Chicago events calendar for January 2017. Best festivals, fairs, fun things to do, Martin Luther King Day events, kids activities, free entertainment in Chicago, Illinois.

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Best events for 12 months
January 2017
January 2017

Enjoy the best Chicago events, festivals, and things to do with this calendar of events.

Distance is from the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

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Commitment Day

January 1, 2017

Chicago suburbs

Kick off the new year in a 5K run or walk starting at 3 locations of Life Time Fitness on Commitment Day.

New Year’s run

January 1, 2017

1.2 miles SE

Get off to a healthy new year at the New Year’s Day 5K Run/Walk, which begins and ends at the south end of Lincoln Park.

Holiday train ride

January 1, 2017

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 - Lincoln Park Zoo

January 1, 2017

2.5 miles north

ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo features millions of holiday lights, ice carvings, music, carousel and train rides, food, and gift shopping (plus photos with Santa through Dec. 23). Free entry. Open Nov. 25-27; Dec. 2-4, 9-23, 26-31; Jan. 1.

Holiday trains - Botanic garden

January 1 - 2, 2017

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.

Christmas lights - arboretum

January 1 - 2, 2017

27 miles west

See colorful tree lights and interactive laser lights on a one-mile walk at Illumination, and then warm up at the fire pit at the Morton Arboretum. Closed dates for 2016: Nov. 21, 24, 28 and Dec. 5, 12, 24, 25.

Winter WonderFest

January 1 - 8, 2017

1 mile east

Festival Hall at Navy Pier becomes an indoor Winter WonderFest for the holidays, with music, carnival rides, and entertainment. Closed Dec. 25.

Holiday trains - Lincoln Park

January 1 - 8, 2017

3 miles north

Model trains wind their way through a miniature village among poinsettias during the Winter Flower & Train Show at Lincoln Park Conservatory. Free.

Holidays around the world

January 1 - 8, 2017

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 Nov. 24 & Dec. 25.

Sketch Comedy Festival

January 5 - 15, 2017

5 miles north

Choose from more than 180 shows to watch during Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival at Stage 773.

MLK celebration

January 9, 2017 (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 public.

Music festival

January 11 - 15, 2017

multiple locations

Tomorrow Never Knows presents up-and-coming local indie artists as well as acclaimed national acts.

Boat and RV show

January 11 - 15, 2017

3 miles south

Chicago Boat, RV & Strictly Sail Show includes hundreds of boats and RVs, seminars, camping gear, and even a trout pond for kids at McCormick Place.

Cubs Convention

January 13 - 15, 2017 (SOLD OUT)

0.5 mile east

Cubs fans will enjoy getting up close with their favorite players and broadcasters at Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Grand.

Healthy Living Expo

January 14, 2017 (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 14 - 15, 2017

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 classical tribute

January 14 - 16, 2017

multiple locations

The Tribute to MLK includes musicians, singers, and a choir performing works by Beethoven, Dvorak, Vivaldi and Williams at three locations: Skokie on Saturday, Naperville on Sunday, and Chicago on Monday.

Chili fest

January 15, 2017 (12 to 5 p.m.)

9.7 miles west

A ticket to the Chili Cook-Off includes tastes of 20 chili entries, appetizers, desserts, NFL playoff games, and a kids’ area at Fitzgeralds in Berwyn.

MLK museum day

January 16, 2017

Chicago area

Get free admission on Martin Luther King Day if you can show a valid ID that has an Illinois address:

MLK Day breakfast

January 16, 2017 (8 to 10 a.m.)

0.2 miles SE

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast is held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

MLK Day celebration

January 16, 2017 (6 - 8 p.m.)

7 miles north

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Day Celebration includes a reception 6 to 7 p.m. and a program with speakers and young musicians 7 to 8 p.m. at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center.

MLK Day observance

January 16, 2017 (7 p.m.)

13 miles north

Hear a keynote address, enjoy music and performances by students, and attend a reception at the Campus Observance: Candlelight Vigil on Martin Luther King Day at Northwestern University in Evanston. Free to the public.

Free zoo day

January 16, 2017

14 miles SW

Brookfield Zoo is free on MLK Day, and there are musical performances at noon. Free.

MLK Day breakfast

January 16, 2017 (8 a.m.)

29 miles west

Join 500 people attending a keynote speech with breakfast at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at Benedictine University.

MLK Day breakfast

January 17, 2017 (10 a.m. to noon)

3.7 miles NW

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast includes a keynote speaker and a breakfast buffet at DePaul University. Free.

MLK student speeches

January 20, 2017 (noon)

1 mile NE

Hear finalists who entered the Chicago campus student oratorical competition talk about Dr. King’s words: “"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” at Northwestern University in Chicago. Free.

Game playing party

January 20, 2017 (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.

B-movie festival

January 20 - 21, 2017

14 miles north

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

Beer games

January 21, 2017 (12:30 to 4 p.m.)

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+.

Northerly Island adventure

January 21, 2017 (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. Free except parking.

Johnny Cash Festival

January 21, 2017 (6 p.m.)

9.2 miles NW

Join 900 people watching six bands play on two stages at the The Johnny Cash Festival, a fundraiser for kids’ athletics at the Irish American Heritage Center.

Sportsman’s show

January 22, 2017

17 miles NW

Chicago Outdoor Sports Show has fishing and hunting seminars, kids’ activities, and hundreds of vendors at the Rosemont convention center.

Travel show

January 22, 2017

17 miles NW

Chicago Travel & Adventure Show has travel experts and travel industry vendors at the Rosemont convention center.

Puppet festival

January 22 - 29, 2017

Chicago locations

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival features 22 different shows with marionettes, shadow puppets, Bunraku puppets, and tiny toy puppets. Schedule.

Live storytelling

January 22 - 29, 2017

10 miles north

Fillet of Solo Festival makes literature come alive with solo performances and storytelling at Lifeline Theatre and Heartland Studio Theatre. Discount full pass $25.

Documentary film festival

January 22 - Feb. 2, 2017

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 22 - Feb. 25, 2017

6.5 miles NW

Rhinoceros Theater Festival is billed as Chicago’s longest-running fringe festival at Prop Thtr. Choose from dozens of creative new shows for only $12.


January 22 - June 30, 2017

multiple locations

These discount ticket prices include all taxes and fees.

Free science museum

January 24 - 31, 2017 (see dates below)

8 miles south

Show Illinois ID to enter the Museum of Science and Industry free during Free Days on January 10-12, 16-19, 24-26, 31, 2017.

Opera by Mozart

January 25, 2017 (2 p.m.)

1 mile SW

Popular opera The Magic Flute is an adventure-filled tale of good versus evil in which love conqueres all, at the Civic Opera House. Discount tickets $146.

Magic show

January 25, 2017 (8 p.m.)

3.3 miles north

The Magic Cabaret entertains with mind-boggling sleight of hand and audience participation in small Greenhouse Theater Center. Discount tickets $13.

Murder mystery

January 25 - 29, 2017

21 miles NW

Based on a book by Agatha Christie, The Mousetrap is a whodunit involving strangers trapped in a quaint boarding house during a snowstorm at Big Noise Theatre at Prairie Lakes. Discount tickets $15.

Dark drama

January 26, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)

0.5 miles SW

Gloria is a “whip-smart satire” [NY Times] about young workers in a toxic New York office at Goodman Theatre for mature audiences. Discount tickets $23 to $32.

Restaurant tasting

January 26, 2017 (5:30 to 8:30 p.m.)

1.5 miles SW

Taste samples from 60 restaurants, cocktails, and beer at First Bites Bash, a kick-off gala for Restaurant Week at Navy Pier. Bring age 21 ID. Discount tickets $89.

Fishing show

January 26 - 29, 2017

28 miles NW

Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo offers expert seminars, fishing boats, fishing supplies, and exhibitors at the Schaumburg Convention Center.

Game of Thrones parody

January 26 - Feb. 5, 2017

3.8 miles north

Described as “darkly humorous and beautifully vulgar,” Thrones! The Musical features hilarious songs about six seasons of the HBO show at Apollo Theater for age 16+. Discount tickets $23.

Poor in America

January 26 - Feb. 12, 2017

4.8 miles north

What of the Night? is the stark story of a runaway teenager in search of a better life and her estranged family, but it’s also a strong indictment of soulless capitalist institutions and our complicit involvement in social inequality, at Theater Wit. Discount tickets $10 to $15.

Shakespeare romance

January 26 - Feb. 25, 2017

11 miles north

Cymbeline is the story of a brave princess: full of comedy, drama, action, and romance, at The Factory Theater on Howard St. Discount tickets $15.

If walls could talk

January 26 - Feb. 26, 2017

20.1 miles north

The Dining Room is a dramatic comedy that paints a vivid portrait of upper-class life in 18 overlapping vignettes set in a dining room at Oil Lamp Theater in Glenview. Discount tickets $18 (student price is less).

Magic lounge

January 26 - March 30, 2017

7 miles north

Chicago Magic Lounge is an old-school magic show with close-up magic, bar magic, table-hopping magicians, and main stage acts at Uptown Underground for age 21+. Discount tickets $10 - $14.

Taste of Oak Park

January 27, 2017 (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.

Contemporary dance

January 27 - 28, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)

0.5 miles south

Batsheva Dance Company of Israel, known for vibrant energy, hungry physicality, and world-influenced style, performs its “Last Works” at Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park. Discount tickets $28.

Winter beer festival

January 27 - 28, 2017

8 miles north

Winter Brew is a Lincoln Square & Ravenswood beer fest that features local brew and food for age 21+.
  • Jan. 27 (7 p.m.) - Artifact Events
  • Jan. 28 (2 and 7 p.m.) - Dank Haus

Home show

January 27 - 29, 2017

1 mile east

See home improvement products, services, and demos at Ideal Home Show at Navy Pier. Discount tickets $4.

Blue Man show

January 27 & 29, 2017

4.5 miles north

The exciting show by Blue Man Group combines comedy, theater, music, and special effects at Briar Street Theatre. Discount tickets $39.

Contemporary “Little Women”

January 27 - Feb. 4, 2017

4 miles NW

Women is a fast-paced comedy that sees girls of 1800s New England through the lens of HBO’s series “Girls” at Collaboraction Theatre Company. Discount tickets $10.

Chicago Restaurant Week

January 27 - Feb. 9, 2017

Chicago locations

Get a special deal on a fixed-price lunch or dinner at 350 restaurants during Chicago Restaurant Week.

Magic show

January 27 - Feb. 12, 2017

3.1 miles NW

The Rosenkranz Mysteries is a “truly unusual and immensely likable magic show” [Chicago Tribune] by a local medical doctor who performs tricks, illusions, and complex numbers at Royal George Theatre. Discount tickets $25.

Music of Tony Bennett

January 27 - Feb. 9, 2017

4.8 miles north

I Left My Heart is a salute to the music of Tony Bennett, including “Because of You” and “The Best Is Yet To Come" plus of course “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” at Mercury Theater. Discount tickets $23 to $65.

Ale festival

January 28, 2017

1 mile east

Sample 150 American craft beers at Chicago Ale Fest, with DJ music and food vendors in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. Repeats June.

Chinese New Year

January 28, 2017 (10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

1 mile south

Celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year with music, dancers, calligraphy demonstrations, art tours, and a performance by the National Peking Opera Company at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Polar Bear Plunge

January 28, 2017

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.

Comedy dinner show

January 28, 2017 (4 and 8:30 p.m.)

5.8 miles north

You’re invited to fictitious Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding at Resurrection Church, followed by a real Italian dinner at Chicago Theater Works, with plenty of comedy improv and audience interaction. Discount tickets $54 to $75.

Alternative bridal show

January 28, 2017

7.5 miles north

Indie Wed has 100 independent businesses offering handmade items and innovative services for unique weddings at Ravenswood Event Center.

African dance

January 28, 2017 (7:30 p.m.)

14 miles west

Step Afrika is energetic percussive dance using kicks, stomps, claps, and chants while integrating songs, storytelling, humor, and audience participation at Lund Auditorium in River Forest. Discount tickets $12.

The Mikado

January 28 - 29, 2017

27 miles west

Sung in English, The Mikado is Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic masterpiece set in Japan and filled with jilted lovers, arranged marriages, disguises, and inept bureaucrats at McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn. Discount tickets $20.

Motorcycle show

January 28 - 29, 2017

41 miles west

Chicago Motorcycle Show & Swap Meet features bikes, parts, demonstrations, food, beer, and live music at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles.

Eagle weekend

January 28 - 29, 2017

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.

Improvised comedy

January 28 - Feb. 18, 2017

2.3 miles north

See top contestants in the Improv Classic during the semi-finals (Jan. 28, Feb. 4 & 11) and the finals (Feb. 18) at The Second City.

Kids’ comedy

January 28 - Feb. 19, 2017

10.2 miles north

Fable-ous is a modern version of the “Tortoise and the Hare” with surprises around each turn in the footrace and a fortune in merchandise endorsements for the winner at Lifeline Theatre. Discount tickets $9 to $11.


January 29, 2017 (7 p.m.)

2.1 miles north

Second City’s Improv All-Stars delivers an hour of hilarious improvised comedy with plenty of audience interaction at Up Comedy Club. Discount tickets $13.

Bicycle swap

January 29, 2017

28 miles NW

Buy or sell a bike, and find parts and gear, at the Chicago Winter Bike Swap at Harper College in Palatine. Children 12 and under are free.

Baseball hero

January 31, 2017 (10 a.m.)

49 miles NW

Everybody’s Hero is the story of Jackie Robinson, the events that shaped his character, his struggle to gain acceptance, and the obstacles he overcame to become the first black man to play in Major League Baseball, in Crystal Lake. Discount tickets $10.
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© January 2017 calendar of events in Chicago, IL. Best events, fairs, festivals, and things to do in Chicago, Illinois. ord-01