March in Chicago is the point of each year when we cautiously dip our toes into springtime. One moment we could be drinking on an outdoor patio, then next we’re back to playing “dibs” mid-snowstorm. The month is defined by the onslaught of St. Patrick’s Day parties, parades and dinner specials. But if you don't like celebrating Irish heritage with binge drinking—erm, I mean, with bagpipes and corned beef—there are plenty of other fantastic things to do as the city warms up this month. We’ve collected the 44 best openings happening in Chicago this month, so get ready to jump into spring.
RECOMMENDED: Our complete March events calendar
THINGS TO DO
Mar 3-13: Take in a series of environmentally-conscious films at One Earth Film Festival. The fest offers a slate of films aimed at understanding climate change, sustainability and the power of human involvement.
Mar 4: Hit up the charity event with a cult following, Chiditarod, a shopping cart race through Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village. Contestants sport some impressive costumes, so it’s worth watching even if you’re not a competitor.
Mar 4: Expand your beer nerdom at Windy City Brewhaha, a full afternoon of tastings and talks at Revel Fulton Market. It’s the perfect opportunity to expand your beer knowledge and palette.
Mar 5: Enjoy desserts from vendors like Katherine Anne Confections and Osteria Langhe while sipping complimentary beverages from DryHop Brewers and KOVAL Distillery at Time Out Chicago's Treat Yo' Self tasting event.
Mar 5: Cooks from all over Chicago go wing-to-wing at Chicago’s Best WingFest 2017. These aren’t your average bar wings (no shade!), so expect some truly unique chicken and sauce creations.
Mar 5: Join hundreds of Chicagoans in taking an icy dip into Lake Michigan at the annual Chicago Polar Plunge. It’s not just insanity for sheer insanity’s sake—the plunge raises money for Special Olympics Chicago.
Mar 10-12: Take a break from the blockbusters and learn a thing or two at the Peace on Earth Film Festival, which showcases a series of social justice-oriented films and filmmaking panels.
Mar 11: Kick off your St. Paddy’s day early at Chicago Sport and Social’s St. Patrick’s Day Party, where the festivities start at 8am (yikes). Fill up with a hearty Irish buffet before the real shenanigans begin.
Mar 11: Get up close and personal with the bright green Chicago River the day of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Shoreline Sightseeing’s St. Patrick’s Day Cruise.
Mar 11: Not down for the madness of the downtown parade but still want to celebrate? Celebrate a more traditional way with Irish food, dances, and live music at the Irish-American Heritage Center’s St. Patrick’s Festival.
Mar 11-12: Learn all about the cultural history of syrup, how to collect sap, and see a maple tree-tapping demonstration at the Maple Sugaring Spring Festival.
Mar 12: Beverly folks will call the South Side Irish Parade Chicago’s “real” St. Patrick’s Day celebration until their dying breaths. But there’s good reason for that—check out bagpipers, Irish dancers, and Notre Dame gear as far as the eye can see at the South Side procession.
Mar 18-26: Soak in the coming of spring at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show a perennial (yes, pun very much intended) favorite.
Mar 17-19: Take in a series of workshops, competitions demonstrations at the Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention, where artists from across the nation come to show off their skills. You can even get inked yourself.
Mar 17-19: Encounter a whole new level of pet obsession at the Chicagoland Family Pet Expo. Shop for the latest pet treats and toys, or meet with breeding clubs and rescue organizations. Unfortunately, you’ve got to leave your pup at home.
Mar 18-19: Looking to get inked, but sick of the wait lists and artists’ egos? The 2nd annual Walk Up Classic at Great Lakes Tattoo hosts 22 artists from all over for two days of quick, efficient tattooing.
Mar 3: Local acts Mind Over Mirrors and Brokeback each mark the release of new albums with a co-headlining show at Constellation.
Mar 4: The Empty Bottle heads outdoors (weather be damned!) for its annual Music Frozen Dancing block party, featuring METZ and Screaming Females.
Mar 6: Pretend that you're sitting in a Starbucks while listening to the quirky subdued folk pop of Devendra Banhart at Thalia Hall.
Mar 11: Electro-pop duo Phantogram unleash larger-than-life beats and melodies that you've probably heard in car commercials.
Mar 12: According to Goose Island, it's 312 Day and the brewery is celebrating with a performance from country-tinged indie rocker Jenny Lewis.
Mar 14: Pop diva Ariana Grande takes over United Center with an evening of soaring ballads that should cement her title as a Dangerous Woman (in a musical sense, at least).
Mar 16, 17: After a reunion set at Riot Fest last year, eclectic genre explorers Ween return to Chicago for a two-night stand.
Mar 18, 19: Clear-eyed West Coast MC Vince Staples eschews the glitz of mainstream hip-hop, performing behind his sinister new Prima Donna EP at Metro.
Mar 24: After filming a music video in the Uptown Theatre, Regina Spektor brings her melancholy piano pop to the Loop for an evening at the Chicago Theatre.
Mar 25: R&B superstars Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey join forces as their All the Hits Tour comes to the United Center.
Mar 26: Tired of hearing bad renditions of "Livin' on a Prayer?" Go see Bon Jovi hit the karaoke standard out of the arena.
Mar 31: Combining classic rock tropes with indie-rock panache, Foxygen brings its latest psych rock symphony to the Vic.
Mar 11–Jul 23: The MCA digs into its collection to explore the portrayal of youth in contemporary art in "Eternal Youth," prominently featuring a series of photos taken during the filming of the 1995 Larry Clark film Kids.
Mar 26–Jul 2: The Obama Presidential Center won't open in Jackson Park until 2020, but the Hyde Park Art Center's "The Presidential Library Project: Black Presidential Imaginary" exhibit speculates about what it might offer.
Mar 7-Mar 19: John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s cult rock musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, is stopping in Chicago this month. In it, “internationally ignored song stylist” Hedwig Robinson recounts her journey from being a young boy in Germany to a glam lady rocker in middle America.
Mar 9-Apr 9: Court Theatre stages the newest work by Tom Stoppard, The Hard Problem, about a psychologist working on finding the line between biology and personality. Stoppard—one of the brainiest writers in the biz—has been rewriting his script, so Court’s production will be up-to-the-minute.
Mar 9-Apr 16: Ease on down the road with Kokandy Productions’ revival of the 1975 Tony Award–winning musical The Wiz, which updated The Wizard of Oz for an all-black cast and a new score tinged with gospel, soul and R&B.
Mar 17-Apr 23: American Theater Company artistic director Will Davis revisits William Inge’s 1953 drama, Picnic, with an eye toward illuminating the playwright’s own repressed desires, utilizing race– and gender-conscious casting. Molly Brennan plays Hal, the handsome drifter who disrupts a small town on the day of the Labor Day picnic.
Mar 11: Talk about a superstar stand-up tour: Catch Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, D.L. Hughley, George Lopez and Charlie Murphy sharing the same stage at The Comedy Get Down.
Mar 27-Apr 2: Take a deep-dive into the city’s comedy scene at the annual Chicago Improv Festival, where performers will make you laugh out of thin air.
Mar 11: Celebrate Thodos Dance Chicago’s 25th anniversary with Full Circle, a one-night-only program. The program includes works by Briana Robinson, Brian Enos, Bella Lewitzky and the first—and allegedly last—complete staging of “The Wheel Trilogy” by founder Melissa Thodos.
Mar 16-19: Hubbard Street’s Spring Series includes two pieces by Spanish-born dancemaker Nacho Duato, Jardí Tancat and a duet from Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness, along with Lucas Crandall’s full-company work Imprint and Crystal Pite’s Solo Echo.
Mar 22-26: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s annual visit to the Auditorium features several pieces new to Chicago, including artistic director Robert Battle’s Ella and MacArthur Fellow Kyle Abraham’s Untitled America. Four distinct programs will be presented across the five-day stand, each closing with Alvin Ailey’s 1960 classic, Revelations.
Mar 31-Apr 1: Giordano Dance Chicago’s spring engagement at the Harris features a new as-yet-unnamed work by choreographer Liz Imperio, former Giordano dancer Frank Chaves restaging his own “Grusin Suite” and a handful of works from GDC’s repertoire.
Until Mar 25: Chicago's annual Flamenco Festival brings a five week long line-up of Flamenco's brightest young stars and critically acclaimed artists to the Instituto Cervantes of Chicago.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Mar 3: Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery (10033 S Western Ave) opens with wine, mead and beer near Dan Ryan Woods
Mar 7: New from 4 Star Restaurant Group (Crosby’s Kitchen, Dunlays on Clark, Tucco & Blondie), Ella Elli (1349 W Cornelia St) will offer a mid-to-upscale dining experience in Lakeview.
Note: Restaurant and bar openings are subject to change and can be delayed; call ahead before setting out.
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