Chicago is host to hundreds of fall and winter events that appeal to locals and tourists alike. The huge number and variety of these activities can make it difficult to prioritize the events that meet your entertainment needs. But with a can-do attitude, a CTA pass and, yes, some cash, your November weekends will be packed in no time.
Christkindlmarket: Nov. 18-Dec. 24 at Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington St.)
This iconic outdoor market was inspired by Christmas villages in Nuremberg, Germany, and it’s known for being one of the best holiday markets in Chicago. Christkindlmarket features well- known German staples such as cuckoo clocks, nutcrackers, wooden craftwork and beer steins. The holiday celebration would not be complete without traditional German food and drinks. Authentic German-style sauerkraut, sausages, potato pancakes and assorted sweets can be purchased at the market, along with Glühwein and, of course, beer. But there’s a catch: The market only accepts cash for the assorted items. Located in Daley Plaza beginning Nov. 18, Christkindlmarket is free to enter and is a must-visit this sea- son. The festival is known to be incredibly popular, so expect it to be busy. It is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Blue Man Group: November-March at Briar Street Theater
(3133 N Halsted St.)
Best known for its energetic and innovative performances, the Chicago company of Blue Man Group is continuing its ongoing run at Briar Street Theater, a small but famous venue. Blue Man Group appeals to people of all ages by combining music, humor, technology and multiple mediums of art. Tickets for the show range from $59- $109 and can be purchased from Blue Man Group’s website.
“Tattoo”: Through April 30 at Field Museum (1400 S. Lake Shore Drive)
The Field Museum’s latest exhibition, “Tattoo,” has eye-catching visuals and fascinating information on the history behind the art form. Visitors can learn about the cultural significance of ancient methods behind tattooing and watch local artists make their permanent mark on clients who set up appointments earlier in the year. This edgy exhibition runs until April 30 and is included in the Field Museum’s discovery pass and all-access pass. Students with a valid student ID can purchase a discovery pass for $26 and an all-access pass for $32.
Band of Horses: Nov. 18 at Aragon Ballroom (1106 W. Lawrence Ave.)
Grammy-nominated, indie-rock powerhouse Band of Horses is playing at the Aragon Ballroom on Nov. 16. In June, Band of Horses released its fifth album, “Why Are You OK?” and was favored by audiences. With its signature rootsy, folk sound, this band is not one you’ll want to miss. Tickets start at $49 and can be purchased from Band of Horses’ website.
River North Beer Fest: Nov. 18 at Moe’s Cantina and Old Crow Smokehouse River North (149 W. Kinzie St.)
Why spend a Friday night at a shabby bar when you can be drinking cheap booze at the River North Beer Fest? The fest is your chance to sample more than 25 beers and mingle with other beer lovers. The event includes some of the best craft breweries from all over the country. You must be 21 or older with a valid ID to attend. The early bird tickets for the event are $50 each, plus fees, and can be purchased online at rivernorthbeerfest.weebly.com. Discounts are also available for groups of five or more.
ZooLights: Weekends starting Nov. 25-Jan. 1 at Lincoln Park Zoo (2001 N. Clark St.)
Lincoln Park Zoo’s annual tradition is back for the holidays. ZooLights offers visitors the opportunity to view thousands of Christmas lights around Lincoln Park Zoo and participate in other winter-friendly activities. The first 1,000 people to enter the ZooLights event each night will be given a pair of special holiday glasses for better viewing of the 3D installations. Visitors can also enjoy hot beverages, nightly ice carving demonstrations and ice skating, all under the blanket of the colorful lights. This event begins at 4:30 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Nov. 25 to Jan. 1. Admission to ZooLights is free.
McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade: Nov. 26 from Congress Parkway to Randolph Street
A true Chicago tradition, the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade welcomes people of all ages to witness its extravagant floats and balloons, featured celebrities and exciting performances. The parade begins at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and continues until 11 a.m, but be warned: the nicer the weather, the earlier spectators will begin crowding the parade route to get the best view. If your goal is to watch parade performers, your best bet is to get a spot between Congress Parkway and Harrison Street. If you’d rather see the balloons up close, make your way to the intersection ofVan Buren Street and State Street. The parade is the perfect way to start your Thanksgiving and is scheduled early enough that you can still gorge yourself with turkey and mashed potatoes later in the day.