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Lights and garland. Egg nog and sweet treats. Annual family gatherings and work outings. There’s an undeniable spirit of the season that makes December a special time for all. To make this holiday season even more magical, explore one of these festive Chicago events.

Christkindlmarket Chicago
With a visit to the Christkindlmarket on Daley Plaza in the Loop, you can be transported back in time to a 1500s historical European market in Nuremberg, Germany. This free event is Chicago’s largest open-air Christmas festival, and visitors can take part in this festive shopping experience, complete with German food and drinks and holiday entertainment, through New Year’s Eve.

Watch Blake Grigsby as a human mistletoe at Christkindlmarket

Macy’s State Street
Macy’s State Street is not only an essential stop for gifts to put under the tree – it’s a national historic landmark that’s a staple for celebrating the holidays in Chicago. The annual Holiday Windows display has been a must-see since 1897, and after taking in this impressive display, venture into the enchanted wonderland on the 5th floor to visit Santa himself.

“A Christmas Carol”
For the 38th year, Goodman Theatre on Dearborn Street invites Chicagoans to their production of Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol.” This quintessential holiday story with a few “bah haumbugs” from Ebenezer Scrooge will be sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Tickets start at $95 and up.

For a non-traditional option, check out Quest Theatre Ensemble’s production of the same classic at the Blue Theatre in Andersonville, complete with live music and large-scale puppetry.

Holiday music
The sounds of the season will fill numerous venues across the city this December. At the Symphony Center within Orchestra Hall in the Loop, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform Handel’s “Messiah” through December 20. If rock is more your style, jam out to your favorite holiday hits with Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Allstate Arena on December 28.