The festival season in Chicago starts in May, with the opening of Chicago City Markets and the 20th annual Chicago Kids and Kites Festival on May 5, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do until then. This city always has something going on, even in the dead of winter!
2018 in Chicago has been designated the Year of Creative Youth, which means we’ll see city-wide programming focusing on opportunities for youth organizations throughout the year. We’ll also have great arts programming continually during 2018. Here are a few other events to look forward to during the first three months of this year.
1. Chicago Restaurant Week, January 26-February 8
Every year, 350+ Chicago (and suburban) restaurants create prix-fixe meal deals so that it’s as easy as possible to try new places for less money. From city favorites to trendy hotspots, the restaurants participating in Restaurant Week are showcasing their best! The event begins with the First Bites Bash preview party on January 25, and continues for two weeks. You might want to make reservations now for popular places. Visit the website to see who’s on the list this year.
2. Museum Free Days, through the end of February
This time of year can be relatively slow for museums, which means they’ll be offering free days for Illinois residents through the end of February. Adler Planetarium free days include January 3, 4, 7-12, 15-19, and February 2, 5-9, 19-22. Shedd Aquarium free days include January 15, 18, 19, 22-26, and February 2 and 14. The Field Museum of Natural History, which will be retiring Sue the T-Rex from the main hall in February, offers free days on January 3, 4, 15, 27, 28, and all of February. The Museum of Science and Industry is free Mondays-Thursdays through February 15, and also from February 20-22 and February 26-27. Brookfield Zoo in the suburbs is free Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays through February 28. Other museums also feature regular free days throughout the year. By the way, Chicago Museum Week takes place January 18-26, in case you’re looking for special events and tours, and deals on membership.
3. Chicago Theatre Week, February 8-18
Celebrate the world-class theatre scene in Chicago with opportunities to see more than 120 local productions at a discount. Tickets for this period of time cost $15 and $30, with discounts on sale starting January 9. Participating theaters include everyone from the Apollo Theater and the Auditorium Theatre to The Second City and Writers Theatre. See the Joffrey Ballet, experience Steppenwolf or Goodman or Chicago Shakespeare – it’s all available now! The event is being hosted by the League of Chicago Theatres.
4. Celebrate the Holidays!
Valentine’s Day, February 14, is a day when many restaurants offer special romantic meals, so check your favorite Chicago eatery to find out what it’s offering, whether it’s a heart-shaped pizza or a steak and wine dinner for two. Celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year with a parade in Chinatown on February 25. Go downtown for the Dyeing of the Chicago River on March 17, followed by the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Celebrate Easter, which this year takes place on April 1, with brunch, Easter egg hunts, and more at local parks, zoos, and attractions.
5. Public Shows
Some high-profile trade shows come to the area during this season, and this is a great time to attend them. The Chicago Auto Show takes place February 10-19 at McCormick Place, showing off the latest trends in the world of cars. Other shows you might want to look at include the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show on February 10-11 at the DES Convention Center in Rosemont, The Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden on February 10-March 25, the giant Chicago Golf Show at the DES Convention Center on February 23-25, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier on March 14-18. In April, C2E2, the giant comic book convention, comes to McCormick Place. For a calendar of shows at the DES Convention Center, click here. For a calendar of shows at McCormick Place, click here.
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