Plan ahead for winter break

Eli Anton, Staff Writer

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Elgin Community College will soon be meeting the end of the fall 2018 semester and entering yet another winter break. Now with some free time under your belt, you may be wondering how you should spend it. Here are six events you can attend in Illinois during December and January.

Tight on money? No problem, these first three have no admission price.  

At the Sinnissippi Park in Rockford, there will be a snow sculpting competition from Jan. 16-19. The application deadline has already passed, but you can still go to watch each team’s creation. There are two divisions of teams: high school and state. The winning teams from both divisions will then go on to represent the state in a national competition.

In Chicago, Millennium Park has been converted into an outdoor skating rink from now until March 10. Admission is free, but there are fees if you would like to rent skates or have your own sharpened. Hours vary, but generally, they are open most days from 12 to 8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 12 to 10 p.m. on Friday through Sunday. There will also be free one-hour lessons at 11 a.m. on select days.

Throughout December, and up through March, there is a natural phenomenon at the Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby. A large gathering of eagles migrates to this area each year to catch fish with the most activity happening in January, giving this tourist spot an extra bonus during winter. Walking through the park on your own is free, but if you are interested, there is a lodge and trolley tour with storytelling available. If you go during Dec. 14-23, the tour will be Christmas-themed. If you go during January or February, the tour will be focused on the eagles.

These next three are going to cost a pretty penny but have highly rated reviews.

At Stage773 in Chicago from Jan. 10-20 there will be an annual sketch comedy festival called “SketchFest”. Shows will feature a mashup of comedians and tickets will be $24 to $60 depending on which day you attend. If you want to attend every day, there is an all festival pass available for $225. 

Until Jan. 1, the Amtrak in Chicago is hosting a special, seasonal event where passengers get to ride in a simulated “Polar Express” train. Actors will be on board along with a Santa to greet each passenger individually. As a passenger, you will get to enjoy treats, hot chocolate and singing all while wearing your pajamas. With the cheapest deal, tickets will be $52 per adult, and $45 for children ages 2 to 11-years-old.

Lastly, there are plenty of theatrical productions. Ticket prices vary depending on the available seating, so there is no set price for all of the shows listed.

Joffrey Ballet in Chicago will be showing “The Nutcracker” until Dec. 30 with tickets starting at $35.
The Goodman Theater in Chicago will be showing “A Christmas Carol” until Dec. 30 with tickets starting at $40.
The Rosemont Theater will be showing “Mannheim Steamroller Christmas” on Dec. 15 with tickets starting at $39 and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on Dec. 22 with tickets starting at $25.
And Emerald City Theater presents “Twas The Night Before Christmas” at Broadway in Chicago on select days in late December, with tickets starting at $16.
Even if you are not festive or simply do not celebrate Christmas, Broadway in Chicago has other shows playing, including “Hamilton” ($75), “Dear Evan Hansen” ($85), “Book of Mormon” ($45), and “Fiddler on the Roof” ($25).


[For more information on any of these events, please visit their websites.]

Sculpting competition – IL Snow Sculpting

Ice skating – City of Chicago

Eagle watch – Starved Rock State Park

Sketchfest – Stage773

Polar Express on the Amtrak – Chicago The Polar Express Ride

Shows – Joffrey, Goodman Theatre, Rosemont, and Broadway in Chicago