Join us for the next Festival: January 15-26, 2025

by Grace Perry

It’s officially January in Chicago, when the fresh potential of a new calendar year is paired with the bitter cold of the post-holiday lull. It’s easy to cozy up with a Netflix binge and the best delivery money can buy, but resist that urge! We’ve assembled 38 openings and events in Chicago that’ll inspire you to get off the couch and explore the city. So bundle up and make good on your New Year’s resolution to stay active.


Jan 1: Start 2017 off on an active note at the New Year’s Day 5K Run/Walk through Lincoln Park.

Jan 8: Improv Everywhere’s annual nationwide troll, the No Pants Subway Ride, is once again invading the Red Line.

Jan 13-15: Swing into the 2017 Cubs season at the Cubs Convention, complete with Q&A’s with the players and interactive exhibits.

Jan 15: Indulge in hot, melting sandwiches from local restaurants during Time Out Chicago’s Grilled Cheese Meltdown at Thalia Hall.

Jan 21: Who says you can’t play outside in the winter? Tour the new Northerly Island Natural Area during the family-friendly Polar Adventure Days.

Jan 28: The Art Institute is showing off its Asian art collection—and a performance from members of the Peking Opera Company—at its Chinese New Year Celebration.

Jan 28-29: Like new music and sketch comedy, donuts are so glorious they deserve their own festival. Eat all the donuts Chicago has to offer at Donut Fest.

Jan 30: Celebrate the Year of the Rooster with lions, dragons and dancers (oh my!) at the Chinese New Year Kickoff Celebration at the Cultural Center.

All month: Stay nice and toasty while exploring the Loop on the Pedway with the Chicago Elevated Winter Tour.


Jan 3: 50 Chicago comedians tell their first new jokes written in 2017 during 50 First Jokes.

Jan 5-15: You could use a laugh in the dead of winter, so hit up the 16th annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, where over 150 sketch groups descend upon Stage 773.

Jan 1: See whether or not the Second City’s 41st e.t.c sketch revue, Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno, lives up to its name.


Jan 6: A gender-fluid cast portrays an all-male group of Westward explorers in Men on Boats at American Theatre Company.

Jan 19-29: The Chicago International Puppet Theatre Festival makes its triumphant return for eleven days of puppet shows and workshops all across the city.

Jan 13-29: GayCo, the kates, Sappho’s Salon, Story Club, You’re Being Ridiculous and more hit the stage for Fillet of Solo, the 20th annual solo storytelling festival.

Jan 14: See your workplace drama manifested before you in Gloria, a story of conniving editorial assistants, at the Goodman.

Jan 12: Peek into the life of Harlem residents during the Great Depression in Blues for an Alabama Sky, as part of the South Side’s Harlem Renaissance Festival.

Jan 26: Karen Kessler directs a virtual reality cautionary tale in The Nether’s Chicago premiere at A Red Orchid Theatre.


Jan 5: Temporis, the fine dining newcomer from two Les Nomades vets, opens at 933 N Ashland Ave. Reservations are available now via Reserve.

Jan TBD: The team behind the beloved DönerMen food truck finds a permanent home for its German street food at DMen Tap, a bar and restaurant located at 2849 W Belmont Ave.

Note: Restaurant and bar openings are subject to change and can be delayed; call ahead before setting out.


Jan 6–8: Kick off 2017 at three-day punk rock festival Ian’s Party, which welcomes acts like Meat Wave, Yeesh, Melkbelly and more.

Jan 11–15: Catch rising acts, established bands and hilarious comedians during Tomorrow Never Knows, a five-day music festival at Schubas, Lincoln Hall, Metro and Hideout.

Jan 11: See how many drum sets, marimbas and synthesizers genre-blending instrumental outfit Tortoise can fit onto the Lincoln Hall stage.

Jan 12: Evanston native Ezra Furman (perhaps you remember his band the Harpoons?) brings his verbose indie-pop to Schubas.

Jan 14: Prepare for a psychedelic evening of stoner-friendly rock as Jeff the Brotherhood headlines Lincoln Hall.

Jan 15: Instrumental hip-hop quartet BadBadNotGood prove that a band can seamlessly replace two turntables and a microphone.

Jan 16: Guitar-toting journeyman Steve Gunn and Sonic Youth alum Lee Ronaldo team up for a night of six string wizardry at Thalia Hall.

Jan 18–20: Matt Skiba takes a break from his new gig as Blink-182 frontman to reunite with Alkaline Trio for a three-night stand at Metro.

Jan 19, 20: Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard goes solo, presenting two evenings of emotional indie rock ballads in Pilsen.

Jan 20: Ho! Hey! If you’re not sick of hearing the Lumineers during every other movie trailer, you should see ’em play the Allstate Arena.

Jan 23: If you’re into big, dumb arena rock songs (we mean that in the nicest way possible) then get tickets to see Kings of Leon (and arrive early to catch supporting act Deerhunter).

Jan 24: Post-rock titans Mogwai perform the soundtrack to the BBC documentary Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise.

Jan 27, 28: Turn on the black lights and zone out to tunes from Post Animals, Ryley Walker and more trippy acts at Chicago Psych Fest VIII.

Jan 28: Twenty One Pilots prove that combining reggae, rap-rock and a bit of ukulele balladry can turn you into a Top 40 juggernaut.


Jan 17–Jun 11: See concrete sculptures, films, collages by German artist Wolf Vostell in “Vostell Concrete, 1969–1973” at the Smart Museum of Art.

Jan 21–Apr 16: The Block Museum presents newly-commissioned work by “Kader Attia,” which compares Western and non-Western approaches to history and tradition.

Jan 26–Apr 2: Art inspired by religious iconography and spirituality populates the new DePaul Art Museum exhibittion “Four Saints in Three Acts.”

Jan 28–Apr 30: The Art Institute displays postwar photography from Japan in“Provoke,” depicting political protests, performances and art exhibitions.

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