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The best winter events

If you get off the couch for anything this winter, make it these top winter events, from concerts to comedy shows

Photograph: Max Herman
Chicago Polar Plunge 2014

Chicago doesn't slow down during the winter, and thankfully so, because winter in the Midwest seems to go on forever. These are the winter events that will keep you entertained all season. It's the perfect time to catch a few of the best concerts in Chicago, visit some just-opened Chicago restaurants or try out the new ice skating rink in Grant Park. Get out and make this winter one for the Instagram.

RECOMMENDED: Find more things to do in Chicago this winter

Best winter events

Inherent Vice

Ever since Boogie Nights, the untamable Paul Thomas Anderson has thrilled us with the mania of self-made men—porn stars, game-show hosts, oil prospectors and cultists. Now, for a change, the director grabs you by the nose: Inherent Vice, Anderson's sexy, swirling latest (based on Thomas Pynchon's exquisite stoner mystery set at the dawn of the '70s), is a wondrously fragrant movie, emanating sweat, the stink of pot clouds and the press of hairy bodies.

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Ice skating ribbon in Maggie Daley Park

When the entire Maggie Daley Park, the northern portion of Grant Park that lies directly to the east of Millennium Park, opens in 2015, it will boast climbing walls, playground equipment, a dedicated concession stand and some great views of Lake Michigan. Visitors will be able to enjoy one of the park's attractions this month: the ice skating ribbon. The ice-covered path will form a circuit on the north end of the new park, allowing skaters to enjoy the city's skyline while sliding around the course. The ice skating ribbon will be subject to the Chicago Park District's outdoor rink admission fee, though the price has not yet been determined.

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By: Zach Long


Critics' pick

The guys behind the Bristol and Balena (including chef Chris Pandel, pictured) are teaming up on this Italian restaurant slated to open on Randolph Street in December. The new spot, which will have chef Tony Quartaro in the kitchen, will focus on red-sauce dishes, like 96-layer lasagna.

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West Loop

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

"The defining chapter" declare the posters for this wrap-up episode in Peter Jackson’s trilogy of Lord of the Rings prequels, the last of three films stretched from J.R.R. Tolkien's one novel, The Hobbit. Exactly what’s being defined is left conveniently vague, because what we have here is a whole lot more of Jackson’s proven formula: more battles, more creatures, more not-quite-comical asides, more stern speechifying and more gob-smackingly elaborate action set pieces. If you’ve been enjoying The Hobbit so far, you’re in for a treat.

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Mr. Burns, a post-electric-play

Critics' pick

Anne Washburn's play, a high-profile hit in New York and D.C., imagines The Simpsons episode "Cape Feare" becoming a mythological touchstone in the decades following a global power-grid failure. Theater Wit artistic director Jeremy Wechsler helms the Chicago premiere, with a cast that includes Kelly Abell, Daniel Desmarais, Hannah Gomez, Christina Hall, Andrew Jessop, Leslie Ann Sheppard, Jeff Trainor and Leah Urzendowski.

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Until Sat Apr 11

The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival

Critics' pick

January can be a rough month in Chicago, so it's a good thing we've got something to laugh about. In its fourteenth year, the largest sketch comedy festival in the country will present a packed line-up of hilarious performers that will make you forget about those frigid temperatures outside.

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Stage 773 , Lakeview Thursday January 7 2016 - Sunday January 17 2016

Tomorrow Never Knows Festival

Hamilton Leithauser, Cloud Nothings, Zola Jesus, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo headline the annual (indoor!) indie rock festival thrown by Lincoln Hall and Schubas. The comedy lineup is solid, too, with surrealist Tim Heidecker, side-mullet wonder Cameron Esposito and more.

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Waiting for Godot

Critics' pick

Ron OJ Parson directs Samuel Beckett's absurdist masterpiece about two vagrants' futile anticipation of the title character, with a cast that includes A.C. Smith, Allen Gilmore, and Alfred Wilson.

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Until Sun Feb 15

Sara Schaefer

Critics' pick

The Emmy-nominated writer, podcaster and former MTV late-night host comes to the Tomorrow Never Knows fest for a stand–up set.

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Until Fri Jan 16
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Jess L
Jess L

Check out ChicagoChristmasCrawl.com this weekend. 

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style. In the air there's a feeling of Christmas. Christmas in Chicago that is…. and we are so excited to share this event with the Wicker Park neighborhood.

Chicago Christmas Crawl, #CCC2014 is a walking themed event in which over 22 local venues showcase their food tasting and cocktail holiday specials. The event focuses on the spirit of the season in celebration of the holidays with food, family, friends, costumes and fun.

Each venue will provide a $3-$5 tasting option in which attendees can go on a “food crawl” throughout the Wicker Park neighborhood. Participants will be given a “holiday plate” in which to collect stickers from venues for purchasing the specials and will be entered into a raffle for a variety of amazing prizes.

From Frames, Santa Hats, & Funny Holiday Photo Props, we have you covered for some classy Chicago tundra/vortex fun. It's a day you will remember for the rest of your life and truly an experience you can not miss. We wouldn't want you to have FOMO. Happy Holidays!

Purchase Tickets & More info: ChicagoChristmasCrawl.com

Eventbrite Direct Link