Chicago events January 2020. Things to do in Chicago.

Best events for 12 months

Chicago events January 2020

Blue Man show

January 1 - 2, 2020
(8 p.m.)
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

Christmas lights - Lincoln Park Zoo

January 1 - 5, 2020
(begins Nov. 29)
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. 2 - 5, 9 - 12, 24 - 25.

Model trains & holiday flowers

January 1 - 5, 2020
(begins Nov. 29)
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.

Light show in the garden

January 1 - 5, 2020
(begins Nov. 22)
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 new event Lightscape. You walk on a one-mile path that includes “an avenue of luminous linden trees” at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Closed Dec. 2 - 3, 9 - 10, 16 - 17, 24 - 25.

Christmas lights - arboretum

January 1 - 5, 2020
(begins Nov. 23)
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 Nov. 25, 28 and Dec. 2, 9, 16, 24, 25.

Winter WonderFest

January 1 - 12, 2020
(begins Dec. 6)
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.

Discount tickets

It’s a Wonderful Life: radio play

January 2 - 4, 2020
(also Dec.)
5 miles north
It’s a Wonderful Life recreates a live radio play based on the popular movie about a man seeking purpose in life at Stage 773. Afterwards, join the cast for milk and cookies.

Discount tickets

Maxwell Street Market

January 5, 2020
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.

Musical: “Mean Girls”

January 5 & 8, 2020
(also Dec.)
0.5 miles SW
A new girl in town takes on the cruel elite at a suburban Illinois high school in Mean Girls, which “delivers with immense energy, a wicked sense of humor, and joyful inside-jokery” [NY Magazine] at James M. Nederlander Theatre.

Discount tickets

New plays

January 7 - 25, 2020
2.1 miles NW
Watch three one-act plays judged to be the best submitted by Chicago teens and professionally produced at Young Playwrights Festival in River West.

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.

Family holiday play

January 8 - 26, 2020
0.7 miles north
Creative and spellbinding, The Steadfast Tin Soldier is a “gorgeous spectacle of music and movement” that uses no words to tell Hans Christian Andersen’s story about a little tin soldier who never gives up at Lookingglass Theatre.

Discount tickets

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.

Live storytelling

January 10 - 26, 2020
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.

Ale festival

January 11, 2020
1.4 miles east
Sample 150 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.

Music festival

January 15 - 19, 2020
multiple locations
Tomorrow Never Knows presents up-and-coming local indie artists as well as acclaimed national acts.

Cubs Convention

January 17 - 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.

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.

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.

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.

Restaurant tasting

January 23, 2020
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.

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 nearly 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.

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.

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 Day speech

January 27, 2020
Chicago & Evanston
Hear a keynote address to celebrate Martin Luther King Day at Northwestern University. Free.

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.

Game playing party

January 31, 2020
(6:30 to 11 p.m.)
1.9 miles west
Join 650 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 $120 tickets support cancer research.

Taste of Oak Park

January 31, 2020
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.

Documentary film festival

January 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 2020
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.

Home show

January 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.

MLK celebration

January 2020
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.

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