New year, plenty of new things to do in Chicago. January may bring chillier temps, but there are still plenty of events and activities around the city — both indoors and outdoors. Try a new cuisine during Chicago Restaurant Week, snowshoe by the snowy lakefront, celebrate the Lunar New Year, enjoy the last of the holiday lights, and so much more. Check out our list of favorite Chicago activities and events to enjoy this January 2023.
Top events in Chicago this January
Find great dining deals during Chicago Restaurant Week (starts Jan. 20): This year is the 16th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, when over 300 of the city’s top restaurants serve special prix-fixe menus for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Ring in the Lunar New Year celebration (Jan. 28 and 29): Celebrate the year of the rabbit with two colorful cultural parades, one in Uptown and another in Chinatown.
Visit Winterland at Gallagher Way (through Jan. 8): With an ice rink, a carousel, and winter-themed activities, Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field is a great family-friendly way to celebrate the season.
Enjoy Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden (through Jan. 8): Explore the Chicago Botanic Garden’s trails with a magical twist for the holidays, filled with new light installations, holiday music, and more.
Be dazzled by Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier (through Jan. 7): Light sculptures and gardens, a skating rink, a holiday beer garden, a kiddie train, and more are taking over Navy Pier for the holidays all season long.
Head to ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo (through Jan. 8): Head to Lincoln Park Zoo for a beloved holiday tradition, when you can explore animal exhibits while the grounds are covered in ornate light displays.
Skate in the shadow of The Bean (through January): Skate with a city view at Millenium Park’s ice rink. Admission is free, but online ticket reservations are required.
Explore the outdoors on Northerly Island (Jan. 21): The free Polar Adventure Days return to the lakefront, with husky sled teams, snowshoeing, winter crafts, and more.
Find zen at the Winter Flower Show in Garfield Park (through Jan. 8): The Garfield Park Conservatory has a new flower show themed around snow, featuring white poinsettias, hyacinths, salvias, and more.
More events in Chicago this January
Catch rarely seen horror movies at the Music Box (starting Jan. 3): The historic Music Box Theatre will be hosting its annual January horror movie series, featuring a variety of foreign films.
Encounter winter animals at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (Jan. 5): Ever wonder how raptors (owls, hawks, etc) stay warm in the winter? Visit the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to learn all about raptors, and see a few up close, too.
Be wowed by the Immersive Nutcracker (through Jan. 8): Lighthouse Artspace in Chicago transforms into the Immersive Nutcracker exhibit for the holidays, including music from the iconic score.
Enjoy culture and cuisine during a Chinatown Food Tour (Saturdays in January): Taste your way around one of Chicago’s best culinary neighborhoods, from Hong Kong dim sum to spicy Szechuan.
Admire Illumination: Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum (through Jan. 7): This annual nighttime event transforms the sprawling arboretum into a spectacle of light, sound, and color.
Enjoy Christmas Around the World and Holiday of Lights (through Jan. 8): The holidays are still here at the Museum of Science & Industry, with their special exhibit featuring a four-story, floor-to-dome grand Christmas tree.
Catch the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field (Jan. 8): Bundle up and watch the beloved Chicago Bears take on the Minnesota Vikings at their lakefront stadium.
See the Wild Color Exhibit at the Field Museum (through Jan. 8): The latest exhibit at the Field Museum plays with the wonder of color, and includes multiple sensory rooms highlighting the colors of the rainbow.
Enjoy dinner and a movie at Thalia Hall (Jan. 10 – 12): Catch all three The Godfather movies inside the stunning Thalia Hall in Pilsen, complete with an Italian-inspired meal.
Laugh it up at Time Out Market (Jan. 11): Tony’s Rooftop Bar inside Time Out Market will become a pop-up comedy club, featuring Zanie’s best stand-up acts.
Check out the Chicago Boat Show (Jan. 11 – 15): Boat enthusiasts won’t want to miss the annual show, which brings together a host of boat exhibitors and brands, as well as plenty of interactive elements.
Meet your favorite players at Cubs Convention (Jan. 13 – 15): Cubs fans will rejoice in the annual weekend Cubs Convention, which includes autograph opportunities with current Cubs players, coaches, and alumni, Cubs bingo, panel sessions, and more.
Kick off Dry January at a non-alcoholic drink fest (Jan. 14): Loft on Lake is the home to this year’s NA Day, where attendees can taste a variety of non-alcoholic wine, beer, and spirits from 20 different beverage brands.
Make art at an iconic art museum (Jan. 14): The Art Institute of Chicago’s Saturday Studio program welcomes visitors to an art-making experience in the galleries, led by a local artist.
Get tickets for Step Afrika! (Jan. 14): The first professional dance company dedicated to the tradition of stepping comes to the Auditorium Theatre, blending dance styles from traditional African dances, to contemporary art forms, and more.
Listen to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Store in concert (Jan. 12 – 14): The original Harry Potter film comes to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a giant-screen film viewing, complete with the incredible score performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Sleep with the fishes at the Shedd Aquarium (Jan. 13 – 14): Head to the Shedd Aquarium for a special overnight sleepover. Participants will be able to explore open exhibit spaces at night, create aquatic crafts, and complete a scavenger hunt.
Don’t miss the Lion King at the Cadillac Palace Theater (through Jan. 14.): The beloved musical returns to Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theater for an unmissable family-friendly experience.
Visit the ‘Art of the Brick’ at the Museum of Science and Industry (through Jan. 16): You won’t want to miss the world’s largest display of LEGO art featuring works made from over one million pieces.
Visit the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival (starts Jan. 18): Chicago will be the home of puppetry for 12 days, as over 100 performances and events will be showcased throughout the city highlighting both national and international puppet performers.
See local artists at work (Jan. 19): The Bridgeport Art Center hosts open studio events every third Friday, when you can wander through various workshops showcasing a variety of mediums.
Watch Bald Sisters at Steppenwolf (through Jan. 21): Vichet Chum’s world premiere play, Bald Sisters, tells the story of two sisters as they settle the affairs of their mother who passed away, while also working through their family’s Cambodian heritage.
Shop small at a winter market (Jan. 21): This innovative space in the Back of the Yards neighborhood will offer a curated selection of locally made goods with a focus on sustainably minded businesses.
Jump in the lake for a good cause (Jan. 28): Take a quick dip in the frigid waters of Lake Michigan, all for an amazing cause. The annual Polar Plunge is back, and all the funds raised will directly help families in need throughout the Chicagoland area.
Doze with the dinos at the Field Museum (Jan. 20 and 27): This family-friendly event is every kid’s dream — a sleepover inside the Field Museum, with plenty of hands-on activities for budding scientists and nature lovers.
Indulge at a Mac and Cheese Crawl (Jan. 28): What’s better than a bar crawl filled with mac and cheese? This specialty food crawl throughout Wrigleyville features six mac and cheese servings from various local establishments.
See a living blues legend at Buddy Guy’s Legends (throughout January): Blues legend Buddy Guy returns to Chicago for a residency each January, featuring a variety of fellow blues artists, including Bobby Rush, BIGLLOU, Sheryl Youngblood, and many more.
Check out Wuthering Heights at Chicago Shakes (starts Jan. 27): Emily Brontë’’s classic play, Wuthering Heights, will be performed at Navy Pier’s Chicago Shakespeare Theatre with live music, dance, puppetry, and more, putting a unique and exciting twist on the classic story.
Visit Harry Potter’s Magic at Play (through January): Fans of the iconic book and movie won’t want to miss their chance to visit the interactive space that brings Hogwarts and Harry’s experience as a first-year student to life, exclusively at Water Tower Place.
Go curling at the Gwen Hotel (through January.): Enjoy cocktails and curling on the rooftop terrace of the Gwen Hotel on Michigan Avenue.
Indulge at the Museum of Ice Cream (through January): Part whimsy, and part delicious, the Museum of Ice Cream features 14 magical installations and the option to sample various sweet treats throughout the museum.
Immerse yourself in color at Winter Colorland (through January): Chicago’s Color Factory is bringing the winter whimsy with brand new seasonal installations, including a ski lift through a confetti snowstorm.
Learn about the country’s most influential Black writers (through January): The newest exhibit to the American Writers Museum honors the contributions of Black writers throughout American literature, showcasing original artwork and interactive experiences to help tell the full story.