexei 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."
Now a popular annual tradition, The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party is the perfect way to kick off your family's holiday festivities. Three adorable Beatrix Potter favorite tales are unspooled in this mesmerizing, interactive trunk and puppet show, complete with live music. Then, audience members are invited on stage to pull the levers and turn the same cranks that produced such whimsical images of surprise and delight. After photos with the cast, families are whisked to a Victorian-style dining hall, which is adorned with beautiful holiday decor and open tables set with cookies and warm cocoa.
The Buttcracker: A Nutcracker Burlesque© subverts the classic holiday ballet to promote diversity in body, gender expression, sexuality and race. The show utilizes the platform of parody to encourage audiences to imagine a more inclusive world, redefining the art of the tease through an alternative take on burlesque.
It is a re-creation of a night before Christmas in the West of Ireland in the 1940s, before the advent of motorcar, the television, and the telephone. The show takes us back to rural Ireland where neighbors gathered at each other's houses and brought with them - not gold frankincense or myrrh, but gifts equally precious - their gifts of music, song, dance and storytelling.
Brush up on your Yuletide trivia, watch as audience members play for actual prizes in this uniquely interactive show. Laugh as the show tackles the wackiest myths and most outrageous facts about Christmas, including jolly old St. Nick's origins and where candy canes come from. There’s also a hilarious quiz pitting boys against girls on stage to see who knows the most about the holiday season! Watch and laugh from the comfort of your own home!
Set in Victorian-era London, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol tells the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts that visit him one fateful Christmas Eve hoping to change his miserly ways. Continue your tradition or start a new one by gathering the whole family for the 30th anniversary of Drury Lane Theatre's heartwarming production. Complete with falling snow and magical illusions, the play is a visually-stunning experience and, at one hour long, perfect for children of all ages.
Based on a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in 1843, intended to be a political manifesto exposing the issues surrounding poverty, the tale still pushes boundaries and touches hearts today. Frugal Ebenezer Scrooge is unkind to his employee, poor family man Bob Cratchit, despite the implication of generous spirit surrounding the holiday season. Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of his former business partner and three spirits who teach him the error of his ways.
THE CHRISTMAS SCHOONER is based on the true story of the Rouse Simmons, a Great Lakes schooner whose captain during the late 19th century risked life and limb to transport fir trees from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Chicago's German immigrants, who missed the Christmas tradition in their home country of decorating evergreen trees. The treacherous voyage in the often-stormy December waters of Lake Michigan brought the Christmas Tree tradition to America. Following the musical's 1995 premiere, it immediately became a Chicago holiday tradition. It was performed every year by Bailiwick Repertory from 1995 to 2008 and has enjoyed at least six holiday season productions in the area since then.
The classic story of Christmas appears in a new light. Traveling through the desert and following the star, our heroes meet new friends and help those who have lost heart to believe again. They find themselves in the palace of King Herod and in a mysterious cave, where a serious and dangerous test awaits them. Completely original, interesting, and very beautiful music has been written for this performance. Songs created specifically for this show will be debuted here. Children, teenagers, and adult actors bring us this old; this new; this timeless story of faith, dreams, hope and searching.
In the early years of his young adult life C.S. Lewis believed the story of Christ's birth was nothing more than feel-good myth. That all changed after a particular encounter with his great friend and fellow author, J.R.R. Tolkien. Although both men loved mythology in general, Tolkien was convinced that the Jesus myth was the one true myth. That was the start of Lewis' journey from Atheism to Christianity. From that point on, Christmas, for Lewis, took on an entirely different meaning. Here we find him at his home near Oxford on Christmas Eve hosting a group of Americans who are spending the holiday in England. They are about to experience an unforgettable assortment of Yuletide recollections which stimulates a whole range of emotions - curiosity, laughter, gladness and even some tears. Above all, they will discover how that encounter with Tolkien forever changed his Christmas celebrations.
The dramedy tells the story of a lonely, anxious and slightly angry woman who discovers, on Christmas Eve, that her ex-husband is getting remarried. Before she can indulge in her misery, the very dead and not too debauched ghost of Elvis Presley appears in her apartment.
Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish - The Musical tells the story of a rag doll named Eleanor who lives in the magical world of The North Pole. Despite her love for her family there, including Santa, Mrs. "Cookie" Claus, Clara Claus, and the elves - Twinkle, Sprinkle, and Sparkle, Eleanor's very merry Christmas wish is for a best friend and home of her own. Realizing that wishing is not enough, she writes a letter to Santa expressing her dream. The letter opens the door to answering many questions and to the journey which leads to her wish (and others) coming true.
Buddy was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa's elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn't fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father. This holiday season relive this heart-warming holiday classic on a giant screen as every note of John Debney's wonderful score is played live to picture in: Elf in Concert!
Auditorium Theatre on Nov 25
Rosemont Theatre on Nov 26
An Evening with Chevy Chase and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation will come to The Chicago Theatre. Chevy and Jayni will share their behind-the-scenes stories and personal anecdotes about the making of this beloved movie that has become a Christmas tradition. But the laughter doesn't stop there! We'll also be taking questions from the audience, giving you the chance to have your questions answered and hear firsthand from Chevy about his storied career including SNL, Caddyshack and so much more.
Jon Jory's lovely adaptation of the short story by O. Henry is about a young couple, Jim and Della,who are very much in love but facing financial hardships. As Christmas approaches, they both want to buy each other meaningful gifts but lack the necessary funds. Jory's adaptation, which includes holiday musical interludes, illustrates the depth of love and the willingness to make sacrifices for the ones we care about. It is a classic tale that explores themes of selflessness, the true meaning of gift-giving, and the value of relationships.
Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to kick off its 2023/24 season this November with The Golden Girls Save Xmas - The Lost Episode Parody Series, featuring an all-new holiday tale by Artistic Director David Cerda*, directed by Frankie Leo Bennett. Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, Sophia and their whacky friends and relatives
Are you tired of the same-old holiday reruns? Then dash through the snow (grey slush) to The Second City for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Sweater. Festive family gatherings, office parties, classic holiday movies, and Mariah Carey's entire catalogue will all get roasted like chestnuts on an open fire in this fast-paced, interactive comedy revue stuffed with seasonal songs, sketches, and of course, a generous helping of our world-famous improv comedy.
A traveling troupe of actors comes to town to find no one celebrating Hanukkah. They must put on a show to save the holiday! Will they bring back the spirit of Hanukkah to the town? Will Hershel of Ostropol outsmart the goblins who haunt the old synagogue? In this adaptation of the Caldecott Honor-winning book, the story comes to life with music, puppets and a little bit of magic for families of all ages to enjoy.
A holiday mash-up for the whole family, The Hip Hop Nutcracker is celebrating its 10th anniversary this season as it returns for another spectacular tour. Directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, this contemporary dance spectacle is a re-mixed and re-imagined version of the classic, smashing hip hop dance and Tchaikovsky's timeless music together into a heart-stirring and inspirational holiday event. The Hip Hop Nutcracker is brought to life by a powerhouse cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop's founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set.
Celebrate the holidays with the entire family at The Illusionists - Magic of the Holidays, a mind-blowing showcase featuring jaw-dropping talents of the most incredible illusionists on earth. The Illusionists - Magic of the Holidays has shattered box office records across the globe and dazzles audiences of all ages with a powerful mix of the most outrageous and astonishing acts ever seen on stage. This non-stop show is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions.
This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble led by the Center's staff that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.
This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.
Celebrating his 67th year in the music industry, legendary singer Johnny Mathis' sublime vocal approach to music eclipses passing fads and trends. He has performed songs in an incredible variety of styles and categories - from music composed for stage and film to golden era jazz standards, contemporary pop hits, and holiday music, all of which has assured his reputation as one of the most enduring vocalists in music history.
It's December of 1963, less than two weeks after the JFK assassination, and Judy Garland has a Christmas show to produce. Join Judy and her family in her live studio audience and enjoy the madness as she spirals through a twisted holiday special with guest stars Jack Jones, Mel Torme and her spirited musical ghosts. This riotous comedy send-up is guaranteed to put you into the spirit of Judy and her holidaze!
Becka, age twelve, and Boomer, age eight, are sisters whose parents are in the middle of a separation at Christmas time. Becka, a precocious computer hacker, has become cynical and withdrawn. Boomer tries to be the peacemaker. While taking her sister to the mall to see Santa, Becka is goaded by her hacker friends into telling Boomer that there is no Santa. Mrs. Rosen, comes into everyone's lives and begins to change the equation. She challenges Becka to prove there is no Santa by using her computer to see if she can't find him hooked up to a network somewhere.
"Mannheim Steamroller Christmas" by Chip Davis has been America's favorite holiday tradition for over 35 years! Grammy Award winner Chip Davis has created a show that features Mannheim Steamroller Christmas classics along with a selection of compositions from Chip's groundbreaking Fresh Aire series which introduced the distinctive Mannheim sound to all of America. The program celebrates the group's recent anniversary of 35 years since the first Christmas album and over 40 years since the first Fresh Aire album and includes dazzling multimedia effects performed in an intimate setting. Experience the magic as the spirit of the season comes alive with the signature sound of Mannheim Steamroller.
An avowed holiday skeptic, Aunt Trudy has been recruited to channel her late husband Joe's famous Christmas cheer over a Zoom call with family. But as Trudy becomes more absorbed in her own version of the Ebeneezer Scrooge story, the puppets take on a life of their own, and the family's call transforms into a stunning cinematic adaptation of Dickens's classic ghost story. After the stunning success of its online Christmas Carol, Manual Cinema uses its groundbreaking creativity and powerful storytelling to elevate one of the most famous holiday stories ever told to new heights in this unique theatrical experience. Featuring the combined talents of actors, puppeteers and musicians, come experience a new holiday tradition unlike anything else you've seen before.
In this charming "sequel" to "Pride and Prejudice," Mary Bennet, the bookish, unmarried middle sister yearns for more in life when an expected guest joins the Christmas festivities at Pemberley. The Chicago Tribune hails "Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley" as "unstuffy, highly entertaining and warm-spirited work, the kind of thing multiple generations can enjoy together;" and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls it, "a smart and moving comedy for women and the people who love them."
It's almost Christmas, and Santa's list is missing! Join Mrs. Claus and the Elf Class of 2022 as they try to find it in time to save Christmas. Who stole the list? How will they get it back? Will Mrs. Claus save the day? Chicago Kids Company's biggest and most colorful show will put you in the Holiday Spirit in no time! The show will be performing at both the Beverly Arts Center and the Stahl Family Theater so check website for times at each theatre.
Jefferey Cooke and his "My Christmas Spectacular!" return to the Venus Cabaret Theater for a second holiday season! For One Night Only, join us for a blowout holiday celebration that is bound to push the limits of good taste. "My Christmas Spectacular 2023!" promises to revive all the best moments from last years' hilarity and heart,... But just so much MORE OF IT!!! More SONGS, More PROPS, More GAMES & PRIZES, More CHEESINESS, More COSTUME CHANGES, and definitely,... MORE SEQUINS!!!
This Christmas, bring the whole family back to a simpler time with NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet! The acclaimed holiday tradition is live in theaters for the 30th anniversary tour. Gather friends and family to relive your fondest childhood memories. NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet is overflowing with larger than life puppets, breathtaking acrobatics and dazzling costumes. Experience the exquisite artistry of the international cast featuring dancers from all over the world performing at the highest level of classical technique. Share in the message of peace and harmony and get your tickets now!
Witness the magical 1893 Chicago World's Fair with young Marie and her Nutcracker Prince in two-time Tony Award winning choreographer Wheeldon's holiday masterpiece. It's a celebratory Christmas Eve, and thanks to a surprise visit from the enchanting Great Impresario, Marie embarks on a spellbinding adventure into a realm of spectacle and wonder. Experience our holiday magic in this must-see tradition boldly reimagined for a new generation.
Salt Creek Ballet's The Nutcracker marches back onto the North Shore Center stage with an affordable full-length holiday production performed in the grand tradition by a professional company with exceptional guest soloists! For a holiday production that first delighted audiences way back in 1892, Salt Creek Ballet's The Nutcracker demonstrates how to make this historic ballet and holiday tradition just as accessible and relevant today. The Nutcracker is the perfect way to introduce young children to the power and beauty of classical dance.
THE SNOW QUEEN is a rockin' fairy-tale, guaranteed to bring a smile to audiences of all ages! In this whimsical and edgy adventure, Gerda commences on a dangerous quest to save her best friend Kai before he is trapped forever in the Snow Queen's palace. In a land where animals talk and flowers sing, join Gerda on her journey to rescue her beloved friend. Filled with quirky and off-kilter characters and lively rock music, THE SNOW QUEEN is a perfect way to introduce young audiences to theatre.
In its world premiere, SUGAR HILL reveals the glamour of the 1930s as seen through the lens of the nonconformist daughter of a high-society Black family in Manhattan and her own fantastic dreamworld in the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem. A jazz-steeped reimagining of the classic tale, this Nutcracker dance-story sends a stirring message that champions individuality and the journey to find the power of your unique self: "Go find what makes you different to find your magic".
Follow the story of a young bird named Max and his family, as they begin their journey south for the winter. When Max gets blown off course and ends up at the North Pole...his adventure begins! Dancing toy soldiers, caroling worms and performing poinsettia's, light up the stage in Lightwire Theater's A Very Electric Christmas. Audiences of all ages will treasure this magical and captivating tale of family, friendship and hope set to timeless holiday hits, including Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey, and Tchaikovsky.
It's just not the holidays without hot cocoa...and hot takes! Make merry at The Second City with this original sketch, variety, and improv celebration of the season. After all, what better time to look back and laugh at 2022? Let's toast to the best...and roast all the rest.
The holidays, homecoming time-and for many that means a WHITE CHRISTMAS. The all-time number-one pop song and most-recorded tune in history inspired first a beloved classic film, and now a family musical . . . as rare as Texas snow. Borrowing liberally from the movie everyone loves and sprinkled with Irving Berlin's best songs (Blue Skies, I Love a Piano, Count Your Blessings), this heartwarmer about two war veterans turned vaudeville hoofers, the songbird sisters they can't help but fall for, and the retired general whose upstate farm they all invade at Yuletide refreshes the tradition of a musical for all ages over the holidays . . . you've been dreaming of a White Christmas. Come dream along with us!
The year is 0. A brand new star appears in the sky. Three religious scholars thrust together by fate must embark on a race against time to catch the birth of God (or, wait, is it the Son of God. Both? Neither?). To get there, they'll have to endure perilous deserts, cutthroat bandits, the mad puppet king of Judea, and most of all... each other. It's Bethlehem or Bust in this road trip comedy 2,023 years in the making.