For DIY types, the Renegade Craft Fair is the Olympics of holiday shopping (competitive categories could include “self-control” and “endurance”). The extravaganza returns with more than 250 new and returning makers hawking handmade soaps, candles, jewelry, housewares, accessories, clothing, paper products, skincare, artwork and more inside the stunning former Spiegel catalog warehouse. Food and drinks also available for purchase–you know, for sustenance. Limited onsite parking; a free trolley runs from the Ashland Avenue Orange Line CTA stop starting at 10:30 a.m.
Details: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St. Free. | MAP
Shopping destination No. 2: The 16th annual One of a Kind Holiday Show features handcrafted gifts from more than 600 artists from across the U.S. Browse photography, sculpture, paintings, glass and fiber art in addition to accessories, home goods, jewelry, pet products and more. Fashion shows, gourmet food vendors and live music round it out.
Details: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the Merchandise Mart, 7th floor, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza. $12; free for kids ages 12 and under; tickets good for admission all weekend. | MAP
3. Point your toes
What’s better than watching a story unfold before your eyes? Taking part in the action. That’s the spirit behind the two annual holiday traditions. Option one: The annual Dance-Along Nutcracker at the Chicago Cultural Center (Sunday) features optional dance lessons with members of Chicago Ballet (11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) before interactive afternoon performances (noon and 3 p.m.) with musical accompaniment by the Lakeside Pride Symphonic Band. On Saturday, warm up your toes at the Do-It-Yourself Nutcracker at Indian Boundary Cultural Center (2 p.m.).
Details: Both events are free and open to the public. Saturday’s event takes place at Indian Boundary Cultural Center, 2500 W. Lunt Ave. | MAP. Sunday, head to the Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington St. | MAP
Embrace the outdoors at the third annual Polar Palooza holiday celebration on the Loyola University Chicago campus. The family friendly event includes local food vendors, a heated beer garden, live music, ice sculpting, a holiday market, ice skating, carousel rides, visits with Santa and more.
Details: Noon-8 p.m. Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday at 6601 N. Sheridan Road. $5; $10 per family. | MAP
World AIDS Day marks the beginning and end of a unique touring exhibition. “Art AIDS America” opens Thursday in Chicago–its final U.S. destination following stints in Tacoma, Washington; Atlanta and New York City–at a temporary gallery space built for the occasion. Inside a former Lincoln Park bank see more than 100 contemporary works of art responding to AIDS and exploring “how the crisis forever changed American art.” Among the artists represented: Keith Haring, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Judy Chicago and Chicago Imagist Roger Brown, whose work is appearing exclusively in the Chicago presentation.
Details: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursdays (and Wednesdays starting Dec. 7); 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays through Sundays; continues through April 2 at Alphawood Gallery, 2401 N. Halsted St. Free. Timed admission passes recommended. | MAP
6. Dress up
He’s got an amazing work ethic, a dedicated support team and he really knows how to get around. Emulate the man of the hour at the Santa Hustle Chicago 5K, a lakefront course that includes candy and cookie stations en route. Registration includes a Santa hat, beard and hoodie for the race, plus a finisher medal. Free shuttles transport racers to and from the official after-party at Navy Pier, which features food and drink specials. Proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.
Details: 9 a.m. Saturday at Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Drive. $52.50. | MAP
What started as a three-person parade in 1978—with just one motorcycle—swelled to 70,000 in 2012. The Chicagoland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade is now billed as the largest parade of its kind in the world. Want to join in? There are two requirements: Your bike must be street legal, and you must bring a new, unwrapped toy (no stuffed animals, please). Get first-time rider tips from a 30-year vet here. Want to cheer ‘em on, sans hog? Santa leads the slow-rolling motorcade along Western Avenue, from Ashburn to Lakeview.
Details: Parade steps off at 9:30 a.m. Sunday from the Dan Ryan Woods, 8300 S. Western Ave., and travels north along Western Avenue to the Lane Tech/DeVry campus, 2501 W. Addison St. Free, but riders must bring one toy to donate. | MAP
Cuban choreographers Victor Alexander and Frank Chávez team up with local musicians and dancers for the closing night concert of the Latino Music Festival: Havana-Chicago Connections, featuring a world premiere work by Chicago Latino composer Elbio Barilari and a new take on Cuban composer Leo Brouwer’s “El Decameron negro,” plus performers from Ruth Page Center for the Arts and Hedwig Dances.
Details: 7 p.m. Thursday at Studebaker Theater, Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave. $25-$30. | MAP
An architecturally rich stone mansion sets the scene for a rich architectural event: The inaugural Children’s Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Glessner House Museum (recommended for ages 3-13). Supplies are included, and everyone takes home their own mini creation. Participants also get short tours of the mansion’s kitchen and schoolroom.
Please note: An earlier version of this story included Glessner’s inaugural Gingerbread Architecture Competition. The competition has been canceled, but Saturday’s event for kids, above, is still taking place.
Details: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at Glessner House Museum, 1800 S. Prairie Ave. $10 per child (includes admission for accompanying adult). RSVP recommended. | MAP
10. Listen up
We first introduced Chicago Tonight viewers to Toronzo Cannon in March as he prepared his first release on Alligator Records. He’s the CTA bus driver who moonlights as a Chicago blues musician. On Saturday, you can see the acclaimed singer-songwriter perform live. Guitarist Jimmy Nick opens the show.
Details: 8 p.m. Saturday at Evanston Space, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston. $15-$25. | MAP
Events listed are subject to change. We recommend double-checking times and locations before you head out the door. Want to share your upcoming events with us for consideration in a future roundup? Send us an email.