The upcoming holidays are traditionally a time to bring people together, with family or friends you don’t get to see as often as you’d like spending time over food and gifts.
This year, skip the coffee shop catch-ups and the bargain bin DVD gift sets. If you want to share a truly memorable experience, grab some tickets for a loved one and go catch a holiday-themed show this season.
Here are some of my picks in Chicago and throughout the suburbs.
• Start the holidays early with a pre-Thanksgiving tradition: The Turkey Ball Music Fest at Port Barrington’s Broken Oar. The Black Wednesday party features music from local favorites Modern Day Romeos, Rumor Hazit, 7th heaven and DJ Brownie Byte in a heated tent. And the first 100 preregistered guests are guaranteed a free T-shirt. 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, at Broken Oar, 614 Rawson Bridge Road, Port Barrington. (847) 639-9468 or brokenoar.com.
Or head further west for more turkey-related fun with Parkside Pub’s 37th annual Turkey Testicle Festival, where the fun (and the deep-fried turkey, uh, goodies) start at 11 a.m. Voyage, 7th heaven, Modern Day Romeos and Nashville Electric provide the musical entertainment. 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, at Parkside Pub, 11721 E. Main St., Huntley. (847) 669-8496 or parksidepub.com.
• Know someone into the classic ladies of stage and screen? Chicago-area treasure Angela Ingersoll presents “The 12 Dames of Christmas” in two showings at the Metropolis in Arlington Heights. The Emmy-nominated actress and crooner channels holiday favorites from Judy Garland, Eartha Kitt, Brenda Lee, Julie Andrews, Marilyn Monroe and more. 3 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. $45-$50. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com.
• Blow off some steam indie rock-style when Emporium Logan Square hosts the White Mystery Winter Funtacular. Guests 21 and older can shop for friends and family at the holiday market while the sounds of Blue Ribbon Glee Club, DJ E2H2 and the White Mystery DJs waft around you, all while surrounded by Emporium’s collection of retro pinball and video games. Drink specials and giveaways are in the cards, so make sure you get there early. And best of all, admission is free. How’s that for a gift? 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Emporium, 2363 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Free. (773) 697-7922 or emporiumchicago.com.
• Are Christmas goat-demons more your stocking-stuffing style? BrauerHouse Live is hosting its Krampus Creepy Curiosities and Oddities Market, which puts the bizarre in bazaar. The sale, packed with creepy collections of art, jewelry, photography, taxidermy and more, might help you check a few folks off your list while you and your loved ones are being serenaded by the songs of Motorhead and Black Sabbath performed by tribute acts Killmister and War Pigs. Oh, and don’t forget to take a picture with Krampus and Lady Krampus. (Perfect for next year’s Christmas cards!) 3 p.m. to midnight Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8, at BrauerHouse Live, 1000 N. Rohlwing Road, Lombard. $5-$10 each day. (630) 495-2141 or brauerhouse.com.
• Jingle all the way to Rosemont and back with two jingle-jangling days of pop stars and holiday cheer. The B96 Jingle Bash brings Katy Perry, Camila Cabello, Marshmello, MONSTA X and more to the Allstate Arena Saturday, Dec. 7. The Jonas Brothers, Niall Horan, French Montana, Zara Larson, Lewis Capaldi and more hit the same venue for the 103.5 Kiss FM’s Jingle Ball Wednesday, Dec. 18. B96 Jingle Bash: 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7; $85-$175; parking fees: $15-$25 cash only. 103.5 Kiss FM’s Jingle Ball: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18; $35-$250; parking fees $15-$25 cash only. Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont; allstatearena.com.
• Since the holidays tend to bring out a little nostalgia in me, “Top of the World: A Carpenters Christmas” would also be an easy pick for the fans among you. Vocalist Debbie Taylor and her eight-piece band take guests on a trip through some of the Carpenters’ greatest hits and most well-loved holiday favorites. (ahem … “Merry Christmas, Darling” anyone?) 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles. $29-$59. (630) 962-7000 or arcadalive.com.
• Fans of Lake Forest native Andrew Bird and his recently released holiday EP “Hark!” and his full-length “My Finest Work Yet” won’t want to miss the classically trained pop aficionado’s week of “Gezelligheid” concerts. The instrumental performances, staged in the intimate Fourth Presbyterian Church space, feature Bird’s beautifully written arrangements for strings and horns. 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, Dec. 9-13, at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St., Chicago. $46-$53.50. andrewbird.net.
• Chicago punk band The Lawrence Arms presents its 5th Annual War On Xmas, a three-day musical extravaganza bringing some incredible performers — including The Flatliners, Mike Park, Red City Radio, Arms Aloft, Riverboat Gamblers and Heart & Lung – to Wicker Park’s Chop Shop for themed evenings. Three-day passes are already sold out and tickets are going-going-maybe-even-gone for the individual days, but resourceful music fans can surely get their hands on some. And watch for after-party announcements, too. (Or, in one case, a pre-show matinee!) 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 12-14, at Chop Shop, 2033 W. North Ave., Chicago. $30-$36. (773) 537-4440 or chopshopchi.com.
• Penny Road Pub unpacks the rock for the holidays with the Twenty Bands of Xmas. Featuring Masked Intruder, Papa Squat and the Magic Treehouse, 20 Spot, Mr. Blotto, Lost Pyramids, Never Better, The C-Sides, One Small Step and many others, the two stages will be packed for two days of mid-December face-melting rock, searing punk and groovy jams. 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Penny Road Pub, 545 Penny Road, Barrington. $15 for Friday; $20 for Saturday. (847) 428-0562 or pennyroadpub.com.
• Chicago-based pop-punk band Sleep On It is celebrating the holidays while fostering a little love for charity, too. Fans bringing unopened packages of socks to be donated to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will get in early for first pick of the band’s limited edition holiday merch at the show. Bearings, Young Culture and Better Love round out the stacked bill. 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. $15-$18. (773) 525-2501 or lh-st.com.
• What are the holidays without the Peanuts gang dancing around Schroeder’s piano? The Chris White Trio brings the jazzy classics from the beloved holiday special (as well as other wintertime favorites) to Hey Nonny’s listening room for two family-friendly performances of “A Charlie Brown Christmas With The Chris White Trio.” 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Hey Nonny, 10 S. Vail Ave., Arlington Heights. $15-$30. (224) 202-0750 or heynonny.com.
• Stuff a little sass into your holiday season with Chicago-area comedian, stage and TV star Jane Lynch and “A Swingin’ Little Christmas.” The performances, which feature Kate Flannery (who you may recognize from “The Office”), Tim Davis and the Tony Guerrero Quintet, tackle arrangements of holiday staples (as well as some originals by bandleader Tony Guerrero) spiked with heavy glugs of comedy at two venues throughout the weekend. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13 and 14, at the Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. $35-$70. (815) 356-9212 or rauecenter.org. 5 and 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago. $55- $78. (312) 932-9950 or citywinery.com.
• Coming in just under the holiday wire are two events at Subterranean. Chicago’s Fluorescents, Invictus, Four Stars, The Kozmic Kicks and Wolf Rd take the stage for the venue’s first Pop-Punk Xmas! Friday, Dec. 20. Follow it up the next day with How Homesafe Stole Christmas featuring Homesafe, Kayak Jones, Lurk and Pat Egan & The Heavy Hearts Saturday, Dec. 21. Pop-Punk Xmas!: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20; $8-$10. How Homesafe Stole Christmas: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21; $15. Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., Chicago; (773) 278-6600 or subt.net.
• See more musical events (holiday and otherwise) at dailyherald.com/calendar.