December 16, 2015


Melanie Perez

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Chicago's 2015/2016 winter season is giving visitors plenty of reasons to get out and seize the winter months by exploring all the city has to offer. From Chicago Restaurant Week, Chicago Theatre Week and Van Gogh's Bedrooms, to a citywide Chinese New Year celebration, an ode to Shakespeare and a multitude of winter wonderland activities, the following celebrations, performances and special cultural experiences are giving this winter in Chicago an extra sparkle. Paired with some of the best hotel rates and packages of the year, Chicago invites visitors to book now for this eventful First Quarter.

Here's a look at some of Chicago's exciting winter programming:


First Bites Bash (January, 21, 2016)

The official kick-off event for the 9th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, produced by Choose Chicago, will take place inside the magnificent Great Hall at Chicago Union Station. Join Executive Chef Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno, Piccolo Sogno Due), this year's Chef Host, on Thursday, January 21 in the Great Hall of Union Station. Be the first to preview what 60 of Chicago's restaurants and chefs are cooking up for their Restaurant Week menus. Guests can toast to the Chicago area's culinary scene with tastings from Goose Island Beer Company, Terlato Wines International, as well as spirit/cocktail pairings from various spirit partners.  To view of a list of participating restaurants and purchase tickets, visit

A portion of the proceeds generated by ticket sales will benefit the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation was founded by Chicago Cubs First Baseman Anthony Rizzo who realized during his own battle with cancer that no matter how difficult fighting cancer was for him, it was even more difficult for his family.  The Foundation's mission is to raise money for cancer research and to provide support to children and their families battling the disease.

Chicago Restaurant Week (January 22 - February 4, 2016)

Chicago Restaurant Week 2016 returns on January 22 and continues through February 4 with two weeks of dining deals. This annual culinary celebration features special prix fixe menus starting at $22 for lunch and $33 and/or $44 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). It's an excellent way to check off restaurants on your dining bucket list. Over 360 restaurants take part, from neighborhood favorites to downtown hotspots, the variety is rich and culturally diverse: Italian, French, Spanish, Korean, Thai and more!

The full list of participating restaurants and online reservations will be available January 5 via

Chicago Theatre Week (February 11-21, 2016)

Chicago Theatre Week is a celebration of Chicago's critically-acclaimed theatre scene. Presented by the League of Chicago Theatres in partnership with Choose Chicago, Chicago Theatre Week returns for its fourth year.

With over 100 participating productions throughout the city and tickets priced at $15 or $30, visitors and residents will again have the opportunity to sample the extraordinary range of theatrical offerings in Chicago, including top-notch musicals, new works, classics, and more - housed in spaces ranging from renowned downtown theatres to the unique, raw and intimate settings of Chicago's storefront stages.

Tickets go on sale January 5, 2016. Follow @ChicagoPlays on Twitter for updates and announcements.



Steppenwolf Theatre's 40th anniversary season

This winter, Chicago will continue the celebration of Steppenwolf Theatre's 40th anniversary. For its 2015/2016 season, The Steppenwolf Theatre presents five plays by five Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, two of which will be running in the lead up to spring: The Chicago premiere of Domesticated (December 3, 2015 - February 7, 2016) a scandalous comedy about the aftermath of a politician's extramarital affair, written and directed by ensemble member Bruce Norris; and The Flick (February 4 - March 8) a heartfelt comedy about human connection by Annie Baker, 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner, directed by Dexter Bullard.

Shakespeare 400 Chicago

The anniversaries continue with Shakespeare 400 Chicago , a celebration of Shakespeare's legacy 400 years since his death in 1616, and an exploration of the lasting imprint of the playwright's words across artistic disciplines. Spearheaded by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, this yearlong Quadricentennial festival will bring together leading artists from around the globe and the City's world-class cultural institutions to present more than 850 events throughout Chicago in 2016. It is the largest celebration of its kind in the world. Be sure to catch these special performances in Chicago this winter:

  • Hailing from Russia, Declan Donnellan's Cheek by Jowl & Moscow Drama Pushkin Theatre will perform Measure for Measure at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (January 27-31).
  • A few stellar renditions of Othello will be performed including one by the Hamburg Ballet from Germany at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance (February 23 - 24); and a staged production of the play (February 18 - April 10) directed by renowned British director Jonathan Munby at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
  • The tale of "star-crossed lovers" will be set to music when the Lyric Opera Chicago presents Romeo and Juliet (February 22 - March 19).

Additional events, including Chicago-style Shakespeare culinary experiences, will be announced throughout the year at



Broadway In Chicago

This winter, Broadway In Chicago delights audience members with an inspiring true story of Carole King's remarkable rise to stardom with Beautiful - The Carole King Musical(December 1, 2015 - February 21, 2016) at the Oriental Theatre and the stunning, family favorite The Lion King (December 2, 2015 - January 17, 2016) at the Cadillac Theatre; followed by Cabaret (February 9-21, 2016) at the Bank of America Theatre soon to be the PrivateBank Theatre beginning February 9, 2016.

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago will wrap up its world-premiere run of Bel Canto (December 7, 2015 - January 17, 2016), a riveting new opera based on Ann Patchett's best-selling novel, inspired by the Peruvian hostage crisis of 1996-97 and curated by Lyric's creative consultant, Renée Fleming. January 2016 will offer the last four chances to catch this unforgettable experience.



For the third consecutive year, Chicago will celebrate Chinese New Year throughout the city with a variety of special events, programs and performances. To kick off the Year of the Monkey celebration, The Chinese Fine Arts Society will host an event at the Chicago Cultural Center on February 8 featuring traditional Chinese music and a lion dance performance.

Chicago's leading cultural institutions will also offer special performances and programs during the two-week celebration, including a Chinese New Year showcase by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a Lantern Festival presented by the Chinese Fine Arts Society at Navy Pier both on February 21. The celebration will also feature a look at China's art and history at the Field Museum and free public tours in Mandarin on select weekends at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Field Museum hosts two special Chinese-themed exhibitions

To complement its newest permanent exhibition, Cyrus Tang Hall of China, the Field Museum will feature two exhibits that further examine Chinese art and culture.

Coinciding with the city's Chinese New Year activities, the first exhibition, City Windows: The Chicago/Beijing Panoramic Paper Cuts of Professor Qiao Xiaoguang (February 19 - May 27), returns to the museum featuring the original paper cut panels created by Professor Qiao Xiaoguang for the Chicago O'Hare International Airport project. The entire work consists of fifteen panels (each is 51 x 24") and includes a group of panels depicting well-known Chicago attractions and landmarks. Another set of panels illustrates iconic Beijing scenes such as the Forbidden City and the Bird's Nest from the 2008 Olympics.

Tickets to this exhibition are included in the museum's All-Access Pass.

Come March, The Field Museum will present larger-than-life soldiers for the exhibitionChina's First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors (March 4 - January 9, 2017). The exhibition examines the life and legacy of this prolific Chinese emperor, known for overcoming his enemies, unifying an embattled country, erecting the first Great Wall and his strive for riches, power and immortality. Tickets to this special exhibition go on sale January 1.



Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art presentsPop Art Design (December 19, 2015 - March 27, 2016) organized by the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, an exhibition dedicated to the celebrated era of pop art and its influence on the world of design, and vice versa. The exhibition will feature design pieces paired with artwork from this period to showcase the dialogue between the two disciplines. Complementing this exhibition, the MCA presentsThe Street, the Store, and the Silver Screen: Pop Art from the MCA Collection , which will look beyond the world of design into other areas in which pop art's influence was evident - in the street, in merchandising and commercialism, and on the silver screen.

Driehaus Museum

Fans of the critically-acclaimed and widely followed British television series Downton Abbey® can venture down to the Driehaus Museum to see a collection of more than 35 costumes from the PBS drama. The Driehaus Museum will host Dressing DowntonTM: Changing Fashion for Changing Times (February 9 - May 8), where visitors will be immersed into the characters and times of early 20th century Britain while also enjoying the architecture of the Gilded Age in this preserved late 19th-century-home-turned-museum. A selection of special programs will also be available including a signature lecture with set designer Jude Farr, author events, movie nights, as well as a Downton Abbey series finale viewing party.

Art Institute of Chicago

Valentine's Day 2016 will mark the opening of Van Gogh's Bedrooms at the Art Institute of Chicago (February 14 - May 8), a look at the three distinct versions of the famous bedroom at the yellow house in Arles that Van Gogh painted. This exhibition will bring together all three Bedroom paintings in one place for the first time in North America - the first from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the second from the Art Institute of Chicago's own collection and the third from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Building upon the display of all three versions of Van Gogh's Bedroom, the exhibit will also explore the artist's search for ‘home' through his paintings, drawings, and illustrated letters, as well as a selection of books and other possessions of the artist. All three versions will be on display in the Regenstein Hall at the Art Institute of Chicago.



Chicago's winter season welcomes back some annual favorites including the Chicago Auto Show (February 13-21), the largest auto show in North America. Get a sneak peek at the domestic and imported vehicles expected to hit the showroom floor.

Then, Chicago goes green for St. Patrick's Day (March 12) starting with the tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green followed by a festive downtown parade.

In anticipation of spring, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show (March 12-20) will be in full bloom for its centennial year and will celebrate with a theme of "CHICAGO IS," a special dedication to Chicago's forward-thinking approach to green spaces, a city coined as "City in a Garden" many years ago.


Visitor Information Resources

For more information about Chicago, please visit

For daily alerts about fun and free things to do in the city, follow Choose Chicago onFacebookTwitter and Instagram. Get answers to your Chicago questions on the go, restaurant recommendations, and tips on citywide events and activities by following@ChooseChicago.


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