Chicago events January 2019. Things to do in Chicago.

Best events for 12 months

Chicago events January 2019

Holiday train ride

January 1, 2019
(begins Nov. 30)
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
(begins Nov. 17)
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
(begins Nov. 23)
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 Nov. 26 - 29; Dec. 3 - 6 & 24 - 25.

Holidays around the world

January 1 - 6, 2019
(begins Nov. 15)
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
(begins Nov. 23)
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.

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.

Cubs Convention

January 18 - 20, 2019
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.

Live storytelling

January 18 - 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.

Fringe theater festival

January 18 - Feb. 24, 2019
6.5 miles NW
Rhinoceros Theater Festival (Rhinofest) is billed as Chicago’s longest-running fringe festival at Prop Thtr. Choose from dozens of creative new shows for only $12 to $15. Closed Tuesdays.

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 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 Tribute Concert

January 20 - 21, 2019
multiple locations
The MLK Tribute Concert includes the words of Langston Hughes, plus an orchestra, opera, jazz vocals, spoken word, archival audio samples, and video in Naperville on Sunday and in Chicago on Monday.

Restaurant tasting

January 24, 2019
2 miles south
Taste samples from 60 restaurants, cocktails, and beer at First Bites Bash, a kick-off gala for Restaurant Week at the Field Museum. Bring age 21 ID.

Taste of Oak Park

January 25, 2019
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 25 - Feb. 7, 2019
Chicago locations
Get a special deal on a fixed-price lunch or dinner at 370 restaurants during Chicago Restaurant Week.

Polar Bear Plunge

January 26, 2019
1 mile north
Register to join the Chicago Polar Bear Club, 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, 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 on three dates in December, January, and February. Free except parking.

Johnny Cash Festival

January 26, 2019
(5 p.m.)
9.2 miles NW
Join 900 people watching six bands play on two stages at the Cash for Kids, a fundraiser for kids’ athletics at the Irish American Heritage Center.

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.

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).

Documentary film festival

January 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.

Beer games

January 2019
3 miles NW
Beernival features carnival games with prizes, competitive flip cup, a beer pong tournament, and unlimited domestic beer at Joe’s Bar for age 21+.

Winter beer festival

January 2019
7 miles north
Winter Brew is a Lincoln Square & Ravenswood beer fest that features local brew and food at Dank Haus for age 21+.

Chili fest

January 2019
9.7 miles west
A ticket to the Chili Cook-Off includes tastes of 20 chili entries, appetizers, and desserts at Fitzgeralds in Berwyn.

B-movie festival

January 2019
14 miles north
B-Fest is 24 hours of low-budget movies with audience participation in McCormick Auditorium at Northwestern University in Evanston.

MLK Day speech

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

MLK Day observance

January 2019
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.

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