Halloween has come and gone, and we are leaving fall behind in McHenry County.
That can mean only one thing: the holidays officially are upon us. With the hectic schedules this time of year is famous for, remember to plan some family time to enjoy the events of the season. There is no shortage of holiday festivities to participate in here, so instead of taking your money out of town or even out of state, look first to McHenry County and become a tourist in your backyard.
Explore charming “Main Street” villages brimming with boutiques, galleries, antique shops, gourmet foods and one-of-a-kind finds. You can find that perfect gift for everyone on your list in McHenry County. There are plenty of shops to choose from on the McHenry Riverwalk, the historic Woodstock Square, downtown Crystal Lake and downtown Richmond. If you are looking for bargains this year, find them at the Huntley Outlet Center. Don’t miss their after-Thanksgiving sales.
Catch a live holiday performance at the historic Woodstock Opera House or the Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake. Revel in the magic of “The Nutcracker,” fall in love with the story of Bedford Falls all over again in “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play,” and laugh until your sides split as you welcome in the new year at the “New Year’s Eve Comedy Show.”
If you are looking to enjoy a musical performance like no other in a venue that is as unique as the performance, don’t miss Dave Wickerham on the 8,000-pipe Wurlitzer theater organ at the Third Annual Christmas Concert Series at Sanfilippo Estate’s Place de la Musique.
As the air turns colder and the snow begins to fall, don’t forget that you still can enjoy the great outdoors and avoid cabin fever. Enjoy outdoor activities such as winter hikes, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. The McHenry County Conservation District has thousands of acres of open conservation sites, and as many fun late fall and winter educational events for all ages.
Mark your calendar before it fills up to take in these exciting festivities:
• Nov. 28 to Dec. 8: “A Christmas Carol,” Woodstock Opera House, Woodstock.
• Nov. 29 to Dec. 8: “It’s a Wonderful Life: Radio Play,” Raue Center for the Arts, Crystal Lake.
• Dec. 6, 7 and 8: Sanfilippo Estate’s Place de la Musique’s Christmas Concert Series, Barrington Hills.
• Dec. 8 to 14: “The Nutcracker,” Woodstock Opera House, Woodstock.
• Dec. 13: Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops Concert, Raue Center for the Arts, Crystal Lake.
• Dec. 21 and 22: The Nutcracker Ballet, Raue Center for the Arts, Crystal Lake.
Holiday festivals and events
• Nov. 16 and 17: Downtown Christmas Walk & Winter Taste-Fest, McHenry.
• Nov. 27: Turkey Testicle Festival, Huntley.
• Nov. 29: Festival of Lights Parade, downtown Crystal Lake.
• Nov. 29 to Dec. 21: Victorian Christmas on the Woodstock Square.
• Dec. 6 to 8: Christmas of Yesteryear, Richmond.
• Dec. 1: Merry Cary Holiday Parade & Festival, Cary.
• Dec. 1: Woodstock Christmas Parade, Woodstock Square.
• Dec. 1: McHenry County Kiwanis Santa Run for Kids, Crystal Lake.
• Dec. 6: Festival of Trees, Lake in the Hills.
• Dec. 7: Holiday Rock on the Fox.
• Dec 7 and 8, 14 and 15: Happy Holiday Railway, Illinois Railway Museum, Union.
• Dec. 15: Voices in Harmony: Sing-Along Messiah, Raue Center for the Arts, Crystal Lake.
• Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Comedy Show, Raue Center for the Arts, Crystal Lake.
For information on the activities mentioned above or to learn more about the sales and marketing efforts of the McHenry County Convention and Visitors Bureau, call me at 815-893-6280. Request our 2013-14 McHenry County Visitor Guides at www.visitmchenrycounty.com. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/visitmchenrycounty and Twitter www.twitter.com/Mchenry_County.
• Jaki Berggren is executive director of the McHenry County Convention and Visitors Bureau.