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Fun Things to Do in Chicago this January 2024

Last Updated: January 5, 2024

Last Updated: January 5, 2024

Take in Chicago’s brisk winter appeal in January, when the city dons a tranquil wrapping of snow and possibilities for adventure are as limitless as the snowflakes gently falling. The Beginning of the New Year 2024 has lit hopes and aspirations in the people of Chicago. To sparkle that hope, January brings some of the best annual events in the Windy City across all genres. 

From cultural delights to cozy hideaways, discover a curated list of activities that turn the year’s first month into a delightful canvas of experiences. There are music festivals to keep you up with energy and warmth, rituals and annual events, extraordinary theatre festivals, MLK Day Celebrations in every form, and some more attractions to feel the winter at its core! 

Explore things to do in January in Chicago as it unfolds its winter wonders, inviting you to savor the unique offerings that make this weekend in Chicago special. 

Melodic Winter Nights in Chicago 

Wrap yourself in the comforting embrace of musical therapy as you step into the heart of Chicago this January. Let the graceful notes and elegant melodies of enchanting concerts be your soothing companions in winter. Relish in the warmth of these musical masterpieces, setting the perfect tone with music events in Chicago for a harmonious beginning to your year. 

  • Chicago’s favorite winter indie music fest – Tomorrow Never Knows, is back in January, treating music lovers to five days of incredible shows at venues like Lincoln Hall, Schubas, Hideout, and Sleeping Village. Born in 2005 from the genius minds behind Lincoln Hall and Schubas, Tomorrow Never Knows has been proving for over a decade that Chicagoans will brave the chilly January air for an amazing show. This festival curates the best of local indie talent and renowned national acts, spanning both musicians and comedians. TNK flips the script, injecting energy into the new year with stellar lineups.
  • The magic of the 27th Winter Chamber Music Festival makes its triumphant return to Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music from January 5 to 21. This annual celebration promises a series of six enchanting performances showcasing the festival debuts of the Balourdet and Calder Quartets. Adding to the musical brilliance, the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet will grace this year’s festival lineup. Settle yourself a month of captivating and melodious performances at the lit festival! 

Invite the New Year With Annual Festivals

Gear up for a spectacular lineup of annual events and festivities in Chicago every January! Dive into the culinary delights, set sail at boat shows, and immerse yourself in the crazy energy of fan clubs. These thrilling traditions happen like clockwork each January, so if you missed out last time, get ready to check off some bucket-list moments! It will surely keep you occupied with happening things and festivals in Chicago

  • Gear up for the 17th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, and indulge in delicious dishes! For 17 glorious days, over 350 top-notch restaurants in the city serve irresistible prix fixe menus. With prices starting at just $25 per meal, you can savor the delights of brunch, lunch, and dinner. It’s a culinary celebration that’ll delight your taste buds without breaking the bank! 
  • Do you want to buy a boat? Before you leave the city and head out onto Lake Michigan’s wide waters, check out the Chicago Boat Show in the area.! It’s a floating heaven for nautical and boat enthusiasts to get updated on the latest trends in boating and marine life! From sleek yachts to innovative gadgets, this show promises a glimpse into the exciting world of watercraft. 
  • Chicago AF brings NA Day, a unique non-alcoholic tasting event that mirrors the format of a traditional craft beer fair or wine festival. Chicago AF, a vibrant sober community, brings together individuals of all ages and backgrounds, supporting each other’s journey toward sobriety.  On 13th January, this event welcomes the Chicago community, whether you’re sober, sober-curious, or simply participating in Dry January.
  • Experience the excitement of the 37th Cubs Convention! The front office, players, fans, and legends unite for unique events throughout this amazing three-day celebration. Some of the earnings also benefit Cubs Charities, which uses sports to strengthen communities, families, and young people. It is a worship place for Cubs fans! 
  • The freezing season of winter brings back the beloved Ice Skating Rinks in the city for people to relish! Ice skating spaces are available around Chicago to slide through with delight and enjoy the winter wonderland! Visit the most adored places like Millenial Park, Maggie Daley Park, and Rosemont’s Parkway Bank Park. Some places additionally offer skating classes on Saturdays and Sundays as well! Make your winter worthwhile with ice skating! 

Read The Emotions at Theatre Festivals 

Enter the theatrical world of Theatre events in Chicago this January with some extra time on your deck. The enthralling stories of books and movies will come to life on stage to leave you in awe and (maybe) some tears. Engulf your soul in the art of storytelling, experiencing beautiful perspectives through the magic of acting. Share these soul-touching moments filled with captivating tales and unforgettable memories with your loved ones. 

  • Ahead of you is Chicago’s premier storytelling and live-lit event, celebrating its 27th year! Fillet of Solo, a vibrant celebration with a wide range of performers, including twelve storytelling collectives and countless solo artists, is proudly presented by Lifeline Theatre. Dive into two weeks of captivating autobiographical narratives that span comedy, drama, and other genres. Take advantage of this chance to become fully engrossed in the variety of stories that Chicago’s dynamic storytellers are weaving! 
  • Experience a lively display of up-and-coming talent right in the heart of Chicago at the Young Playwrights Festival! This festival, presented by Pegasus Theatre, brings young writers’ unique works to the stage while showcasing their creativity and imagination. Get ready to be enthralled by new viewpoints, gripping stories, and the creative voices of the next generation. Come along for a once-in-a-lifetime event as we honor and promote Chicago theater’s bright future! 
  • Engulf the enchanting world of marionettes at the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival! This extraordinary event brings together puppeteers from around the world for 11 days of captivating symposiums, over 100 mesmerizing performances, and a host of unique events. Wander through the Puppet Hub, featuring site-specific delights throughout the Fine Arts Building, from puppet-themed cafes to film screenings in the grand Studebaker Theater. It’s a puppetry extravaganza that promises to delight audiences of all ages!

Celebrate the Iconic Civic Rights Leader

Join Chicago in honoring the enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this MLK Day. Engage in a day filled with meaningful events, music, and activities that pay tribute to the iconic civil rights leader. There are various ways to commemorate through MLK Day events in Chicago, from volunteering opportunities and visits to art museums to services and community meetups. 

  • Chime in the celebration of MLK Day at the Hyde Park Art Center with their Yesterdays, Todays, and Tomorrows exhibit. This event, featuring music, art activities, and performances, is a heartfelt tribute to Dr. King’s legacy. The Hyde Park Art Center aims to honor historical Black leaders, spaces, and stories from the South Side of Chicago. Don’t miss out on this meaningful commemoration—RSVP on their website to be part of the uplifting experience!
  • Come together to pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring legacy. Immerse yourself in the festivities on MLK Day at the History Museum of Chicago, where you’ll be treated to lively musical performances and engaging activities suitable for the whole family. On this day, we honor and remember Dr. King’s notable achievements.

And So Much More Winter Attractions!

Discover the enchanting magic of Chicago with these incredible spots! Submerge in the lush world of plants, relive childhood memories at the Disney exhibit, and gaze at the stars on land at Navy Pier. Let the city’s winter charm captivate your senses!

  • Join Plant Chicago’s Indoor Market with local, sustainable vendors and a delightful plant swap this January. Got a surplus of houseplants? Bring one or a few propagations and discover new green additions without the obligation to contribute. Embrace the winter season with more greenery in your life!
  • Feel nostalgic (and old!) at the magical world of Disney Exhibit 100 as the Walt Disney Archives unlocks its treasure trove! Discover over 250 artifacts, artworks, costumes, and iconic memorabilia in ten bewitching galleries. From timeless classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the latest additions from Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel, Disney’s enduring stories are celebrated. Pass this legacy to your kids and bring them to get bewitched with beautiful tales. 
  • There’s still time to be part of the festive magic at Light Up The Lake at Navy Pier, Chicago’s biggest indoor and outdoor holiday spectacle! The breathtaking lakefront light displays, the outdoor ice-skating rink, and the warm firepits will continue to sparkle until January 7th. Don’t miss the chance to spin the enclosed Centennial Ferris Wheel. Here’s a tip: bring your own skates, and skating is absolutely FREE! Join the winter wonder and make the most of these extended holiday delights! 

Wrapping Up

As Chicago wraps itself in a tranquil blanket of snow, January unfolds as a month of limitless possibilities and adventurous escapades. The dawn of the New Year infuses the city with hope, setting the stage for a myriad of annual events across diverse genres. 

In January, Chicago offers a vibrant experience for every taste. From the rhythmic beats of Tomorrow Never Knows and the culinary delights of Chicago Restaurant Week to the nautical wonders at the Boat Show and the captivating tales of theatre festivals, there’s something for everyone. Join the sober community at NA Day, embrace the Cubs Convention excitement, glide on ice-skating rinks, and immerse yourself in the tales of history at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations. Explore indoor markets, Disney exhibits, and holiday spectacles, letting the city weave unbreakable memories as January unfolds its winter wonders.

If you wish to explore any events in Chicago further, click on the link below to have the events that will make your January a blast! 

Author Bio

Rashmi Ramchandani

With a passion for exploring new cities, Rashmi Ramchandani loves creating a bucket list of things to do and places to visit. Her hand-picked events and the undertone of reliability, sarcasm, and wittiness will hit you to the core. Let her create this weekend’s to-do list for you. You are indeed in good hands.

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