30 of the Best Things to Do in Chicago This November

30 of the Best Things to Do in Chicago This November (Christkindlmarket)

The holiday season is almost here (can you believe it?), which means annual favorite events like Christkindlmarket, ZooLights, and the Museum of Science & Industry’s Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light exhibit are about to return to Chicago. But if you’re not quite ready to start thinking about jingle bells and gingerbread, there are still plenty of non-holiday events to enjoy this month too, including “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” in Concert, the Antiques + Modernism Show, and a visit from Michelle Obama.

Here are some of the best things to do in Chicago this month.


Nov. 20 to Dec. 2: “The Book of Mormon

Don’t miss your chance to see this award-winning musical when it returns to Chicago. Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-977-1700 

Nov. 29 to Dec. 30: It’s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play

Experience the classic tale of George Bailey in a whole new way. Oil Lamp Theater, 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview, 847-834-0738

Through Jan. 13: Women of Soul

November Events Around Chicago: "Women of Soul" at Black Ensemble Theater
Colleen Perry (front), left to right: Jayla Williams-Craig, Jessica Seals and Rhonda Preston in tribute to “Women of Soul,” playing at Black Ensemble Theater. (Photo by Alan Davis.)

You don’t want to miss this tribute to Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Etta James, Diana Ross, Janet Jackson, Janis Joplin, and more. Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark, Chicago, 773-769-4451


Begins Nov. 13: “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Sweater

November Events Around Chicago: "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Sweater" at The Second City
Photo by Timothy M. Schmidt/Courtesy of The Second City.

The most wonderful time of the year can also be the absolute worst. This Second City show will have you LOL’ing about it all. UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., Chicago, 312-662-4562


Nov. 23-25: “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” in Concert

Watch this movie on the big screen as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs John Williams’ classic score. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, 312-294-3000


Nov. 17: Rhythm Future Quartet

This quartet will perform “Jaytude No. 1 in Em,” “Come Together” by The Beatles, and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” Ravinia Festival, 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, 847-266-5100

Nov. 17: Joy Williams

Joy Williams, formerly of The Civil Wars, will perform music from her new album, Front Porch. Special guest Anthony da Costa. Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, 773-728-6000


Opens Nov. 15: Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

MSI’s holiday tradition returns with a four-story Grand Tree surrounded by more than 50 trees and displays and weekend performances. Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, 773-684-1414 

Through Jan. 13: Storyland

Seven classic children’s books, including “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” come to life in this exhibit. Kohl Children’s Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview, 847-832-6600

Ongoing: Modern by Design: Chicago Streamlines America

November Events Around Chicago: “Modern by Design: Chicago Streamlines America” at Chicago History Museum
Unidyne microphone made by Shure Brothers, Chicago, c.1940. (Photo courtesy of Chicago History Museum.)

This exhibit “explores how Chicago shaped the look and feel of modern America,” says Chicago History Museum Senior Curator Olivia Mahoney. Features almost 300 objects, photos, and documents from the 1930s-1950s. Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago, 312-642-4600

Ongoing: Activists and Icons: The Photographs of Steve Schapiro

Forty-six large-format photographs by Chicago-based photographer Steve Schapiro showcasing historic moments like the March on Washington in 1963 and celebrities who “challenged — and changed — our cultural norms” will be on display. Illinois Holocaust Museum, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie, 847-967-4800


November to December: One Book | One Community

Now in its 8th year, Spertus Institute will celebrate Jewish Book Month with programming related to this year’s selection, “Memento Park” by Mark Sarvas.


November Events Around Chicago: SOFA CHICAGO
Toots Zynsky, King Penguins, 2018, (Antarctica), Glass, 12.5 x 31.25 x 15.25 in., Courtesy of Heller Gallery

The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design (SOFA) Fair returns for its 25th year of showcasing 3D art and design. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

Nov. 2-4: Antiques + Modernism Show

Support the work of Winnetka Community House by shopping furniture, artwork, clothing, and more at this annual show. A preview party will take place Nov. 1. Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, 847-446-0537

Nov. 2-4: Monster Jam: Triple Threat Series

For some super-charged family entertainment, watch Monster Jam favorites like Grave Digger, Pirate’s Curse, and Megalodon go head-to-head for the championship in trucks, Speedsters, and ATVs. Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont

Nov. 11: Holiday Boutique

The Sisterhood of Beth Hillel Bnai Emunah Congregation presents this free boutique featuring jewelry, clothing, toys, books, and more. Beth Hillel Bnai Emunah Congregation, 3220 Big Tree Lane, Wilmette, 847-256-1213

Nov. 13: Michelle Obama: “Becoming”

Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s book tour begins in Chicago. Don’t miss it … if you can score a ticket. United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago, 312-455-4500 

Nov. 14-17: Holiday Boutique

This annual Women’s Board of Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital event supports the board’s fundraising goals. Lake Forest Recreation Center, 400 Hastings Road, Lake Forest

Nov. 16-17: The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

November Events Around Chicago: The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Photo courtesy of The Magnificent Mile Association.

Kick off the season with family activities, shopping, musical performances, a Tree-Lighting Parade, fireworks, and more during the largest evening holiday celebration in the country. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Nov. 16-18: WCE 2018 Holiday Bazaar

The Woman’s Club of Evanston’s annual juried gift fair welcomes vendors in categories like fashion accessories, home decor, gourmet food, and fair trade. The Woman’s Club of Evanston, 1702 Chicago Ave., Evanston, 847-475-3800

Nov. 16-18: Chicago Sports Spectacular

Join Heritage Auctions at the Chicago Sports Spectacular for free auction evaluations. Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road, Rosemont

Nov. 16 to Dec. 24: Christkindlmarket

A holiday tradition, visitors can shop unique goods while enjoying delicious food and drinks. Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., Chicago, 312-494-2175 

Opens Nov. 17: Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

November Events Around Chicago: Illumination at The Morton Arboretum
Photo courtesy of The Morton Arboretum.

Walk a one-mile path amidst trees lit with bright colors. The Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, 630-968-0074

Nov. 17-18, Dec. 15-16: Randolph Street Holiday Market

Shop three floors of vintage and modern fashion, housewares, art, gifts, and more while enjoying a beverage from the market bar. Randolph Street Market, 1341 W. Randolph St., Chicago, 312-666-1200

Nov. 17 to Dec. 22: 2018 Winter Arts & Crafts Expo

This annual event features more than 140 artisans showcasing jewelry, paintings, photography, and more. Evanston Art Center, 1717 Central St., Evanston, 847-475-5300

Opens Nov. 23: ZooLights

November Events Around Chicago: ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo/Julia Fuller.

ZooLights is back with 3D displays, live ice-sculpture carving, musical light shows, a holiday market (Nov. 27), holiday snacks and drinks, and more. Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago, 312-742-2000

Nov. 24: Small Business Saturday

Support the local businesses that make our communities unique, from Lake Forest and Winnetka to Evanston and Chicago.

Nov. 24: Drury Lane Theatre Tree Lighting Ceremony

For the first time ever, Drury Lane Theatre will host a tree lighting ceremony. The tree is designed by Amy Jackson and is inspired by the theater’s production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace

Nov. 30: Lights & Lagers

This new event features music, beer samples, a preview of Holiday Magic, and more. Brookfield Zoo, 8400 31st St., Brookfield, 708-688-8000

Opens Nov. 30: Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest

Celebrate the season with carnival rides, an indoor ice skating rink, activities, and more. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, 1-800-595-7437


Nov. 3: Selah Freedom Volunteer Connect Meeting

Selah Freedom is a national organization confronting sex trafficking. Meet the team and find out how you can get involved at this volunteer meeting. You can also register for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) 101 training on Nov. 10 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

Media Sponsorships

Make It Better is a proud media sponsor of this event:

Nov. 10-11: North Shore Wine & Spirits Event

Sip on wines and spirits from around the world while making a difference for hospitalized children by raising funds for the Holiday Heroes program. The Art Center Highland Park, 1957 Sheridan Road, Highland Park

Additional events Make It Better is proud to support:

Anna Carlson writes the weekly Weekend 101 column and monthly Recommended Events. A graduate of the University of Missouri, her work has been published in Chicago Parent, Inside Columbia Magazine, and Central California Parent Magazine. She is a proud supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital







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