How does the shortest month of the year always seem to drag on the longest? We’re not going to sugar-coat this: February in Chicago can be pretty rough. But the nasty weather means one thing, you’ve got to double down on your social activities! With Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and outdoor winter activities like skiing and snowboarding, you totally have the power to make February in Chicago awesome. With all these fantastic openings happening across the city in February, you’ll have no problem keeping busy—assuming you can peel yourself off the couch.
THINGS TO DO
Feb 4: Sure, the plains of the Midwest aren’t exactly the Rocky Mountains, but we can pretend, right? The annual Retro Ski Lodge Block Party channels the après-ski fun without the whole “skiing” thing.
Feb 4: Catch a screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, followed by a Q&A with original Star Trek cast member-turned-internet darling George Takei at the Chicago Theatre.
Feb 4: Bring the whole family to the Chinese-American Museum for their Chinese New Year Celebration, complete with arts and crafts, traditional foods and a reading from Richard Lo’s new children’s book.
Feb 4–5: Ring in the Year of the Rooster all over Chicago! Head to Uptown for the Argyle Street Lunar New Year Parade, or party right in the heart of Chicago’s Chinatown at the annual Chinese New Year Parade. Both parades will feature a marching band, lion and dragon dances and floats, though Chinatown’s will be much larger in scale.
Feb 11: Think you have what it takes to find all the boobs at the Art Institute? Test your knack for finding nudes at the Naked at the Art Institute Scavenger Hunt.
Feb 11: Eat your way through the best pizza in Chicago as they compete for the coveted title of “Best Pie in Chi” at the simply and aptly-titled Chicago Pizza Party.
Feb 11: Srtip down to your skivvies at the annual Cupid’s Undie Run, a near-naked run through Wrigleyville sandwiched in the middle of a gigantic party, all for a good cause.
Feb 14: The most anxiety-producing day of the year is back! Whether you love it or hate it, check out our guide to the best things to do on Valentine’s Day to figure out how to survive the “holiday.”
Feb 11–Feb 20: Gearheads, your time has arrived: the Chicago Auto Show is back at McCormick place this month, featuring around 1,000 vehicles for your ogling pleasure.
Feb 12–Mar 19: Navy Pier’s annual Neighborhoods of the World series kicks off this month, featuring authentic dances, food and art from a different international culture each Sunday.
Feb 11–Mar 26: Dip a toe into spring at the always dazzling Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show—well worth the trip to the ‘burbs.
Feb 16–17: Take in Chicago Humanities Festival’s winter programming, Rest in Power, where the parents of Trayvon Martin give a perspective the media could never capture.
Feb 18: The folks behind TBOX are back for BeadQuest, a Mardi Gras pub crawl through Wrigleyville.
Feb 25: Craving a summertime beer fest? Do the next best thing and head to Northalsted Frost Fest, which features over 40 craft beers in a huge, outdoor heated tent.
Feb 25: Pretend you’re on Bourbon Street at the Mardi Gras Bar Crawl through the Rush & Division bar district.
Feb 2: Masterful hip-hop lyricist (and one half of the legendary duo Black Star) Talib Kweli brings his poignant, socially-conscious verses to Metro.
Feb 4: Melding punk, psych-rock and creepy pop arrangements, Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon performs with Tim Presley (of White Fence) at Schubas.
Feb 8, 9: Chicago's own Noname kicks off her first national tour behind the stark, confessional hip-hop of her debut mixtape, Telefone.
Feb 11: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the South African a cappella group behind Paul Simon's Graceland, comes to Lincoln Square.
Feb 15: Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser explores doo-wop, soul and country arrangements from his latest solo album, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine.
Feb 16: Swedish pop star Tove Lo combines sultry synths and explicit lyricism to create undeniably sexy anthems.
Feb 16–18: Local promoter Harmonica Dunn throws Dunn Dunn Fest, bringing acts like Low Cut Connie, Mike Doughty and Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orquesta to venues all across the city.
Feb 17: Killer Mike and El-P confront political turmoil with quick-witted hip-hop as Run the Jewels returns to Chicago.
Feb 17: Gospel legend, Chicago-native and recent Arcade Fire guest vocalist Mavis Staples headlines Symphony Center—a fitting venue for her larger-than-life voice.
Feb 19: Sit on your throne and watch a full orchestra perform Ramin Djawadi’s epic score as the Game of Thrones Concert Experience occupies the United Center.
Feb 19: Start your Mardi Gras celebration early at a funky dance party headlined by George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic.
Feb 22, 23, 25, 26: Hometown heroes Wilco bring their Schmilco tour to the Chicago Theatre, digging into the band's back catalog over a string of four concerts.
Feb 23: Singer-songwriter Sinkane combines Afrobeat, disco and funk with his smooth falsetto amid tracks from his latest album, Life & Livin' It.
Feb 25: Local post-punks Meat Wave return to the Empty Bottle to debut tracks from the band's forthcoming album, The Incessant.
Feb 28: R&B veteran Lee Fields brings soulful melodies to the stage at Thalia Hall, backed by his band, the Expressions.
Feb 4–June 18: Reflect on the past and its tendency to echo through the present via works displayed in the Block Museum's group exhibition,"If You Remember, I'll Remember."
Feb 11–Apr 30: The Museum of Contemporary Art celebrates the work of dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham with "Common Time," collecting videos, photos and costumes from throughout his career.
Feb 11–Apr 9: "Robert Grosvenor" brings a series of stark, industrial forms by the New York sculptor to the Renaissance Society.
Feb 18–May 7: Explore the maze-like installations and interactive works of Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica as the touring exhibition "To Organize Delirium" comes to the Art Institute.
Through March 5: The prolific playwright Ike Holter is back with another hyper-current Chicago story, this one a thriller about a neighborhood coming together to solve a crime in The Wolf at the End of the Block.
Through Apr 15: Playwright Robert O’Hara directs the Chicago premiere of his own semi-autobiographical play, Bootycandy, a bodacious look at growing up black and gay.
Feb 2–Mar 19: Experimental playwright Young Jean Lee examines privilege via the traditional narrative form of the father-son play in Straight White Men, directed by the playwright himself.
Feb 3–Mar 12: The Scottsboro Boys recounts the false conviction of nine black teenagers in the Depression-era South using the frame of a minstrel show.
Feb 10–Mar 12: Bell and Birdie, the owners of a South Side hair salon, must decide whether to relocate or stand their ground as their neighborhood transforms around them in A Wonder In My Soul.
Feb 10–Apr 9: A conflict photographer wakes up in the Istanbul apartment of her sometimes girlfriend with no memory of what happened to her in the field in Unseen, a new play by Mona Mansour.
Feb 11–Mar 12: Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Annie Baker (The Flick) adapts Anton Chekhov’s portrait of the discontented denizens of a country estate in Uncle Vanya.
Feb 11: Settle in for a full day of hilarious live podcasting at Very Very Fun Day from podcast network Maximum Fun. It’s like a music fest, but with quippy banter instead of bands.
Feb 14: Catch four in-demand stand-ups—Mike Epps, Bruce Bruce, Tony Rock and Felipe Esparza—on a single Valentine's Day bill.
Feb 17: Droll and casual stand-up Michael Ian Black has smarts that help him cozy up to his audiences, even when he's flirting with self-satisfied priggishness.
Feb 18: One word: Sinbad. No, he never played a genie in a ’90s movie you swear you remember, but he is playing the Chicago Theatre for one night only.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Feb: Rhyme or Reason will open in Wicker Park (1938 W Divison St) with a “fresh retro” vibe, cocktails and a “globally infused” menu.
Feb: The Polenta Bar (1002 W Lake Street) brings the West Loop a fast-casual northern Italian polenta bar.
Late Feb: Lawrence’s Fisheries (2120 S Canal St) will open with fried fish aplenty.
Note: Restaurant and bar openings are subject to change and can be delayed; call ahead before setting out.
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