10 events to visit in Chicago this April


April is one of the best times to visit Chicago, with warmer temperatures, manageable crowds, and a wide variety of events to enjoy.

(Photo: Peter Serock)

Anyone visiting Chicago this April has a huge choice of things to see and do, with the city playing host to a diverse assortment of both indoor and outdoor events. Whether it’s high culture at one of the city’s world class museums, or something a little more low brow, there’s certain to be options to suit your tastes. To help you, we’ve made our pick of 10 of the best events taking place across the Windy City this coming April.

Chicago Circus & Performing Arts Festival

This April will see the first Chicago Circus & Performing Arts Festival come to the Den Theatre for four days of captivating shows. A real celebration of Chicago’s diverse artistic talent, highlights will include classic circus cabarets, burlesque, comedy, drama, family-friendly juggling and clowning, and plenty more, all designed to push the boundaries of traditional dance and circus shows to deliver fully developed narratives. Each of the unique shows will comprise two performances, with every individual performer a bona fide Chicago local.

The Den Theatre / 21-24 April 2022

EXPO Chicago

Art lovers visiting Chicago in April are in for a treat, with the city playing host to its annual EXPO. For nearly four decades, the International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art has featured leading international galleries alongside the highest quality platform for contemporary art and culture. After a 24-month hiatus due to restrictions intended to tackle the pandemic, this year the event returns to Festival Hall where it will host more than 140  exhibitors, once again drawing upon the city’s rich history as a vibrant hotbed of culture while engaging the region’s contemporary art community and collector base.

Navy Pier Festival Hall / 7-10 April 2022

Joseph Lindon Smith: The Persepolis Paintings’ exhibition

(Photo: Courtesy of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago)

Joseph Lindon Smith was already an accomplished painter, celebrated for his ability to capture archaeological subjects with vivid realism, when in 1935 he was invited to an Oriental Institute expedition in Persepolis, Iran. Smith’s paintings – comprising three portraits and three landscapes – complemented the work of the expedition, whose goal was to rigorously document and preserve the great Achaemenid city for perpetuity. This special exhibition explores the ruins of the ancient site through the stark realism of all six of Smith’s large-scale paintings, which are on view to the public for the first time since 1939.

Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago / Through 28 August 2022

“Treasured Ten: Selections from the Costume Collection’ exhibition

(Photo: Chicago History Museum)

Featuring an eclectic arrangement of garments, this exhibition tells the remarkable stories of five designers: Stephen Burrows, Scotty Piper, Patrick Kelly, Willi Smith, and Barbara Bates. Dating from the 1970s to the 1980s, these never-before-exhibited garments are expressions of their creators’ identities and experiences, which have included dressing celebrity clientele as well as everyday people. The exhibition will comprise 10 dressed mannequins wearing two ensembles by each designer, with a playlist of songs that inspired each designer and several thematic arrangements of images and colourful panels unfolding around the walls and interior of the gallery.  

Chicago History Museum / From 9 April 2022

‘Steam Ahead!’ exhibition

The first and only African-American Children’s Museum in the country, the Bronzeville Children’s Museum is celebrating its 24th anniversary this year with a host of commemorative events. Among them will be this kid-friendly exhibition, which explores the illustrious life and career of Jesse Eugene Russell, the inventor of the first digital cell phone. Structured in a linear way, the exhibition offers a potted history of steam along with a short film. There are also arts and crafts, and the experience culminates with interactive playtime.

Bronzeville Children’s Museum / Through spring 2022

‘Photographs from the 1939 New York World’s Fair’ exhibition

(Photo: Lowiczanie – Peasants from Lowicz (in south-western Mazovia; photograph on cardboard, 1939. Lowiczanie (Mazowsze poludniowozachodnie); fotografia na tekturze, 1939 r.

The Polish Pavilion opened at the New York World Fair on 3 March 1939. It presented a large array of artifacts and achievements, with photographs an important part of the displays. This exhibition showcases many of these photos, with their serene vision of the beautiful country starkly contrasting with documentary World War II photographs, added to the exhibition after invasion of Poland by Germany on September 1st. These pictures speak to the imagination stronger than ever due to the recent military invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

Polish Museum of America / 29 September 2022

‘Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow’ exhibition

For nearly two decades, artists Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson have been creating works in Chicago and beyond that explore the ordinary world around them. For their latest exhibition, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, the duo have invited 100 Chicago-based artists to reflect on our shared experience of the last two years of global upheaval caused by restrictions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The brief show will bring together a significant cross-section of the city’s creative community to explore what to many us continues to feel like a transitory, in-between state of indeterminacy and ambiguity.

Design Museum of Chicago / 15-16 April 2022

‘The Start of a New Era: The Next 100 Years of Biomedical Visualization’ exhibition

Advances in computer graphics and imaging are generating new opportunities to aid in understanding the rapidly evolving discoveries in both science and healthcare. Masters students in the University of Illinois at Chicago Biomedical Visualization Program (BVIS) strive to harness these advancements through visual communication. The Student Association of Medical Artists (SAMA) organises and curates the work for the SAMA Art Exhibition each year. This exhibition is an opportunity for first and second-year BVIS students to display their current works of art that are both beautiful and accurate in scientific detail. This year is particularly exciting for BVIS as they are celebrating the program’s centennial.

International Museum of Surgical Science, / 31 March – 8 May 2022

Festival Of Laughs

This national touring comedy festival pitches up at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago this April promising big belly laughs aplenty. Once again, some of the comedy world’s hottest names will join forces for the special stand up series. Notable names set to take to the stage this year include comedy queen, Lora Ann Rambough AKA Sommore, with her unique blend of bold, no-holds-barred takes from a woman’s perspective, fearlessly paving the way for feminism in comedy.

Arie Crown Theater / 9 April 2022

Uncorked: Chicago Wine Fest

Taking place at Chicago’s prestigious Museum of Science and Industry, this year’s edition of the Uncorked Wine Festival invites guests to sample more than 200 wines and champagnes, alongside food from local restaurants and access to a diverse variety of exhibitions and other immersive experiences. The more enthusiastic visitors can even cough up extra for early admission privileges, allowing them to enjoy an extra hour of tastings, and there are also VIP tickets affording access to a private lounge where you can help yourself to delectable buffet food.

Museum of Science and Industry / 17 April 2022

By Paul Joseph