March 2015 events calendar for Chicago

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

Photograph: Sara Mays
March 2014 events calendar: The South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade is one of the annual highlights of the March calendar.

Chicago has no dearth of options when it comes to celebrating St. Patrick's Day. There's the South Side Irish Parade, the Northwest Side Irish Parade, the St. Patrick's Day Fest at the Irish American Heritage Center and, of course, the St. Paddy's festivities in the Loop, with the ritual dyeing of the Chicago River. But proving there's more to March than just kelly green plastic hats and Guinness, the Chiditarod shopping cart race kicks off the month, and signs of spring pop up at the Chicago Botanic Garden's Orchid Show.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2015

Featured events in March 2015

Chicago Polar Plunge

Critics' pick

If they did it just for kicks, we'd agree these plungers were a little crazy for wearing next to nothing and jumping into icy Lake Michigan during March's freezing temps. But they're taking a dip to raise money for the Special Olympics Chicago, too. Last year, Mayor Rahm and Jimmy Fallon showed up for the chilly festivities—perhaps this year Arnold Schwarzenegger will reprise his role as Mr. Freeze?

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North Avenue Beach Sunday March 1 2015 Free

Chiditarod X

Critics' pick

The mobile food drive–meets–bash and shopping cart race goes down in Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village where teams of five people (four pullers and one musher) decked out in clever and wacky costumes race carts of food between neighborhood bars. The starting line is Wolcott Avenue and Hubbard Street, and spectators are welcome to follow as the race progresses. All food donations go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository while monetary contributions are given to a local charitable entity.

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Wolcott Ave and Hubbard St Saturday March 7 2015 Free

Wizard World Comic Con Presents Fan Fest Chicago

Wizard World brings a new convention called Fan Fest to Rosemont, ahead of the company's annual Chicago Comic Con in August. The two-day event will feature comics, toys, video games and collectibles as well as a lineup of guests that includes Karen Gillan of Doctor Who and True Blood's Kristin Bauer. Prepare to bask in the glow of pop culture ephemera.

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Donald E. Stephens Convention Center Saturday March 14 2015 - Sunday March 15 2015

Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Critics' pick

Spring's imminent arrival takes the form of displays of flora at Navy Pier. Visitors can sit in on instructional seminars, walk through manicured gardens, purchase plant-related souvenirs at the market and obtain culinary tips from chefs at cooking demonstrations. The Kid's Activity Garden offers hands-on projects for kids, like learning how to plant seeds and grow vegetables.

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Navy Pier Saturday March 14 2015 - Sunday March 22 2015

South Side Irish Parade

Critics' pick

The city's southernmost Irish celebration returns with another liquor-less procession along Western Avenue between 103rd and 115th street. In recent years, the event has attempted to shed its boisterous reputation, increasing the fine for open container violations so that families can safelt enjoy the floats, bagpipes and marching bands.

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Western Ave from 103rd St to 115th St Sunday March 15 2015 Free

Benjamin Booker

Critics' pick

A 22-year-old with an opening slot on Jack White's tour under his belt, Booker melds blues-rock formalism with joyous garage rock rambunctiousness, like the Mississippi Delta gone Strokes. The New Orleans–based newcomer howls and sneers while maining a smile on his eponymous debut. He is the rare act that can dazzle fans of both Clapton and Ty Segall.

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Metro Chicago Saturday March 28 2015

Concerts in March 2015

Ariana Grande

Critics' pick

Ariana Grande, pop music's latest superstar diva, headlines the Allstate Arena behind her hit second album, My Everything, a show for which the former Nickelodeon TV star surely won't have a "Problem" selling tickets as she continues to "Break Free" of her child performer image. [Stop us before we kill again.] English R&B act Rixton opens.

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Allstate Arena Tuesday March 3 2015

Meghan Trainor

Critics' pick

Trainor has the stink of one-hit-wonder all over her. Wait, scratch that. She has the perfume of one-hit-wonder. There is no shame in being a zetigeisty viral sensation, and this Massachusetts pop student scored one of the biggest hits of 2014 before hitting legal drinking age. "All About That Bass" is G-rated booty music, a sort of squeaky clean Nicki Minaj for the American Girl set. The girl looks like a living Lego Friends set, but a satirical undercurrent suggests she could be the American Lily Allen. Still, how did she turn out?

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House of Blues Wednesday March 4 2015

Taking Back Sunday

Pop-punk stalwart Taking Back Sunday is joined by letlive. and the Menzingers, tapping into an emo ouvre that stretches back to early 2000s. The band released its sixth album, Happiness Is, in 2014.

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Riviera Theatre Friday March 6 2015

Lust for Youth

Critics' pick

Upbeat, coldwave-influenced synthpop, fresh from the Copenhagen punk scene, Lust for Youth bring the calculatingly beautiful Danish design approach to gothic synthpop. The band's latest, International, sounds off like Arne Jacobsen building chairs with New Order in his bedroom on a rainy day.

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Empty Bottle Saturday March 7 2015

Kindness

Critics' pick

World, You Need a Change of Mind—the exquisite debut album by Adam Bainbridge under his Kindness alias—was Time Out London's favorite LP of 2012. Now, like some modern-day Arthur Russell, he's back with his warm, luscious and eclectic mixture of disco, soul, funk, R&B and more besides. Catch him on stage, pulling lanky shapes and generally being a top showman, as he digs into album two: Otherness.

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Lincoln Hall Wednesday March 11 2015

Maroon 5 + Magic!

Critics' pick

Adam Levine, the blond guy from Nebraska and the rest of Maroon 5 return with what is increasingly starting to sound like Levine's solo vehicle. The Californians' fifth album, V, utilizes the entire Malibu and Stockholm phone books in its credits. Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco, Shellback, Stargate, Sia Fuller, Dr. Luke and at least a dozen others polish and tweak the sleek radio cuts that obscure guitar and lean disco. In fact, when they go full Bee Gees on "Feelings" the guys find the perfect vehicle for Levine's oboe-like falsetto. Canadian cruise-ship reggae act Magic! opens.

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United Center Thursday March 19 2015

The Decemberists

Critics' pick

After a hiatus to pursue baroque children's books, knitting and artisanal canning or whatever, the über-indie-folk icons return. To recap: They explored down a rabbit hole to a prog Wonderland for a couple albums, then reigned in the fantasy on their last REM-emulating record, 2011's The King Is Dead. Since then, Mumford & Sons and followers made folk the new rock, Porlandia happened. So of course these Portlanders are back. But how Emerson Lake & Palmer–y will they be this time on the upcoming What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World? Probably not so much. Colin Meloy announced the LP by busking on the street with his reedy voice, because of course he did.

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Chicago Theatre Friday March 27 2015
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