Expert Picks

Your Weekly Guide for What to Do, See, Eat, and Drink in Chicago: December 9–15

Photo courtesy of Pink Squirrel

This week in Chicago, embrace the holidays with a trip to ZooLights (or BrewLights!), peruse a holiday photo book bazaar, learn how to cook a holiday roast, and visit Santa at the Swissotel.

Photo by Todd Rosenberg Photography/Courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo

December 9: Punching LaBute 
Neil LaBute is a playwright infamous for his sexist monologues. Sharai Bohannon was shocked to learn that actors are still using his monologues, and so she did some digging. And some planning. The result is an evening of work written by women that challenges misogyny in an effort to punch (aka fight back against) a dude (and those who subscribe to him being the standard) who has had it coming. Details: At the Lincoln Loft
—Tanuja Jagernauth, Theater

Through January 5: ZooLights 
It’s the most wonderful time of the year at the Lincoln Park Zoo! Lights brighten up every corner of the zoo, with some that are worth the few extra minutes to pause and watch dance. Food and drink are aplenty, and everyone there is filled with joy. It’s a Chicago holiday must, and it’s free!
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

December 11: Sips & Sweets Beer & Holiday Treat Pairing 
Make it a date night at neighborhood-y favorite Begyle—its annual sweet treats and beer pairing event is teaming up with Amy’s Candy Bar again this year. Tickets include four 5-ounce Begyle beers, sampling of truffles and other candy, a tasting presentation from Begyle’s head brewer, and a 20 percent discount on to-go beers and Begyle merchandise. Details: 7–9 p.m.; $35
—Jim Morris, Beer

Photo courtesy of Dave Ross/Facebook

December 11: Film Screening of The Murder of Fred Hampton 
On December 4, 1969, Edward Hanrahan, the Cook County state’s attorney, organized the murder of Fred Hampton, a 21-year-old revolutionary Socialist and member of the Black Panther Party. Members of the Chicago police force busted into Hampton’s home and shot the drugged man in his sleep. This story cannot be told enough, lest we forget the deep and violent roots of the Chicago police department. This event is free and donations are welcome. The majority of donations will go to the Fred Hampton estate. Details: At 6018 North
—Tanuja Jagernauth, Theater

December 11: Holiday Photo Book Bazaar at the Museum of Contemporary Photography 
This free three-year-old book fair gathers together local presses that specialize in beautifully designed photo books. Find the perfect gift for your art-loving friend and meet some of the artists to chat about their work.
—Claire Voon, Art

December 12: Screening of Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf at Graham Foundation
If you aren’t familiar with Dutch garden designer Oudolf, this is a great opportunity to treat your eyes to his living art of creative planting schemes and radical landscaping. The documentary explores his creative process and covers some of his signature public works, from the High Line in New York City to Chicago’s own Lurie Garden.
—Claire Voon, Art

December 12: BrewLights at Lincoln Park Zoo 
While the Lincoln Park ZooLights will be on display for the entire holiday season, BrewLights is for one evening only. It combines the light displays with beer tastings (more than a dozen breweries expected) throughout the zoo. This annual festive beer-drinking event presents plenty of photo ops, so come prepared with your touch-screen gloves. Details: 5:30–9:30 p.m.; $49
—Jim Morris, Beer

Photo by Michael Brosilow/Courtesy of Hoodoo Love

December 13: Dave Ross at @northbar 
Los Angeles–based comedian Ross made his network television debut earlier this year with an appearance on ​The Late Late Show With James Corden,​ and was previously featured on Comedy Central shows ​This Is Not Happening​, ​Drunk History,​ and ​Corporate.​ His current podcast, Suicide Buddies, along with his now-defunct podcast, Terrified, have garnered him a large cult following, which comes in handy, as the comic is consistently on the road performing around the country. Details: 8 p.m.; $15
—Matty Ryan, Comedy

December 14: Holiday Cooking Class at El Che Steakhouse & Bar 
If you’re the kind of person committed to grilling and cooking outside even in the dead of winter, then this event is for you. Courtesy of chef John Manion, the class, titled How the Grinch Cooked Christmas Dinner Outside, teaches attendees how to prepare a whole beef tenderloin with horseradish creme for the ultimate holiday dinner. The class also includes a welcome cocktail, recipes, and lunch with wine pairings. Details: Noon–2 p.m.; $85
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage

December 14: Winter Walk & Holiday Party at Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park 
If you are able to take a day trip from the city, head to this sprawling sculpture park on 100 acres of open prairie, on the campus of Governors State University. The special tour will take you on a brisk walk through the 30 large-scale works by Mark di Suvero and Martin Puryear, among others.
—Claire Voon, Art

Through December 15: Hoodoo Love 
Toulou has fallen in love with a man named the Ace of Spades, and she will do whatever it takes to win his love. Sound familiar? This play by Katori Hall explores the dark side of our desires. Directed by one of Chicago’s busiest directors, Wardell Clarke, the drama is bound to go boldly where few choose to tread. Details: At Raven Theatre
—Tanuja Jagernauth, Theater

Weekends in December through Christmas: Santa Suite at the Swissotel 
Who says Santa can’t ski? Well, we aren’t sure about his skills, but we do know he’s throwing a great aprés-ski–themed party at the Swissotel. The 2,000-square-foot presidential suite becomes Santa HQ, where elves show you around, offering activities and treats like letter writing to the North Pole, face painting, hot cocoa, and more!
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

Through New Year’s: Tinseltown Pop-Up at Pink Squirrel 
Another epic holiday pop-up running through the New Year: Pink Squirrel has transformed into Tinseltown for the jolly season, wrapping itself in literal wrapping paper, Christmas trees, snowflakes, and ornaments galore. Drink specials abound, like the Rudolph’s Nightcap, with Brady’s Irish Cream Liqueur and peppermint schnapps, and Christmas Morning, with Pendleton rye, Mr. Black coffee liqueur, ice cream, and cinnamon spice.
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage