It’s November in Chicago: the temperatures are dropping downtown, the trees in Grant Park are losing their autumn colors, and the River North patios are closed until spring. Funnily enough, people don’t seem to mind much. There is actually a palpable… cheer, because November in the city is bursting with the promise of the holidays to come. But there is plenty to do even before the holiday season kicks off. Here are some of our favorite November happenings in Chicago.
10/25-11/9 Chicago Humanities Festival
If you were a theater geek in high school, you’re not alone. From 10/25-11/9, the 25th annual Chicago Humanities Festival (http://chicagohumanities.org/) celebrates culture and the arts through a variety of performances, screenings, exhibits, and talks from leaders in the humanities. This year’s notable presenters include actress Angelica Houston, chef Marcus Samuelsson, author Anne Rice, and comedian Paula Poundstone. So go ahead and embrace your inner nerd—you’ll be in good company.
10/31-11/2 Día de los Muertos
The storefront skeletons and sugar skulls you might see while walking around Pilsen at the beginning of the month aren’t remnants from Halloween. From 10/31-11/2, Chicago’s Mexican and Latin American communities observe Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) to reflect on loved ones who have passed away. Fittingly, the National Museum of Mexican Art (http://www.nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org/, 1852 W. 19th St) in Pilsen is memorializing recently deceased artists (like Gabriel Garcia Márquez) at the Rito y Recuerdo: Day of the Dead exhibit (open until 12/12). Head out to Pilsen for this and other Día de los Muertos festivities… if you dare.
11/6-11/9 SOFA Expo
Dedicated to three-dimensional art and design, the 21st annual Sculpture, Objects, Functional Art, and Design Expo (http://www.sofaexpo.com/) is Chicago’s longest continuously running, gallery-presented art fair. The Expo is held at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall (600 E. Grand Ave) from 11/7-11/9 with an opening night preview on 11/6. With over 70 dealers from across the globe, you’re guaranteed to find unique gifts as you get a jump on your holiday shopping.
11/7-11/9 Fall French Market
A little sick of all the Oktoberfest beer and pumpkin-flavored booze? Leave it to the French for a perfectly-timed respite. Indulge in French wine and purchase French-inspired holiday gifts for the Francophiles on your list at the Fall French Market (http://www.fallfrenchmarket.com/index.html, 550 W. Irving Park Rd), held from 11/7-11/9.
11/20 Passport to France
Want more French libations? Under French law, the vintage Beaujolais Nouveau, a young red wine bottled weeks after harvest, is released at 12:01 am on the 3rd Thursday in November. To mark the occasion, the French American Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual Passport to France soirée (http://www.facc-chicago.com/events/annual-events/passport-to-france/) on 11/20. Guests will experience all things French, including gastronomy, culture, and, of course, wine.
Inspired by the centuries-old Christmas markets in Germany, the Christkindlmarket (http://www.christkindlmarket.com/) has been a popular holiday tradition in the heart of downtown Chicago since 1996. Held from 11/21-12/24 in Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington St), visitors can expect to find German-inspired gifts and specialty items, kid-friendly activities like scavenger hunts, and adult-friendly German beer and wine.
11/22 Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Every Chicagoan knows that the holidays aren’t officially here until the lights go on. This year, the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival (http://www.themagnificentmile.com/events/lights-festival/), the nation’s largest evening holiday celebration, will be held on 11/22. During the day, enjoy family-friendly activities and a concert with top artists such as Debbie Gibson (Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave, 11 am-3:30 pm). Afterwards, head to the Tree Lighting Parade (stating on Michigan Ave and Oak Street at 5:30 pm) to watch the Mag Mile lights dazzle for the very first time this holiday season.
11/25 Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Just a few days later on 11/25 marks the 101st anniversary of the lighting of the Christmas tree at Daley Plaza (Millennium Park Chicago, 50 W. Washington St). Enjoy live performances, holiday music, and of course spectacular lights at this year’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
11/27 McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade
Holiday parades have been a Chicago tradition since 1934. This year, the annual McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade (Chicago Festivals) starts at 8 am on Thanksgiving Day, 11/27, at the corner of State St and Congress Pkwy downtown. With equestrian units, staged performances, floats, and marching bands, it will be a feast for the eyes and ears before the day’s real feasting begins.
11/27 Turkey Day Run
No one is thankful for the extra poundage that inevitably accompanies the holidays. Get a leg up on the holiday calories and help the community while you do it by participating in the 38th annual Turkey Day Run (http://www.turkeyday-5k.com/) on Thanksgiving Day, 11/27. Enjoy a 5K or 8K run in Lincoln Park on the shores of Lake Michigan and loads of other family-friendly activities. The best part is that proceeds benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository, ensuring that no Chicagoan goes hungry on Thanksgiving.
11/27 Thanksgiving Dining in the City
Not in the mood to face off against the turkey from hell again this year? We’ve got it covered. Thanksgiving Day dining options in the city are bountiful, from elegant, upscale venues (such as the Signature Room at the 95th, http://www.signatureroom.com/, 875 N. Michigan Ave) to more relaxed restaurants where you can watch the game (such as Harry Caray’s, https://www.harrycarays.com/HCRGHome.aspx, multiple locations). For those with dietary restrictions, Native Foods Café (https://www.nativefoods.com/, multiple locations) has a vegan Thanksgiving menu complete with all the trimmings. So enjoy a stress-free (and dishes-free) feast in the city. Just don’t forget to head home before the food coma sets in!
11/28 Wreathing of the Lions
The bronze lions flanking the entrance to the Art Institute are icons of the city and with good reason. They have been around since 1893 protecting the Chicago landmark recently recognized as the best museum in the world (http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Attractions-cMuseums-g1), so it is only fitting that they get decked out for the holidays. The 23rd annual Wreathing of the Lions will be held outside on 11/28, followed by family-friendly activities which are, thankfully, held inside the Art Institute (http://www.artic.edu/visit/visiting-your-family, 111 S. Michigan Ave).
Ted Guarnero, REALTOR® is a full-time real estate agent with over 1000 homes sold and $400 million in sales. Working with Compass real estate offering professional and effective real estate services to help you succeed in the local real estate market. Visit www.seeChicagorealestate.com for information on downtown Chicago real estate and to get in touch with an expert in the Chicago real estate market. Before you hire your next Realtor call Ted Guarnero 855-See-Chicago, it's on the House !