Things to do in Chicago today

The day's best things to do in Chicago—including free and cheap activities, concerts, screenings, shows, parties and more. It's your social emergency savior.

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Looking for something to do this evening? Have a friend coming into town who wants to see the sights? You're in luck, because Chicago is a city filled with attractions and things to do (including some that cost absolutely nothing). Seize the moment with our list of today's best concerts, shows, activities and more.

Chicago International Film Festival

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The Chicago International Film Festival celebrates its 50th year showcasing features and shorts from around the world. The festival opens on October 9.

  1. AMC River East 21 322 E Illinois St, at Fairbanks Ct
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Thu Oct 23
More info

Bastille

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

British synthpop act Bastille pumps up the melodrama on its smash debut, Bad Blood, updating the New Romantic polish of the 1980s for the EDM generation. Dan Smith piles harmonies and oohs and aahs atop tumbling programmed drums, as if Chris Martin programmed a machine to digitally emulate Mumford & Sons. The band returns for its third Chicago gig in a

  1. Aragon 1106 W Lawrence Ave, at Winthrop Ave
  2. Tue Oct 21
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Chicago History Museum Haunted History Pub Crawl

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Chicago's most haunted drinking establishments come to light thanks to Chicago History Museum's haunted pub crawl. The crawl is hosted by a supernatural expert who will wax poetic on the city's ghostly past.

  1. Chicago History Museum 1601 N Clark St, at North Ave
  2. Tue Oct 21
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John Hodgman

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The Daily Show's resident expert, occasional PC and unceasingly wry smart-ass John Hodgman concludes a trilogy of books with That Is All, yet another anthology crammed with made-up facts about the end of the world, among other things.

  1. UP Comedy Club 230 W North Ave, at Wells St
  2. Tue Oct 21
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"CHGO DSGN: Recent Object and Graphic Design"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

A new exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center showcases recent work from more than 100 of the city's top designers. The collection was curated by Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award winner Rick Valicenti, who presents 200 works that exemplify Chicago's creative spirit. From DIVVY design documents to delicate utensils designed for Alinea, "CHGO

  1. Chicago Cultural Center 78 E Washington St, at Michigan Ave
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sun Nov 2
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"THINK"

  • Critics choice

Presented by IBM, this traveling exhibit explores the history of human innovation, from space exploration to medical advancements. Attendees can watch a short film, interact with a 40-foot gesture wall or one of several giant touch screens. Adults may have a better appreciation of the information presented in the exhibt, but kids can amuse themselves with

  1. Museum of Science and Industry 5700 S Lake Shore Dr, at 57th St
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Fri Oct 31
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Chicago Underground Comedy

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This outstanding night of comedy takes in four to five comics each week. Keep your eye on some of these folks: they're going places.

  1. Beat Kitchen 2100 W Belmont Ave, at Hoyne Ave
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Tue Dec 29
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"Simon Starling: Metamorphology"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Simon Starling emerged from the Galsgow art scene in the early 1990s, creating memorable films, photographs and installations that repurpose existing materials to impart new stories and insights. "Metamorphology" is the first large-scale survey of Starling's work to be hosted by a major American museum. The exhibition will include complex multimedia

  1. Museum of Contemporary Art 220 E Chicago Ave, at Mies van der Rohe Way
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sun Nov 2
More info

Depraved New World

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Second City Mainstage. Directed by Mick Napier. With Chelsea Devantez, John Hartman, Mike Kosinski, Tawny Newsome, Emily Walker, Steve Waltien. 1hr 50mins; one intermission. Comedy review by Kris Vire The Second City’s 102nd mainstage revue is among the jauntiest in recent memory, even as it mines the most pervasive of our modern social anxieties. The

  1. The Second City Mainstage 1616 N Wells St, at North Ave
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sun Nov 9
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"David Bowie Is"

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

Awesome. The coolest. A god. That's our answer to what David Bowie Is. This feverishly awaited collection, culled by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, gathers more than 400 pretty things including costumes, photographs, videos and other rare ephemera that demonstrate the Thin White Duke's towering influence over 20th-century pop culture. We had two

  1. Museum of Contemporary Art 220 E Chicago Ave, at Mies van der Rohe Way
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sun Jan 4
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The New York Film Critics Series

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Partnering with the New York Film Critics Series, the Music Box is presenting screenings of upcoming films featuring live broadcasts of Q&A's with filmmakers moderated by Rolling Stone's Peter Travers.

  1. Music Box 3733 N Southport Ave, between Grace St and Waveland Ave
  2. Tue Oct 21
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"The Chicago Effect: Redefining the Middle"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The Art Institute turns 75 this year and plans to reflect on its original purpose since opening doors in 1939. Later, the Art Center was created to connect art with people, and now the Art Center recreates a bond between art and modern day Chicagoans through reinventing cultural representation.  

  1. Hyde Park Art Center 5020 S Cornell Ave, at 51st St
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sun Nov 23
More info

"Chicagoisms"

  • Critics choice

The Art Institute's latest exhibit explores Chicago's rich architectural history, enlisting contemporary architects and designers to create installations that demonstrate modern interpretations of the city's distinctive urban qualities. Each of the nine models is accompanied by a manifesto by its creators as well as archival photos from the museum's

  1. Art Institute of Chicago 111 S Michigan Ave, at Adams St
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sun Jan 4
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“Faith, Focus, Flight: A John H. White Retrospective”

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The work of legendary Chicago photographer John H. White gets the in–depth exhibit it deserves. Displayed are pictures of the ordinary and the iconic, each rendered in stark, beautiful detail. White himself speaks at the exhibit's opening reception.

  1. Gage Gallery at Roosevelt University 18 S Michigan Ave, between Monroe and Madison Sts
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sat Dec 20
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"Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey"

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Born in Nairobi, Kenya and living in New York since the early '90s, international artist Wangechi Mutu is best known for her large-scale collages, which depict female figures in abstract locales. A Fantastic Journey comprises the first survey of her work to be displayed in the United States, assembling more than 50 pieces as well as an environmental

  1. Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art Northwestern University, 40 Arts Circle Dr
  2. Tue Oct 21 - Sun Dec 7
More info
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