Weekend picks: Get a little Christmas at Highland Park Winter Wonderland

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Head back in time to an old-fashioned holiday as the Downtown Highland Park organization hosts its Winter Wonderland in Port Clinton Square, on Central Avenue, in downtown Highland Park. Hear the music of carolers, make s'mores and gingerbread houses, take a horse-drawn carriage ride or get an up-close look at reindeer. Free admission. (847) 780-4293 or 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14


Hug a tree!

Stroll through the one-mile outdoor Illumination: Tree Lights exhibit at the Morton Arboretum, at 4100 Route 53, Lisle. Guests can interact with the decorated trees by hugging them to make the lights brighter, or by singing to change the colors. Tickets are $5-$15. (630) 725-2066 or visit 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. daily through Saturday, Jan. 4

Fists up

The X-Treme Fighting Organization (XFO) 49 Mixed Martial Arts brings a series of fighting bouts to the Sears Centre Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates. $25-$60. (888) 732-7784 or 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13

Nutcracker in Naperville

Dance West Ballet presents its takeon Tchaikovsky's classic Christmas ballet “The Nutcracker” this weekend at North Central College's Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville. $30; $23 seniors/kids. (630) 637-7469 or 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13; 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14; and 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15

'Carol' variation

Get a different perspective on Charles Dickens' classic “A Christmas Carol” when Organic Theatre Company performs Tom Mula's acclaimed “Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol” starting Thursday at North Central College's Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth St., Naperville. $30; $20 students and seniors. (For mature audiences.) (630) 637-7469 or 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13 and 14

Former Single Lady

Pop starBeyoncé Knowles returns withThe Mrs. Carter Show World Tour at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago. $45-$250. (800) 745-3000 or 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13

Country-music Christmas

Country superstar Wynonna Judd will make a stop in the suburbs this weekend with her band, the Big Noise. Judd, who rose to worldwide success with her mother in the group the Judds, will perform a variety of Christmas songs at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles. Tickets start at $29. Go to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13

Danced Windows

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago revives choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo's large-scale 2012 “One Thousand Pieces,” which famously takes its inspiration from Marc Chagall's “American Windows” stained glass at the Art Institute of Chicago. Catch it starting Thursday at Millennium Park's Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive, Chicago. (312) 334-7777 or 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13 and 14; 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15

Rising star

Brad Anderson, a country-music newcomer whose self-titled debut record has received strong reviews, will perform this weekend in the suburbs. Saving Savanna will open at Austin's Fuel Room, 481 Peterson Road, Libertyville. $7. Go to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13


Cougars' Christmas fun

The Kane County Cougars host a Christmas holiday event for families in the upper deck of the Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, 34W002 Cherry Lane, Geneva. Kids can meet Santa Claus and the Cougars' furry mascot Ozzie and pose for photos with them. Other highlights include ornament and cookie decorating, a coloring station and more. Free admission. There is $5 fee for children who participate in ornament and cookie decorating. Guests are asked to donate a gently used coat or outerwear item for needy families. Fans who donate will receive two undated ticket vouchers for a 2014 regular season Cougars game. For information, call (630) 232-8811 or visit 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 14


Free screenings of the 2003 holiday film “Elf,” starring Will Ferrell and Bob Newhart, abound this holiday season. Catch the PG-rated film at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at the York Theatre, 150 N. York St., Elmhurst; or at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Elk Grove Theatre, 1050 Arlington Heights Road, Elk Grove Village. Visit for information on both screenings.

Ho, Ho, Yo

Kids and parents who are die-hard fans of the Nickelodeon TV show “Yo Gabba Gabba” should check out“A Very Awesome Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! Holiday Show!” this weekend at the Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont. $22-$72. (800) 745-3000 or 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15

Orchestral magic

Soprano Elizabeth Norman, the Elgin Choral Union and the Elgin Children's Chorus are combining artistic forces with theElgin Symphony Orchestra this weekend for a few Magical Holiday Concerts conducted by Stephen Squires. See them at the Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way, Elgin. $25-$45. (847) 931-5900 or 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 (sold out)

Miracle opera

“Amahl and the Night Visitors” doesn't get regular play on TV nowadays, so see it live this weekend when Chamber Opera Chicago brings Gian Carlo Menotti's 1950s holiday opera to the Harold Washington Library's Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State St., Chicago. $25; $20 students; $10 kids. (312) 951-7944 or 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 14-15

Holiday Magic at the zoo

See more than 1 million colorful holiday lights at the 32nd annual Holiday Magic celebration at Brookfield Zoo, at First Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield. Along with viewing the twinkling light displays, zoo guests can sing holiday carols to the animals, visit with Santa Claus, watch ice-carving demonstrations and much more. Free with paid $10.50-$15 zoo general admission. Visit 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and Sunday, Dec. 15

Jingle pop

The Jonas Brothers, Jason Derulo, Armin Van Buuren, Pitbull, Ariana Grande, Austin Mahone, Avicii and Emblem3 are just some of the bands on the bill for the 2013Jingle Bash Saturday at the Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont. $30-$125. (800) 745-3000 or 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14

Holiday laughs

Janus Theater hosts a holiday show and fundraiser this weekend at the Elgin Public House, 219 E. Chicago St., Elgin. Janus regulars perform in the show, a humorous take on why the company hasn't reprised its readers' theater version of David Sedaris' “The Santaland Diaries” since 2005. Proceeds help pay for Janus' 2014 season. $15. For dinner reservations, call (847) 468-8810. See janustheater for more information. 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14; and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15,

Christmas Fantasia

The Fox Valley Orchestra presents its Christmas Fantasia concert in the Crimi Auditorium at Aurora University, 407 S. Calumet Ave., Aurora. The program includes classical and holiday selections. Tickets are $10-$12 in advance or $11-$13 at the door. Visit 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15

Radio play 'Miracle'

Hired to play Macy's Santa, Kris Kringle tries to convince single mom Macy's executive Doris and her daughter Susan that he is the man himself in Improv Playhouse's radio play adaptation of the 1948 film, “Miracle on 34th Street.” Libertyville's Egon Schein stars as Kris Kringle. 735 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville. $20, $15. (847) 968-4529 or 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15

A Breed apart

The Breeders burst onto the scene in the early 1990s, right at the beginning of the alternative-rock era. The band was a side project for Kim Deal, then the bassist for the legendary underground rock group the Pixies. The Breeders hit it big with the 1993 record “Last Splash,” which included the key alternative hits “Cannonball” and “Divine Hammer.” The band's bristly mix of punk and pop brought them widespread acclaim and shot them to the top of the alt-rock heap. The Breeders have undergone multiple personnel changes since, but the “Last Splash” lineup, which includes Deal's sister, Kelley, re-formed this year to celebrate the album's 20th anniversary. The band arrives in Chicago this weekend at Metro, 3730 N. Clark, Chicago. The opener will be Speedy Ortiz, an acclaimed noise-pop band whose debut, “Major Arcana,” came out earlier this year. $28. Go to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14

Rockin' at Nellie's

Dick Diamond & The Dusters perform rock hits of the '70s and '80s, while the rock band Rubber headlines with tunes from the 1990s to today, at Durty Nellie's, 180 N. Smith St., Palatine. Concert is for ages 21 and older. $7. (847) 358-9150 or 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14


Symphonic greetings

David Ott's orchestral setting of “'Twas the Night Before Christmas” and Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's jazzy reinvention of Tchaikovsky's “Nutcracker Suite” are on the bill of theDupage Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Traditions concert today at North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville. $20-$25; $15-$20 students/kids. (630) 637-7469 or 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15

Symphonic greetings

David Ott's orchestral setting of “'Twas the Night Before Christmas” and Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's jazzy reinvention of Tchaikovsky's “Nutcracker Suite” are on the bill of the Dupage Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Traditions concert today at North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville. $20-$25; $15-$20 students/kids. (630) 637-7469 or 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15

Wynonna Judd makes a stop in the suburbs Friday at the Arcada Theatre.
Courtesy of Rob Hoffman/Invision for Parkwood Entertainment/AP ImagesSinger Beyonce returns to Chicago's United Center with her "Mrs. Carter Show World Tour 2013."
Courtesy of Scott Hardesty/ Chicago Zoological SocietyYoungsters can come face-to-face with Santa Claus himself at the annual Holiday Magic celebration at Brookfield Zoo.
The ensemble of Chamber Opera Chicago's production of "Amahl and the Night Visitors," which returns to the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.
“Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) starring Maureen O’Hara (as Doris Walker), John Payne (as Fred Gailey) and Edmund Gwenn (as Kris Kringle).
Courtesy of the Morton ArboretumSee a variety of light technology at the "Illumination: Tree Lights" interactive, outdoor exhibit at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
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