Chicago events January 2020. Things to do in Chicago.

Best events for 12 months

Chicago events January 2020

Free gym

January 1 - 4, 2020
multiple locations
Register to use any of the city’s 70 fitness centers with “state-of-the-art equipment” or visit 25 locations that have lap swimming during Free Fitness Week. Free.

Christmas lights - Lincoln Park Zoo

January 1 - 5, 2020
2.5 miles north
ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo features millions of holiday lights, ice carving, music, carousel & train rides, food, and gift shopping (plus photos with Santa some days). Free. Closed Dec. 24 & 25.

Model trains & holiday flowers

January 1 - 5, 2020
3 miles north
Model trains wind their way among 700 poinsettias and a Christmas tree during the Holiday Flower Show at Lincoln Conservatory. Open daily. Free.

Holidays around the world

January 1 - 5, 2020
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 on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Light show in the garden

January 1 - 5, 2020
24 miles north
“The night comes alive with color, imagination, and sound, from a playful choir of singing trees to a spectacular waterfall of light” at Lightscape. You walk on a one-mile path that includes “an avenue of luminous linden trees” at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Closed Dec. 24 & 25.

Christmas lights - arboretum

January 1 - 5, 2020
27 miles west
See colorful tree lights and projections on a one-mile walk at Illumination, with fire pits to warm you up along the way at Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Closed Dec. 24 & 25.

Winter WonderFest

January 1 - 12, 2020
1 mile east
Festival Hall at Navy Pier becomes an indoor Winter WonderFest for the holidays, with music, skating, carnival rides, and entertainment. You need ID if you are age 18+, otherwise you need a parent. Children shorter than 3 feet are free. Closed Dec. 25.

Boat and RV show

January 8 - 12, 2020
3 miles south
Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show includes hundreds of boats and RVs, seminars, camping gear, and even a trout pond for kids at McCormick Place.

Fishing & hunting show

January 9 - 12, 2020
41 miles west
Attend seminars, shop from 100 vendors, discover Canadian hunting lodges, and learn about customs requirements at the All Canada Show at Pheasant Run Mega Center in St. Charles.

Ale festival

January 11, 2020 (3 p.m., VIP 2 p.m.)
1.4 miles east
Sample 100 American craft beers at Chicago Ale Fest, with food trucks and DJ music in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. Repeats in July.

Chili fest

January 12, 2020
9.7 miles west
A ticket to the Chili Cook-Off includes tastes of 20 chili entries, appetizers, and desserts at Fitzgeralds in Berwyn. Children age 12 and younger are free.

Formal gala

January 18, 2020 (8 p.m.)
2 miles south
A $190 ticket to Snowball includes an open bar, tastes from 20 restaurants, and live music in the Field Museum for age 21+.

Live “Mary Poppins”

January 18, 2020 (8 p.m.)
18 miles west
Magical nanny Mary Poppins sings catchy tunes and works her charms on an English family at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace.

Discount tickets

Healthy Living Expo

January 18, 2020 (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
31 miles SW
Healthy Living Expo offers health screenings, fitness classes, and health-oriented vendors at Tinley Park Convention Center. Free including parking.

Music festival

January 18 - 19, 2020
multiple locations
Tomorrow Never Knows presents up-and-coming local indie artists as well as acclaimed national acts.

Cubs Convention

January 18 - 19, 2020
0.5 mile east
Cubs fans will enjoy autograph signings, player meet-and-greets, interactive exhibits, and special panels with Cubs players, alumni, and management at the Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Grand.

Harry Potter parody

January 18 - 19, 2020
0.8 miles north
Potted Potter is a live show with minimal props that crams all 7 Harry Pottery books into 70 goofy minutes at Broadway Playhouse.

Discount tickets

MLK Messiah

January 18 - 19, 2020
1 mile south
Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah puts “a blues, jazz, gospel, and rock twist” on Handel’s Messiah, getting audiences on their feet singing and dancing in the aisles of Auditorium Theatre to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sketch Comedy Festival

January 18 - 19, 2020
5 miles north
Choose from 125 shows to watch during Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival at Stage 773. Closed Monday to Wednesday.

Home show

January 18 - 19, 2020
20 miles west
Browse 170 exhibitors that can help improve your house and yard at Oak Brook Home & Garden Show [website may beep] at Drury Lane Theater in Oakbrook Terrace. Free.

Pop-up children’s playland

January 18 - 20, 2020
3 miles NW
Children love the play rooms that have jungle animals, a light show, a unicorn blazing across a disco rainbow sky, an electric spirograph, and a friendly shark at Bixbee Imagination Station, while their parents love the photo ops. Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays.

Discount tickets

Family musical

January 18 - 23, 2020 (7 p.m.)
21 miles NW
Based on the book by Roald Dahl, this new version of James and the Giant Peach tells the story of a boy and his magical adventures and friendships, with whimsical music & lyrics at Big Noise Theatre at Prairie Lakes.

Discount tickets

New plays

January 18 - 24, 2020
1.4 miles south
Watch three one-act plays judged to be the best submitted by Chicago teens and professionally produced at Young Playwrights Festival at Columbia College Chicago.

Discount tickets

Live storytelling

January 18 - 26, 2020
10 miles north
Fillet of Solo Festival makes literature come alive with solo performances and storytelling in Rogers Park on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Fresh “Peter Pan”

January 18 - 26, 2020
21 miles NW
Peter and the Starcatcher is a funny prequel to Peter Pan, featuring a boy and a girl in a madcap adventure “filled with music, mermaids, mayhem, and magic” at Big Noise Theatre at Prairie Lakes.

Discount tickets

Documentary film festival

January 18 - 29, 2020
0.5 miles SW
See brand-new documentaries, some of which are followed by discussions with the directors, during Stranger Than Fiction at Gene Siskel Film Center.

Fringe theater festival

January 18 - Feb. 23, 2020
6.5 miles NW
Rhinoceros Theater Festival (Rhino Fest) is billed as Chicago’s longest-running fringe theater festival. Choose from dozens of creative new shows for only $15 at Prop Thtr. Closed Tuesdays.

Improvised comedy

January 18 - Feb. 29, 2020 (6 or 8 p.m.)
5.4 miles north
Two teams of comedians compete for your laughs at ComedySportz, a fast-paced comedy show for all ages, with audience interaction at CSz Theater Chicago.

Discount tickets

MLK Tribute Concert

January 19 - 20, 2020
multiple locations
The MLK Tribute Concert includes a symphony and vocalists in Naperville on Sunday and in Chicago on Monday.

Blue Man show

January 19 - Feb. 9, 2020
4.5 miles north
Blue Man Group puts on a colorful show that combines comedy, theater, music, and special effects for all ages at Briar Street Theatre.

Discount tickets $40

Dinner cirque show

January 19 - March 29, 2020
0.5 miles SW
Love, Chaos, and Dinner is an aerial and acrobatic show performed around you by Teatro ZinZanni as you eat dinner in a giant tent on the 14th floor of Cambria Hotel Chicago Loop. Recommended for age 13+.

Discount tickets

MLK Day celebration

January 20, 2020 (6 to 8:30 p.m.)
7.6 miles north
A $20 ticket to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Day Celebration includes a reception at 6 p.m. and a program with speakers and dancers at 7 p.m. in the Black Ensemble Theater.

MLK events at Northwestern

January 20 - 27, 2020
Chicago & Evanston
Attend events at Northwestern University to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. The following events are free and open to the public.
  • Jan. 20 - Candlelight Vigil, Evanston
  • Jan. 21 - Reading The Mountaintop, Chicago
  • Jan. 24 - MLK Oratorical Competition, Chicago
  • Jan. 27 - Tarana Burke, Chicago

Music + magic

January 20 - Feb. 24, 2020 (Mondays 7:30 p.m.)
8.3 miles north
The Music & Magic show “features close-up magic at your table and a live jazz band on stage” plus a magician performing on stage during band breaks at Chicago Magic Lounge for age 16+.

Discount tickets


January 21, 2020 (7:30 p.m.)
2.9 miles west
Watch the Chicago Blackhawks play an exciting home game with the Florida Panthers at the United Center.

Discount tickets

Restaurant tasting

January 23, 2020 (6 to 9 p.m.)
2 miles south
Taste samples from 70 restaurants, cocktails, and beer at First Bites Bash, a kick-off gala for Restaurant Week at the Field Museum. Bring age 21 ID.

Gory musical

January 23 - Feb. 27, 2020
3.4 miles north
Evil Dead: The Musical tells the story of five college students who find an abandoned cabin in the woods and accidentally unleash evil forces that turn them into demons, live at Greenhouse Theater Center.

Discount tickets

White Sox festival

January 24 - 25, 2020
3 miles south
“Connect with former Sox stars and the current team through fun interactive spaces, popular autograph sessions, question-and-answer seminars, and more” during SoxFest at McCormick Place West.

Chicago Restaurant Week

January 24 - Feb. 9, 2020
Chicago locations
Get a special deal on a fixed-price lunch or dinner at 400 restaurants during Chicago Restaurant Week.

Macaroni & cheese tasting

January 25, 2020
0.6 miles west
A ticket to Mac & Cheese Crawl gets you “seven mac & cheese servings, drink specials, giveaways, and more” in River North for age 21+.

Polar Bear Plunge

January 25, 2020
1 mile north
Register online, and then take the Polar Plunge into Lake Michigan for charity at Oak Street Beach, followed by an optional after party. Free to watch.

Chinese New Year show

January 25, 2020 (1 to 5 p.m.)
1.3 miles east
Global Connections: Chinese New Year features performances of lion dancing, martial arts, drumming, traditional dance, and music in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. Free.

Northerly Island adventure

January 25, 2020
3 miles south
See birds of prey and wolves, make “nature-inspired winter crafts,” walk on snowshoes (if there’s snow), and drink cocoa (while it lasts) at Polar Adventure Days on three dates in December, January, and February. Free except parking.

Winter beer festival

January 25, 2020 (1 to 10 p.m.)
7 miles north
Winter Brew is a Lincoln Square & Ravenswood beer fest that features local brew and food at Dank Haus for age 21+.

Anime festival

January 25, 2020
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. [Pre-registration is closed, but you can register on arrival.]

Johnny Cash Festival

January 25, 2020 (5 p.m.)
9.2 miles NW
Join 900 people watching local bands play on two stages at the Cash for Kids, a fundraiser for kids’ athletics at the Irish American Heritage Center. Food and beverages are sold separately.

Eagle weekend

January 25 - 26, 2020
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.

MLK celebration

January 28, 2020 (6 p.m.)
9 miles south
The University of Chicago’s MLK Commemoration Celebration honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel and is followed by a reception. Free and open to the public.


January 29 - March 25, 2020 (Wed. 7:30 p.m.)
8.4 miles north
Magician Trent James promises “mind-boggling magic with gut busting humor” at Chicago Magic Lounge. This venue is age 21+ (or 16+ with legal guardian).

Discount tickets

Relationship comedy

January 30, 2020 (8 p.m.)
20.1 miles north
Jake daydreams about the women in his life during “wildly comic and sometimes moving flashbacks” in Jake’s Women, a witty play by Neil Simon at Oil Lamp Theater in Glenview.

Discount tickets

Groundhog Day

January 30 - Feb. 2, 2020
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) on Sunday at 7 a.m.


January 31, 2020 (9:30 p.m.)
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

Game playing party

January 31, 2020 (6:30 to 11 p.m.)
1.9 miles west
Join 600 people facing off in game play at Eisenopoly, which includes an open bar with handcrafted cocktails, appetizers, and live music at Revel Fulton Market. The $130 tickets support cancer research.

Taste of Oak Park

January 31, 2020 (5:30 to 9:30 p.m.)
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.

Sounds of Las Vegas

January 31, 2020 (8 p.m.)
16 miles NW
Relive the swinging days of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin with their hit songs performed live by The Rat Pack is Back in Rosemont Theatre.

Discount tickets

Motorcycle show

January 31 - Feb. 1, 2020
30.3 miles SW
Chicago Motorcycle Show & Parts Swap features bikes, parts, demonstrations, food, beer, and live music at Tinley Park Convention Center.

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