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The best things to do in Chicago this weekend

Find the best things to do in Chicago this weekend with our guide to concerts, exhibitions, festivals and more.
St. Patrick's Day Parade 2017
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
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St. Patrick's Day weekend is here, and for anyone who wants to join in on the festivities, there are plenty of options. Revelers can attend the river dyeing and the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Loop on Saturday or join in the celebration at the South Side and Northwest Side Irish Parades on Sunday. Don't feel like drinking green beer and being bombarded with shamrocks this weekend? Head to Symphony Center to see jazz combo the Bad Plus, check out an exhibition by contemporary artist Yinka Shonibare at the Driehaus Museum or take in a set from Lady Dynamite star Maria Bamford at the Den Theatre. You don't need the luck of the Irish to have a great time—just take a look at the best things to do in Chicago this weekend.

Things to do this weekend in Chicago

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Art on theMART
Photograph: Joshua Brott
Art, Film and video

Art on theMART

icon-location-pin Merchandise Mart,
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Five nights a week, a 25-story-tall video installation takes over the side of the Merchandise Mart, filling the building's historic facade with vibrant colors and moving images. Harnessing 34 digital projectors, the show features work by a rotating lineup of artists and is best viewed from Wacker Drive or the Riverwalk, between Wells and Orleans Streets. Art on theMART lights up the night Wednesday through Sunday, with projections beginning approximately 15 minutes after sunset.

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Photograph: Courtesy HNFF World Sales
Movies, Drama

Chicago European Union Film Festival

icon-location-pin Gene Siskel Film Center, Loop
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The Gene Siskel Film Center's annual European Union Film Festival serves as North America's largest showcase for films from European Union nations, including countries like Austria, Belgium and Croatia. This year's program features more than 60 films, representing all 28 EU nations. Highlights of the lineup include Romanian murder mystery Thou Shalt Not Kill, German teen drama Tiger Milk, Spanish animated film Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles and Hungarian Cold War comedy Lajkó--Gypsy in Space.

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Driehaus Museum
Photograph: Alexander Vertikoff
Art, Contemporary art

“A Tale of Today: Yinka Shonibare CBE”

icon-location-pin Richard H. Driehaus Museum, River North
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Contemporary art comes to the Driehaus Museum for the very first time, when the Gilded Age mansion hosts Shonibare’s sculptures dressed in colorful high-Victorian costumes and two collections of photographs. The British-Nigerian artist's work is spread throughout the house, contrasting the humor and irony of his creations with the beautiful, antiquated spaces in which they reside.

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Laurie Simmons, Big Camera, Little Camera, 1976.
Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Salon 94
Art, Photography

“Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera”

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art, Streeterville
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Best known for her photos of dolls and miniature objects (as well as for being the mother of Girls creator and star Lena Dunham), New York artist Laurie Simmons creates work that views reality through a surreal lense. The MCA's career retrospective, entitled "Big Camera/Little Camera," includes works that explore scale, female gender roles and the artificiality of social media. In addition to photographs, guests can view a collection of the miniature props that Simmons used in her imagery, sculptures that comment on society's obsession with the female body and a trio of short films, including one in which actress Meryl Streep interacts with vintage puppets. In acknowledgement of Simmons' activism in the realm on gender inequality, the MCA will offer $12 tickets (81 percent of the regular $15 admission price) to those affected by the gender pay gap through the duration of the show's run.

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

wndr museum

icon-location-pin 1130 W Monroe St, West Loop
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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. According to a press release, the exhibit will remain on display for a “limited, but undetermined, amount of time,” so you might want to book tickets sooner rather than later. Oh, and if you happen to use the restroom during your visit, definitely go ahead and press the red button.

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11714.chi.ttd.chicagobotanicgardenorchidshow
Things to do

Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show

icon-location-pin Chicago Botanic Garden | Glencoe, IL, Suburbs
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The North Shore's annual salute to this prized family of flowers is the perfect cure for wintertime blues. The greenhouses and gallery will be packed with more than 10,000 in-bloom orchids, featuring an array of hybrids.

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