Most ONEderful time
The 16th annual One of a Kind Holiday Show offers unique gifts for everyone on your holiday list. More than 600 artists from across North America bring their imaginative, handmade creations to this year's show offering a wide range of media and categories including accessories, ceramics, fashion, fiber art, furniture, glass, gourmet treats, jewelry, mixed media, metalwork, kids' items, painting, photography, sculpture, artisan paper and more. Speak with the artists, attend artist demonstrations, join interactive activities, plus enjoy fashion shows, gourmet cafes and live music. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 1-2; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at The Mart, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Chicago. Tickets cost $12 for adults; free for kids 12 and younger. A portion of all ticket sales will benefit the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. (800) 677-6278 or oneofakindshowchicago.com/holiday/attend.
Chicago's third annual Polar Palooza supplies two days of live music from gospel choirs to rock 'n' roll; an all-seasons synthetic ice skating rink; a Christmas tree lot; and holiday shopping at unique local vendor booths. Count on food and drink from Chicago restaurants and fun activities such as glitter crafts, holiday cookie decorating, costumed photos, face painting, stilt walkers and costumed characters. Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at 6601 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago. Free. starevents.com/festivals/polarpalooza2016/.
To the barre
This year, the Joffrey Ballet presents the highly anticipated world premiere production of "The Nutcracker" by Christopher Wheeldon, winner of the 2015 Tony Award for Best Choreography for "An American in Paris." The new production pays homage to Chicago, specifically with the ballet set on Christmas Eve 1892, as workers from around the world construct the Chicago Columbian World's Exposition. The production features the full Joffrey company, local children's choruses, and 120 young dancers from Chicago and the surrounding areas. The Chicago Sinfonietta provides live musical accompaniment of the beloved Tchaikovsky score. Showtimes vary Dec. 10-30 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago. Single tickets range from $35-$170 and are available at the Joffrey Ballet's box office in the lobby of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph St., Chicago; at the Auditorium Theatre's Box Office; and at (312) 386-8905 or joffrey.org/.
Let there be light
Christmas in the Ward in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, begins with a tree lighting and a performance by the Trinity Irish Dancers, followed by fireworks, carriage rides, carolers, visits with live reindeer, street entertainers and a cookie sale. Mrs. Claus will be nearby to join in chestnuts roasting on an open fire, hot chocolate, coffee and cocoa cocktails for the adults. The historic Third Ward, near downtown Milwaukee, boasts independent and unique shops and restaurants. 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. historicthirdward.org/events/christmas.php.
Sinterklaas is coming
In Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas (the benevolent St. Nicholas) arrives each December on his white horse, surrounded by his mischievous Zwarte Piet helpers. Sinterklaas arrives in Holland, Michigan, the same way. He arrives at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at Kerstmarkt to lead kids and their families to Centennial Park for a tree-lighting ceremony with Christmas carols followed by cookies, hot cocoa and photos with Sinterklaas at the Holland Museum. Kids can enjoy stories, crafts, family games and more at the museum. Crafts from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Holland Armory, 16 W. 9th St., before the procession starting at 7 p.m. from the Kerstmarkt at the Eighth Street Market Place, 150 W. 8th St., Holland, Michigan. Free. (616) 394-0000 or holland.org/events/holidays/.
An Old World Christmas
Old World Wisconsin, a network of pioneer homesteads next to Kettle Moraine State Forest west of Milwaukee, gets decked out for the holidays during An Old World Christmas. You can meet Father Christmas, stroll among historic houses and shops, sample ethnic foods and make old-fashioned crafts. Reserve early for the Old World Holiday Breakfast. a daylong, 19th-century celebration of Christmas tales and holiday customs featuring storytelling, live performances by holiday characters from immigrants' past, free horse-drawn bobsled rides (or wagon rides, if there's no snow), caroling and food sampling from historic recipes. They're even going to fire up a Finnish sauna for the special event. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3-4, in Old World Wisconsin, Eagle, Wisconsin. Advance reservations are not required. $10 for adults; $7 for kids 5-17; and free for kids 4 and younger. Receive a 20 percent discount coupon for admission to An Old World Christmas with the purchase of the Holiday Breakfast (advance reservations required; $24 for 13 and older, $17 for kids 5-12, free for kids 4 and younger). (262) 594-6301 or oldworldwisconsin.wisconsinhistory.org/.