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February 2015 events calendar for Chicago

Plan out your February in Chicago with our calendar of the best things to do, including picks from theater, art and music

Photograph: Max Herman
The Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place shows off what's new and next in the world of automobiles.

How does the shortest month of the year always drag on the longest? February means shit's getting drastic—and we're not talking about Valentine's Day looming. The winter blues have settled into your bones and life starts to seem like an endless journey through the arctic tundra. Warm up with a hot cocktail and find something awesome to do this month with our February 2015 events calendar.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2015

Featured February 2015 events

Chicago Restaurant Week

Get a deal at your favorite restaurants or try a new spot during Chicago Restaurant Week, when restaurants are offering $22 prix fixe lunches and $33 or $44 prix fixe dinners.

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Various venues Until Thu Feb 12

Cupid's Undie Run

Dash through Wrigleyville in your unmentionables to raise dough for the Children's Tumor Foundation. Participants can raise funds to earn prizes, including shirts, undies and engraved flasks. There's also an afterparty at John Barleycorn where you can rub shoulders with people who have already seen you half-naked.

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John Barleycorn Until Sat Feb 7

Obscura Society Illinois Presents: Spirits of the Midway

Atlas Obscura, a website devoted to documenting curious places, launches its Illinois chapter with a party that celebrates the carnival midway. Attendees wlll be able to enjoy an open bar while taking in performances by Thom Britton of FreakShow & Tell, a mentalist, jugglers, contortionists and a live band.

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Salvage One Until Fri Feb 13

Valentine's Day ideas

Whether you're looking to make a grand romantic gesture or just don't want to spend another Valentine's Day alone on the couch, we've assembled a guide to dates, gifts and more for couples and singles.

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Chili Synthesizer Cook-Off

Critics' pick

The 5th annual Chili Synthesizer Cook-Off returns to the Empty Bottle for an evening of tasty stews and scintillating sine waves. The event tasks musicians with cooking a chili and then performing a sonic interpretation of their culinary creation on an analogue synth of their choosing.

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Empty Bottle Until Sun Feb 15

Mardi Gras parties and events

New Orleans may be Mardi Gras party central, but there are plenty of Chicago events that will make you feel like you're in the middle of a parade in the French Quarter

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By: Zach Long

Sleater-Kinney

Critics' pick

Everyone reunites, so it's no surprise to have Sleater-Kinney back. But few comebacks are so welcome and needed. The trio trash and swing with a two guitar attack and offer a sound that is growing more uncommon—not just unfiltered rock but a headline act of all women. Corin, Carrie and Janet quietly recorded a noisy new album, No Cities to Love, due early in the new year.

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Riviera Theatre Until Tue Feb 17

Walker Stalker Con

Walking Dead fans will enjoy two days of panels and meet-and-greets with talent from the AMC show. This year the convention moves to Navy Pier and includes appearances from notable guests including Steven Yeun, Emily Kinney and Michael Cudlitz.

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Navy Pier Until Sun Feb 22

Chinese New Year celebrations

Give yourself another chance to begin anew on Chinese New Year, which falls on February 19 this year (though the festivities occur all month long). Whether you want to witness a dragon dance or ring in the Year of the Sheep at a great Chinese restaurant, we've rounded up some of the best Chinese New Year celebrations in Chicago.

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By: Zach Long

Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade

According to the Chinese calendar, 2015 is the Year of the Sheep (which is also referred to as a goat or ram). Head to Chinatown to celebrate at the area's annual parade, which will feature a marching band, traditional dragon, lion dances and decorative floats.

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Wentworth Ave and Cermak Rd 22 Feb 2015 Free

Free events in February 2015

2nd Floor Rear

Held across various locations on the city's northwest side, this 24-hour DIY indie arts and crafts festival celebrates its fourth year with a weekend full of experimental contexts, apartment galleries, and art projects. The theme for this year's fest revolves around the Danish concept of hygge, a word that translates into the comraderie one experiences during winter—something Chicagoans of all stripes should be able to get behind. The fest is centered around the Blue Line, with exhibits in Logan Square, Wicker Park, Avondale and more.

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Various venues Until Sun Feb 8 Free

"What Remains"

Exploring the connection between identity and place, What Remains features artworks made by artists who are physically displaced from their home or community. The photos build on the theme of isolation and separation, forming imagined realities perpetuated by the artist's feelings about a place that he or she may not entirely remember.

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Museum of Contemporary Photography Until Sun Mar 22 Free

Soft Leather

The queering of Logan Square continues with this new monthly party at East Room.

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East Room Until Sun Jun 21 Free

"Treatise: Why Write Alone?"

Young Chicago and Los Angeles-based designer Jimenez Laiand organizes this group show which features more than 200 works that explore the limits of conceptual architecture and design. The pieces on display in "Treatise: Why Write Alone?" are sourced from a global cast of designers, using sound, images and text to propose new and challenging ways of thinking about architecture's purpose and function. As the name suggests, the exhibition will be accompanied by a series of printed treatises, which will be published in March 2015.

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Graham Foundation Until Sat Mar 28 Free

Ice Skating in Millennium Park

Critics' pick

The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink is open to the public for skating in the shadow of the downtown skyline. Experience one of the city's finest winter traditions from November 14–March 8. (Check the website for hours of operation.) Admission is free, but skate rentals are $10.

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Millennium Park, McCormick Tribune Ice Rink Until Sun Mar 8 Free

The Owl's Valentine Dance

Join the Lemons, Heaters and Spike & the Sweet Spot for an evening of high-volume rocking ahead of the most romantic weekend of the year. Head to this popular late night Logan Square hangout to have a drink with your date or hook-up with other singles just in time for Valentine's Day.

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The Owl Until Thu Feb 12 Free

Sauced Night Market

Celebrate Fat Tuesday with gumbo from the Garage, paczki from West Town Bakery and hurricanes from Koval during a special Mardi Gras-themed edition of the Sauced Night Market. The monthly event takes over Emporium's Logan Square location, offering up a variety of tasty treats, accompanied by beer from Penrose, Marz and Metropolitan. DJs from Cage And Aquarium Productions and a live brass band provide the musical accompaniment for the evening.

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Emporium Arcade Bar Logan Square Until Thu Jul 23 Free

C2E2 Presents Heroes & Villains

Critics' pick

Can't wait until C2E2 to show off your latest costume? You're in luck, because the annual convention is hosting two fan meet-ups prior to the big event at McCormick Place. The second meet-up takes place at Geek Bar, where fans are encouraged to come dressed their most villainous getups. Slip on your tights, find your doomsday device and show those goody-two-shoes heroes who's in charge.

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Geek Bar Until Sat Feb 21 Free

Chicago Volunteer Expo

Looking to volunteer around Chicago but unsure of where to start? This massive do-gooder fair will feature more than 75 nonprofits, from social-justice groups to environmental-leaning orgs, as a way jump-start involvement.

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The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 22 Feb 2015 Free
See more free February 2015 events

Concerts in February 2015

Billy Idol

Critics' pick

The man with the iconic sneer (no, not Elvis) hits town. Dance in rockin' ’80s leather fashion to hits such as "White Wedding," "Rebel Yell" and "Hot in the City" from the Generation X punk. The Oklahoma garage rock bros of Broncho open, with a sweet scuzz that should tickle fans of FIDLAR and the Black Lips.

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Riviera Theatre Until Sat Feb 7

Giraffage

Critics' pick

Dreamy electro-pop from San Fran's twentysomething multi-instrumentalist Charlie Yin. After touring as opener for Porter Robinson, Yin brings his hip-hop-inspired rhythms to the Mid in support of recent EP, No Reason. His sample-heavy sound is far cry for the fist-pumping jocks of Vegas, but the kid gets the floor moving just as well.

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The Mid Until Fri Feb 13

Fleetwood Mac

Critics' pick

Though the band has been touring heavily for the last couple years, there's new reason to shell out the bucks. Sixteen years after leaving the band, Christine McVie returns to the eternally great Mac. This means we can hear her again sing sunshine like "Everywhere," "Hold Me" and "Think About Me," which is a very, very good thing. Oh, and Lindsey Buckingham is still the coolest.

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Allstate Arena Until Sat Feb 14

Ariel Pink

Critics' pick

Weirdo pop scamp Ariel Pink approached maturity on, well, Mature Themes, a career peak performance that balanced the gross-out jokes with emotional sincerity. Now, with a public flashlight aimed at him, he is retreating into the dark recesses of the theater to craft his perverted B-movie bubblegum. Pom Pom, his new record, is all pink slime and poodle skirts, the sock-hop sounds of 1960 laced with LSD.

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Thalia Hall Until Tue Feb 17

Swans

Critics' pick

Everyone knows that a swan can break a man’s arm with its wing, but did you know that New York noise rock band Swans were at one point capable of making entire audiences get spontaneously reacquainted their half-digested lunch? Swans never actually made anyone vomit through sheer force of sound, but since reforming in 2010, they’ve still had audience members spending the next few days suffering from not just ringing ears but full-blown aural flashbacks.

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Thalia Hall Until Sat Feb 21

Rave of Thrones: Kristian Nairn DJ set

Critics' pick

Aranat oqo. That's "drop the beat" in Dothraki. Yes, we are huge nerds. Which is why we will not miss a free evening of European trance courtesy of Hodor, a.k.a. Irish actor Kristian Nairn of Game of Thrones. Television's most loveable lunk finally brings his touring Rave of Thrones to Chicago. Dude gets the dancefloor moving like the Bay of Seals. (Like we said: Big fans of Northwestern grad George R.R. Martin.)

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The Mid Until Thu Feb 26 Free
See more February 2015 concerts

Festivals in February 2015

International Kennel Club Dog Shows

Critics' pick

A dog show is not only a platform for owners to prance around an arena with their perfectly groomed dogs, who eat better than most humans. The International Kennel Club Dog Show prides itself on educating the public about specific dog breeds and the best ways to care for them. If you're thinking about getting a dog, it's the perfect chance to do a little window shopping.

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McCormick Place Until Sun Feb 1

Cider Summit Chicago

Cider lovers converge at Navy Pier for the annual Cider Summit, which brings together cider producers from around the world for a big tasting event. Sessions are held 11am-3pm and 4-8pm.

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Navy Pier Until Sat Feb 7

Mad Mobster True Crime & Horror Expo

Horror movies and the world of crime (organized and otherwise) are intrinsically linked, with real-life tragedy often providing inspiration for Hollywood terror. The Mad Mobster True Crime & Horror Expo gathers actors, criminal biographers and a former FBI agent for a weekend that celebrates our cultural obsession with terrifying stories.

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Hilton Chicago Until Sun Feb 15

Chicago Auto Show

Motorheads, here's your chance to check out what's new in the world of cars. At this annual showcase, close to 1,000 different vehicles will be on display, along with accessories, auto-related exhibits, competition vehicles and collector cars.

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McCormick Place Until Sun Feb 22

Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show

Critics' pick

Stave off the winter blues inside the Chicago Botanic Garden's Regenstein Center, where the greenhouses and gallery will be packed with more than 10,000 in-bloom orchids, featuring an array of hybrids. On Saturday and Sundays, the Orchid Marketplace allows you an opportunity to purchase the plants.

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Chicago Botanic Garden Until Sun Mar 15

Chicago's Best WingFest

Each year, cooks from restaurants all over the city gather to fry up astronomical amounts of chicken wings and slather them in sauces at Chicago's Best WingFest. The hotly anticipated festival draws hundreds of hungry attendees, some of whom act as randomly selected judges in the search for the city's best wings. The festivities also include a wing eating contest, in which competitors try to inhale as many spicy chicken morsels as possible. All proceeds from the event benefit a variety of local charities.

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Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Hall Saturday September 5 2015

Art and dance in February 2015

Peking Acrobats

Critics' pick

The high-flying thrills and awe-inspiring stunts of The Peking Acrobats have dazzled audiences in the United States for more than two decades, ever since the troupe’s Western debut in 1986. This all-ages spectacle features modern twists on ancient Chinese techniques spanning 2,000 years of history, including gymnasts, jugglers, cyclists, and tumblers.

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Harris Theater Until Fri Feb 6

"Erró: American Comics"

Critics' pick

Inspired by the pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Icelandic artist Erró became fascinated with the imagery found in comic books. "Erró: American Comics" presents eleven of his large-scale paintings, created between 1979 and 2009, which feature collages of images found in comics, magazines and newspapers. The touring exhibit explores the artist's mission to bridge the gap between disparate forms of culture and art.

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Mana Contemporary Until Thu Apr 30 Free

The Joffrey Ballet: Unique Voices

Critics' pick

Three choreographers premiere new contemporary dance pieces as part of the Joffrey Ballet's Unique Voices showcase at the Auditorium Theatre. The program includes Stanton Welch's exotic Maninyas; James Kudelka's tribute to Johnny Cash The Man in Black; and Alexander Ekman's tongue-in-cheek critque of ballet Tulle.

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Auditorium Theatre Until Sun Feb 22

"Objects and Voices: A Collection of Stories"

The Smart Museum continues its celebration of its 40th anniversary with a museum-wide display of collection-based exhibitions assembled by professors, artists, museum professionals, University of Chicago students and Smart alumni. Drawing from the museum's diverse collection of Modern, Asian, European and Contemporary art, "Objects and Voices" explores how pieces are reinterpeted, providing inspiration for future generations of artists and patrons.

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Smart Museum of Art Until Sun Jun 14 Free

Sònia Sánchez: Le Ça (The Id)

Flamenco dancer Sònia Sánchez comes to the MCA Stage to present the North American debut of Le Ça (The Id), a solo dance that features live accompaniment from electric guitarist David Soler and vocalist Miguel Angel. Sánchez developed the piece after living alone in a forest for a year, composing movements that seek to capture the sensation of dancing when absolutely no one is watching.

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Museum of Contemporary Art Theater Until Sun Feb 15

"Shatter Rupture Break"

Critics' pick

The Art Institute of Chicago launches the first exhibition in its Modern Series—a string of themed displays that will showcase pieces from the museum's collection of modern art. The first installment, "Shatter Rupture Break", explores art produced during the early years of the 20th century by the likes of Salvador Dalí, Robert Delaunay and Kurt Schwitters. The exhibit demonstrates how advances in technology and the outbreak of World War I had a profound effect on artists living during the era.

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Art Institute of Chicago Until Sun May 3

"Doris Salcedo"

Bogotá sculptor Doris Salcedo is well known for her site-specific installations which make use of abandoned objects, including hospital furniture that has been filled in with concrete and stacks of white shirts. Salcedo's work is informed by the political and social turmoil present in her native country, seeking to evoke a sense of loss and fragility. The exhibition represents the first retrospective of her work and features a film documenting some of her ephemeral installations.

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Museum of Contemporary Art Until Sun May 24
See more February 2015 art & dance

Theater in February 2015

First Date

This musical rom-com, which follows a couple on a blind date through 90 real-time minutes, debuted on Broadway in 2013; now it hits the Royal George in a commercial production directed by J.R. Rose. Charlie Lubeck and Dana Parker play the potential couple, with Cassie Slater, Anne Litchfield Calderón, Shea Coffman, Adam Fane and John Keating rounding out the ensemble.

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Royal George Theatre Until Sun Mar 29

Sondheim on Sondheim

Critics' pick

Porchlight Music Theatre continues its all–Stephen Sondheim season with the the first Chicago production of this career-retrospective revue, which bowed on Broadway in 2010. Nick Bowling directs, with music direction by Austin Cook.

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Stage 773 Until Sun Mar 15

Samsara

Critics' pick

Victory Gardens premieres Lauren Yee's comedy about American parents-to-be using an Indian surrogate. The play was developed at VG's IGNITION Festival in 2012; Seth Bockley directs a cast that includes Joe Dempsey, Lori Myers, Arya Daire, Behzad Dabu and Jeff Parker.

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Victory Gardens Biograph Theater Until Sun Mar 8

The Sweeter Option

Marti Lyons will helm this new play by Strawdog ensemble member John Henry Roberts, a comic thriller set in and around 1971 Chicago. Sam Guinan-Nyhart plays a P.I. making a cash grab, with Michaela Petro as a suburban housewife slash femme fatale; the top-notch cast also includes Matt Farabee, Rudy Galvan, Sarah Price, Emily Tate and Jamie Vann.

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Strawdog Theatre Company Until Sat Mar 28

Four

Jackalope Theatre Company stages Christopher Shinn's play about a quartet of strangers seeking out intimacy on the Fourth of July, 1996. Nate Silver directs a cast that includes Paige Collins, Robert Howard, Michael Kurowski and Danny Martinez.

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Broadway Armory Park Until Sat Mar 28

The Hammer Trinity

Critics' pick

The House Theatre of Chicago reaches the conclusion of Nathan Allen and Chris Matthews's Americana-infused fantasy trilogy. Find out what becomes of Casper Kent, July of the Seven Foxes and the land of New Plymouth in Part Three: The Excelsior King; refresh your memory of the events of Part One: The Iron Stag King and Part Two: The Crownless King with nine-hour marathon performances of the entire trilogy.

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Chopin Theatre Until Sun May 3

The Diary of Anne Frank

In Writers Theatre's intimate bookstore space, director Kimberly Senior helms an appropriately claustrophobic staging of Wendy Kesselman's 1997 stage version of Anne Frank's affecting record of her family's two years hiding from the Nazis.

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Books on Vernon Until Sun May 31
See more February 2015 theater

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