Chicago events January 2021. Things to do in Chicago.

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Best events for 12 months

Chicago events January 2021

Model trains & holiday flowers

January 1 - 3, 2021
(begins Nov. 27)
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.

Boat and RV show

January 6 - 10, 2021
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.

Chili fest

January 17, 2021
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.

Taste of Oak Park

January 29, 2021
(5:30 to 9 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.

Chicago Restaurant Week

January 2021
(undated)
Chicago locations
Get a special deal on a fixed-price lunch or dinner at 400 restaurants during Chicago Restaurant Week.

Free gym

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Music festival

January 2021
(undated)
multiple locations
Tomorrow Never Knows presents up-and-coming local indie artists as well as acclaimed national acts.

Puppet festival

January 2021
(undated)
Chicago locations
Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival features two-dozen different shows with marionettes, shadow puppets, Bunraku puppets, and tiny toy puppets. This event is held in odd numbered years.

Cubs Convention

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Documentary film festival

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Macaroni & cheese tasting

January 2021
(undated)
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 2021
(undated)
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 2021
(undated)
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.

Ale festival

January 2021
(undated)
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.

New plays

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Game playing party

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Formal gala

January 2021
(undated)
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+.

Restaurant tasting

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Northerly Island adventure

January 2021
(undated)
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.

White Sox festival

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Sketch Comedy Festival

January 2021
(undated)
5 miles north
Choose from 125 shows to watch during Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival at Stage 773. Closed Monday to Wednesday.

Fringe theater festival

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Winter beer festival

January 2021
(undated)
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 2021
(undated)
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.

Johnny Cash Festival

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Live storytelling

January 2021
(undated)
10 miles north
Fillet of Solo Festival makes literature come alive with solo performances and storytelling in Rogers Park on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Cowboy show

January 2021
(undated)
multiple locations
Watch Professional Championship Bull Riders take on bucking bulls.

Home show

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Light show in the garden

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Blues in Arlington Heights

January 2021
(undated)
25.9 miles NW
Hear two dozen performances during Winter Blues Summit at Hey Nonny. Saturday also includes a panel discussion and a movie. Brunch on Sat. & Sun.

Motorcycle show

January 2021
(undated)
30.3 miles SW
Chicago Motorcycle Show & Parts Swap features bikes, parts, demonstrations, food, beer, and live music at Tinley Park Convention Center.

Healthy Living Expo

January 2021
(undated)
31 miles SW
Healthy Living Expo offers health screenings, fitness classes, and health-oriented vendors at Tinley Park Convention Center. Free including parking.

Fishing & hunting show

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Groundhog Day

January 2021
(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) on Sunday at 7 a.m.

Eagle weekend

January 2021
(undated)
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 events at Northwestern

January 2021
(undated)
Chicago & Evanston
Attend events at Northwestern University to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. The events are free and open to the public.

MLK Tribute Concert

January 2021
(undated)
multiple locations
The MLK Tribute Concert includes a symphony and vocalists in Naperville on Sunday and in Chicago on Monday.

MLK Messiah

January 2021
(undated)
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.

MLK Day celebration

January 2021
(undated)
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 celebration

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Winter WonderFest

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Christmas lights - Lincoln Park Zoo

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Holidays around the world

January 2021
(undated)
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.

Christmas lights - arboretum

January 2021
(undated)
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.

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