31 of the Best Things to Do in Chicago This January

Temperatures may dip come January, but you’ll want to brave the cold for these can’t-miss events around Chicago.


Jan. 5: GlowFlow Yoga

Start the new year strong with this yoga class complete with dim lighting and glow sticks. Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago

Jan. 8: Books to Hunker Down With This Winter: Recommendations from Ann Walters & Alice Moody

Find your next read while entering for a chance to win gift cards and advance reading copies of yet-to-be-released books. Attendees also receive a $5 coupon. The Book Stall, 811 Elm St., Winnetka

Jan. 9-19: 19th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival

This annual festival features almost 120 shows over two weeks. Headliners include the two-man show Parv and Pudi with Danny Pudi (“Community”) and Parvesh Cheena. Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago

Jan. 10-12: Dinosaur Adventure

This traveling dinosaur exhibit features life-sized dinosaurs and activities like dinosaur riding, fossil crafts, obstacle courses, and more. Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Road, Rosemont

Jan. 11: Kid Lit Fest

Kids can meet authors, make their own bookmark, take pictures in the book cover photo booth, and more. Highland Park Public Library, 494 Laurel Ave., Highland Park

Jan. 11: Chicago Ale Fest — Winter Edition

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash.

Sample from more than 100 craft beers and dine on offerings from the area’s best food trucks. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

Jan. 12, 25: Loco for Cocoa

This family program at Chicago Botanic Garden gives you a chance to sample a variety of chocolate and learn about the process of turning this bean into dessert. 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

Jan. 23-26, Jan. 29 to Feb. 2, Feb. 6-9: “Disney on Ice Presents Road Trip Adventures”

Travel the world as you visit your favorite characters like Mary Poppins; Moana; Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa; Aladdin, Jasmine, and Genie; Woody, Bo Peep, and Forky; and more. Jan. 23-26: Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont; Jan. 29 to Feb. 2: United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago; Feb. 6-9: Allstate Arena

Jan. 24 to Feb. 9: Chicago Restaurant Week 2020

The Smith Chicago Chicken Sandwich
The Smith’s Chicken Sandwich (Photo courtesy of The Smith.)

This annual dining event is bigger than ever with more than 400 participating restaurants and more than 50 in the suburbs. Participants include Bar Biscay, Cafe Spiaggia, River Roast, Roka Akor, and The Smith. Various

Jan. 25: Mac & Cheese Crawl

Visit seven River North bars to enjoy various delicious takes on mac and cheese, as well as drinks and dancing. TBA

Jan. 25: Winter Brew

Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce showcases local breweries and cideries this winter. DANK Haus German American Cultural Center, 4740 N. Western Ave., Chicago

Jan. 25-26: Husky Heroes

Meet Siberian sled dogs and watch husky sled-pulling and skijoring demonstrations. The Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle

Jan. 26: “National Geographic Live” — On the Trail of Big Cats

Steve Winter National Geographic
A snow leopard traverses a rocky slope. (Photo by Steve Winter.)

National Geographic wildlife photographer Steve Winter shares stories of photographing snow leopards, jaguars, cougars, and more, as well as ways to protect these animals. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago

Through January: Chicago Wolves Skating Rink

Visit Brookfield Zoo to skate on this rink made of Glice®. Brookefield Zoo is one of only three zoos in the U.S. with this type of rink. 8400 31st St., Brookfield

Jan. 29 to Feb. 2: Lake Geneva Winterfest

Plan a quick getaway to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, for the 25th annual Winterfest. Watch teams create masterpieces during the United States National Snow Sculpting Championship, dine at local restaurants, and much more.


Jan. 4: Family First Saturdays

Shedd Aquarium Family First Saturdays
©Shedd Aquarium

Enjoy activities, games, crafts, and time with animal experts before exploring the aquarium on the first Saturday of the month. January’s theme is Feathered Friends. Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Jan. 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This family-friendly event includes a production of “The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights” by Writers Theatre, a performance by the Chicago Chamber Choir, and storytelling and crafts. Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago

Opens Jan. 21: “Modernisms: Iranian, Turkish, and Indian Highlights from NYU’s Abby Weed Grey Collection”

This is the first exhibition at a major museum to combine modern art from Iran, Turkey, and India. “These artworks represent a wide range of responses to unique, regional histories and to a rapidly changing world in the mid-20th century,” says Block Museum Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs Kathleen Bickford Berzock. “It is an extraordinary opportunity to have these works in one exhibition, allowing us to see with fresh eyes that global art is a central component of modernity.” The Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Closes Jan. 26: “Nature Cat: Backyard and Beyond”

Nature Cat exhibit at Kohl Children's Museum
Photo courtesy of Kohl Children’s Museum.

If your kids haven’t yet explored this exhibit (which is making its world debut), don’t miss your chance. Kohl Children’s Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview

Jan. 30: Night of Ideas: Alive!

The French Consulate brings its Night of Ideas program to Chicago for the first time to “celebrate life on Earth and imagine its future” with panel discussions, performances, and workshops. Guests can also explore the museum after hours. Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


Jan. 10-26: Winter Chamber Music Festival

Aizuri Quartet at Northwestern's Winter Chamber Music Festival
Aizuri Quartet (Photo by Shervin Lainez.)

The 24th annual version of this Northwestern event features the festival debuts of the Aizuri Quartet, American String Quartet, and Stephanie Blythe. Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Jan. 11: Sons of the Silent Age

This David Bowie tribute band performs to benefit NorthShore University HealthSystem Kellogg Cancer Center’s integrative medicine therapies. Metro Chicago, 3730 N. Clark St., Chicago

Jan. 11-12: “Trolls LIVE!”

The first ever “Trolls” live tour makes its way to Chicago “with all the epic music, glitter, humor and happiness only the Trolls can create.” The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago

Jan. 19-20: MLK Tribute Concert

Chicago Sinfonietta presents its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tribute concert with Chicago Sinfonietta Assistant Conductor Jonathan Rush and “The Voice” semi-finalist Kymberli Joye performing Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain” and the Chicago premiere of “The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed” by Joel Thompson. Jan. 19: Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville; Jan. 20: Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago

Jan. 25: Coming to America: Songs of American Immigrants

Vocalists from the Steans Music Institute perform Mohammed Fairouz’s “Refugee Blues,” selections from “Street Scene,” and more. Ravinia Festival, 418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park

Jan. 31: An Evening With Phillip Phillips

This “American Idol” winner’s Jan. 30 concert is already sold out, so hurry to get your tickets for his second show. City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago

Jan. 31 to Feb. 2: Hey Nonny Winter Blues Summit

For the first time, Hey Nonny hosts this blues festival with headliners Jimmy and Syl Johnson. All four stages are an indoor walk away from the live music venue. 10 S. Vail Ave., Arlington Heights


Opens Jan. 15: “Grease”

Dream of “Summer Nights” with this production of “Grease,” directed by four-time Jeff Award winner Scott Weinstein. Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire

Opens Jan. 18: “Roe”

Goodman Theatre begins 2020 with a play about Roe v. Wade and the women behind the trial. It’s been called “cleverly illuminating” (The Washington Post) and “a powerful and compassionate look at a controversial issue” (The Siskiyou Daily News). 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago

Opens Jan. 23: “How a Boy Falls”

Northlight Theatre presents the world premiere of this psychological thriller about the loss of a boy and the mystery surrounding his parents and au pair. 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie

Opens Jan. 28: “Emma”

Jane Austen’s “Emma” comes to life in this musical by Tony Award-nominee Paul Gordon. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand 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