October 2018 events calendar for Chicago

Plot out your October in Chicago with our calendar of things to do, including the best theater and concerts
Arts in the Dark
Photograph: Courtesy Arts in the Dark
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The spookiest month of the year is officially upon us, packed with events that will make you feel lucky that you're in Chicago. Make a sign and cheer on tireless runners along the Chicago Marathon's sprawling 26.2-mile route. Get a new perspective while touring the interiors of some of the city's most beautiful buildings during Open House Chicago. Of course, you'll want to put on a costume and close out October with some frightening Halloween festivities.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2018

Featured events in October 2018

Jack o Lantern
Photograph: Pixabay
Things to do, Festivals

Jack's Pumpkin Nights

icon-location-pin River West/West Town
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Want to run through a corn maze without making a trip to the suburbs? Jack's Pumpkin Nights, a new Halloween-themed pop-up experience, brings the seasonal outdoor fun to a two-acre lot near Goose Island. Guests can enjoy pumpkin carving, carnival games and nightly live performances from sword swallowers and fire dancers. Plus, there's a bar inside of the corn maze stocked with beer and cider. 

Christine McVie returns to the stage with Fleetwood Mac at a packed Allstate Arena on Feb 14, 2015.
Photograph: Joshua Mellin
Music, Rock and indie

Fleetwood Mac

icon-location-pin United Center
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Just when we thought that the classic, Rumours-era lineup of Fleetwood Mac was back together for good, the group recently announced that founding member Lindsey Buckingham was kicked out of the band. He'll be replaced on tour by Tom Petty guitarist Mike Campbell and Crowded House frontman Neil Finn—two experienced musicians who certainly know their way around tracks like “Gold Dust Woman” and “Tusk.”  Of course, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Christine McVie are still in the group, so hopefully their soaring vocal harmonies are enough to cover up Buckingham's conspicuous absence. 

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Things to do, Festivals

Lincoln Square Apple Fest

icon-location-pin Lincoln Square
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Kick off autumn with hot apple cider, freshly baked apple pie and a variety of other apple-based goods at this annual Lincoln Square festival where Giddings Plaza transforms into an urban apple orchard. Let your kids loose in the Kid Zone while sipping hard cider then keep the apple love going and take home your own bushel.

chicago marathon 2017
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Things to do

Bank of America Chicago Marathon

icon-location-pin Millennium Park
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Every October, 45,000 runners hit the streets of Chicago and take a 26.2 mile tour of the city by foot. It may be too late to enter the race (and complete weeks of training), but you can still line the streets and support participants as they make their way through the course. Head to neighborhoods like Pilsen, Chinatown and Lincoln Park to cheer on the runners and watch the race fly by.

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Beer
Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do, Festivals

Far & Away

icon-location-pin Millennium Park
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Looking for beers that you can almost never find on tap in Chicago? Half Acre's new Far & Away event gathers some of the nation's top breweries—including Fremont, Jackie O's, Jester King and Mikkeller—for two sessions of tasting atop the Harris Theater Rooftop Terrace. In addition to trying sought-after beers, you'll also be supporting a great cause—a portion of proceeds from the event support the Intonation Music Workshop, which provides music education for Chicago youth.

Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Rare and Wild Beer Fest

icon-location-pin Museum Campus
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Barrel ages, funky and sour beers take the spotlight at this annual festival, which takes place in the Field Museum's Stanley Field Hall. You'll find rare and sought-after selections from the likes of Hopewell, Noon Whistle, Surly and more than 60 other breweries in attenance at the festival. Each ticket includes 50 tasting vouchers, which you can use to sample any of the beers being poured. 

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1013.chi.at.ohcLincolnPark12.jpg
Photograph: Mark Wright
Things to do, Festivals

Open House Chicago

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Want to walk inside some of the city's most amazing structures? The Chicago Architecture Center offers a behind-the-scenes look at more than 250 buildings throughout the city, allowing you to explore chruches, skyscrapers, historic homes, theaters and more. You can admire the skyline from atop buildings in the Loop, travel to Beverly to poke around a building modeled after an Irish castle or head to Edgewater to see the pool in the Edgewater Beach Apartments. All tours are free and first-some, first-served, so plot our your list and prepare to explore Chicago all weekend long.

Things to do

Yoga on the Lake

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park
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Wake up and get down (dog) at Yoga on the Lake presented by Bloody Mary Fest. Before the festival begins, roll out a mat at Theater on the Lake and participate in a 60-minute vinyasa flow lead by Yoga Squad. After breaking a sweat at the morning workout, guests can sip brunch cocktails and munch on breakfast tacos from Pink Taco. Of course, you can also spring for an all-day ticket and stick around for the Bloody Mary competition, which begins at noon. 

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Things to do, Festivals

Bloody Mary Fest

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park
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Do Sunday Funday right with Chicago Sport & Social’s annual Bloody Mary battle. Hosted at Theater on the Lake, the event features savory brunch cocktails from some of Chicago's top restaurants and bars. Guests are invited to taste their way through the lineup and vote for a winner. In addition to Bloodys, enjoy brunch bites, two full drinks, live music, lawn games and an artisan market. VIP ticket holders get express entry, access to a private seating area, an extra full-size drink and a festival souvenir.

Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Ideas Week

icon-location-pin Loop
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Learn more about politics, technology, criminal justice, the human body and other interesting topics at the annual Chicago Ideas Week. The week-long event brings together more than 200 thought leaders from a variety of fields for a series of discussions and panels that take place in front of a live audience. This year's Chicago Ideas Week lineup features former Secretary of State John Kerry, #TimesUp co-founder Amber Tamblyn, Sorry to Bother You director Boots Riley, gun control activist David Hogg and comedian Chris Gethard. Discussions on the schedule include a breakdown of blockchain technology, a deep dive into life's biggest questions, a talk about overcoming fear and panel that tackles taboo topics.

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Gorillaz
Illustration: Jamie Hewlett
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Gorillaz + The Internet

icon-location-pin United Center
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Last summer, Damon Albarn and his cartoon band threw a house music dance party on the shores of Lake Michigan when Gorillaz kicked off its North American tour in Chicago. A little more than a year later, the group has a new album, The Now Now, which functions as a solo record by animated Gorillaz frontman 2D. The group's latest electro-pop ballads don't quite live up to the cosmic funk that Albarn explored on Humanz, but the project's new arena show should be as thrilling as ever—expect sing-along renditions of "Clint Eastwood" and " Stylo" as well as apperances from a few special guests (Vince Staples, Jamie Principle and Del the Funky Homosapien showed up in Chicago last summer). Los Angeles neo-soul outfit the Internet open the show.

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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Arts in the Dark
Photograph: Courtesy Arts in the Dark
Things to do, Festivals

Arts in the Dark

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Celebrate Halloween a few days early at the Arts in the Dark parade, which sends a string of performers, puppets, lanterns and floats through the streets of Chicago. Local artists help create most of the costumes and objects featured in the parade, making this annual tradition a celebration of local creativity (as well as spooky sights). This year, the procession moves from Grant Park to State Street, where it will begin at Lake Street and move south to Van Buren. 

Nine Inch Nails deliver an industrial set in Grant Park at Lollapalooza Music Festival 2013 on Friday, August 2.
Photograph: cousindaniel.com
Music, Rock and indie

Nine Inch Nails + The Jesus and Mary Chain

icon-location-pin Uptown
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Ever since reviving Nine Inch Nails in 2013, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have made a point of pushing the group forward rather than dwelling on the past. How else do you explain the nearly relentless stream of albums and EPs, each exploring a slightly different strain of NIN's industrial alt-rock sound. That's not to say that the pair have put the past behind them—NIN's headlining set at Riot Fest in 2017 felt like an encapsulation of the group's best work, buoyed by years of experience and a fanbase that's willing to let Reznor indulge in whatever he likes. Expect to hear some David Bowie-inspired tunes from the latest NIN album, Bad Witch, during the band's three-night stand at the Aragon Ballroom.

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Kids

Spooky Zoo

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park
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This fun and free alternative to trick-or-treating attracts more than 30,000 kiddos and their families to the zoo each year. The fall-filled festival features Ferris wheel rides, a corn maze, animal-enrichment activities, live entertainment and a pumpkin carver. Come in costume and prepare to have a ghoulish good time! 

Tom Hanks
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Humanities Festival
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Humanities Festival: Graphic!

icon-location-pin Loop
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Devoted to making the humanities a vibrant and exciting part of everyday life, this ambitious event brings together some of the world's best and brightest individuals to celebrate human creativity. The theme the Chicago Humanities Festival's fall lineup is “Graphic!,” exploring the various facets of visual culture as well as the ways in which it is rapidly evolving. Among this year's slate of guests are Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks, Broad City co-creator and star Abbi Jacobson, Two Dope Queens co-creator and podcast host Phoebe Robinson, Getty Images photographer John Moore and comic book artist Alex Ross. You can find a complete list of Chicago Humanities Festival panels and discussions on its official website.

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northalsted halloween parade, 2017
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Things to do

Northalsted Halloween Parade

icon-location-pin Lake View
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You'll see some of the best Halloween costumes in the city in Boystown each October, as the Northalsted Halloween Parade takes over the neighborhood. Drag queens, kids, parents and pets show up for the annual processions, which features stunning outfits, synchronized dances and more. Registration begins a few hours before the parade takes off from Halsted Street and Belmont Avenue, making its way north to Addison Street.  

Concerts in October 2018

A Place to Bury Strangers
Photograph: Ebru Yildiz
Music, Rock and indie

A Place to Bury Strangers + Kraus + Dusted

icon-location-pin Ukrainian Village
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While the group may not actually be “the loudest band in New York,” your eardrums will still be tested by the piercing squalls that A Place to Bury Strangers’ custom guitar pedals produce. On Pinned, the group brings former Le Butcherettes drummer Lia Simone Braswell into fold, providing pounding rhythms and backing vocals that lend a bit of range to the droning compositions. Texas shoegazers Kraus and Toronto rockers Dusted (featuring Brian Borcherdt of Holy Fuck) support.

Nine Inch Nails deliver an industrial set in Grant Park at Lollapalooza Music Festival 2013 on Friday, August 2.
Photograph: cousindaniel.com
Music, Rock and indie

Nine Inch Nails + The Jesus and Mary Chain

icon-location-pin Uptown
icon-calendar

Ever since reviving Nine Inch Nails in 2013, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have made a point of pushing the group forward rather than dwelling on the past. How else do you explain the nearly relentless stream of albums and EPs, each exploring a slightly different strain of NIN's industrial alt-rock sound. That's not to say that the pair have put the past behind them—NIN's headlining set at Riot Fest in 2017 felt like an encapsulation of the group's best work, buoyed by years of experience and a fanbase that's willing to let Reznor indulge in whatever he likes. Expect to hear some David Bowie-inspired tunes from the latest NIN album, Bad Witch, during the band's three-night stand at the Aragon Ballroom. Thanks to a special arrangement with Ticketmaster, fans waited in line for tickets to these shows back in May, so you may need to call in some favors if you didn't queue up.

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Beacon_102010_
Photograph: Rebecca Taylor
Music, Rock and indie

Elton John

icon-location-pin United Center
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With the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, Sir Elton is saying a final goodbye to the touring life. That's right—this is your final chance (at least until he comes to Allstate Arena in February) to catch the rollicking songman live in person, as he takes the audience on a massive visual journey spanning his entire 50-year career. Swoon along to "Tiny Dancer," make juvenile hand gestures to "Crocodile Rock" and smile meaningfully at your folks during "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" here for one last time.

Phish
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rock and indie

Phish

icon-location-pin Suburbs
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Nearly every year, jam band veterans Phish come to Chicago to unleash some winding melodies for a crowd of local “phans.” This time around, the group abandons its frequent haunt of Northerly Island and takes its show north to Allstate Arena in Rosemont, where it will host three consecutive evenings of shows. Trey Anastasio and company haven't put out a new album since 2016's Big Boat, but the group has plenty of classic tunes to noodle its way through.

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Music, Rock and indie

Ween

icon-location-pin Uptown
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Start assembling your Boognish costume and learn the lyrics to “Mutilated Lips” because reunited rockers Ween are coming back to Chicago on HalloWEEN. The group's eclectic musical taste are still the main attraction—throughout a typical setlist, you'll hear virtuosic takes on punk rock, funk, country and soul-tinged tunes, often within the course of just a few minutes. With no new material in sight since Gene and Dene Ween decided to hit the road again, all of your favorite tracks are fair game at this spooky Aragon Ballroom gig.

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