10 Free Things to Do in Chicago 

February 2019

You don't need to reach for your wallet to get your fill of culture and fun in Chicago. Here are just 10 FREE festivals, exhibitions, concerts and events to enjoy around the city this month.

1. Take a spin on the Centennial Wheel

Navy Pier Centennial Wheel

Feb. 14 

Celebrate Valentine's Day (and National Ferris Wheel Day, if you're into that) with a free whirl on the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier. To score a free ride you'll need to RSVP, then bring your ticket to Navy Pier from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

2. Glide along at free ice skating rinks

Nighttime Ice Skating

Mid-November through March
Practice your best figure eights at the free McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Skaters of all ages and abilities can glide along under the reflected glow of The Bean. At neighboring Maggie Daley Park, the ice ribbon takes skaters under snowy pines and around towering climbing walls. Admission is free, skate rentals available. 201 E. Randolph St.

3. Discover the Chicago Arts District
Second Friday Gallery Walk

Feb. 8, 2019

Come visit the creative spaces of local artists and makers during 2nd Fridays Gallery Night. During the monthly event, the public is invited to open receptions at 30+ galleries and studios near South Halsted Street in Pilsen. Pick up a map at the information center at 1945 S. Halsted Street before embarking on your self-guided tour.


Field Museum

Spend a cold winter day exploring a museum during the month’s many free days.

Adler Planetarium
Feb. 5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 26-28

Museum of Science and Industry
Feb. 4-7, 11-14, 19-21 and 25-28

Field Museum
Feb. 1-28

Shedd Aquarium
Every weekday in February

5. Watch Lunar New Year Parades
Chinese Lunar New Year Parade

Feb. 9 and 10

Kick off the Year of the Pig with two neighborhood celebrations. The annual Argyle Lunar New Year Parade is a beloved local tradition, complete with music, colorful lion and dragon dancers, and a processional of local groups and floats. The parade begins near the Argyle ‘L’ stop at 1 p.m. and heads east along Argyle Street.

On Sunday, head to Chinatown for a spectacular Lunar New Year Parade. The annual celebration draws more than 30,000 people each year to view the marching bands, colorful floats, and traditional dancing lion and dragon teams. The procession begins at 1 p.m. travels north along Wentworth Avenue from 24th Street up to Cermak Road.

6. Shop a homemade market

Feb. 10

Pick up some last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts at MADE. The one-day market will feature a range of hand-made goods, including art, food, candles, accessories, stationary, bath products and more. MADE will be open from 11 a.m. – 5 .pm. and offers free admission. Check out the full list of artists to get a head start before you go.

7. Celebrate Chinese New Year at Navy Pier
Chinese New Year Navy Pier

Feb. 16

Enjoy an afternoon celebration of Chinese New Year, featuring live dance, music, and other performances, plus traditional food, crafts and more. The event, which is free and open to the public, runs from 1 – 5 p.m. Navy Pier’s Chinese New Year Celebration is part of Global Connections, a free community event series.

8. Get outside during Polar Adventure Days
Polar Aventure Days

Feb. 23

Got cabin fever? Enjoy the outdoors for a day on Northerly Island. The scenic island park will be hosting tons of wintery activities during their Polar Adventure Days. Meet Siberian huskies, wolves, and birds of prey, explore the island on snowshoes, create winter crafts and sip hot chocolate will walking around the new natural area.

9. Attend a Weekend Wine Party
Eataly Wine Tasting

Weekends in February

Free wine tastings? Sign us up. Eataly is hosting Weekend Wine Parties every Friday, Saturday and Sunday this winter. That means complimentary wine tastings and food samples throughout their marketplace area. Uncover your favorite pairings, chat with a wine expert and maybe even take home a bottle or two.

10. Catch free screenings at the Feminist Film Festival
Chicago Feminist Film Festival

Feb. 27 – March 1

The Chicago Feminist Film Festival showcases an array of short, independent films that span genres, but all tackle issues of gender, sexuality, race, and other forms of inequality often missing from mainstream media. All film screenings are free and open to the public.

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