Chicago events January 2019. Things to do in Chicago.

Best events for 12 months

Chicago events January 2019

Holiday train ride

January 1, 2019
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.

Christmas lights - arboretum

January 1, 2019
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. Closed Nov. 22, Dec. 24 & 25, and all Mondays except Dec. 31.

New Year’s run in the suburbs

January 1, 2019
multiple locations
Kick off the new year with a 5K run or walk beginning at a Life Time Fitness location (Bloomingdale, Orland Park, or Romeoville) on Commitment Day.

Winter WonderFest

January 1 - 6, 2019
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 1 - 6, 2019
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 1 - 6, 2019
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.

Holiday trains - Botanic garden

January 1 - 6, 2019
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.

Maxwell Street Market

January 6, 2019
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 Street. Free.

Boat and RV show

January 9 - 13, 2019
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 10 - 13, 2019
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.

Travel show

January 12 - 13, 2019
17 miles NW
Chicago Travel & Adventure Show has travel experts and travel industry vendors at the Rosemont convention center. Your children to age 16 are free.

MLK celebration

January 15, 2019 (6 p.m.)
9 miles south
The University of Chicago’s MLK 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.

Music festival

January 16 - 20, 2019
multiple locations
Tomorrow Never Knows presents up-and-coming local indie artists as well as acclaimed national acts.

B-movie festival

January 18 - 19, 2019 (6 p.m.)
14 miles north
Billed as “the BEST of the WORST movies ever,” B-Fest screens 24 hours of low-budget movies with audience participation at Norris University Center in Evanston.

Cubs Convention

January 18 - 20, 2019 (SOLD OUT)
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.

Healthy Living Expo

January 19, 2019
31 miles SW
Healthy Living Expo offers health screenings, fitness classes, and health-oriented vendors at Tinley Park Convention Center. Free including parking.

MLK Messiah

January 19 - 20, 2019
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.

Home show

January 19 - 20, 2019
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.

Chili fest

January 20, 2019 (12 to 5 p.m.)
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.

MLK Tribute Concert

January 21, 2019 (7:30 p.m.)
multiple locations
The MLK Tribute Concert includes “a spoken word performance of Dr. King’s speeches” plus a wide variety of live music in Naperville on Sunday and in Chicago on Monday.

MLK Day observance

January 21, 2019 (7 to 9 p.m.)
13.6 miles north
Hear a keynote address and enjoy music by students at the Campus Observance of Martin Luther King Day in Alice Millar Chapel at Northwestern University, followed by a reception. Free to the public.

Documentary film festival

January 21 - 31, 2019
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 21 - Feb. 24, 2019
6.5 miles NW
Rhinoceros Theater Festival (Rhinofest) 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.

Vampire thriller

January 22 - 24, 2019
0.5 miles SW
A jaded Dublin theater critic pursuing a beautiful young actress strikes an irreversible bargain with a band of modern-day vampires in St. Nicholas at Goodman Theatre.

Ticket deal $43

Uplifting musical

January 22 - 27, 2019
0.7 miles SW
The Broadway show Kinky Boots, based on a true story about a shoe factory owner and a drag queen, features an inspiring and joyful score by Cyndi Lauper at Cadillac Palace Theatre.

Ticket deal $20 to $59

Classic French films

January 22 - 31, 2019
0.5 miles SW
Jacques Becker is “a series of 10 films by an important yet neglected director whose career forms a bridge between French cinema’s Golden Age of the 1930s and its New Wave of the 1960s,” all in French with English subtitles at Gene Siskel Film Center.

Haunting play

January 23 - Feb. 17, 2019
3.1 miles NW
Based on the hit London production, The Woman in Black is an eerie ghost story about an English village terrorized by a scorned woman at Royal George Theatre.

Ticket deal $25 to $35

Restaurant tasting

January 24, 2019 (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.

Comedy improv

January 24 - Feb. 17, 2019
2.3 miles north
Gaslight District is a “frenzied frolic that translates our modern world into the common language of laughter” with audience participation at The Second City.

Ticket deal $13 to $16

Portrait of an activist

January 24 - March 2, 2019
16 miles north
Nina Simone: Four Women tells the story of an American singer, songwriter, and Civil Rights activist, and features her music (classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop) at Northlight Theatre in Skokie.

Ticket deal $27 to $38

Adult comedy

January 24 - March 3, 2019
27 miles west
Don’t Dress for Dinner is a sexy farce about a playboy and the shenanigans that ensue when his mistress, his wife, and his best friend all end up in the same place at the same time, at Oil Lamp Theater in Glenview.

Ticket deal $20

Historical party

January 25, 2019 (7 to 11 p.m.)
2.6 miles south
Party like it’s 1890 at The First Ward Ball with burlesque performances, historical impersonators, casino games, craft cocktails, and a band at Bassline.

Taste of Oak Park

January 25, 2019 (SOLD OUT)
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 25, 2019 (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.

Ticket deal $20 to $39

White Sox festival

January 25 - 27, 2019
1.2 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 the Hilton Chicago.

Historical drama: inventing TV

January 25 - 27, 2019
6.9 miles north
A boy genius from Idaho races with a ruthless media mogul to invent the first television in the fast-moving documentary The Farnsworth Invention live at Otherworld Theatre.

Ticket deal $18

Live storytelling

January 25 - Feb. 2, 2019
10 miles north
Fillet of Solo Festival makes literature come alive with solo performances and storytelling at Lifeline Theatre and Heartland Studio Theatre on Fri., Sat., and Sun.

Hello Dolly!

January 25 - Feb. 2, 2019
14 miles north
A widow who is a matchmaker and a professional meddler decides it’s time to find someone for herself in the fun, upbeat musical Hello Dolly! produced by Northwestern Students at Cahn Auditorium in Evanston.

Ticket deal $10 to $20

Chicago Restaurant Week

January 25 - Feb. 7, 2019
Chicago locations
Get a special deal on a fixed-price lunch or dinner at nearly 400 restaurants during Chicago Restaurant Week.

Macaroni & cheese tasting

January 26, 2019
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+.

Ticket deal $20

Polar Bear Plunge

January 26, 2019 (noon)
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.

Northerly Island adventure

January 26, 2019 (12 to 4 p.m.)
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.

Beer games

January 26, 2019 (2 to 5 p.m.)
6.1 miles north
Beernival features carnival games with prizes, competitive flip cup, a beer pong tournament, and unlimited domestic beer at Rizzo’s Bar for age 21+.

Winter beer festival

January 26, 2019 (noon & 6 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+.

Johnny Cash Festival

January 26, 2019 (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.

Songs of Michael Jackson

January 26, 2019 (7:30 p.m.)
16 miles NW
MJ Live is a stage show with dazzling lighting and effects, backup dancers, and Michael Firestone singing songs like Bad, Beat It, Billie Jean, and even ABC at Rosemont Theatre.

Ticket deal $20 to $35

Comic operetta

January 26 - 27, 2019
27 miles west
Lighthearted Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss features scheming characters at a glittery Viennese masked ball at McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn.

Ticket deal $30

Eagle weekend

January 26 - 27, 2019
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.

Dating comedy

January 26 - Feb. 23, 2019 (Sat.)
7.5 miles north
Improvised comedy show Love Me Tinder pokes fun at the modern world of dating and romance at Laugh Out Loud Chicago. The first show at 7:30 p.m. is for all ages, and the 9:30 p.m. show is for adults.

Ticket deal $10

MLK Day speech

January 28, 2019
Chicago & Evanston
Hear a keynote address to celebrate Martin Luther King Day at Northwestern University. Free.


January 29 & 31, 2019
1 mile SW
La Bohème is Puccini’s story of youth, loss, and love, set in the Latin Quarter of Paris at Lyric Opera House.

Ticket deal $39 to $94

Dark women’s comedy

January 30 - March 3, 2019
31 miles north
The Roommate is “a coming-of-age story...about two women in their 50s who help each other embark on a journey that will change them both” [L.A. Times] at Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest.

Ticket deal $20

Groundhog Day

January 31 - Feb. 3, 2019
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 Saturday at 7 a.m.

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