31 of the Best Things to Do in Chicago This January

31 of the Best Things to Do in Chicago This January (Chicago Restaurant Week)

Don’t let Chicago’s chilly temps keep you inside all winter. Here are 31 events happening in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs this January that will make it worth venturing outside.


Opens Jan. 17: “Don’t Dress for Dinner

Nothing is quite as it seems at this dinner party. Oil Lamp Theater, 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview

Opens Jan. 19: “How to Catch Creation

Christina Anderson “dissects the universal act of creation” with this world premiere production. Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago

Opens Jan. 24: “Nina Simone: Four Women

Save the date for Arts & Activism: From Nina Simone to Steve Schapiro, a collaboration between Northlight Theatre and the Illinois Holocaust Museum, on Feb. 13. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie

Opens Jan. 25: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

January 2019 Events Around Chicago: "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder" at Porchlight Music Theatre
Image courtesy of Porchlight Music Theatre.

This hilarious, Tony Award-winning musical will star Matt Crowle as eight different characters. Porchlight Music Theatre, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago

Begins Jan. 31: “The Mousetrap

This Agatha Christie mystery will have you guessing until the very end. Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights


Jan. 10-20: 18th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival

If you’re in need of a good laugh, you’re in luck — more than 180 comedy groups from around the world will perform during this festival. Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago


Jan. 8 to Feb. 7: Winter Chamber Music Festival

January 2019 Events Around Chicago: Winter Chamber Music Festival at Northwestern University
Dover Quartet (Photo courtesy of Northwestern University.)

The 20th season of this Northwestern University Bienen School of Music festival will feature concerts by the Dover Quartet, James Ehnes (violin) and Andrew Armstrong (piano), the Gryphon Trio, and the Catalyst Quartet. Pick-Stagier Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Jan. 11-13: What’s Old is New: The Leuven Songbook

The Newberry Consort will perform music from a 600-year-old music book discovered two years ago in Belgium during this multimedia program. Various

Jan. 20: Musicality

Temple Beth Israel will host Chicago vocal group (and “America’s Got Talent” semi-finalist) Musicality during this dinner. Reservations and payments are due by Jan. 13. Call 847-675-0951 or visit tbiskokie.org for more information. Temple Beth Israel, 3601 W. Dempster St., Skokie

Jan. 20-21: MLK Tribute Concert

This Chicago Sinfonietta concert will include a performance of Martin Luther King Jr.‘s speeches. Various

Jan. 26: Vocalists from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute

Ravinia isn’t only a summer destination. Don’t miss this concert of classic Spanish and Latin American songs. Bennett Gordon Hall at Ravinia, 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park


Opens Jan. 26: “Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture and Exchange Across Medieval Saharan Africa

January 2019 Events Around Chicago: “Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time" at Northwestern's Block Museum of Art
Bioconical bead, Egypt or Syria, 10th-11th century Gold; filigree, granulation, “rope” wire L. 7.2 cm, H. 2.9 cm, The Aga Khan Museum, AKM618. (Photo courtesy of Northwestern University.)

This “first-of-its-kind exhibition” will feature more than 250 artworks and fragments as the Block Museum “celebrates West Africa’s historic and underrecognized global significance.” Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Jan. 27: International Day of Holocaust Remembrance

The Illinois Holocaust Museum will welcome Patrice Bensimon, research director for Yahad-In Unum, an organization that collects testimony from Holocaust witnesses and locates mass graves of Holocaust victims, on International Day of Holocaust Remembrance. Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie

Ongoing: Indigenous Entrepreneurship: Tribal Enterprises & Co-ops

This exhibit highlights Indigenous-owned businesses and tribal co-ops and enterprises, plus the challenges tribal entrepreneurs may face and the programs that support them. Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central St., Evanston

Ongoing: “Brewing Up Chicago: How Beer Transformed a City

This exhibition is the first for The Chicago Brewseum. Historian and Brewseum Founder Liz Garibay will give a free talk at the Wilmette Historical Museum on Jan. 27. Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


Jan. 6: Fitness at the Zoo

Start achieving your 2019 fitness goals with GlowFlow Yoga at Lincoln Park Zoo. The class will take place under dim lighting and participants will receive glow sticks. And don’t forget to wear neon clothes! Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago

Jan. 12: Creative Minds Talks: Chance the Rapper + Renée Fleming

Lyric Opera will host this discussion on activism, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and education between rapper and philanthropist Chance the Rapper and singer and arts activist Renée Fleming. Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago

Jan. 12: “What’s Next?” Student Art Main Show Opening Reception

Ice House Gallery will showcase the work of more than 20 local high school and college students during this exhibition. Meet the artists and enjoy live music and refreshments during this opening reception. Ice House Gallery, 609 South Blvd., Evanston

Jan. 12, 27: Loco for Cocoa

During this Chicago Botanic Garden program, families will learn about how chocolate goes from bean to dessert, plus sample a variety of treats. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

Jan. 12-13: 15th Annual Travel & Adventure Show

January 2019 Events Around Chicago: Travel & Adventure Show
Photo courtesy of Travel & Adventure Show.

This show will allow you to meet thousands of travel experts who can help you plan your next getaway. Plus, enjoy educational sessions and family activities throughout the show. Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road, Rosemont

Jan. 15: MLK Commemoration Celebration

This University of Chicago event to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. will be followed by a community reception. Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago

Jan. 15: Dinner & Fireside Chat with Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon

The Union League Boys & Girls Clubs and the Respect 90 Foundation are teaming up for this dinner and discussion between Joe Maddon and Cubs announcer Jim Deshaies. Email [email protected] to reserve your spot ($250 for individual tickets and $5,000 for tables of 10). Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago

Jan. 17: Rocky Wirtz Author Event

The Book Stall will welcome Rocky Wirtz, chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks, for a discussion of his new book “The Breakaway: The Inside Story of the Wirtz Family Business and the Chicago Blackhawks” and a book signing. The Book Stall, 811 Elm St., Winnetka

Jan. 19: “Going Green with Indoor Plants” Seminar

Horticulturalist Lisa Hilgenberg of the Chicago Botanic Garden will share information on the best plants for low, medium, and bright indoor light, as well as how plants can keep a home healthy. Pasquesi Home and Gardens, 975 N. Shore Drive, Lake Bluff

Jan. 19: Purple Affair for the Bear

The Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation Young Professionals Board will present this evening of food and cocktails, dancing, and more to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. Theater on the Lake, 2401 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Jan. 24: “National Geographic Live” — Pink Boots and a Machete

Mireya Mayor, a primatologist and Emmy Award-nominated wildlife correspondent for the National Geographic Channel, will shares stories of her travels. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago

Jan. 24-27: “Disney on Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party

January 2019 Events Around Chicago: Disney on Ice presents Mickey's Search Party
Photo courtesy of Feld Entertainment.

This brand new “Disney on Ice” production will have you joining Mickey Mouse and friends on a search to find Tinker Bell using Captain Hook’s treasure map. The show moves to the United Center Jan. 30 to Feb. 2. Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont

Jan. 25 to Feb. 7: Chicago Restaurant Week

For two weeks, roughly 400 restaurants — including more than 100 first-time participants and 45 suburban restaurants — will offer special prix fixe menus highlighting some of their best brunch, lunch, and dinner options. Various

Jan. 26-27: Husky Heroes

Visit The Morton Arboretum for husky sled-pulling and skijoring demonstrations and to meet the sled teams. The Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle

Jan. 26 to Feb. 3: Winterfest

Get away for a weekend and explore Lake Geneva during the annual Winterfest featuring Human Dog Sled Races, a wine pairing dinner, helicopter rides, a winter carnival, and more. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

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Jan. 13: 2019 Jean Banchet Awards

Awards for Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Best New Restaurant, and more will be presented at this event benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Venue Six10, 610 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago

Anna Carlson writes the weekly Weekend 101 column and monthly Recommended Events. A graduate of the University of Missouri, her work has been published in Chicago Parent, Inside Columbia Magazine, and Central California Parent Magazine. She is a proud supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital