Chicago events calendar for January 2015. Best festivals, fairs, fun things to do, Martin Luther King Day events, kids activities, free entertainment in Chicago, Illinois.

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January 2015

Enjoy the best Chicago events, festivals, and things to do in January 2015 with this calendar of events.

Events are listed by starting date, and all dates are confirmed. Mileage is from the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

New Year’s run

January 1, 2015

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.

Commitment Day

January 1, 2015

Chicago suburbs

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

Christmas lights - Lincoln Park Zoo

January 1 - 4, 2015

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). Open Nov. 28 - 30. Dec. 5 - 7, 12 - 23, 26 - 31. Jan. 1 - 4. Free entry.

Holiday trains - Lincoln Park

January 1 - 4, 2015 (begins Nov. 28)

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 - 4, 2015 (begins Nov. 13)

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.

Holiday trains - Botanic garden

January 1 - 4, 2015 (begins Nov. 28)

24 miles north

Wonderland Express features trains running through an indoor garden past miniature buildings at Chicago Botanic Garden.

Winter WonderFest

January 1 - 11, 2015 (begins Dec. 5)

1 mile east

Festival Hall at Navy Pier becomes an indoor Winter WonderFest for the holidays, with music, carnival rides, and entertainment. Expect crowds. Free entry.

Holiday improv

January 2 - 3, 2015 (begins in Dec.)

0.5 miles SW

Twist Your Dickens is a zany send-up of the classic “A Christmas Carol” with adult humor, parody, and improvisation at Goodman Theatre.

Maxwell Street Market

January 4, 2015

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.

Free science museum

January 5 - 30, 2015 (weekdays only)

8 miles south

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

Elvis birthday party

January 8, 2015

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.

Sketch Comedy Festival

January 8 - 18, 2015

5 miles north

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

Live story telling

January 9 - 25, 2015

9 miles north

Fillet of Solo Festival makes literature come alive with solo performances and storytelling in north Chicago at Heartland Studio Theatre and Lifeline Theatre.

Bluegrass & Blues

January 9 - Feb. 21, 2015

Chicago & Evanston

The Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival attracts a young crowd to 23 shows by top acts in six venues.

Rhinofest fringe theater

January 10 - March 1, 2015

6.5 miles NW

Watch hundreds of artists perform at the Prop Thtr during Rhinoceros Theater Festival, billed as Chicago’s longest-running fringe festival.

Chili fest

January 11, 2015

11 miles west

A ticket to the Chili-Cookoff includes tastes of 25 chili entries, appetizers, desserts, drink specials, and NFL playoff games in Forest Park. See schedule.

Music festival

January 13 - 18, 2015

3.6 miles north

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

Boat and RV show

January 14 - 18, 2015

3 miles south

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

Puppet festival

January 14 - 25, 2015

Chicago locations

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

MLK celebration

January 15, 2015

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.

Cubs Convention

January 16 - 18, 2015

0.5 mile east

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

Motorcycle show

January 16 - 18, 2015

41 miles west

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

Free entertainment

January 16 - Feb. 1, 2015

multiple locations

OnEdge is a series of experimental theater, modern dance, and performance art. Arrive early. Free.

Bicycle swap

January 17, 2015

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.

Travel show

January 17 - 18, 2015

17 miles NW

Chicago Travel & Adventure Show has travel experts and travel industry vendors at Rosemont convention center.
January 2015

MLK tribute

January 18 - 19, 2015

Greater Chicago area

The Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. includes a symphony, cellist, and gospel choir in Naperville on Sunday (sold out) and in Chicago on Monday.

MLK museum day

January 19, 2015

Chicago area

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

MLK Day breakfast

January 19, 2015

3.7 miles NW

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast includes a keynote speaker and entertainment at DePaul University. Click their RSVP link. Free.

MLK Day celebration

January 19, 2015

7 miles north

Justice is Ours features a reception and a celebration in dance, song, poetry, and music by Sketch ‘n Tyme at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center.

MLK Day observance

January 19, 2015

13 miles north

Carol Moseley Braun speaks, with candlelight vigil, student music performance, and after-reception at the Campus Observance of Martin Luther King Day at Northwestern University. Free and open to the public.

MLK Day at the zoo

January 19, 2015

14 miles SW

MLK Celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is in the Discovery Center at Brookfield Zoo. Free.

MLK Day breakfast

January 19, 2015

29 miles west

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

MLK film

January 19 - 29, 2015


Selma [sound] is the powerful story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the struggle for civil rights. Schedule.

Philippine marine life

January 20, 2015

0.4 miles south

Hear a talk and see stunning photos of dives in the Philippines at Travelogue, by the Geographic Society of Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center. Free.

Award-winning show

January 20 - 25, 2015

0.8 miles south

STOMP has high-energy dance, acrobatics, comedy, and nonstop rhythym from unusual instruments at Bank of America Theatre.

Sportsman’s show

January 21 - 25, 2015

17 miles NW

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

Masquerade party

January 23, 2015

1 mile south

Mix and mingle, visit the bar, hear music, and see a show at After Dark for age 21+ in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. Tickets.

B-movie festival

January 23 - 24, 2015

14 miles north

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

Polar Bear Plunge

January 24, 2015

1 mile north

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

Audition for TV

January 24 - 25, 2015

3 miles south

Register online to audition either day for the TV show America’s Got Talent at McCormick Place. Free.

Home show

January 24 - 25, 2015

3 miles south

See home improvement products, services, and demos at the Ideal Home Show at McCormick Place.

Eagle weekend

January 24 - 25, 2015

96 miles SW

Learn about raptors and birds of prey, meet falcons and an eagle, hear River Valley history, and try kids’ activities at Bald Eagle Watch Weekend at Starved Rock Lodge & Illinois Waterway Visitor Center.

Burlesque variety show

January 24 - 31, 2015

3.3 miles north

Kiss Kiss Cabaret is an entertaining mix of burlesque, off-color comedy, music, and variety acts at the Greenhouse Theater Center. Discount tickets.

British play

January 24 - Feb. 1, 2015

21 miles NW

Four English women rent a castle on a sunny Italian island and work on their lives and relationships in Enchanted April in Des Plaines. Discount tickets.

Haunting play

January 24 - Feb. 14, 2015

7.6 miles north

A Map of Virtue, a horrifying tale of obsessed friends stranded in a forest, is about the limits of our virtue and what we leave behind. The NY Times calls it “a haunting, romantic story with a mystery at its center.” Live at Rivendell Theatre. Discount tickets.

Fast-talking comedy

January 24 - Feb. 15, 2015

26 miles NW

Scandalous in the 1930s, Noël Coward’s Private Lives is a witty play about two divorcees who reignite old passions in Paris, at Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights. Discount tickets.

Northerly Island adventure

January 24 & Feb. 21, 2015

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.

Women’s play

January 24 - Feb. 22, 2015

0.5 miles SW

Rapture, Blister, Burn is a witty play about women’s life choices at Goodman Theatre the NY Times called “intensely smart, immensely funny.” Discount tickets.

Musical about Tupperware

January 24 - Feb. 22, 2015

3.4 miles NW

The Plastic Revolution is a funny show about 1950s Tupperware parties that also examines “social norms, small-town politics and the empowerment of women” [Sun-Times] at the Den Theatre.

Italian opera

January 24 - March 14, 2015

1 mile SW

Lyric Opera performs Tosca, a passionate story about a fiery diva, a rebel artist, and corrupt police, which has a rousing score, beautiful arias, and English subtitles at the Civic Opera House. Discount tickets.

Blue Man show

January 24 - April 5, 2015

4.5 miles north

Blue Man Group is back with a new stage show that combines comedy, art, and science with visual effects and music at Briar Street Theatre. Discount tickets.

Rock legends concert

January 24 - June 28, 2015

3.8 miles north

Million Dollar Quartet recreates the night Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins played together at Sun Records and includes 21 rock hits performed live at Apollo Theater. Discount tickets.

Soup cook-off

January 25, 2015 (2 p.m.)

3.6 miles north

Make or eat hearty food at the unconventional Chicago Soup Takedown for age 21+ at Lincoln Hall.

The Mikado

January 25 - Feb. 7, 2015

3.4 miles NW

The Mikado is Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera set in Japan. Choose to sit or stand and mix with the actors at Den Theatre. Discount tickets (standing).

MLK observance

January 26, 2015 (6 p.m.)

13 miles north

Michelle Alexander speaks about civil rights at the Campus Observance of Martin Luther King Day at Northwestern University, which includes a student music performance. Free and open to the public.

Museum party

January 27, 2015 (6 to 9:30 p.m.)

3 miles north

Adults can see the museum, join a trivia game about nature and science, and visit the bar during Nature on Tap at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Dark comedy

January 27 - March 28, 2015

8.6 miles north

Greedy siblings squabble over Mama’s Texas estate while she’s alive in Dividing the Estate, by playwright Horton Foote, at Raven Theatre. Discount tickets.

Zombie escape

January 28 - Feb. 22, 2015

1 mile south

You and 11 others are Trapped in a Room with a Zombie on a chain with only 1 hour to solve clues and escape, at the Fine Arts Building. Discount tickets.

Addams Family

January 28 - March 22, 2015 (April sold out)

7.5 miles north

The Addams Family: The Musical (based on the TV show) is about the daughter falling in love with a “normal” boy and inviting him and parents to dinner, onstage at the Mercury Theater. Discount tickets.

Magic show

January 28 - May 27, 2015 (Wednesdays)

3.3 miles north

The Magic Cabaret entertains with mind-boggling sleight of hand and audience participation in small Greenhouse Theater Center. Discount tickets.

Restaurant tasting

January 29, 2015 (5:30 to 8:30 p.m.)

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.

Chicago Restaurant Week

January 30 - Feb. 12, 2015

Chicago locations

Get a special deal on a fixed-price lunch or dinner at 250 restaurants during Chicago Restaurant Week. Scroll down the website to see the list of restaurants.

A play about dating

January 30 - March 15, 2015

3 miles north

Two lonely souls meet online in Softly Blue, a play at Greenhouse Theater Center about guarding our secrets and learning to trust others. Discount tickets.

Camp at the aquarium

January 30 - March 20, 2015

2 miles south

Overnight at the Shedd Aquarium includes dinner, seeing all the exhibits, an aquatic show, a reef dive, snacks, a movie, and breakfast.

American jazz dance

January 31, 2015 (7:30 p.m.)

1 mile south

Jazz dance company Giordano Dance Chicago thrills and inspires audiences with an exhilarating repertoire at the Auditorium Theatre. Discount tickets.

Alternative bridal show

January 31, 2015

6 miles north

Indie Wed has 100 independent businesses offering handmade items and innovative services for unique weddings at Ravenswood Event Center.

Barrel-aged beer

January 31, 2015 (noon; arrive early)

6 miles NW

Wood-and-barrel-aged beers are on tap at Riverview Tavern during Festibarrel. Free entry. Bring cash.

Winter beer festival

January 31, 2015 (2 or 7 p.m.)

7 miles north

Winter Brew is a Lincoln Square beer fest that features local brew and food at the DANK Haus German American Cultural Center.

Anime festival

January 31, 2015

9 miles south

Uchi-Con features gaming, cinema, Asian culture, vendors, speakers, panels, and workshops in the Ida Noyes Hall at University of Chicago. Free.

Dog show

January 31 - Feb. 1, 2015

3 miles south

The International Kennel Club Dog Show has prize competitions, dog fashion shows, meet the breeds, pet the dogs, and kids’ activities at McCormick Place convention center. Discount coupon to print.
Next month:February 2015

January 2015 calendar of events in Chicago, IL. Best events, fairs, festivals, and things to do in Chicago, Illinois.