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.

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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.

Commitment Day

January 1, 2017

Chicago suburbs

Kick off the new year in a 5K run or walk starting at 4 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.

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 some days). Free entry. Open Nov. 25-27; Dec. 2-4, 9-23, 26-31; Jan. 1.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 story telling

January 13 - 29, 2017

9 miles north

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

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 speaker and a student music performance, with a candlelight vigil and an after-reception at the Campus Observance of Martin Luther King Day at Northwestern University. Free to the public.

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 - 27, 2017

17 miles NW

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

Travel show

January 21 - 22, 2017

17 miles NW

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

Home show

January 27 - 29, 2018

1 mile east

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

Anime festival

January 28, 2017 (uncertain)

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.

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.

Chicago Restaurant Week

January 2017 (undated)

Chicago locations

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

Mardi gras party

January 2017 (undated)

0.4 miles south

The New Orleans style Mardi Gras Bash at Chicago Cultural Center for age 21+ has a different theme every year. Requires advance ticket and costume or mask. Food and drink included.

Polar Bear Plunge

January 2017 (undated)

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.

Holiday train ride

January 2017 (undated)

1.4 miles SW

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

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.

Holiday trains - Lincoln Park

January 2017 (undated)

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.

Northerly Island adventure

January 2017 (undated)

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.

Tasting event

January 2017 (undated)

3.4 miles north

Whiskey Wine and Moonshine is a whiskey and wine tasting event at multiple venues in Lincoln Park for age 21+. Repeats in June.

Music festival

January 2017 (undated)

3.6 miles north

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

Improvised comedy

January 2017 (undated)

5.9 miles north

See top contestants in Under The Gun Improv Classic when they face semi-final rounds and then a final round at Under The Gun Theater.

Rhinofest fringe theater

January 2017 (undated)

6.5 miles NW

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

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+.

Chili fest

January 2017 (undated)

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.

Taste of Oak Park

January 2017 (undated)

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

B-movie festival

January 2017 (undated)

14 miles north

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

Bicycle swap

January 2017 (undated)

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.

Fishing show

January 2017 (undated)

28 miles NW

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

Motorcycle show

January 2017 (undated)

41 miles west

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

Groundhog Day

January 2017 (undated)

61.2 miles NW

Much of the movie “Groundhog Day” was filmed in Woodstock, which is no surprise because their events on Groundhog Days are picture perfect, including the groundhog’s prognostication (weather forecast).

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 Messiah

January 2017 (undated)

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.

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 observance

January 2017 (undated)

13.6 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 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.

MLK Day breakfast

January 2017 (undated)

29 miles west

Join 500 people attending a keynote speech with breakfast at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at Benedictine University.
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© January 2017 calendar of events in Chicago, IL. Best events, fairs, festivals, and things to do in Chicago, Illinois.