Get us in your inbox

Search
Two actors embrace as Catherine and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights
Photograph: Muriel Steinke

The best things to do in Chicago this week

Find the very best things to do in Chicago this week including cultural events, festivals and art.

Emma Krupp
Jeffy Mai
Edited by
Emma Krupp
&
Jeffy Mai
Advertising

Looking for fun activities to do this week? You’ve come to the right place. Check out a museum, go ice skating, make reservations at some of the best spots in town during Chicago Restaurant Week or go see renowned productions like Chicago and Hansel & Gretel. There’s even more in our list below, so scroll through our roundup of the best things to do in Chicago this week and start planning your calendar.

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Chicago this weekend

Stay in the loop: sign up for our free Time Out Chicago newsletter to get the latest  updates on cool stuff happening across the city.

Best events and things to do in Chicago this week

  • Restaurants
  • Loop

Open wide! Chicago Restaurant Week is back for its 16th year. More than 330 Chicagoland eateries will offer specially curated prix fixe menus for brunch ($25), lunch ($25) or dinner ($42/$59) between January 20 and February 5. With more than two weeks to chow down, there's plenty of time to make a few reservations and check out some of the best restaurants in Chicago. Look through our top recommendations here.

  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Loop

Chicago, Chicago. Chicago, Chicago. The 1975 Kander and Ebb musical, based on Maurine Dallas Watkins's 1926 true-ish crime play, ran for a little over two years in its original Broadway production, and the stripped-down 1996 revival version is now more than 25 years old. The touring production makes its umpteenth brief stop in the city it's named after, for a two-week run. You’ll be able to catch it from January 17-29 at the CIBC Theatre.

Advertising
  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Loop

The classic fairytale of Hansel and Gretel comes to life for six performances at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Engelbert Humperdinck’s whimsical masterpiece transports audiences to a strange and twisted world of discovery, where they’ll be moved by musical gems like “Dream Ballet,” “Evening Prayer” and “Witch’s Ride.” The production is sung in German, with English subtitles projected above the stage.

  • Theater
  • Puppet shows

Can't get enough of marionettes? You'll love the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, which brings puppeteers from across the globe to the city for 12 days of symposiums and more than 100 performances and events. This year marks the festival’s first-ever establishment of a “puppet hub,” which includes site-specific events throughout different spaces in the Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue—take a look around to find everything from a puppet-themed cafe to film screenings in the building’s massive Studebaker Theater. Outside the hub, find productions like a puppet rendition of Hamlet at The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center and a free touring production of My Night in the Planetarium. For a full list of performances, visit the festival’s website

Advertising
  • Museums
  • Museum Campus

Escape the planet with exhibits about the first lunar missions, the solar system and more, plus immersive shows in the dome theater. The Doane Observatory is also home to the largest public telescope in the area, and gathers 7,000 times more light than the human eye. Every Wednesday, the Adler stays open late from 4pm-10pm so that folks can visit after work or school. And best of all, admission is free on those nights for Illinois residents.

Advertising
  • Theater
  • Experimental
  • Streeterville

British theatermaker Emma Rice brings her acclaimed adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights to Chicago Shakespeare Theater for this UK co-production, which employs music, dance and puppetry for an unconventional take on the gothic tale.  

  • Things to do

To get in the shopping spirit this season, stroll through Edgewater Chamber of Commerce’s Winter Bryn Mawrkets, where you can peruse stellar work by makers from all over the windy city from wellness to apparel. Explore the festive stalls and pick up a gift for yourself or someone on your list. Don’t miss the one-of-a-kind art installations and purchase art to take home at the Winter Bryn Mawrkets Gallery. Check out their website for the full list of local vendors you'll find there.

Paid content
Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Literary events
  • Logan Square

The Whistler’s monthly lit series returns for the first time since before the pandemic, bringing an evening of readings, workshopping and discussion to the Logan Square cocktail bar. Looking to share your work? Get in touch with organizers at testliteraryseries@gmail.com—the team eventually hopes to compile all workshopped pieces in an anthology at the end of the year. 

  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Ukrainian Village

Add some shopping to your Saturday morning brunch routine by visiting Handmade Market at the Empty Bottle. You can sip a mimosa while checking out the wares of local vendors selling funky jewelry, clothing, handbags and paper crafts. You probably need a gift for someone—or yourself—right? Handmade Market takes over the Bottle on the second Saturday of the month from October through April.

Advertising
  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Wicker Park

Chicago farmers market season is well past its peak, but you can still get in on the fresh produce action during this winter edition of the Wicker Park market, which is popping up inside The Robey’s lobby on select Sundays from December through April. Browse goods from vendors like River Valley Ranch, Star Farm and Zeitlins Delicatessen—and you can always grab a coffee from The Robey’s espresso bar to sip while you stock up. 

  • Theater
  • Lake View

Jasmine Sharma’s introspective and empowering play Radial Gradient makes its world premiere at Theater Wit and will run through March 11. The story revolves around three women who enter a research study hoping to create positive change after a hate crime takes place at a liberal university in America. Timelines in 2017 and 2020 intertwine as the participants unravel their complicated shared friendships and histories.

Radial Gradient will be featured as part of Chicago Theatre Week, an annual celebration of the rich tradition of theatre-going in Chicago during which visitors and residents can purchase $15 or $30 value-priced tickets.

Advertising
  • Art
  • Contemporary art
  • Streeterville

What does “Caribbean art” look like? This new group exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art takes a diasporic approach to answering that question, using weather—and all its changeability and unpredictability—as a metaphor for exploring artistic practices and identity-making within Caribbean art communities across the world. With the tumultuous geopolitical climate of the 1990s as its backdrop, the exhibit highlights work from 37 international artists; it’s also the first major MCA exhibition to presented in both Spanish and English. 

  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • Millennium Park

Skate under the Chicago skyline and within eyeshot of the Chicago Christmas Tree at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Plus, take advantage of free skating lessons on most Saturdays and Sundays from 9–10am, 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 5, weather permitting.

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • 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. Reservations for the popular ice rink should be made in advance, as they tend to fill up quickly.

Admission to the Skating Ribbon is free Monday through Thursday and for 11am sessions Friday through Sunday (and $5 for other time slots Friday through Sunday, as well as holidays) if you bring your own skates. No skates? Entry is $16–$22 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.

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Loop

Pullman has long been recognized for its history as one of the country’s first industrial company towns, and a nexus for the burgeoning U.S. labor rights movement at the turn of the 20th century. Yet while South Pullman receives investments for architectural preservation and revitalization, North Pullman—though built around the same time as its southern counterpart—features neglected buildings in need of restoration. In this new exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago-based architect Armel Sagbohan maps both sides of the neighborhood using photos and sketches to propose a plan to address that divide, envisioning a new future for North Pullman that considers the unique needs of the neighborhood and its residents. 

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Streeterville

Yer a wizard, Harry! Or at least, you can pretend to be one at this immersive Harry Potter experience that’s popping up at Water Tower Place through May 2023. Visitors are invited to step into Harry’s life at Hogwarts with interactive features like Quidditch lessons, Charms and Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, sipping sweet drinks at the Butterbeer Bar, Patronus-seeking in the Forbidden Forest and learning their Hogwarts house via the Sorting Hat, among other magical experiences. FYI: In addition to regular operating hours, the exhibition is open on “select” Tuesdays and Wednesdays and may offer different hours around holidays. 

Advertising
  • Museums
  • Science and technology
  • Hyde Park

Tap into feelings of childhood nostalgia at the Museum of Science and Industry’s newest exhibit, a colorful glimpse into the world of Mold-A-Rama™ machines. Explore a collection of popular, rare and experimental souvenirs, learn about the history of the machines’ production and breathe in the iconic scent of their plastic toymaking—you can even take home a few new Mold-A-Rama™ souvenirs if you’re looking to expand your collection. 

  • Comedy
  • 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.

Advertising
  • Museums
  • Natural history
  • Museum Campus

Delve into the often-mystifying process of death in this surprisingly life-affirming exhibit at the Field Museum, which explores dying through a variety of natural and cultural processes. Attendees can explore highlights like a full-sized ofrenda made by Chicago artist Norma Rios-Sierra, a replica of a whale's body on the ocean floor and check out a variety of interactive media and soundscapes to help ponder some of life's big questions about death. 

  • Art
  • Arts centers
  • Humboldt Park

Working in partnership with the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture is bringing a stunning selection of paintings to Chicago—some of which have never been shown outside of Puerto Rico—for an exhibition highlighting several of the island's most important artists. Centered around three curatorial themes (“My Home,” “My People” and “My Island”), the works span from the 18th century to the first half of the 20th century, showcasing artists like José Campeche, Francisco Oller, Miguel Pou and Myrna Báez, among others. Tickets to the exhibition are free, but you might consider a small online donation to the Museo de Arte de Ponce, which is still recovering from damage sustained in a 2020 earthquake.  

Advertising
  • Comedy
  • Sketch shows
  • Lake View

Bye Bye Liver combines two robust Chicago traditions: comedy and heavy drinking. The show opened a decade ago for a three-week run, then kept getting extended. A cast of four to six performers portray characters at the fictional "Franks Bar," telling stories that explore the city's robust drinking culture. Each show incorporates interactive audience drinking games, allowing you to sip a cocktail or beer while taking cues from the cast. And if you're up for a nightcap after the performance, you can stick around for the official after party and mingle with the cast.

Advertising
  • Theater
  • Experimental
  • Uptown

For more than 30-years, the Neo-Futurists have been delighting late-night crowds with performances that pack 30 miniature plays into a 60-minute show. Returning to in-person programming (attendees must be vaccinated and masked) after more than a year spent in the virtual realm, the company's signature show is more unpredictable than ever, with a handful of compact new plays premiering every week. Within the span of 10 minutes, you may be treated to a poignant monologue about everyday life or an irreverent diatribe delivered by a pantsless member of the cast—all inspired by the experiences of the performers on stage. Always changing and evolving, it's the rare show that truly offers something different everytime you show up to see it.

Recommended

    More on Love Local

      You may also like
      You may also like
      Advertising

      The best things in life are free.

      Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

      Loading animation
      Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

      🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

      Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!