5 Things to Do: Nov. 17-19

Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum

This weekend marks the beginning of annual holiday favorites like Illumination at The Morton Arboretum and “A Christmas Carol” at Goodman Theatre. Plus, don’t miss the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, a brand new production from Cirque du Soleil, and a new exhibit at the American Writers Museum.

Crystal by Cirque du Soleil

5 Things to Do: Crystal by Cirque du Soleil
Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil.

Nov. 16-19
Hoffman Estates

Cirque du Soleil will explore “the artistic attributes of ice” for the first time ever with this production featuring world-class ice skaters and acrobats.

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

5 Things to Do: Illumination at Morton Arboretum
Photo courtesy of The Morton Arboretum.

Opens Nov. 17

Bundle up and take this one-mile outdoor walking tour among trees that come alive through lights, projections, and music. Warm up at concession tents and fire pits along the way, and stop by for special events like Holiday Wine Tasting (Nov. 30, Dec. 1) and Supper with St. Nick (Dec. 21-22).

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

5 Things to Do: Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Photo courtesy of The Magnificent Mile Association.

Nov. 17-18

It’s once again time for the Magnificent Mile to glow for the holidays, and it all kicks off with this, the country’s largest evening holiday celebration. Don’t miss family friendly activities, shopping, a parade, and fireworks over the Chicago River.

A Christmas Carol

5 Things to Do: A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre
Larry Yando (Ebenezer Scrooge) in A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre (Photo by Liz Lauren.)

Opens Nov. 18

Goodman Theatre’s production of this holiday classic returns for its 40th year in 2017. Find even more must-see shows this season in our holiday theater guide.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: From Prairie to Page

5 Things to Do: American Writers Museum — Laura Ingalls Wilder
Image courtesy of the American Writers Museum.

Opens Nov. 18

The American Writers Museum will open this exhibit on Laura Ingalls Wilder with items like the longhand manuscript of “The Long Winter,” handwritten notes by Ingalls Wilder, and other memorabilia from museums and organizations around the country.

Give Back Opportunities

  • Join 900 North Michigan Shops on Nov. 16 for Illuminate 900, a tree-lighting party complete with cookie decorating and live music that benefits Make-A-Wish of Illinois.
  • The Women’s Board of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital’s annual Holiday Boutique returns Nov. 15-18 with approximately 40 vendors selling clothes, toys, home goods, accessories, and more. Proceeds will benefit the construction of the new Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.
  • The Woman’s Club of Evanston will host their annual Holiday Bazaar Nov. 17-19. Admission is free on Saturday and Sunday, but you can purchase $20 tickets for the Preview Party on Friday night, which will benefit the Club’s Community Grants Program.


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Anna Carlson writes the weekly 5 Things to Do column and monthly Recommended Events. A graduate of Glenbrook South High School and 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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