30 Best Things to Do in Chicago and the Suburbs This April 2024

EXPO Chicago

The sound of birds chirping and slightly warmer air coming off Lake Michigan reminds us that spring has sprung around Chicago. Now is the time to embrace the freshness of the season and venture out into the city where everything is in bloom once more. Read on for our lineup of the best things to do in the city and suburbs this April.

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All Month

Cosmic Rhythms

Action Lines Media, The Joffrey Ballet and the Adler Planetarium present a new, cutting-edge collaboration of Cosmic Rhythms — running Wednesday evenings now through April 17. Projected inside the Adler’s Grainger Sky Theater, the full-dome experience takes audiences on a mesmerizing journey through the universe by blending dance with animation, computer-generated imagery and insightful commentary from Adler astronomers. Visit the Adler Planetarium online to get all the details for your visit.

1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr.

Christina Ramberg: A Retrospective

Untitled (Hand), 1971 | Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

Christina Ramberg was an influential member of Chicago’s contemporary art scene in the ’70s and ’80s. While best known for her paintings of fragmented female bodies, throughout her career she vacillated between the depiction of various figural elements while also creating abstracted forms that emphasize structure and surface. View her exhibit at the Art Institute from April 20 through August 11 — reserve your chance to see it by visiting Christina Ramberg: A Retrospective online.

111 S. Michigan Ave.

Hershey Felder as Monsieur Chopin – A Play with Music at Writers Theatre

In a tour de force performance, virtuoso actor and pianist Hershey Felder brings to life the romantic story and music of Fryderyk Chopin, the man once called the “Poet of the Piano.” Find more details about the performance — running April 10 through May 12 — and secure your tickets by visiting the Writers Theatre website.

325 Tudor Court

Spring Flower Show: What’s In A Name?

This year’s Spring Flower Show at the Garfield Conservatory covers the history and science of botanical nomenclature alongside a beautiful flower show full of gorgeous flora. Over the years, through plant names, we have created ways of communicating history, culture and identity. Stop by for the beautiful blooms, and stay for the history lesson. Make your reservation online by visiting Garfield Conservatory, now through May 12.

300 North Central Park Ave.

Unseen Oceans

Open now until next January at the Field Museum, a new exhibit will showcase the awe-inspiring, unimaginable vastness of the oceans. Guests will be able to explore everything from the ocean’s “white-capped waves to their inky depths” and a lot in between. The exhibit includes screens to watch life-sized creatures, tanks full of real ocean dwellers, immersive experiences and more. Visit the Field Museum to reserve your spot.

1400 S. Dusable Lake Shore Dr.

Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition

Since 1970, the Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition has made an annual appearance at the Museum of Science and Industry — making it the longest-running exhibition of Black art. The exhibit features paintings, drawings, fine art prints, sculpture, mixed-media, ceramics and photography from artists both professional and amateur, including youth artists between the ages of 14 and 17. The show is open now through April 21, secure your tickets at the Museum of Science and Industry online.

5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive

The Choir of Man

Now through May 26th, catch The Choir of Men — straight from London’s West End — at the Apollo Theater Chicago. Dubbed an “uplifting celebration of community and friendship where everyone is welcome” and “a theater experience unlike any before” this show is one for lovers of music of any kind. Set in the “best pub in the world,” a cast of nine men combine “hair raising harmonies, foot stomping singalongs, world class tap dance, and poetic meditations on the power of community.” Grab your tickets now, visit The Choir of Men for more.

2550 N. Lincoln Ave.

“I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli

From authentic memorabilia to photos and more, the “I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli exhibit at Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is sure to entice you. As with any other ILHMEC exhibit, they aim to educate just as much as spark a curiosity inside each visitor. From now through April 14, catch the exhibit in all its delicious glory. Check out the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center online for more details.

9603 Woods Drive, Skokie

007 Science: Inventing the World of James Bond

Through October 27. The Museum of Science and Industry wants to welcome guests to the first-ever “official exhibition to focus on the science and technology behind the world’s longest-running movie franchise” — 007 Science: Inventing the World of James Bond. From iconic cars and gadgets to props from the James Bond film series, this exhibit has it all. Go behind the scenes to learn how the production team pulled off the marvel that is the James Bond series. All exhibit logistics and tickets can be found online at 007 Science: Inventing the World of James Bond

5700 South Lake Shore Dr.

Navy Pier Flyover

Discover the beauty and awe of Chicago with Flyover — the latest attraction on Navy Pier that takes guests on a virtual, up-close tour of the city. The immersive journey connects users with the city by soaring over iconic locations and diving into authentic stories, all from the comfort of Navy Pier. Sound like your kind of adventure? Get your tickets now by visiting Navy Pier Flyover online.

600 E. Grand Ave.

Midsummer Night’s Dream

To close out its season, the Joffrey Ballet is reviving a fan favorite, Midsummer Night’s Dream. Called “a mind-bending trip to a surreal realm of unearthly delights,” this production is set during the traditional Scandinavian summer solstice festival, when dancers celebrate a day of revelry and romance under the maypole, which soon unravels into an otherworldly dream. Audiences will flock to these performances — running April 25 through May 5 — so be sure you’re one of them. Secure your reservation now by visiting Joffrey Ballet online.

20 N. Wacker Dr.

April 4: Sound of Silent Film Festival

This month, Access Contemporary Music highlights the importance and entertainment of silent films, as showcased in their one-day, 18th annual Sound of Silent Film Festival. This unique program will show new short silent films from countless genres accompanied by live performances of each film’s score — held at Music Box Theatre. Find details and film lineups at Access Contemporary Music.

3733 N. Southport Ave.

April 6: Chicago Prinefest

The inaugural Chicago Prinefest celebrates Chicago singer-songwriter John Prine, who passed away in 2020. Prine influenced many of today’s top musicians, and the Chicago Prinefest “commemorates his musical storytelling about everyday people, which left a lasting impact on the singer-songwriter community.” At the fest, musicians will interpret Prine’s tunes and perform originals that draw influence from his work. Visit Chicago Prinefest online for more information.

The Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave.

April 10: “The Colorful & Curious Work of Chad Kouri” Exhibit Launch at NoMI Gallery

There’s a pre-EXPO Chicago cocktail reception happening at NoMI Gallery to welcome new artist in residence, Chad Kouri — and you’re invited. The evening will feature live art demonstrations from Kouri, live graphic scores by Isaiah Collier and Lia Kohl, wines, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts inspired by Kouri’s artwork. Sound like your kind of artistic night out? Visit NoMI Gallery online to find more information.

NoMI, 800 Michigan Ave.

April 11-13: EXPO CHICAGO

Returning for its 11th year, EXPO CHICAGO is set to feature 170 leading international exhibitors, in addition to a full lineup of onsite programming. EXPO explores the impact and awe of modern and contemporary art with a massive exhibition held at Navy Pier. Another tier to their programming is EXPO ART WEEK, from April 8-14, which “partners annually with the city’s most prestigious institutions to feature select programming, including museum exhibitions, gallery openings, and more.” Visit EXPO CHICAGO online for details about your visit.

800 E. Grand Ave.

April 11-22: 40th Chicago Latino Film Festival

Returning for a remarkable 40th year — making it the longest running Latino film fest in the states — the Chicago Latino Film Festival will deliver to audiences a lineup of films from Latin America, Spain, Portugal, the US and more via screenings at Landmark Century Centre Cinema. Audiences can expect to fall in love with Latino cinema all over again, or for the first time, as the fest has something for everyone. For a full list of screenings and more details, visit Chicago Latino Film Fest.

April 13: Film Screening and Talk Back: Canary

By watching the screening of Canary, you will learn about the life of Dr. Lonnie Thompson, an explorer who went where no scientist had gone before and transformed our idea of what is possible. “Daring to seek Earth’s history contained in glaciers atop the tallest mountains in the world, Lonnie found himself on the frontlines of climate change — his life’s work evolving into a salvage mission to recover these priceless historical records before they disappear forever.” Join the filmmaker Danny O’Malley, a Wilmette native, for the screening and discussion this month — more info about the Canary screening online.

Wilmette Theatre, 1122 Central Ave., Wilmette

April 13: Batman 1989: In Concert

Celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Warner Bros. Pictures’ iconic 1989 DC Superhero film, “Batman,” live in concert! This event is one of many installments in the Auditorium Philms Series — a collaboration between the Auditorium Theatre and the Chicago Philharmonic. The cult classic film will be accompanied by the Chicago Philharmonic’s 50-person live orchestra, conducted by James Olmstead. Revisit this fan-favorite, with all the heightened senses a live score provides. Head over to Auditorium Theatre online to save your spot.

50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr.

April 17: PRESENCE: a Gathering, an Experiential Performance, a Fundraiser

Join the Links Hall Board of Directors for an unforgettable night as they celebrate 45 years of creating a home for independent artists in Chicago. Spend a “dynamic night in a dynamic space,” as they revel in and generate the very quality that performance gives us: PRESENCE! Visit PRESENCE online for tickets.

3130 N. Rockwell St.

April 17: Arab American Heritage Month Storytime

In April, we honor Arab American Heritage Month, and the Field Museum is celebrating with events and activities about Arab Americans’ contributions to science, culture and museums. Join them for Arab American Heritage Month Storytime, where families with 2-6 year olds can hear stories and participate in a craft that honors Arab culture — in conjunction with the Chicago Public Library. Visit the Field Museum for details.

1400 S. Dusable Lake Shore Dr.

April 17: The Trial of Pericles

Is Greek figure Pericles a hero or a tyrant? You decide in this in-person trial of Pericles, brought to “court” by real, nationally recognized legal minds. When the battle over the ancient case ends, will Pericles be known as the great hero of Athenian democracy or not? Find out by purchasing tickets for The Trial of Pericles online.

Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St.

April 17-21: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Celebrating over 55 years of partnership with the Auditorium Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to its Chicago home for a must-see, awe-inspiring, six-performance program — featuring new works as well as beloved classics, including Ailey’s masterpiece Revelations. Bursting with culture, history and expanding with new choreographers, this is a can’t-miss event. Purchase your tickets at Auditorium Theatre online.

50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr.

April 17-23: 13th Annual One Earth Film Festival

One Earth Film Festival returns the week of Earth Day with five days of in-person screenings at 14 locations across the greater Chicago area, followed by two days of virtual screenings. Afterwards, help celebrate Earth Day 2024 at the annual park clean-up and action fair at the Chicago Cultural Center. More details can be found on the One Earth Film Festival website.

Various locations

April 18-20: “Tremor” at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

“Tremor” is artist and composer Samita Sinha’s latest performance work. Sinha explores what she describes as “the practice of attuning oneself to the raw material of vibration and its emergence in space, as well as unfolding the possibilities that arise from encounters between this sonic material and other individuals.” With limited performance dates, interested audience members should grab their tickets now. Head over to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago online to purchase.

220 E. Chicago Ave.

April 20: Buffalo Exchange’s Earth Day $1 Sale

This Earth Day, shop a special selection of clothing for just $1 apiece at
both of Buffalo Exchange’s Chicago locations while supplies last. 100%
of proceeds from the sale benefit Goats of Anarchy and their dedication
to the rescue and rehabilitation of farmed animals with disabilities! Find more details by visiting Buffalo Exchange online.

April 20: Chicago Rum Festival

The Annual Chicago Rum Festival — which celebrates its 9th year in 2024 — will bring together rum lovers and trade professionals from all over the nation for an afternoon of drinking and mingling at Logan Square Auditorium. While sampling to your heart’s content, enjoy speaker programing, entertainment and more. Tickets can be purchased at Chicago Rum Festival.

2539 N. Kedzie Blvd.

April 19-21: CineYouth Festival 2024

Year round, Cinema/Chicago offers endless programming for every type of film buff. This April, they return with their acclaimed CineYouth Festival, which offers youth, ages 22 years and younger, a chance to showcase their cinematic talents. Not only that but the program offers them a chance to learn about filmmaking from experts and network with their fellow peers. Visit Cinema/Chicago for details on this series that has been embraced by the film community for nearly two decades.

April 26-27: Smoke Rings Shimmers Endless Blur

Renowned composer and multi-instrumentalist Laura Ortman performs two evenings of live, solo, multimedia concerts. Informed by her practice as a sculptor and installation artist, Ortman bridges the gap between music and fine art in her performances, describing her musical approach as “sculpting sound.” Visit Museum of Contemporary Art online for reservations.

220 E. Chicago Ave.

April 26-28: One of a Kind Show

350 artists and makers from around the country are coming together for the spring opening of Merchandise Mart’s One of a Kind Show. Bring friends and family to this seasonal market, which features everything from ceramics to fashion, woodworking to gifts and more. Visit One of a Kind Show online for a full lineup of artists and what to expect at the show.

April 26-28: C2E2: Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo

C2E2 2023 Clone wars Ashley Eckstein
Brooke McDonald

Come as you are or cosplay it up at one of the largest pop culture conventions in the country. n Held at McCormick Place, C2E2 brings together stars, exhibitors, comic artists, authors and fans in a celebration of fandoms like Marvel, Star Wars and DC.

“When you walk through the doors of any convention, you instantly feel like you’re at home. You instantly feel accepted, you instantly feel joy,” Star Wars actress Ashley Eckstein said when we discussed last year’s C2E2. “It’s a place where, no matter what your fandom is, everyone’s because they love these properties so much, and they love these stories so much, and they genuinely get to be themselves and wear their cosplay and show their fandom on their sleeves, and be celebrated for it, applauded for it.”

The daily schedule is full of exciting guests of honor, activities on the show floor, panels, and more. Visit C2E2 for tickets.

McCormick Place, 2301 S. Martin Luther King Dr.

April 27: Chicago Pickle Fest

The crunch and tang of something that has been pickled is a taste adored by many — which is why Chicago Pickle Fest is in full swing this year. The event is based around Wrigleyville at various popular bars, and includes cocktails, mocktails, pickle-focused food, pickleback shots, photo ops, live performances and more — sounds like a mighty brine event to us! Details and tickets can be found at Chicago Pickle Fest.

April 28: Mexico in a Bottle Chicago

Looking for your next boozy outing with friends? Look no further than the 10th annual Mexico in a Bottle, held at Bridgeport Art Center. Enjoy sipping on agave spirits and learning producer stories, processes and more. There will also be selections of Mexican whiskey, rum, gin, liqueurs and more on hand for guests to try. If you’re hungry, restaurants will be serving up delicious bites paired with cocktail sips, all while art and music surround you. Check out the specifics and grab your tickets online at Mexico in a Bottle Chicago.

1200 W. 35th St.

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Margaret Smith is a Chicago-based writer and editor with a passion for socio-political storytelling about their community. They are a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.

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