Chicago events calendar for January 2017. Best festivals, fairs, fun things to do, Martin Luther King Day events, kids activities, free entertainment in Chicago, Illinois.

Best events for 12 months
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Best events for 12 months
January 2017
January 2017

Enjoy the best Chicago events, festivals, and things to do with this calendar of events.

Mileage is from the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

Discount tickets marked green are from trusted sellers (Goldstar, Groupon, and LivingSocial).

Commitment Day

January 1, 2017

Chicago suburbs

Kick off the new year in a 5K run or walk starting at 3 locations of Life Time Fitness on Commitment Day.

New Year’s run

January 1, 2017

1.2 miles SE

Get off to a healthy new year at the New Year’s Day 5K Run/Walk, which begins and ends at the south end of Lincoln Park.

Holiday train ride

January 1, 2017 (begins Dec. 3)

1.4 miles SW

Take a one-hour train ride through downtown Chicago as you drink cocoa on the Polar Express, which travels round trip from Union Station at Jackson Boulevard.

Maxwell Street Market

January 1, 2017

2 miles SW

Bundle up and go to Maxwell Street Market in search of bargains and outstanding Mexican street food. It’s open every Sunday at 800 S. Desplaines St. Free.

Christmas lights - Lincoln Park Zoo

January 1, 2017 (begins Nov. 25)

2.5 miles north

ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo features millions of holiday lights, ice carvings, music, carousel and train rides, food, and gift shopping (plus photos with Santa through Dec. 23). Free entry. Open Nov. 25-27; Dec. 2-4, 9-23, 26-31; Jan. 1.

Holiday humor

January 1, 2017 (also Dec.)

3.4 miles north

Barney the Elf is a musical parody of the film Elf with a drag twist at Greenhouse Theater. Discount tickets $13.

Blue Man show

January 1, 2017 at 7 p.m. (also Dec.)

4.5 miles north

Blue Man Group puts on an exciting show that combines comedy, theater, music, and special effects at Briar Street Theatre. Discount tickets $39 to $46.

Comic operetta

January 1, 2017 at 2 p.m. (begins Dec. 26)

13.6 miles north

Lighthearted Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss features scheming characters at a glittery Viennese masked ball, in Evanston. Discount tickets $25

Holiday trains - Botanic garden

January 1 - 2, 2017 (begins Nov. 25)

24 miles north

Wonderland Express features trains running through an indoor garden past miniature buildings at Chicago Botanic Garden. See events schedule. Closed Dec. 25.

Christmas lights - arboretum

January 1 - 2, 2017 (begins Nov. 18)

27 miles west

See colorful tree lights and interactive laser lights on a one-mile walk at Illumination, and then warm up at the fire pit at the Morton Arboretum. Closed dates for 2016: Nov. 21, 24, 28 and Dec. 5, 12, 24, 25.

Winter WonderFest

January 1 - 8, 2017 (begins Dec. 2)

1 mile east

Festival Hall at Navy Pier becomes an indoor Winter WonderFest for the holidays, with music, carnival rides, and entertainment. Closed Dec. 25.

Holiday trains - Lincoln Park

January 1 - 8, 2017 (begins Nov. 25)

3 miles north

Model trains wind their way through a miniature village among poinsettias during the Winter Flower & Train Show at Lincoln Park Conservatory. Free.

Holidays around the world

January 1 - 8, 2017 (begins Nov. 17)

8 miles south

See trees decorated to represent many cultures plus weekend ethnic song-and-dance performances during Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light at the Museum of Science & Industry. Closed Nov. 24 & Dec. 25.

Free science museum

January 2 - 31, 2017 (weekdays only)

8 miles south

Show Illinois ID to enter the Museum of Science and Industry free during Free Days. Repeats in Sept.


January 2 - May. 29, 2017

2.1 miles north

Second City’s Improv All-Stars delivers an hour of hilarious improvised comedy with plenty of audience interaction at Up Comedy Club. Discount tickets $10.

Elvis birthday party

January 5, 2017

1.3 miles north

Elvis Fest features Elvis tribute artists backed by a full band, karaoke, a look-alike contest, and a live radio broadcast from The Original Mother’s. Donation.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

January 5 - 8, 2017 (also Dec.)

0.8 miles north

Kids ages 3 to 13 will enjoy watching Peanuts cartoon characters on stage during A Charlie Brown Christmas at Broadway Playhouse.

Discount tickets $20.

Sketch Comedy Festival

January 5 - 15, 2017

5 miles north

Choose from more than 180 shows to watch during Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival at Stage 773.

Classic musical by Gershwin

January 5 - 7, 2017 (also Dec.)

18 miles west

Set in the 1930s, Crazy For You tells the story of a wealthy bachelor determined to become a professional dancer, with comedy, romance, and plot twists, at Drury Lane Theatre. Discount tickets $43.

Magic show

January 6 - 21, 2017

0.7 miles south

The Magic Parlour is an evening of close-up magic by an award-winning magician in the beautiful Palmer House Hilton Hotel. Discount tickets $49.

Adult variety show

January 7 - Feb. 18, 2017 (also Dec.)

7 miles north

Kiss Kiss Cabaret is a fun mix of burlesque, off-color comedy, music, magic, and variety acts at Uptown Underground. Reviews.

Discount tickets $14.

Boat and RV show

January 11 - 15, 2017

3 miles south

Chicago Boat, RV & Strictly Sail Show includes plenty of boats and RVs, seminars, camping gear, and even a trout pond for kids at McCormick Place.

Music festival

January 11 - 15, 2017

3.6 miles north

Tomorrow Never Knows mixes up-and-coming and known local and national indie acts in North Chicago.

Magic lounge

January 12 - 26, 2017 (also Dec.)

7 miles north

Chicago Magic Lounge is an old-school magic show with close-up magic, bar magic, table-hopping magicians, and main stage acts at Uptown Underground for age 21+. Discount tickets $8 to $14.

Cubs Convention

January 13 - 15, 2017

0.5 mile east

Cubs fans will enjoy getting up close with their favorite players and broadcasters at Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Grand.

Live storytelling

January 13 - 29, 2017

10 miles north

Fillet of Solo Festival makes literature come alive with solo performances and storytelling at Lifeline Theatre and Live Bait Theater.

MLK Messiah

January 14 - 15, 2017

1 mile south

Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah is a swinging version of Handel’s Messiah that gets audiences on their feet singing and dancing in the aisles of Auditorium Theatre to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Chili fest

January 15, 2017

9.7 miles west

A ticket to the Chili Cook-Off includes tastes of 20 chili entries, appetizers, desserts, NFL playoff games, and a kids’ area at Fitzgeralds in Berwyn.

MLK tribute

January 15 - 16, 2017

Chicago & Naperville

The Tribute to MLK includes an orchestra, a bassist, and a gospel choir in Naperville on Sunday and in Chicago on Monday.

MLK museum day

January 16, 2017

Chicago area

Get free admission on Martin Luther King Day if you can show a valid ID that has an Illinois address:

MLK Day celebration

January 16, 2017

7 miles north

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Day Celebration includes a reception 6 to 7 p.m. and a program with music and speakers 7 to 8 p.m. at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center.

MLK Day observance

January 16, 2017 (7 p.m.)

13 miles north

Hear a keynote address and enjoy music and performances by students at the Campus Observance of Martin Luther King Day at Northwestern University. Free to the public.

MLK Day breakfast

January 16, 2017 (8 a.m.)

29 miles west

Join 500 people attending a keynote speech with breakfast at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at Benedictine University.

MLK Day breakfast

January 17, 2017 (10 a.m. to noon)

3.7 miles NW

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast includes a buffet and a keynote speaker at DePaul University. Free.

Sportsman’s show

January 19 - 22, 2017

17 miles NW

Chicago Outdoor Sports Show has fishing and hunting seminars, kids’ activities, and hundreds of vendors at the Rosemont convention center.

Puppet festival

January 19 - 29, 2017

Chicago locations

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival features 50 performances with marionettes, shadow puppets, Bunraku puppets, and tiny toy puppets.

Woodwind quintet

January 20, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)

9 miles south

Imani Winds is a chamber music ensemble playing works by modernist composers and their own members in Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago. Free tickets for children. Discount tickets $18.

B-movie festival

January 20 - 21, 2017

14 miles north

B-Fest is 24 hours of low-budget movies with audience participation in McCormick Auditorium at Northwestern University in Evanston.

Rhinofest fringe theater

January 20 - Feb. 26, 2017 (plus show Jan. 14)

6.5 miles NW

Rhinoceros Theater Festival is billed as Chicago’s longest-running fringe festival at Prop Thtr.

Northerly Island adventure

January 21, 2017

3 miles south

See birds of prey and wolves, hear folk music and a storyteller, walk on snowshoes (if there’s snow), make a craft, and have cocoa (while it lasts) at Polar Adventure Days. Free except parking.

Travel show

January 21 - 22, 2017

17 miles NW

Chicago Travel & Adventure Show has travel experts and travel industry vendors at the Rosemont convention center.

Fishing show

January 26 - 29, 2017

28 miles NW

Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo offers expert seminars, fishing boats, fishing supplies, and exhibitors at the Schaumburg Convention Center.

Taste of Oak Park

January 27, 2017

11.6 miles west

A ticket to Bite Nite gets you tastes from 50 restaurants, with live music and drinks for sale at 19th Century Club in Oak Park.

Contemporary dance

January 27 - 28, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)

0.5 miles south

Batsheva Dance Company of Israel, known for vibrant energy, hungry physicality, and world-influenced style, performs its “Last Works” at Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park Discount tickets $14.

Winter beer festival

January 27 - 28, 2017

7 miles north

Winter Brew is a Lincoln Square & Ravenswood beer fest that features local brew and food for age 21+.
  • Jan. 27 (7 p.m.) - Architectural Artifacts
  • Jan. 28 (2 and 7 p.m.) - Dank Haus

Home show

January 27 - 29, 2017

1 mile east

See home improvement products, services, and demos at the Ideal Home Show at Navy Pier.

Chicago Restaurant Week

January 27 - Feb. 9, 2017

Chicago locations

Get a special deal on a fixed-price lunch or dinner at 350 restaurants during Chicago Restaurant Week.

Polar Bear Plunge

January 28, 2017

1 mile north

Register to join the Chicago Polar Bear Club, and then take the Polar Plunge into Lake Michigan for charity at Oak Street Beach. Free to watch.

African dance

January 28, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)

14 miles west

Step Afrika is energetic percussive dance using kicks, stomps, claps, and chants while integrating songs, storytelling, humor, and audience participation at Lund Auditorium in River Forest. Discount tickets $12.

Motorcycle show

January 28 - 29, 2017

41 miles west

Chicago Motorcycle Show & Swap Meet features bikes, parts, demonstrations, food, beer, and live music at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles.

Eagle weekend

January 28 - 29, 2017

96 miles SW

Learn about raptors and birds of prey, meet falcons and an eagle, take an eagle-watching hike, and try kids’ activities at Bald Eagle Watch Weekend at Starved Rock Lodge & Illinois Waterway Visitor Center.

Improvised comedy

January 28 - Feb. 18, 2017

2.3 miles north

See top contestants in the Improv Classic during the semi-finals (Jan. 28, Feb. 4 & 11) and the finals (Feb. 18) at The Second City.

Bicycle swap

January 29, 2017

28 miles NW

Buy or sell a bike, and find parts and gear, at the Chicago Winter Bike Swap at Harper College in Palatine. Children 12 and under are free.

Baseball hero

January 31, 2017 (10 a.m.)

49 miles NW

Everybody’s Hero is the story of Jackie Robinson, the events that shaped his character, his struggle to gain acceptance, and the obstacles he overcame to become the first black man to play in Major League Baseball, in Crystal Lake. Discount tickets $10.

Restaurant tasting

January 2017 (undated)

1.5 miles SW

Taste samples from 50 restaurants, cocktails, and beer at First Bites Bash, a $125 kick-off gala for Restaurant Week at Union Station. Bring age 21 ID.

Tasting event

January 2017 (undated)

7.1 miles north

Sample local beer, spirits, and food from the Lincoln Square and Ravenswood neighborhoods at Winter Pour at Architectural Artifacts for age 21+.

MLK Day breakfast

January 2017 (undated)

0.2 miles SE

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast is held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

MLK celebration

January 2017 (undated)

9 miles south

UChicago MLK Celebration honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel and is followed by a reception. Free and public.

MLK Day at the zoo

January 2017 (undated)

14 miles SW

Brookfield Zoo is free today, and there is an MLK Celebration at noon in the Discovery Center.
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© January 2017 calendar of events in Chicago, IL. Best events, fairs, festivals, and things to do in Chicago, Illinois. ord-01