See reality TV in real life at Park West and the Ritz Carlton, where America’s Got Talent winner Grace Vanderwaal and Penn & Teller’s Fool Us winner Ivan Amodei will perform, respectively. Plus, it’s that time of year again, and you won’t want to miss the Thanksgiving Parade and annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
AFAR Local is our monthly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
November 2 - 5 | Art
Sculptures, Objects, and Functional Art Fair
The Sculptures, Objects, and Functional Art Fair (or SOFA) takes over Navy Pier each year with all manner of built (and 3-D-printed) tables, chairs, and decorative pieces. More than 80 dealers and galleries will be showcasing wares, and nearly everything is for sale, although browsing alone is half of the fun.
Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago | From $20 | website
November 2 - 5 | Performing arts
Marvel Universe Live
Putting a whole new spin on the term “live action,” Marvel Universe Live employs actors to battle it out onstage as all of your favorite superheroes and villains, including Spiderman, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, the Hulk, Loki, and more. Special effects include aerial stunts and video projected backdrops.
Allstate Arena, 6920 Mannheim Rd., Rosemont | From $20 | website
November 10 - 11 | Drink
Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer
It’s all about rare beer at this festival, which focuses on barrel-aged brews. These two days will be your only chance to taste some of these beers, and an awards ceremony at the end of the weekend will crown a single tasty winner.
6:00 PM - 10:00 PM | UIC, 725 Roosevelt Rd., Chicago | $85 | website
November 12 | Dance
A Golden Celebration of Dance
For the 50th anniversary of the Auditorium Theatre’s reopening, it’s pulling out all the stops. The top dance companies in the United States—including American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre—will hit the stage to give commemorative performances. The annual gala will take place before the event (for a hefty extra fee).
7:30 PM | Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy., Chicago | From $41 | website
November 15 | Music
The winner of the last season of America’s Got Talent is a teen sensation with a lifetime’s worth of original talent. Grace VanderWaal composes all her own songs, with lyrics covering topics ranging from bullying to courage and coming of age. Her trusty ukulele—which she learned to play via YouTube videos—backs her up. The concert was sold out as soon as tickets were available, but you can still snag some via third-party sellers.
7:00 PM | Park West, 322 W. Armitage, Chicago | From $90 | website
November 17 | Holiday event
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
It’s official: The holidays are upon us. There’s no better way to ease into the season than with the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony. The tree itself was selected via a competition (anyone can enter a 55-foot-tall spruce or fir). The family that submitted the winning tree gets to light it during the ceremony, and Chicagoans come out in droves to watch it happen.
6:00 PM | Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago | Free | website
November 18 - 19 | Holiday event
Randolph Street Holiday Market
Cozy up with mulled wine, holiday music, and three floors of vendors at the Randall Street Holiday Market. It’s a chance to take in the best of the season—and to get all of your holiday shopping done in one afternoon. Known as America’s largest urban antiques market, there will be food as well as 125 vendors selling one-of-a-kind handmade and antique goods.
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM | 1340 W. Washington St., Chicago | From $8 online | website
November 23 | Parade
Expect huge balloons, massive floats, horses, marching bands, celebrities, and even Santa at this annual turkey day extravaganza. Grab a spot along the parade route early, because everyone in Chicago is heading out to see this one.
8:00 AM - 11:00 AM | State St. from Congress to Randolph, Chicago | Free | website
November 24 - 25 | Magic
Winner of CW’s Penn & Teller’s Fool Us, Ivan Amodei brings his national tour to town; it’s designed to awe, inspire, and wow us with psychological illusions and brain twisters. Audience participation is encouraged, so be prepared to be a part of the show. Amodei will be accompanied by Celine Dion’s cellist, Irina Chirkova, and the entire act will take place in a candlelit space sure to transport you into another world.
Ritz Carlton Chicago, 160 E. Pearson St., Chicago | $65 | website
December 8 | Plan ahead: Comedy
Veteran comic and actor Mike Birbiglia will perform stand-up and storytelling in the intimate Chicago Theatre. You may recognize him from appearances on Girls, Orange Is the New Black, and Trainwreck, as well as from his various appearances on Comedy Central.
7:00 PM | The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago | From $32 | website
Danielle Braff lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and her dog. When she’s not writing, she’s out photographing her city and running around frantically trying to fit as many events as she can into her day. You can check out her other articles at Daniellebraff.com.