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Posted on Dec 6, 2010 | 0 comments

The Inside Scoop

Learn what’s hot and what’s happening in Chicago this winter

With all there is to do and see in Chicago, it’s understandable feeling a little overwhelmed when deciding what to tackle next. For that reason, we take aim at giving you the inside scoop on upcoming events, tips, hidden gems and what’s new around town.

CHICAGO’S CHRISTKINDLMARKET

Inspired by the Christkindlmarket in Nuremberg, Germany, which began back in 1945, the annual Christkindlmarket Chicago grows in size and popularity every year,providing the downtown Daley Plaza with plenty of European tradition and charm.

A combination of authentic German food and drink, unique shopping experiences and diverse holiday entertainment, Chicago’s Christkindlmarket, since its inception in 1996, has grown into the largest and most renowned German winter holiday market in the U.S.

“I love the atmosphere,” says Cassandra Soric. “It really gets me in the holiday spirit with the lights, the little shops with candy and glass blowers and gifts, and of course all the great German beer and food. Nothing beats having some hot chocolate or wine and shopping with some big snowflakes in the air.”

The Christkindlmarket is held on Daley Plaza between Dearborn, Washington and Clark Street, from Nov. 24-Dec.24. Open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

For more information, log on to www.Christkindlmarket.com or call 312-494-2175.

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MUSEUM FREE DAYS

Adler Planetarium

Free days this winter: Nov. 30, Dec. 7, 14, 21.

Art Institute of Chicago

Free to the public every Thursday evening from 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

Chicago Children’s Museum

Free for everyone on Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. Free for ages 15 and under on the first Sunday of every month.

Chicago History Museum

Free every Monday from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Field Museum

Free (general admission) on the second Monday of every month. Other free days this winter: Dec. 1, 7, 8, 15, 16.

Check www.FieldMuseum.org for dates in January and beyond.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Free and open to the public 365 days per year from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Free every Tuesday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Museum of Science and Industry

Free (general admission) to the public on Dec. 6. Check www.MSIChicago.org for dates in January and beyond.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

“Suggested Donation Days” every Thursday.

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ZOOLIGHTS AT LINCOLN PARK ZOO

Stroll through the Lincoln Park Zoo and take in more than 1.5 million lights, all while viewing the animals by moonlight, visiting with Santa, making crafts, watching ice carving, riding the carousel and sipping hot chocolate or spiced wine.

Open Nov. 26-28, Dec. 3-5 and Dec. 10-12, and nightly Dec. 17-Jan. 2 (excluding Dec. 24-25) from 5-9 p.m.

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THE MCCORMICK TRIBUNE ICE RINK

Sharpen your skates and head down to the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park. The new skating season starts on Wednesday, Nov. 10, and continues through March. As always, the rink is free, and anyone can skate.

Is a lack of skates on vacation wearing down your triple lutz potential? Not to worry. Skate rental only costs $10, and then you can be on your way to launching a single axel like the pros. With an annual attendance of more than 100,000 skaters, the rink can obviously get very busy. Try stopping by during a weekday to take the edge off the crowds. The rink is also a great place to twirl around with your fellow skating pro. Can anything beat a crisp Chicago evening, sliding around under the stars and city lights performing a couple’s routine that you created? You could even devise your own show and win the hearts of the audience.

The ice rink is located on Michigan Avenue in Millennium Park, between Washington and Madison Streets. It is open Monday-Thursday, noon-8 p.m., Friday from noon-10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

— JENNIFER BILLOCK

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CHAGALL WINDOWS AT THE ART INSTITUTE

After a five-year absence, the Art Institute welcomes back “Marc Chagall’s America Windows.” First debuting at the Art Institute in 1977 and made forever famous in the 1986 film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the “Chagall Windows,” as they are morepopularly known, hold a special place in the hearts of Chicagoans. Following an intensive period of conservation treatment and archival research, the windows return as the stunning centerpiece of a new presentation at the east end of the museum’s Arthur Rubloff building.

Accompanying the reinstallation of the America Windows is a celebratory presentation that gathers models and maquettes from the earliest moment of the modern cultural renaissance in the city’s center — works by such artists as Jean Dubuffet, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso — which are in the collection of the Art Institute, and are connected to the historical inception of Chagall’s gift.

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“JIM HENSON’S FANTASTIC WORLD” AT THE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY

Explore the mind behind the Muppets this winter at the Museum of Science & Industry’s exhibit

“Jim Henson’s Fantastic World.”

Jim Henson’s heart and soul are on display in this exhibit through more than 130 drawings, storyboards, cartoons, photographs and puppets. Your favorite Muppets will all be in attendance, including a display solely for the Chicago exhibit of Miss Piggy, as seen in “The Muppets Take Manhattan.” Also on display is a chronology of Jim Henson’s unique process of visual thinking; the Muppets and other characters evolved from doodles and drawings. The exhibit is not just static media, though. Memorable moments and clips from Henson’s on-screen work play throughout the exhibit.

Muppeteers in training will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the exhibit with the chance to not only create their own puppet character, but also to stage and direct their own puppet show. Adults can enjoy the interactive portion of this exhibit as well — learning the science of sound effects and attempting to recreate the audio heard in “The Muppet Movie.” There is also an exercise in storyboarding. Participants will challenge their creative vision by designing six storyboards from one opening line.

“Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” is on display at the Museum of Science & Industry through Jan. 23, 2011. Log on to www.MSIChicago.org for more information.

— JENNIFER BILLOCK

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WINTER WONDERFEST AT NAVY PIER

This marks the 10th anniversary for this must-see destination for family fun during the holiday season. Enjoy plenty of festive games, rides, music and live entertainment among hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, ornaments and a forest of beautifully decorated trees.

Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest runs Dec. 3, 2010-Jan. 2, 2011. Open Sun.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Fri. and Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Admission is free, but wristbands must be purchased to participate in rides and attractions.

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