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Chicagoist's Guide To January: 20 Fun Things To Do This Month

By Michelle Meywes Kopeny in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 2, 2017 4:25PM

Donut Fest is January 28. Image via Donut Fest's Facebook page.

January can be one of the coldest, roughest months in Chicago, but donuts, comedy, music and more give us some things to look forward to.


January 2-8

The American Rhythm Center offers free dance classes during their New Year's DANCE Free-4-All at the Fine Arts Building. Learn tap, modern, ballet, Zumba, flamenco, musical theatre, hip hop, break dancing and more with 50 free classes over the week-long event at the home of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project. Visit the ARC website for the full schedule and to sign up.


January 5-15

Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival returns for it’s 16th year at Stage 773 for ten days of funny. 160 groups will perform 180 shows including Community alum and local native Danny Pudi debuting a new solo show aptly titled “Danny Pudi: In Progress”. Other headliners include award-winning LA sketch comedy troupe The Cool Table and New York's Pop Roulette featuring SNL writer Sudi Green. Visit the festival’s website for the full schedule and to purchase tickets.


January 5-7

Try your hand at something new or see what kind of performances the Old Town School of Folk Music’s has to offer at their First New Year Kickoff this weekend. There’s something for students of all ages with jams, workshops and drop-in classes including their popular Wiggleworms group. Visit Old Town School’s website for the full schedule and prices.


January 5

Celebrate our fallen musical hero’s birthday with Bowie Ball at Berlin. The brainchild of DJ and Bowie superfan Heaven Malone, the annual bash includes Bowieoke, Bowie makeovers and performances from Lucky Stiff, Discord Addams, Queerella and Kat Sass. Lucy Stoole will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies over the whole shebang. 10 p.m.


January 6-8

Ian’s Party celebrates their tenth anniversary this year with three days of bands at several different Wicker Park venues. Absolutely Not, A Giant Dog, and many other local groups are showcased at the “party.” Visit their website for the full lineup, schedule and ticketing information.

Sean McKeough. Photo courtesy Riot Fest


January 6

The Riot Fest team lost one of their own suddenly last year. Sean McKeough was an original partner in the fest and founder of Cobra Lounge/All Rise Brewing Co. He established the All Rise Foundation in 2014 and his friends and family have dedicated themselves to carrying on the name. That includes buddies in Naked Raygun and Deal’s Gone Bad, who will be headlining a memorial benefit concert this Friday at Concord Music Hall. All of the proceeds from tickets and silent auction items at the event will go to the All Rise Foundation in Sean’s memory. Tickets are $20 and the show starts at 7 p.m.


January 7

Walking The 606 just got a little brighter. The city’s rails-to-trails path will Walk With Light in the 2nd annual event re-scheduled for this Saturday from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Bring your own light (no open flames) and parade from Milwaukee/Leavitt to Ridgeway Avenue where there will be fire pits, warm refreshments, s'mores, music and light spectacles. Free.


January 11-15

Since it’s inception a decade ago, Tomorrow Never Knows has given us something to look forward to in the cold unforgiving month of January. Basically an indoor winter music festival between Lincoln Hall, Schubas and Metro, TNK introduces us to what’s next in the world of music, plus performances from established acts such as Tortoise, Ezra Furman and JEFF the Brotherhood. The Hideout is the home for comedy during the fest, with acts like Beth Stelling and Phoebe Robinson. Visit the TNK website for the full lineup, schedule and ticketing information.


January 11-15

The annual Chicago Boat, RV & Strictly Sail Show opens at McCormick Place this week. Plan ahead for the warmer summer months at the outdoor show through Sunday. There will be boating simulators, seminars and courses, plus they’ve even got an indoor pool with paddle sports demos where you can try stand up paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking and more. Admission is $14.

Image courtesy of The Second City e.t.c.


January 13

New year, new e.t.c Revue at The Second City. The 41st revue, titled Fantastic Super Great Nation Numero Uno, sees the comedy troupe once again taking on hot button political differences as we enter 2017 as such a divided nation. With several new cast members, they’ll help us see the funny side. Show time for the grand opening on Friday is 8 p.m. Tickets start at $19.


January 13-15

Only 31 days until pitchers and catchers report. It’s music to the ears of baseball fans in Chicago, especially coming off a historic World Series victory last season. The 30th annual Cubs Convention this weekend at the Sheraton Chicago provides fans the opportunity to interact with players, coaches and alumni while immersing themselves in other Cubs madness. Tickets are $65.


January 13

Cubs legend Kerry Wood hosts the 6th Annual Woody’s Winter Warm Up at Harry Caray’s on Navy Pier at 8:30 p.m. Local celebrities and of course members of the World Series Champion Cubs will be serving up drinks and competing for tips. Already committed to be in attendance are Kyle Hendriks, Ryne Sandberg, Tom Ricketts and stars from NBC’s Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med. Tickets are $250 benefiting youth mentorship program Pitch In.


January 15-31

Lyric Unlimited and the Chicago History Museum team up for Chicago Voices TALK! The series of three panel discussions will include live performances commemorating Chicago’s contributions to gospel, classical and hip-hop. Guests include rapper and activist Rhymefest, author Robert Marovich and more. Tickets are $10 for each panel.

2017 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival: January 19-29 from Wickstrom Design on Vimeo.


January 19-29

Puppets and marionettes take the spotlight at the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival at venues across the city. The fest combined three previous festivals in the theater scene and includes many free family events through a partnership with the Chicago Cultural Center. For more information and a full schedule of performances, visit the festival’s website.

Image via Shamilton's website.


January 20-March 31

You’d have to be living under a rock to not know about the blockbuster success of the musical Hamilton, but what about Shamilton? Every great cultural touchstone deserves a parody, and this improvised musical brings it. With a cast featuring “Baby Wants Candy” and other great Chicago improvisers, the show will include on-the-spot songs about a historic figure of the audiences’ choosing. Performances are every Friday at 10:30 p.m. at Apollo Theater. Tickets start at $15.


January 24

Enjoy dishes from a bunch of Lincoln Park’s finest restaurants under one roof at Savor. The culinary event at iO Theater will feature food and drink from Earls Kitchen, Geja's Cafe, ​Vanille Patisserie and many more. 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $40 in advance.


January 27

Jason “Wee Man” Acuna, Chris “Partyboy” Pontius, Preston Lacy & Dave England will appear live and in the flesh for Jackass Live at Bottom Lounge. Relive some of those memorable stunts from the hit '90s MTV show (and movies!) with members of the original crew. 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Image via Polar Bear Club's Facebook page.


January 28

The Chicago Polar Bear Club hosts their 16th Annual Polar Plunge at Oak Street Beach at noon. The event is more than just fun in the icy cold waters of Lake Michigan, it’s a fundraiser for two local families in need of support. After the plunge, there will be an after party at Old Town Social for $35. Register to take the plunge for $30 on their website. A combo plunge + after party is available for $60.


January 28

We love any festival of food, especially donuts. Sample bites from Beaver’s Coffee & Donuts, Glazed and Infused, Stan’s Donuts and many more at Donut Fest at Chop Shop There will be three entry times between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $35.


January 30

The city-wide Chinese New Year celebration kicks off at the Chicago Cultural Center at noon. Welcome the Year of the Rooster with Chinese dance performances, music, martial arts, and a showcase by Jackie Chan's Long Yun Kung Fu Troupe from Beijing. Free.