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16 things to look forward to in Chicago in 2022

The upcoming year is packed with openings, exhibits and events—here's what we're most excited about.

Zach Long
Emma Krupp
Written by
Zach Long
Emma Krupp

It's nearly the end of 2021 and we've spent plenty of time looking back on the highlights of another strange 12 months—just take a look at the winners of the Best of the City Awards. Now, we're ready to look ahead, because there are plenty of reasons for Chicagoans to get excited about the coming year.

With conditions constantly changing throughout the city (and the world), there's no guarantee that the best-laid plans for 2022 will go off without a hitch. Like most people, we've become accustomed to last-minute cancelations and perpetual delays. But we're trying to remain optimistic, in spite of it all. Here are the events, opening and other happenings in Chicago that you can (hopefully) look forward to in 2022.

Chicago Pride Parade 2018
Photograph: Jordan Avery

The return of the Chicago Pride Parade

After being called off twice 2020, the organizers of the Chicago Pride Parade attempted to reschedule the annual procession for October 2021—but it was canceled as the Delta variant began to spread. Organizers are hoping that the parade's third rescheduled date is the charm, with the 2022 edition of the event slated to take place on its traditional date on the last Sunday of June (June 26). The Chicago Pride Parade typically attracts more than one million people, who line the route on the city's North Side. If everything goes as planned, we expect that the long-awaited return of the Pride Parade will be a particularly celebratory occasion.—Zach Long

The debut of two new local music venues 

Chicago is a city that's blessed with an abundance of amazing music venues, but the list of spots to catch a show will get a little longer in 2022. A new iteration of beloved Wicker Park venue the Double Door is set to open in Uptown at some point in 2022, taking over the former home of the Wilson Avenue Theater (1050 W Wilson Ave). Owners have been hosting some impromptu concerts in the space as work continues on the 750-capacity space, which also houses a lounge inside of an old bank vault. On Goose Island, entertainment collective 16″ on Center (Empty Bottle, Thalia Hall) are repurposing the old Morton Salt building as an indoor and outdoor complex that will host concerts and events. Currently going by the name Salt Shed Chicago, the space may host its first show (under a restored roof featuring the iconic Morton Salt Girl mural) sometime this summer.—ZL

More Divvy e-bikes are on the way

Love to pedal around the city with the assistance of an electric motor? Chicago bikeshare service Divvy began adding a new e-bike model to its fleet in early December, and even more of the sleek rides will become available in the coming months. Eventually, 2,000 of the e-bikes—featuring a more powerful motor, a hydraulic brake and a reflective paint job—will be distributed throughout the city. Keep an eye on your closest Divvy dock!—ZL

Color Factory
Photograph: Cody Bless

New interactive exhibits are coming to the Loop

From the WNDR Museum to  “Immersive Van Gogh,” it’s been a busy few years for immersive art exhibitions in Chicago. The trend continues in 2022 with the arrival of two more big-name installations that will set up shop in the Loop over the next six months: First, the Color Factory—famous for multi-sensory, color-focused art exhibitions—brings its biggest-ever exhibit to the Willis Tower in the spring. In the summer, the extremely Instagram-friendly Museum of Ice Cream arrives at The Shops at Tribune Tower with installations like a dessert-themed putt-putt course and a pool of colorful sprinkles (as seen in the museum’s New York City location).—Emma Krupp

Chicago is hosting the first-ever Golden Girls convention

Show off your love for Blanche, Sophia, Dorothy and Rose next year at Golden-Con: Thank You For Being a Fan, the first-ever fan convention in honor of the beloved ‘80s sitcom Golden Girls. The convention is set to take place April 22–24 at venues throughout Northalsted—expect to mingle with scores of other fans at a “Greatest Gift” Vendor’s Market, catch parody shows from Hell in a Handbag, march in a costume parade, test your knowledge at trivia nights and eat plenty of cheesecake.EK

Hop Butcher to the World opens its new taproom

Chicago craft beer nerds lost a beloved local taproom when Half Acre announced that it was vacating its Lincoln Avenue digs earlier this year, consolidating its operations in its spacious Balmoral facility. But the end of one taproom marks the beginning of another, with buzzy local brewery Hop Butcher to the World set to take over Half Acre's former space in 2022. Hop Butcher closed on the building (4257 N Lincoln Ave) in December and will likely begin brewing and serving its extra-hoppy hazy IPAs (and some other fun beers) in the space at some point in 2022.—ZL

Pizza Lobo
Photograph: Wade McElroy

Pizza Lobo arrives in Andersonville

Last year, the arrival of Pizza Lobo’s 4,000-square-foot Logan Square patio offered a welcome haven for outdoor dining amid waves of closures and social distancing requirements (and the pizza is pretty delicious, too). We’ll have even more opportunities to dine alfresco in 2022 when the restaurant brings its New York-style slices and pies to a second location at the intersection of Clark Street and Catalpa Avenue in Andersonville, with a patio that promises to be “even bigger” than that of its massive Logan Square outpost, according to Block Club Chicago.—EK

Musical adaptations of beloved movies will have pre-Broadway premieres

After a two-year delay, two beloved mid-2000s movies are finally getting the pre-Broadway stage treatment in Chicago, and we wouldn’t be surprised if they wind up being the city’s hottest theater tickets in years. Up first is epic romantic drama The Notebook, which is headed to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater from March 15–April 24 with music and lyrics from singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson. Then, watch a singing version of Miranda Priestly take to the stage when The Devil Wears Prada arrives at the Nederlander Theatre from July 19–August 21 featuring music from none other than Sir Elton John.—EK

Some major art exhibitions are coming to Chicago museums

Have you already taken in the Barbara Kruger "anti-retrospective" at the Art Institute, the Vivian Maier display at the Chicago History Museum and more of the best Chicago museum exhibitions? Don't worry, there'll be more amazing things to see in galleries throughout the city in 2022. We're particularly stoked about a retrospective of Chicago artist Nick Cave called "Forothremore", which will bring the artist's distinctive Soundsuits and an expansive installation of kinetic spinners to the Museum of Contemporary Art on May 14. Fans of post-Impressionist paintings will want to see the Art Institute's new exhibition devoted to French artist Paul Cezanne, best known for his vivid landscapes and still lifes—it goes on display on May 15.—ZL

Frida: Immersive Dream
Photograph: Michael Browsilow

An immersive Frida Kahlo exhibition replaces Van Gogh

Goodbye, Vincent van Gogh and hello, Frida Kahlo. Starting February 24, the blockbuster immersive exhibition “Immersive Van Gogh” will be replaced by “Frida: Immersive Dream,” a new visual spectacle that showcases some of Kahlo’s most iconic paintings—plus drawings, iconography and photos of the artist—as eye-catching animated projections.—EK

Rock (and pop) stars are coming to stadiums and arenas

With a few exceptions, the past two years have been light on gigantic arena shows featuring some of music's biggest stars. But Chicago's 2022 concert calendar is already packed with notable shows in some of the city's biggest venues, including Elton John (Feb 2, 3) and Justin Bieber (May 9, 10) at the United Center as well as Coldplay (May 28, 29) and Red Hot Chili Peppers (Aug 19) at Soldier Field. Plus, country music festival Windy City Smokeout will be back in the United Center parking lot August 4-7, with headlining sets form Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert and Willie Nelson.—ZL

Chicago's third-tallest building welcomes guests

Since it was completed in 2020, we've grown accustomed to the silhouette of the St. Regis Chicago (formerly known as the Wanda Vista Tower) amid Chicago's skyline—and we haven't been able to stop thinking about what it might be like to spend a night inside the Jeanne Gang-designed skyscraper. Condos in the 101-story building are pricey, so we're looking forward to the opening of the St. Regis Chicago Hotel, which occupies the first 11 floors and is set to open in August 2022. Fine dining institution Alinea has nixed its plans to open restaurants in the building, but hotel guests will have access to a luxurious spa and an indoor pool.—ZL

Mike Birbiglia
Photograph: Evan Sung

An exciting season at Steppenwolf Theatre

A revival of Bug starring Carrie Coon was only the beginning of Steppenwolf's latest season of stage productions. February brings the debut of 1919, an adaptation of local poet Eve Ewing collection of prose dealing with the riots that broke out in Chicago after a 17-year-old Black boy was killed at a segregated beach on Lake Michigan. In March, Steppenwolf presents the world premiere of King James, a play by ensemble member Rajiv Joseph that explores basketball star LeBron James' impact on Cleveland, Ohio through the eyes of two young sports fans. Finally, comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia arrives in April for a four-week run of his new solo show, The Old Man and the Pool, collecting humorous (and serious) tales about life, death and a YMCA pool.—ZL

The Field Museum's renovated Native North America Hall

Created with the help of 11 Native American scholars and representative of more than 100 Tribes, the Field Museum's Native North America Hall is getting a huge overhaul in 2022 in the form of a new exhibition opening on May 20. Called "Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories," the exhibit focuses on stories told by Native Americans, augmented by contemporary art, poetry, photography and historical objects from the Field Museum's collection. By putting the spotlight on individuals rather than artifacts, the Field Museum hopes to offer new perspectives on Native American culture that challenge stereotypes.—ZL

A New York Times journalist’s memoir becomes an opera

When it premiered at New York’s Metropolitan Opera earlier this year, Fire Shut Up in My Bones—a new opera based on New York Times columnist Charles Blow’s memoir of the same name—earned impressive reviews for translating the oftentimes traumatic details of Blow’s Louisiana upbringing to the stage with tender insight. The production comes to the Lyric Opera from March 24–April 8, rounding out what’s already been a strong season.—EK 

EXPO Chicago brings amazing art to Navy Pier

Contemporary and modern art fair EXPO Chicago hosted a virtual edition of its event in early 2021, but it's hard to replicate the experience of entering a hall filled with paintings and sculptures in the digital realm. A traditional, in-person version of the art gathering is set to take place at Navy Pier from April 7–10, bringing together galleries and artists from around the globe. Whether you're a collector or just like admiring art, there's always a wealth of creativity on display.—ZL

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