April 2018 events calendar for Chicago

Plan your April in Chicago with our events calendar of the best things to do, including concerts, theater openings and art exhibits
Photograph: Grace DuVal
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So long as it's not one of those Aprils cursed by snowstorms, it's finally safe to crawl out of hibernation and start scouring new Chicago shops for lighter clothes, and maybe even pay a visit to a few Chicago beaches on one of the nicer days. Celebrate the arrival of spring with a trip to the patio at your favorite cocktail bar, start hashing out your warm weather plans and figure out a few things to do on a rainy day—you know what they say about April showers, don't you?

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2018

Featured events in April 2018

Photograph: Grace Duval
Things to do, Conventions

C2E2: Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo

Each year, C2E2 brings a ton of comic book creators and some notable TV and movie stars to McCormick Place for a bonafide pop-culture bonanza. If you hit the floor, you'll find costumed attendees mingling in a sea of comics, toys and assorted memorabilia. Head for the panel halls (or autograph lines) to catch a glimpse of celebrities like Superman Returns star Brandon Routh, SpongeBob SquarePants voice actor Tom Kenny and Goosebumps author R.L. Stine.

Chicago Humanities Festival
Photograph: Justin Kern
Things to do

Chicago Humanities Festival: Springfest/18

Back for a third year, the spring edition of Chicago Humanities Festival brings a lineup of artists, activists and thinkers to the city. This season's lecture series features installationist Ai Weiwei, Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and artist Molly Crabapple. With this spring series, Chicago Humanities Festival kicks off its 2018, The Year of Graphic!

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Longman & Eagle Adult Easter Egg Hunt 2016
Image: Longman & Eagle
Things to do, Festivals

Adult Easter Egg Hunt

Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean you have to give up on hunting for Easter eggs. Longman & Eagle organizes this annual scramble, hiding eggs all throughout Logan Square. Teams of two can scour the neighborhood between noon and 2pm, with all proceeds benefitting One Tail at a Time. The party continues at Longman from 2–4pm, where a winner will be crowned and prizes from Jim Beam, Revolution Brewing and Gordon Food Service will be awarded.

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Photograph: Erica Gannett
Restaurants

Baconfest

Bacon lovers rejoice! Baconfest is coming back to Chicago with more bacon than ever. Current attendees include Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Ada St., Margeaux Brasserie, Kimski and a whole lot more. Each participating restaurant and brewery is offering a bacon dish or drink, so loosen your belt and you'll be in bacon heaven.

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Museums, Music

“Amplified: Chicago Blues”

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park
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Photographer Raeburn Flerlage documented Chicago blues musicians performing in the city in the ‘50s and ‘60s, providing an intimate look at some of the genre's biggest stars. "Amplified: Chicago Blues" sifts through a collection of than 1000 of Flerlage's images, including photos of Howlin Wolf, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor and Muddy Waters. If you want to travel back in time to an era when blues clubs ruled the city, this is the peek into the past you've been searching for.

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Photograph: Martha Williams
Things to do, Festivals

I Heart Halal

Experience the Halal lifestyle at the inaugural I Heart Halal expo at Navy Pier, which features all-natural foods and a grand bazaar filled with products that are permissible under traditional Islamic law. Muslim celebrities such as beauty blogger Nura Afia and personal trainer Koshal Azami will be in attendance giving talks, while the evenings will be filled with special events like a fashion show and a Muslim stand-up comedy showcase.

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CHIRPRecordSale16
Photograph: Erica Gannett
Things to do, Festivals

CHIRP Record Fair & Other Delights

Before Record Store Day arrives, the annual CHIRP Record Fair fills the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Hall with stacks of vinyl for collectors to sift through. More than 50 vendors show up for the event, which benefits CHIRP Radio and features sets from local DJs like ShowYouSuck and Miss Alex White. Plus, there'll be drinks from Dark Matter Coffee, a listening station and a family activity area. You've still got some room for records on that IKEA shelf—you might as well fill it.

Dragon Lights Festival
Photograph: Travis Schoening/Tianyu Arts & Culture
Things to do, Festivals

Dragon Lights Festival

The traveling Dragon Lights Festival has set up more than 40 gigantic Chinese lanterns in Soldier Field South Parking Lot, providing the perfect environment for some twilight selfies. The event features an enormous 200-foot-long dragon lantern, a whale, an adorable panda wall and plenty of other colorful creations. In addition to the lanterns, the festival also features nightly performances from acrobats, musicians and dancers as well as demonstrations of calligraphy, painting and knot-tying.

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Things to do, Quirky events

International Tom Hanks Day

Celebrate the life and work of actor (and antique typewriter collector) Tom Hanks at this annual party. Each year, Hanks fans gather to show their appreciation for the nicest guy in Hollywood and raise money for his favorite charity, Lifeline Energy, while watching some of his finest films. The highlight of the afternoon is a raffle that includes items autographed by Hanks himself.

Photograph: Jim Judkis
Movies, Documentary

DOC10 Film Festival

Chicago Media Project brings its second annual DOC10 Film Festival to the Davis Theater in Lincoln Square. The festival will screen 10 current documentaries, including: Won't You Be My Neighbor, a Mr. Rogers doc from Oscar-winning filmmaker Mogan Neville; Love Means Zero, about legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri; 306 Hollywood, which premiered at Sundance, and many more. 

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Macy's Flower Show 2015
Photograph: Courtesy Macy's
Things to do

Macy's Flower Show

The downtown department store hosts this annual flower-filled extravaganza, transforming a floor of the historic building into a garden filled with real blooms and exotic plants. This season's "Once Upon a Springtime" theme explores the flora found in fairty tales—we're picturing romantic cherry blossoms, winding vines and cheerful daisies. Drop in to check out the free show during store hours. 

Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Pizza Summit
Things to do, Quirky events

Chicago Pizza Summit

There's no need to debate about which city has the best pizza in the world because nine out of ten Chicagoans agree that ALL pizza is delicious. That's why we gather at the annual Chicago Pizza Summit to sample pies from all over the city and knock back cold cans of Old Style. Presented by Old Style and the Empty Bottle, this year's festivities move to Thalia Hall for two sessions (at 2 and 5pm) of cheese, pepperoni, music and more. Local emcee ShowYouSuck hosts the event, which will also feature Chicago-themed art, an exhibition from the US Pizza Museum, exclusive merch and a surprise hometown musical guest.

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Walker Stalker Con 2016
Photograph: Jose Calvo
Things to do, Conventions

Walker Stalker Con

AMC's television adaptation of The Walking Dead continues to shamble on, as does this annual convention devoted to the franchise's undead universe. This year, the festivities move to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, where attendees will also have access to the Heroes and Villains Fan Fest. Actors Norman Reedus (Daryl) and Jeffery Dean Morgan (Negan) will be in attendance, alongside a long list of cast members, past and present.

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest
Photograph: Courtesy Fan Fest
Things to do, Conventions

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest

If you're attending Walker Stalker Con, your ticket also gives you access to this superhero-focused event that takes place in the very same convention center. Heroes & Villains Fan Fest brings together talent from TV shows like Arrow, The Gifted and Gotham, giving you a chance to interact with some of the folks who bring your favorite stories to life on the small screen. The convention also lets attendees feel like a hero, with activities like archery, obstacle courses and more.

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Photograph: Courtesy the Whisky X
Things to do, Festivals

The Whisky X

40 whisky distillers from across the country gather in Soldier Field from the Whisky X, which combines a plethora of boozy samples with food from local chefs and food trucks. Once you've sipped the offerings of Bulleit Bourbon, WhistlePig and The Macallan, stick around for a concert from alt-rockers the Mowgli's.

Shopping

Randolph Street Market Festival

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More than 200 vendors hawk their antique housewares, furniture, ephemera, clothing and more at this indoor-outdoor festival. Stop in for vintage clothes and jewelry, a vinyl swap meet, a fancy food market and global goods bazaar or bring your own items for appraisal. This event typically occurs on the last weekend of each month. During the warm-weather months of May–September, the market adds an outdoor area, offering even more vintage shopping and a beer garden.

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An Epic Tale of Scale at Chicago Children's Theatre
Photograph: Charles Osgood
Kids

An Epic Tale of Scale

This month-long interactive event invites kids and their families to explore the human body through a two-story theatrical environment inside the Chicago Children's Theatre. Along the way, your youngsters will encounter costumed organisms, hear original music, make their way through an obstacle course, participate in art activities and check out curiosities from the Field Museum. Audiences are limited to groups of 20, and entry times are staggered every 15 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays through April 8.

Concerts in April 2018

Dan Auerbach
Photograph: Alysse Gafkjen
Music, Rock and indie

Dan Auerbach + Robert Finley + Shannon and the Clams

With the Black Keys on hiatus, Dan Auerbach hits the road behind his latest solo album, Waiting on a Song, which finds the frontman indulging in his love of vintage soul and pop through a selection of lavishly produced arrangements. To add some authenticity to his retro sound, he's backed by a house band made up of session musicians who played with the likes of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Bluesman Robert Finley and surf-punks Shannon and the Clams support.

Cut Copy
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Dance and electronic

Cut Copy + Kauf

Aussie dance-pop act Cut Copy masterfully blends plaintive British rock lyricism with bouncy house beats and infectious synth melodies. The group's recent album, Haiku From Zero, embraces the dance floor rhythms and production of the ‘80s and ‘90s, grounding itself in same casually rebellious rave culture mined by acts like LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip. It's the kind of breezy pop that seems to coax some humanity from the machines used to make it. Los Angeles electro-pop act Kauf opens the show.

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Lucy Dacus
Photograph: Courtesy Matador Records
Music, Rock and indie

Lucy Dacus + And the Kids + Adult Mom

Virginia singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus is the latest in a long line of young artists who sound wise beyond their years. On her latest album, Histories, Dacus grapples with heartbreak and despair throughout a collection of earnest indie rock ballads that maintain a certain amount of optimism, even in the face of darkness and troubling times. Indie rockers And The Kids and Adult Moms open the show.

Mind Over Mirrors
Photograph: Saverio Truglia
Music, Rock and indie

Mind Over Mirrors

Experimental Chicago musician Jaime Fennelly debuts his expansive new Mind Over Mirrors album with a series of concerts at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Inspired by the work of naturalist writer Henry Beston, Bellowing Sun blends Fennelly's otherworldly synthesizer arrangements with otherworldly chants, rhythms and fiddle melodies provided by musicians Jim Becker, Janet Beveridge Bean and Jon Mueller. Surrounded by the audience, the entire performance takes place beneath a rotating illuminated sculpture that lends a shifting aura to the proceedings.

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“Weird Al” Yankovic
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rock and indie

Weird Al Yankovic + Emo Philips

After years of costume changes, video montages and general tomfoolery, parody-master Weird Al Yankovic is hanging up the fat suit for his latest, stripped-down tour. Self-consciously dubbed the Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, the setlists will focus on Yankovic's early songs and original material, dating back to the days of the Dr. Demento Show. Here's hoping that Yankovic treats the shows like an episode of VH1 Storytellers, so that we can finally learn what inspired him to write the 11-minute epic "Albuquerque."

Jordanna
Photograph: Lucas Black
Music, Rock and indie

Frontwoman Fest

Each year, the Burlington hosts a showcase of exciting female and female-identifying musicians during the daylong Frontwoman Fest. The lineup includes sets from electropop act Superknova, R&B singer Jordanna and experimental rockers Little Church. Decima, Ovef Ow, Glad Rags, Glitter Moneyy, Fauvely, Black Sandwich, Erzulie, Alysha McElroy-Hodges and Freddie Old Soul are also confirmed to perform.

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Ty Segall
Photograph: Courtesy Denée Segall
Music, Rock and indie

Ty Segall

It's become a cliché to say that Ty Segall is prolific, but even as his release schedule has slowed down ever-so-slightly, he's still churning out enough songs that you'll probably need a checklist to keep up. On Freedom’s Goblin, Segall’s 10th full-length album in as many years (countless side-projects notwithstanding), the West Coast garage-rocker once again proves that he’s one of the most capable purveyors of pop melodies drenched in buckets of psychedelic fuzz.

The Decemberists
Photograph: Autumn de Wilde
Music, Rock and indie

The Decemberists + Tennis

After crafting sprawling prog-rock based on a Japanese folktale and paying tribute to musical heroes R.E.M., the Decemberists take another unexpected turn on the group's latest album, I'll Be Your Girl. The record's first three songs recast Colin Meloy and company has a buoyant synth-pop act, revealing a jaunty, fun-loving side of the band that often gets lost amid its earnest refrains and ambitious conceptual undertakings. Nautical indie-pop outfit Tennis support.

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The Afghan Whigs
Photograph: Chris Cuffaro
Music, Rock and indie

Afghan Whigs + Built to Spill + Rituals of Mine

During the early ‘90s, Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill both managed to land major label record deals on the heels of critically-acclaimed independent releases. Decades later, they're hitting the road together on a co-headlining tour that could be pegged as nostalgic if not for the fact that both groups are still producing vital work. While the Afghan Whigs explore melodramatic alt-rock, you can expect Built to Spill to supply the triumphant guitar solos. Electro-pop duo Rituals of Mine open the show.

Kool Keith
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Kool Keith + The Palmer Squares

Ever since he started rapping in the ‘80s, Bronx MC Kool Keith has been known by many names, including Dr. Octagon and Dr. Dooom. With the exception of a single major-label release (1999's Black Elvis/Lost in Space) Keith has remained independent as a hip-hop artist, harnessing his eccentric flow with the help of producers such as Dan the Automator and DJ Qbert. During his latest appearance in Chicago, Keith teams up with local hip-hop duo the Palmer Squares. 

See more April 2017 concerts

Theater in April 2018

The Magic Penthouse
Photograph courtesy Nick Roy
Theater, Circuses & magic

The Magic Penthouse

icon-location-pin Loop
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Magician Nick Roy started this monthly magic-show-as-cocktail-party in 2016. Enjoy live music, hors d’oeuvres, an open bar and penthouse views, and be entertained throughout the evening by four roaming illusionists.

Trickery Chicago
Photograph: Peter Serocki
Theater, Circuses & magic

Trickery Chicago

icon-location-pin Boystown
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Owner-illusionist Aaron Rabkin performs six hyperintimate shows each week at this BYOB Boystown storefront theater, where his tricks are visible by passersby on Halsted Street.

Art and dance in April 2018

Helen Frankenthaler
Photograph: Courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago
Art, Prints & editions

“Helen Frankenthaler Prints: The Romance of a New Medium”

icon-location-pin Grant Park
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Abstract artist Helen Frankenthaler is best known for her bold canvases, on which she employed her "soak stain" technique to create translucent splashes of color. However, "The Romance of a New Medium" focuses on her lesser-known work as a print artist, which shrinks her abstract process down in size through the use of lithography, wood cutting and etching. The Art Institute displays a nearly complete collection of more than 50 of her prints, which—true to its name—exhibits Frankenthaler's enthusiasm for a new set of artistic tools. 

Free events in April 2018

Photograph: Grace DuVal
Things to do

Free museum days at the best Chicago museums

You don't have to spend a fortune in order to visit some of Chicago's best museums and cultural institutions. If you're willing to plan ahead, you can take in masterpieces at the Art Institute or gaze at tropical fish while strolling through Shedd Aquarium without spending a dime. You'll need to be an Illinois resident to take advantage of many of these offers, but that's just one of the perks of living in Chicago. 

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Photograph: Martha Williams
Comedy

The Paper Machete

icon-location-pin Uptown
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Christopher Piatt hosts this weekly "live magazine," a cavalcade of culture, politics and wit featuring journalists, actors, comedians and musicians offering idiosyncratic reports on the news of the day. Head to Uptown's iconic Green Mill for a Saturday afternoon of drinks, hot takes and laughs. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Arts District
Art

2nd Fridays in the Chicago Arts District

icon-location-pin Lower West Side
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On the second Friday of each month, The Chicago Arts District hosts 2nd Fridays Gallery Night, a series of receptions at the galleries and artists' studios centered around South Halsted Street, beginning at 1711 and ending at 2005 South Halsted Street. Pick up a map at the information center at 1945 South Halsted Street and visit the creative spaces free of charge as they open their doors to showcase an exciting display of art and artists from Chicago and beyond.

Logan Arcade
Photograph: Martha Williams
Nightlife, Alternative nightlife

Night Names

icon-location-pin Logan Square
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Set a new high score at this arcade bar’s monthly queer night. Guests can take advantage of free pinball (make sure you take a turn on the classic Star Wars and PIN·BOT tables), enjoy bar specials or bust a move in the back room with resident DJ Essential Logic.

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Nightlife, Alternative nightlife

Duro

icon-location-pin Lake View
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This biweekly nocturnal Latinx and LGBTQ gathering is always filled with clever decorations, dancing queens and underground Latin club music from resident DJ [X]P. It also serves Jarritos cocktails.

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Photograph: Kelly Peloza
Things to do, Literary events

Tuesday Funk

icon-location-pin Uptown
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This eclectic reading series is where good writing and good beer mix. Every month five local writers and authors put together pieces to read while you order off Hopleaf's extensive beer menu.

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Photograph: Andrew Leon Hensley
LGBT

Burly

icon-location-pin Logan Square
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Burliness is optional at this night for bearded boys, funky folk and all other queers and allies, which takes over Logan Square dive the Burlington. Resident DJ Butch Sassidy and the Come Dance Kid spins punk, disco and new wave galore.

Comedy in April 2018

The Neo-Futurists
Photograph: Ricky Kluge
Theater, Experimental

The Infinite Wrench

icon-location-pin Uptown
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Taking the place of the long-running Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, the Neo-Futurists’ new flagship show retains the basic structure of original short works penned each week by the performers, with a few new tweaks and twists.

Comedians You Should Know
Photograph: Melissa Mamroth
Comedy, Stand-up

Comedians You Should Know

icon-location-pin Streeterville
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This weekly night of comedy, curated by a group of funny dudes, puts local stand-ups on your radar.

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GreenMill.venue01.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams
Comedy

The Paper Machete

icon-location-pin Uptown
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Christopher Piatt hosts this weekly "live magazine," a cavalcade of culture, politics and wit featuring journalists, actors, comedians and musicians offering idiosyncratic reports on the news of the day. Head to Uptown's iconic Green Mill for a Saturday afternoon of drinks, hot takes and laughs. 

Comedy, Improv

The Improvised Shakespeare Co.

icon-location-pin River North
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Suggestions from the audience inspire the improv team to create an entirely new show with Elizabethan flair. Expect a full hour of Shakespeare references, proper language, and plenty of laughs.

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iO Theater
Photograph: Anthony Soave
Comedy, Improv

Whirled News Tonight

icon-location-pin River North
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Now in its 15th year, Whirled News Tonight has become an institution at the iO Theatre, hence its prime time slot. Improvised scenes are based on news articles from that week, which audience members post to the back wall of the stage. The show boasts alumni including Jordan Klepper (The Daily Show, The Opposition with Jordan Klepper), Sarah Haskins (Trophy Wife), Arnie Niekamp (Hello From the Magic Tavern) and more. 

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