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The ice ribbon at Maggie Daley Park.
Photograph: Martha Williams

January 2022 events calendar for Chicago

Begin the new year with events, festivals, concerts, theater and more great things to do in Chicago in January

Zach Long
Emma Krupp
Written by
Zach Long
&
Emma Krupp
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Welcome to 2022! January might not be the most exciting month our city has to offer, but you'll find there are still plenty of things to do this winter in Chicago if you know where to look. Catch the final days of Christmas lights in Chicago (they're still pretty, even when the holidays have passed) before they shut down for the season, and get some fresh winter air when you take a spin around the best ice skating rinks the city has to offer. If you'd rather stay inside, turn your attention to exhibitions at Chicago museums—the Art Institute's Barbara Kruger show runs until the end of the month, for instance—or treat yourself to a day of relaxation at a nearby spa. Ready to welcome a new year? Check our list of the best things to do in Chicago this January.  

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2022

Featured events in January 2022

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Wrigleyville

The holidays and all their associated markets and festivities might be over, but you'll still find plenty of ways to keep occupied this winter at Winterland, the 8,000-square-foot ice rink inside of Wrigleyville's Gallagher Way. In January, prepare to bop around in the rink's colorful ice bumper cars, which can be rented for 10-minute rides across the rink seven days a week. In February, learn how to curl during hour-long courses offered at the rink across two weeks of sessions. And of course, if you prefer to keep things simple, feel free to lace up and go skating through February 20. 

  • Time Out Market
  • West Loop

Every Sunday from 11am to 3pm, Time Out Market Chicago's chefs offer a variety of delicious brunch dishes, from Hangover Ramen with shrimp and smoked pork to a stack of Buttermilk Pancakes layered with whipped mascarpone. Order as much as you want, grab a mimosa pitcher from the bar and stick around from 1 to 3pm for a set of tunes from the Chicago Soul Jazz Collective. 

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  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • price 0 of 4
  • Millennium Park

Situated in the heart of downtown Chicago, with the city's sweeping skyline as a backdrop, the Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is a winter attraction unlike any other. Skaters can lace up and wind around a winding ice-covered path that's twice the length of a lap around a traditional rink. This year's edition of the ribbon will be decorated with designs inspired by Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers" and "Starry Night" paintings, a collaboration between the art exhibition "Immersive Van Gogh" and Chicago Park District.  Admission to the Skating Ribbon is free during weekdays if you bring your own skates; otherwise, reservations are $5 (with skates on weekends on holidays) or $16–$20 if you need to rent a pair. The Ribbon stays open through March (weather permitting) and even offers limited hours on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

  • Time Out Market
  • price 0 of 4
  • West Loop

On Friday and Saturday nights, the DJ Firm brings some of Chicago's top DJs to Time Out Market Chicago to spin tunes for guests. Enjoy a drink from the Time Out Market Bar or some delicious dishes from one of the food hall's many vendors while you listen (or dance) to the music.

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  • Art
  • price 2 of 4
  • Old Town

Step inside of Starry Night and The Bedroom in Arles with the help of more than 50 digital projectors in this high-tech exhibition that explores the work of Vincent Van Gogh. Designed by the Italian creative team that worked on the "Atelier des Lumières" exhibitions in Paris, "Immersive Van Gogh" covers 35-foot walls with animated versions of the Dutch painters work, accompanied by a score that blends electronic and classical compositions. The show takes up residence in the Germania Club Building in Old Town, which will go by the name Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago and host additional interactive art exhibitions in the coming years. Occupying four rooms in the space, the "Immersive Van Gogh" presentation is around 35-minutes in length, with mostly-identical projections displayed in each of the rooms throughout the show.

  • Comedy
  • price 0 of 4
  • Uptown

This weekly “live magazine” is 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 drinks, hot takes and laughs; the longstanding Saturday afternoon edition tends to run about two and a half hours.

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  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • price 0 of 4
  • Millennium Park

Skate under the Chicago skyline and within eyeshot of the Chicago Christmas Tree at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Admission to the rink is free, and you can rent skates for $13–$15. Plus, take advantage of free skating lessons on most Saturdays and Sundays from 8am–9am, where you can learn both beginner- and intermediate-level skills. Note that you'll need to make a free online reservation for both regular skating and lessons this year, and if it seems too warm to skate, call ahead—this rink is open through March 6, weather permitting.

  • Music
  • Folk, country and blues
  • price 2 of 4
  • Loop

Most people call January "the first month of the year" or "four weeks of taking my resolutions seriously," but Chicago blues fans know that it's actually "Buddy Guy month." Throughout the month, the legendary bluesman picks up his polka-dot guitar and takes the stage during a residency at the South Loop blues clubs that bears his name. Guy performs every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, with a different supporting act joining him each evening. This year, you'll see Guy paired with folks like local singer Demetria Taylor, California guitarist Leilani Kilgore amd veteran singer-songwriter John Primer. Tickets to Guy's January residency aren't exactly cheap, but witnessing a bonafide blues icon perform in his hometown is the kind of experience that's worth the dough.

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  • Art
  • Contemporary art
  • Grant Park

Don't call this one a retrospective. Yes, the Art Institute's exhibition of Barbara Kruger's work encompasses four decades of her career, but "THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU." isn't stuck in the past. Instead, the display takes Kruger's vintage works and presents it alongside new pieces that build upon them, unlocking new context and meaning. Spread throughout the museum, guests will find rooms wrapped in Kruger's imagery, installations in the Regenstein galleries and pieces that inhabit the exterior walls of the museum (as well as billboards, bus stops and storefronts around Chicago). Expect to see Kruger's biting sense of humor on display—often spelled out in big, bold letters.

  • Art
  • Public art
  • Streeterville

At first glance, The Plastic Bag Store is a corner store-type market like any other, complete with bins of produce, shelves lined with cereal boxes and freezers full of ready-to-eat meals. Take a closer look, though, and you'll quickly realize what's amiss: All the items in the store, right down to the brightly colored bananas and tomatoes in their cases, are made of plastic.  The Plastic Bag Store—part public art installation, part immersive puppet film experience—is the work of artist and puppeteer Robin Frohardt and her puppetry ensemble, who created the store to call attention to the lasting damages of consumerism and single-use plastics. Among the store's well-stocked shelves, visitors can browse items like "Lake O Bags" butter, "American Plastic" cigarettes and "Bagarino" frozen pizzas and countless other goods fashioned from discarded plastic packaging. It's a hyper-detailed and grim spectacle, inviting viewers to interrogate the overwhelming effects of our culture's plastic consumption—and how long its effects will linger on the Earth after we're gone.  You can tour The Plastic Bag Store for free when it comes to The Wrigley Building this January as part of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. Plus, catch timed screenings of Frohardt's immersive puppet film, a 60-minute story featuring puppets and shadow play to further elucidate the darker side to single-use plastics; tickets are $30 ($20 students). Check out the pop-up's full schedule below: The Plasti

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