Look, we know some of you savor winter in Chicago, with your ice skates and your polar plunges and your vast array of winter scarves. But a lot of us are just out here trying to survive the season—which means being inside as much as possible. To that end, here are some great (and sheltered, and climate-controlled) indoor events to check out over the next few months.
Get sweaty at a concert
Tomorrow Never Knows January 13–17 While all of the other music festivals are hibernating, Tomorrow Never Knows brings an entertaining lineup of bands (and comedians) to venues all over the city.
Levitation Chicago March 10–12 The Austin, Texas psych-rock fest returns to Thalia Hall for another mini-edition, with a lineup including German krautrock legends Faust, reunited Washington, D.C. punk duo Royal Trux, gothic rocker Chelsea Wolfe and experimental electronic producer Oneohtrix Point Never.
Tortoise January 23 Earlier in the season, Thalia plays host to a pair of intimate shows by the Chicago-based instrumental group, playing behind their first album in nearly six years, The Catastrophist.
MCA Prime Time: ⌘R February 5 The Museum of Contemporary Art's new after-hours series offers up an evening of live music, performance art, film screenings and local food. In February, the museum teams up with indie tastemakers Pitchfork to present a headlining multimedia performance by electronic artist Holly Herndon.
AC/DC February 17 The Aussie rockers hit United Center, still touring behind their 2014 release Rock or Bust. Expect to see cannons, pyrotechnics and the shortest shorts that longtime-guitarist Angus Young can squeeze into.
Escape the snow for the stage
The Revival Check out the new Hyde Park comedy venue on nearly the exact spot where the Compass Players, a precursor to Second City, performed in the 1950s.
SketchFest 2016 January 7–17 The 15th annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival takes over Stage 773 with four stages of nearly nonstop laughs.
The Lion King Through January 17 Watch your kids' eyes go wide at the still-astonishing spectacle of this Disney musical, returning to Chicago for the first time in five years.
2666 February 6–March 13 Goodman artistic director Robert Falls and director-playwright Seth Bockley adapt the late Chilean author Roberto Bolaño's epic, complex, 900-page final novel into a five-hour, 15-actor play.
Bold Moves February 10–21 The Joffrey's February program is a mixed repertory of three modern works: RAkU, by San Francisco Ballet resident choreographer Yuri Possokhov; Jirí Kylián's 1981 Forgotten Land; and an as-yet-untitled world premiere by British dancemaker Ashley Page.
Be an exhibitionist
"The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great" Through April 10 The Field Museum's latest exhibition, presented in partnership with the National Hellenic Museum in Greektown, fleshes out the people who inhabited ancient Greece, reaching back through 5,000 years of Greek history to assemble a collection of more than 500 artifacts.
"Pop Art Design" Through March 27 The MCA's design-focused exhibit explores the full scope of the Pop Art movement, displaying everything from outlandish furniture and light fixtures to tupperware and TV sets.
Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show February 13–March 13 Stave off the winter blues inside the Chicago Botanic Garden's Regenstein Center, where the greenhouses and gallery will be packed with more than 10,000 in-bloom orchids, featuring an array of hybrids.
"Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times" February 9–May 8 To celebrate the final season of prestige period drama Downton Abbey, the Driehaus Museum will showcase almost 40 costumes from the show's run, so fans can see the fashion evolve over time, just like the characters we all know and love.
Hole up in these recently opened restaurants and bars
Queen Mary Tavern The cozy, nautical-themed Wicker Park bar serves bracing rum and gin drinks, the perfect antidote to the cold.
Monteverde We want to eat a lot as temperatures plummet, and nothing is more comforting than wonderful house-made pastas at Sarah Grueneberg's West Loop restaurant.
Band of Bohemia The new Ravenswood brewpub has creative house-made beers, like Orange Chicory Rye, plus outstanding food and comfortable seating.