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February 2016 events calendar for Chicago

Plan out your February with the best things to do in Chicago this month for Valentine's Day, the Chinese New Year and more

Photograph: MK Feeney/Flickr

February's arrival means the final stretch of winter but not always the nicest weather, couple that with scouring the city for the best things to do on Valentine's Day in Chicago and the month can be a serious drag. The year's shortest month gives reason to celebrate though, with tons of ice skating rinks in Chicago and a plethora of bars wth hot cocktails, and you'll be set for the remainder of the season. So don't sit around! Lace your boots and check out the best events this February in Chicago. Well, if you're snowed in, you can always order the best deep dish pizza in the country.


RECOMMENDED: The best events in Chicago

Featured February 2016 events

Groundhog Day

Check out the Groundhog Day celebration featured in the classic 1993 film of the same name starring Bill Murray. Attendees gather to see area groundhog Woodstock Willie leave his tree trunk home and predict if winter will stay or go. Should he see his shadow, winter will last for six more weeks, and if not, spring will arrive early. Or at least that's what the legend says. Though February 2 is the official Groundhog Day Prognostication, Woodstock is holding a whole week's-worth of events leading up to Mardi Gras.

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Until Tue Feb 2

Valentine's Day ideas

Whether you're looking to make a grand romantic gesture or just don't want to spend another Valentine's Day alone on the couch, we've assembled a guide to dates, gifts and more for couples and singles.

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Chinese New Year parades and celebrations in Chicago

We're already a few weeks into 2016, but those of you looking for an excuse to get a fresh start on your resolutions are in luck. Give yourself another chance to begin anew on Chinese New Year, which falls on February 8 this year (though the festivities occur all month long). Whether you want to witness a dragon dance or ring in the Year of the Monkey at a great Chinese restaurant, we've rounded up some of the best Chinese New Year celebrations in Chicago. 

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By: Zach Long

MCA Prime Time: ⌘R

The Museum of Contemporary Art 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. The evening will also feature performances by local krautrockers Bitchin Bajas and lo-fi crooner Jimmy Whispers, as well as DJ sets from How To Dress Well and Tim Kinsella.

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Until Fri May 6

Retro Ski Lodge Block Party

Get all gussied up in your best retro ski digs and trek through Gold Coast on this winter bar crawl. Ski goggles, fuzzy ear muffs and leg warmers and spandex are all recommended. Participating bars and restaurants include Butch McGuire's, Coconutz, Hopsmith Tavern, The Original Mother's, McFadden's and The Hangge Uppe.

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Until Sat Feb 6

Indoor Bar Crawl Through Navy Pier

Celebrate Mardi Gras with "the world's largest indoor bar crawl" at Navy Pier. Attendees can wander Navy Pier's indoor grounds with drinks in hand while trading beads, getting face-painted masks, playing games and lapping up all the drinks specials on tap. Check in before 4pm for event entry. Participating bars and restaurants include: Harry Caray’s Tavern Billy Goat Tavern Riva Crab House Spirit of Chicago Margaritaville DMK Burger Bar Big City Chicken Giordano's Bubba Gump Crystal Gardens

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Until Sat Feb 6

Cupid's Undie Run

Dash through Wrigleyville in your unmentionables to raise dough for the Children's Tumor Foundation. Participants can raise funds to earn prizes, including shirts, undies and engraved flasks. There's also an afterparty at John Barleycorn where you can rub shoulders with people who have already seen you half-naked.

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Until Sat Feb 13

Adler After Dark

Recommended

The Adler Planetarium's monthly 21 and up night time event invites adults to explore the Museum Campus attraction while enjoying drinks and entertainment. This month's theme is "First Contact." It details the efforts to find life on other planets in our solar system and beyond, and what might happen should we find alien life in space.

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Adler Planetarium , Museum Campus Thursday October 20 2016 - Thursday December 15 2016

Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show

Recommended

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. On Saturday and Sundays, the Orchid Marketplace allows you an opportunity to purchase the plants.

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13 Mar 2016

70mm Film Festival: The Ultimate Edition

Recommended

After installing a gigantic 41-foot screen and 7.1 channel sound system for its 70mm screenings of The Hateful Eight, the Music Box presents nearly three weeks of classic films projected in the immersive, large-scale format. This year's 70mm Film Festival is bigger and better than ever before, featuring classic movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lawrence of Arabia and Vertigo. Also on the schedule this year: Ghostbusters, Interstellar, Cleopatra, Starman, Inherent Vice and more.

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Until Thu Mar 10

BeadQuest

The folks behind TBOX present another seasonally-themed excuse to drink in Wrigleyville with their annual Mardi Gras pub crawl. BeadQuest participants bounce between over 20 bars, while collecting beads, getting photos taken in event-specific "frames" and partaking in a number of drink and food specials. If you're the kind of person who like to knock back hurricanes while listening to brass bands, you'll feel like you've died and gone to Bourbon Street.

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Until Sat Feb 20

Poutine Fest

Poutine aficionados rejoice—Poutine Fest is back for another year. Try 10 different versions of the Canadian late-night treat and find out who earns the title King of Poutine.

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Until Sun Feb 21

Chicago Auto Show

Motorheads, here's your chance to check out what's new in the world of cars. At this annual showcase, close to 1,000 different vehicles will be on display, along with accessories, auto-related exhibits, competition vehicles and collector cars.

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Until Sun Feb 21

Frost Fest

Embrace the bitter weather at the second annual Frost Fest. Stoic attendees will be able to sample more than 40 craft beers from local breweries in a gigantic, outdoor heated tent during two separate three-hour tasting sessions. Live music and food trucks contrast and compliment the cold suds.

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Until Sat Feb 27

Randolph Street Market Festival

Recommended

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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Beaux Arts Plumbers Union Hall Building , West Loop Saturday October 29 2016 - Sunday December 11 2016

Music in February 2016

Sam Prekop

Recommended

Last year, Sea and Cake frontman and Chicago music scene stalwart Sam Prekop released his latest solo album, The Republic, which coaxed melodies and noise from a modular synthesizer. Expect to hear some new synth tunes and songs from his catalog at this special solo performance—we expect that Prekop will be accompanied by frequent collaborator Archer Prewitt. Jeremy Lemos and Peter Speer will open the show.

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Until Mon Feb 1

Killing Joke + The Soft Moon

Recommended

Harnessing a monstrous sound that influenced industrial acts like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, English band Killing Joke was ahead of its time when it began releasing albums in the early ’80s. These days, the reunited band’s output splits the difference between metal and shoegaze, demonstrating blissed-out guitars and heavy riffs on its new LP, Pylon. Moody synth-punk act the Soft Moon opens the show.

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Until Tue Feb 9

Daley

Recommended

He shares a surname with some of Chicago’s most infamous mayors, but Gareth Daley is a British R&B crooner who started, as most artists do, creating music in his bedroom. Early in his career, he caught the ear of Britpop Renaissance man Damon Albarn, who enlisted Daley to sing on the Gorillaz track “Doncamatic.” Daley's 2014 debut, Days & Nights, contrasts classic influences and modern production, sounding like Al Green serenading a drum machine.

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Until Thu Feb 11

Disappears

Recommended

Chicago krautrock act Disappears return to the Empty Bottle, taking a well-deserved victory lap in the wake of its 2015 record, Irreal. Most recently, the group released a recording of its reinterpretation of David Bowie's seminal 1977 release Low which lends visceral post-punk energy with hazy atmospherics to the moody album. Negative Scanner and Hide support.

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Until Fri Feb 12

Metric + Joywave

Pagans in Vegas, the latest album from new-wavey indie rockers Metric doesn't break the mold—it's another collection of upbeat anthems with soaring refrains. Sharing members with Broken Social Scene, the Canadian outfit has seen its profile rise in recent years, thanks to tours with acts like Imagine Dragons and Paramore. The kids must be alright with dance-rock these days. Brooklyn electro act Joywave opens the show.

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Until Fri Feb 12

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Recommended

Canadian outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor's records are seminal entries in the post-rock cannon, but the group's live shows have achieved a legendary status among genre fans. Backed by black and white film loop projections, the band stretches its already expansive instrumental compositions into lengthy medleys that blend triumphant guitar symphonies and cacophonous noise.

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Until Sun Feb 14

AC/DC

Recommended

Returning to Chicago after a sold-out gig at Wrigley Field last summer, AC/DC takes its classic rock indoors at the United Center. The band is still touring behind its 2014 album Rock or Bust, which sounds like all the rest, with stiff blues riffs and enough juvenile puns to fill a college ruled notebook ("Emission Control" is one of the more clever ones). Expect to see cannons, pyrotechnics and the shortest shorts that longtime-guitarist Angus Young can squeeze into.

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Until Wed Feb 17

Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Recommended

Alt-folk oddball Will Oldham (better known as Bonnie "Prince" Billy) has been unusually quiet as of late, save for a few singles. After reworking one of his more recent records, the usually prolific singer-songwriter is reaching back into the past once again, debuting a compilation of songs we recorded with longtime BBC DJ John Peel, entitled Pond Scum. Returning to the Vic, Oldham is likely to trot out plenty of old tunes (and probably a couple of new ones for good measure).

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Until Fri Jun 17

Future

Recommended

Five years ago, Future (the stage name of Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn) was releasing independently-produced mixtapes. Now he's debuting joint-tapes with his buddy Drake—What a Time to Be Alive, indeed. The Atlanta-native comes to Chicago behind his latest studio-album, DS2, which straddles the line between R&B and rapping, laying woozy trap beats beneath his Auto-Tuned Southern drawl. The subject matter (drugs, the cost of fame) may be dark, but Future's intensity is undeniably mesmerizing. Ty Dolla $ign and Lil Donald support.

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Until Thu Feb 18

TEEN

Recommended

TEEN is the brainchild of former Here We Go Magic member Teeny Lieberson along with her sisters and longtime friends. The all-female Brooklyn five-piece balances seductive R&B with taut vocal harmonies, creating kaleidoscopic arrangements. The quartet's latest, Love Yes, dials up the synthesizers and channels Pleasure Principle-era Gary Numan. Local synth-pop trio Songs for Gods opens the show.

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Until Sun Feb 21

Eleanor Friedberger

Recommended

While Chicago über-indie darlings the Fiery Furnaces sustain their not-broken-up hiatus, Eleanor Friedberger carries on with tunes from her latest solo album. New View, her third record, is another helping of jaunty, sophisticated pop which blends Friedberger's buoyant vocal melodies with the simple accompaniment of her backing band, Icewater.

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Until Wed Feb 24

Animal Collective + Ratking

Recommended

Made up of a group of friends with nicknames like Panda Bear, Avey Tare and Geologist, Animal Collective seems destined to become indie rock's Phish equivalent. The band has become known for its dense glitchy beatscapes, oddly stretched-out melodies and the synthesized digital mayhem of its epic live shows—all that's missing is a few mini-trampolines. Animal Collective's latest album, Painting With, seeks to rein in the band's more expansive tendencies without sacrificing its eclectic, strange sonic palette (case in point: The Beach Boys harmonies and springy synths of lead single "FloriDada").

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Until Sat Feb 27
See more Chicago concerts in February 2015

Art events in February 2016

"Zinzinnati Ohio USA: The Maps of Courttney Cooper"

Courttney Cooper isn't a trained cartographer, but his hand drawn maps of Cincinnati are more compelling than anything you'll find in an atlas. Using paper sourced from his day job at a grocery store, Cooper creates expansive, intricate pen drawings of the city's neighborhoods entirely from memory.

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Until Sun May 29

“Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions”

Get a look at the creative process behind Martin Puryear’s whimsical sculptures with this display of the contemporary artist’s personal sketchbooks, drawings and prints. A former Chicago resident, Puryear collaborated with the Art Institute, loaning the museum many pieces that have never been exhibited in public before.

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Until Tue May 3

"Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen"

Dutch artist and physicist Theo Jansen makes moving art, both figuratively and literaly. His giant Strandbeests are complex sculptures outfitted with sails that convert wind into kinetic energy that propels them forward. Eight of Jansen's creations will be on display at the Chicago Cultural Center, where visitors can also view sketches and photographs of his previous work.

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Until Sun May 1

"Peter Wächtler: Secrets of a Trumpet"

German artist Peter Wächtler presents his first solo-exhibit in the U.S., collecting watercolors, wooden sculptures and large bronze figures that draw inspiration from pop culture and the artist's own writing.

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Until Sun Apr 3

"Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times"

Much of the appeal of TV's British historical drama Downton Abbey, in addition to the soapy narratives and acidic one-liners from old folk, lies with the show's fantastic costumes. To celebrate the show's final season, the Driehaus Museum will showcase almost 40 costumes from the show's run, so the show's fans can see the fashion evolve over time, just like the characters we all know and love.

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Until Sun May 29

“Monster Roster: Existentialist Art in Postwar Chicago”

In the late ’40s, Chicago painter Leon Golub led a group of Midwest artists dubbed the “Monster Roster,” drawn together by their shared reverence for mythology and ancient art. The Smart Museum examines the lasting influence of the collective, bringing together a selection of major paintings and sculptures made by its members.

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Until Sun Jun 12

“Van Gogh’s Bedrooms”

Vincent van Gogh was so taken with his 1888 painting of his bedroom that he created two additional versions of the work, one of which resides in the Art Institute’s permanent collection. This exhibit explores the differences between the three paintings, in addition to 36 other works by the artist, including paintings, drawings and illustrated letters.

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Until Sun May 8

Theater in February 2016

The Flick

Recommended

Annie Baker's Pulitzer Prize winner, an intentionally languid three-hour portrait of employees at a movie theater, gets its Chicago premiere, helmed by Dexter Bullard.

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Until Sun May 8

Pop Waits

Malic White and Molly Brennan co-created this new Neo-Futurists show, billed as “an athletic, participatory, clown-rock opera” about songwriting that’s inspired in part by Iggy Pop and Tom Waits.

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Until Sat Mar 12

Far from Heaven

Porchlight Music Theatre mounts the Chicago premiere of the 2013 musical drawn from Todd Haynes's 2002 film, which inserted frank sexuality into a Douglas Sirk–esque 1950s domestic drama. The score is by Grey Gardens songwriters Michael Korie and Scott Frankel.

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Until Sun Mar 13

2666

Recommended

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.

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Until Sun Mar 20

Othello

James Vincent Meredith reprises the title role of the Moor of Venice, which he previously played at Writers Theatre in 2007, in a new Chicago Shakespeare Theatre production that sets the action on an American military base. Jonathan Munby directs.

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Until Sun Apr 10

Midnight Cowboy

Christopher Hainsworth adapts James Leo Herlihy’s 1965 novel about a would-be hustler from Texas on the streets of New York. The book was basis of the 1969 movie of the same name, the only X-rated film to win the Oscar for Best Picture.

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Until Sun Apr 10

If/Then

Recommended

This original musical by the Pulitzer Prize–winning Next to Normal team of Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey follows a woman along two divergent life paths, Sliding Doors–style.

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Until Sun Mar 6

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