It's the first weekend of 2017 and we've already got some amazing Chicago events and activities you won't want to miss, many of which are free! Get ready to laugh at 180 shows at the Sketch Comedy Fest, tour some of Chicago's famous attractions, check out spectacular flower displays and go wild at Navy Pier's indoor fun zone: 170,000 square feet of rides and slides. It's time to make weekend plans... here's your guide.
Chicago Elevated Offers Winter Tour
January 5-February 25 // $20-25
Join Chicago Elevated for their "Winter Tour" that shows off the city's wondrous attractions like Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park. Milwaukee Tool Company provides battery-operated heated coats, so Chicago Elevated literally has you covered. There will also be warming breaks mixed in, though you're still highly advised to dress warm! You can also check out the original Pedway tour, which is an all-indoor series.
Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival
January 5-15 // $15
The largest Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival in the country is now hosting over 180 groups from around the globe, performing 180 shows over 8 days. Every hour, on the hour, performances take place in each of Stage 773's four performance spaces. The festival will feature returning favorites Heavy Weight (LA) featuring TJ Miller and Nick Vatterott, The Cool Table featuring Kyle Moore and many more.
Sky Shows & Exhibits at Adler Planetarium
Adults $12 | Children $8 | FREE this weekend for Illinois Residents
Check out Chicago's famous museum, laboratory, and classroom to explore the universe this weekend. Each year, over 550,000 visitors experience the museum's interactive exhibitions, live planetarium shows, hands-on, minds-on STEM education programs, and world-class collections. See the full list of free dates for Illinois residents — check out our guide with free museum days in Chicago!
Winter Flower & Train Show at Lincoln Conservatory
January 8 // FREE
The Lincoln Park Conservatory's Show House turns into a Winter Wonderland. Lanterns with golden-yellow lights and lighted evergreen trees invite visitors into Lincoln Park Conservatory?s Winter Flower and Train Show this season. Several model trains travel amongst garden scale homes and businesses which are accentuated by a festive plant arrangements.
Holiday Flower Show at Garfield Conservatory
January 8 // FREE ADMISSION & PARKING
Garfield Park Conservatory (300 N. Central Park Ave.) kicks off the holiday season this year with a spectacular floral display in the Show House. Admission is free and the Conservatory is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays until 8 p.m. The Show House has been transformed into a forest of more than 100 Frasier Fir trees. Families can stop by a designated photo area within the display, to capture the memory of their holiday visit.
Celebrating Music from Syria and Egypt
January 8 // FREE
Syrian musicians Issam Rafea, oud, and Omar al Musfi, percussion, join Crossing Borders Music performers Maya Shiraishi, violin, and Tom Clowes, cello, to celebrate music by composers from Syria and Egypt at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington Street). The ensemble will present original works composed by Rafea, Sufi-inspired violin solos by Abdo Dagher, and the violin-cello duo of Gamal Abdel-Rahim, whose music combines Egyptian modal scales, rhythms, and melodies with European-inspired harmonies.
Winter WonderFest's Final Weekend
Through January 8 // General admission $10 | Activity tickets $25
The Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest returns to Navy Pier with more than 24 rides and attractions and 170,000 square feet of entertainment for all ages. New attractions this year include the Polar Extreme, a double-sided inflatable slide and obstacle course, interactive Arctic Peaks Climbing Walls and an expanded, more challenging Winter Rules mini golf course sure to offer an additional layer of friendly competition and frozen holiday fun.
For more events, check out the 160th Birthday Celebration of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Buddy Guy's annual residency at the Grammy winner's namesake blues club, and these top January festivals. You can also pick a neighborhood to explore, try our Chicago itineraries, or create your own with our Ultimate Chicago Bucketlist.