Weekend 101: 8 Things to Do Around Chicago Jan. 17-19

This weekend is all about the arts, with a favorite annual concert at Auditorium Theatre, a Shakespearian ballet at Harris Theater, and a new exhibit at Evanston Art Center. Plus, find seven ways to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day with your family.

Illinois Resident Free Days at Shedd Aquarium

Jan. 16-20
Chicago

Shedd Aquarium
Cownose Ray (©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez)

Shedd Aquarium’s first free admission days of the year (for Illinois residents) are this weekend. Residents with valid ID receive access to all permanent exhibits, the aquatic presentation (subject to availability), and Stingray Touch. And find more museums to explore this weekend with our Ultimate Guide to Chicago Museums.

Felix & Fingers

Jan. 18
Highwood

Felix & Fingers at 28 Mile in Highwood, Illinois
Photo courtesy of 28 Mile.

28 Mile Vodka & Distillery is offering a variety of new specials in 2020, including Happy Hour on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays with $8 cocktails and $4 beers and Country Sundays with live music and a bottomless Bloody Mary bar for $20. This Saturday, check out everything this distillery has to offer while enjoying dueling piano entertainment from Felix & Fingers.

“Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah”

Jan. 18-19
Chicago

Too Hot to Handel with Karen Marie Richardson at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre
Karen Marie Richardson (Photo by Kristie Kahns.)

2020 is the “Year of Chicago Music,” and one of the first events is this annual production at the Auditorium Theatre. Now in its 15th year, and held Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, this production “commemorates King’s vision of a ‘beloved community,’ a world in which peace, justice, and love prevail.”

“Romeo & Juliet”

Jan. 19
Chicago

National Ballet Theatre of Odessa "Romeo & Juliet"
Photo courtesy of The National Ballet Theatre of Odessa.

The National Ballet Theatre of Odessa performs this classic Shakespeare tale at Harris Theater before presenting “Swan Lake” at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 21.

Evanston Art Center Faculty Exhibition

Through Feb. 16
Evanston

Evanston Art Center Faculty Exhibition
Image courtesy of Evanston Art Center.

This art exhibit showcases the works of more than 60 EAC instructors from departments like Ceramics, Digital Media & Photography, and Woodworking. An Opening Reception will be held Jan. 19.

More Can’t-Miss Events:

  • Nancy Drew and the Legend of Equality” is an all-female sketch show for those who like “plucky girl detectives, raunchy puns, and wholesome thrills.” Performances take place Jan. 17 and Jan. 24.

Make a Difference:

  • PAWS Chicago hosts its first adoption event of 2020 on Jan. 18 at the PAWS Chicago Glenn L. Felner North Shore Adoption Center in Highland Park. More than two dozen dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens will be available for adoption.
  • One in three children are experiencing poverty in the Chicago area. Make a difference in the lives of these children by donating gently used clothes and toys during Cradles to Crayons Chicago’s collection drive on Jan. 20. There will be more than 25 drop-off locations throughout Chicagoland. The most-needed items include winter coats (sizes newborn to adult medium), winter boots (sizes infant/toddler 5 to adult 10), warm clothing (sizes newborn to youth 18/20 or adult medium), toys (most needed for infants and ages 10-12), and books (ages 0-12).

One Book, Everybody Reads

American Dirt by Jeanine CumminsWilmette Public Library has announced their 2020 One Book, Everybody Reads pick: “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins. The book, scheduled for release Jan. 21, is expected to be one of the year’s best novels and already has rave reviews, having been called “a ‘Grapes of Wrath’ for our times” by Don Winslow and “an extraordinary piece of work” by Stephen King. Stay tuned for more information on program events and the author’s visit to the North Shore this spring. Better is a proud community partner of the One Book, Everybody Reads program.


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.