The best free things to do in Chicago in November

Save some money for holiday shopping with our guide to free events, festivities, art openings and more
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
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November always sneaks up on us, but we're ready to welcome it—and any of the winter weather it may bring. With the holidays approaching quickly, we're looking for creative ways to save money on just about everything, and luckily, this month ushers in plenty of free activities to enjoy across Chicago. Get in the spirit by attending a tree-lighting ceremony, visiting a festive holiday market or taking a spin around one of the city's coolest ice rinks. Feeling like a grinch this month? We have plenty of dance parties and storytelling events for you, too. Thanksgiving and Black Friday are almost here, so save a few bucks with our list of the best free things to do in Chicago this November.

Free things to do in Chicago in November

MillenniumSkating.venue.jpg
Photograph: Patrick L. Pyszka
Things to do, Ice skating

Ice Skating in Millennium Park

icon-location-pin McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink, Downtown
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Skate under the Chicago skyline and within eyeshot of the Chicago Christmas Tree at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Admission to the rink is free, but if you don't own a pair of skates, you'll have to pay to rent some. The most popular time to hit the rink is in the evening, so show up earlier if you don't feel like waiting in line for your chance to slide around. You can take advantage of free skating lessons on Fridays at 11am and Saturdays and Sunday at 9am. If it seems too warm to skate, call ahead—this rink is open through March 10, weather permitting.

Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon
Courtesy Maggie Daley Park
Things to do, Ice skating

Ice Skating at Maggie Daley Park

icon-location-pin Maggie Daley Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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The Maggie Daley Park ice ribbon looks like a Mario Kart track, but you won't have to worry about dodging banana peels while you glide around the quarter-mile circuit. As you skate around the park's climbing wall and admire skyline views, you'll be able to stop for a cup of hot chocolate. The ribbon stays open through March (weather permitting) and will host a Skate with Santa on Saturday, December 15 from 10am to noon. 

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Brook Hsu
Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Deli Gallery, New York
Art, Contemporary art

“Let me consider it from here”

icon-location-pin Renaissance Society, Hyde Park
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Constance DeJong, Saul Fletcher, Brook Hsu and Tetsumi Kudo are artists from different parts of the world, but this group show finds connections in the personal experiences their respective work explores and reinterprets. The exhibition will also feature readings of new work by poets Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Simone White and Lynn Xu.

Comedians You Should Know
Photograph: Melissa Mamroth
Comedy, Stand-up

Comedians You Should Know

icon-location-pin Timothy O'Toole's, Streeterville
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This weekly night of comedy, curated by a group of funny dudes, puts local stand-ups on your radar. It's totally free and BYOB, so why not?

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Nightlife, Alternative nightlife

Duro

icon-location-pin Berlin, Lake View
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This biweekly nocturnal Latinx and LGBTQ gathering is always filled with clever decorations, dancing queens and underground Latin club music from resident DJ [X]P. It also serves Jarritos cocktails.

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