The best things to do in Chicago this week

Find the very best things to do in Chicago this week including cultural events, concerts, festivals and more
Chicago Ideas Week
Courtesy: Chicago Ideas Week Chicago Ideas Week
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Halloween is still a few weeks away, but you'll find some scary events in Chicago this week, including the Arts in the Dark parade on State Street and the Spooky Pooch Parade at the Chicago Botanic Garden. This week also boasts a frighteningly good concert lineup, including animated electro-pop act Gorillaz, pop diva Christina Aguilera and experimental British outfit Beak>. Don't forget about the kick-off of Chicago Ideas Week, which features discussions with Secretary of State John Kerry, #TimesUp co-founder Amber Tamblyn, Sorry to Bother You director Boots Riley and more prominent thought leaders. Plus, you can see an art show featuring works by serial killers, sample vino at the Wine Riot and get lost in the corn maze at Jack's Pumpkin Pop-up. Read on to find even more of the best things to do in Chicago this week.

Best things to do in Chicago this week

Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Ideas Week

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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. You can find a complete schedule of events on the Chicago Ideas Week website.  

Photograph: Courtesy Wine Riot
Things to do

Wine Riot

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Sample wines from around the globe paired with bites from some of Chicago's top restaurants at Wine Riot. After you've sipped your way through pours of riesling, merlot and pinot noir, sit down for a quick seminars or check out the Bubble Bar, where you'll find prosecco, cava and champagne. 

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Pop-Up Magazine
Photograph: Courtesy Pop-Up Magazine
Things to do, Talks and lectures

Pop-Up Magazine

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Journalists, writers, filmmakers, photographers, poets and musicians take part in a multimedia variety show that's designed to capture the feeling on flipping through the pages of your favorite magazine. At the latest Chicago edition of Pop-Up Magazine, you'll see author Rebecca Skloot, photographer Lara Shipley, criminal justice reporter Albert Samaha and more guests take the stage, accompanied by music from Magik*Magik Orchestra.

UniverSoul Circus
Photograph: Boon Vong
Things to do

Universoul Circus

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Blending old-school tunes, contemporary hip-hop and classic circus acts, the UniverSoul Circus celebrates its 25th anniversary with another month-long residency in Chicago. Head to Washington Park and you'll see a slew of stunts, including new ballerina, trampoline and aerial acts as well as the event's signature Soul Train line. Everything that happens under the big top is family-friendly, so feel free to bring along the little ones.

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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. 

Spooky Pooch
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Botanic Garden
Things to do

Spooky Pooch Parade

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Dogs aren't usually allowed in the Chicago Botanic Garden, but the exception to that rule is the annual Spooky Pooch Parade. Pups and their owners dress up, compete for prizes and celebrate Halloween. You'll need to register if you want to bring your dog, but admission is free for spectators.

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Photograph: Courtesy Graveface Records
Art, Painting

Graveface Serial Killer and Oddball Art Show

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Independent label Graveface Records presents a special art exhibition at Odd Obsession, featuring 20 paintings by convicted serial killer (and Chicago native) John Wayne Gacy. Visitors will also be able to see drawings made by Charles Manson, as well as pieces by serial killers Henry Lee Lucas, Phillip Carl Jablonski and Richard Ramirez. Graveface is also bringing along some small taxidermy and enamel pins (not made by serial killers, as far as we know) that guests will be able to purchase.

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

A Place to Bury Strangers + Kraus + Dusted

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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.

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Shopping, Antiques

Vintage Garage

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Score an awesome midcentury piece, impeccable ’70s gear, or beef up your vinyl collection at this North Side market in, yes, an Uptown parking garage. Markets run on the third Sunday of each month from April to October—each with a different theme.

Green Book
Photograph: Patti Perret
Movies

Chicago International Film Festival

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Film buffs get a chance to see the hottest movies on the festival circuit at the Chicago International Film Festival, which presents a lineup of dramas, documentaries, comedies, foreign films and more. The screenings take place at AMC River East 21, where you'll be able to catch Beautiful Boy starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased and Steve McQueen’s Widows. With more than 100 films being screened throughout the festival, you're sure to find something you want to see.

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Jack o Lantern
Photograph: Pixabay
Things to do, Festivals

Jack's Pumpkin Pop-up

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Want to run through a corn maze without making a trip to the suburbs? Jack's Pumpkin Pop-up, 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. 

Karl Wirsum. Youdue, c. 1966.
Photograph: Courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago
Art, Contemporary art

“Hairy Who? 1966–1969”

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In 1966, School of the Art Institute graduates Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca and Karl Wirsum presented a group show at the Hyde Park Art Center, exhibiting together under the moniker of "Hairy Who." The artists went on to present five more shows, displaying bold, humorous art that was inspired by everything from comic books to sign painters. The Art Institute's latest exhibition presents work that was displayed during one of the six Hairy Who shows—much of which hasn't been seen publically since the ‘60s.

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Music, Folk, country and blues

Logan Center Bluesfest

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The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts honors the tradition of blues music on the South Side of Chicago with a three-day festival highlighting local and national musicians. This year's lineup includes plenty of free shows, including performances by former Muddy Waters guitarist John Primer, composer Bill Sims Jr. and singer Billy Branch. In the evenings, you'll find ticketed concerts featuring harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite and Texas blues and gospel singer songwriter Ruthie Foster.

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Room “Let’s Survive Forever”
Photograph: Courtesy wndr museum
Art, Installation

wndr museum

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Step inside one of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's famous Infinity Mirror Rooms at this new pop-up exhibition, which features installations that blend art and science. Other attractions include a “zero-gravity ball pit” that uses helium balloons and fans to simulate a weightless version of the childhood attraction, a floor that reacts to your footsteps and a gigantic screen that replicates your image with black and white discs. Oh, and if you happen to use the restroom during your visit, definitely go ahead and press the red button.

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Jazzin' at the Shedd
Photograph: Brenna Hernandez
Music, Jazz

Jazzin’ at the Shedd

The Shedd Aquarium's weekly summer concert series presents a rotating lineup of jazz bands on its scenic lakeside terrace, where attendees can dance, have a drink and get a great view of the Navy Pier fireworks. Guests also get access to the Shedd's newest exhibit, "Underwater Beauty," which features 100 different species of sea jellies, eels and fish.

"The Science Behind Pixar"
Photograph: Michael Malyszko
Museums

“The Science Behind Pixar”

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Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, Nemo and WALL-E are all heading to Hyde Park. "The Science Behind Pixar" explores the science and technology that go into making some of your favorite animated films, closely examining the techniques used by artists and computer scientists to bring movies like Toy Story and The Incredibles to the big screen.  The traveling exhibit originated at the Museum of Science in Boston and contains more than 40 interactive elements that give guests a behind-the-scenes look at the process of creating a computer-animated film. You'll even be able to control a camera while learning how animators created a sense of scale in A Bug's Life and explore the properties of lighting that made it challenging to create convincing water animations in Finding Nemo.  The special exhibit is not included in MSI's museum entry and will require a timed-admission ticket, which is $14 for adults and $11 for children (ages 3–11).

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Midnight Circus in the Parks
Photograph: Laura Collins Britton
Things to do, Performances

Midnight Circus in the Parks

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The Little Big Top heads out on its longest tour of the Chicago Parks District to-date, bringing acrobats, tightrope walkers, aerialists, jugglers and more to parks throughout the city. The Midnight Circus touches down in a new park each weekend, staging intimate performances that allow audiences to get up-close to the onstage action.

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