10 events to visit in Chicago this February


There’s no glossing over it – Chicago in February is positively Baltic. But what better way to warm the cockles than by attending one of the city’s multitude of events?

(Photo: The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago)

With temperatures routinely dropping well below freezing, the options for outdoor entertainment in Chicago in February are a little scarce for all but the most hardy of visitors. Luckily the city caters to the (sane) masses by putting on a wide number of indoor events at this time of year, ranging from exhibitions and lectures to festivals, fairs and unique experiences. We’ve picked out 10 of the best set to take place this coming February.

‘Making Sense of Marbles’ exhibition

On view as a group for the first time in an exhibition are a collection of Roman sculptures, each illustrating how we can make sense of marbles with divergent histories and the fundamental importance of archaeological context in telling an object’s story. The works on display were discovered during an excavation of the ancient city of Ptolemais in modern-day Libya, which revealed large quantities of marble sculpture, ranging from decorative statuettes to honorific portraiture. With their provenance remarkably well documented, these marbles showcase the diverse roles sculpture played in the lives of the city’s residents.

Oriental Institute Museum, The University of Chicago / Through 12 March 2023

‘Diego Velázquez in Seville’ lecture

Kitchen Scene, 1618/20 Diego Velázquez (Photo: Art Institute Chicago)

As the major European port to the New World, the Spanish city of Seville in the 1600s had not only incredible wealth but also a culture of significant intellectual debate, religious fervour, and mounting ethnic tensions. This lecture by curators Join Patrick G. and sculptor Rebecca Long investigates how Spanish painter Diego Velázquez’s early work reflects the complicated social dynamics of the city where he spent his formative years, raising questions about the place of women and racial minorities in Spanish society, the nature of artistic creativity, and the role of religion in everyday life.

Art Institute of Chicago / 2 February 

Chicago Restaurant Week

If you’ve seen the 2022 TV series The Bear, you’ll know that Chicago’s food scene is as intense in flavours as it is in kitchen repartee. Anyone keen to discover the city’s rich culinary scene in the flesh can do so at Chicago Restaurant Week, which is back for its 16th year this February. For over two weeks, more than 330 eateries offer specially curated prix fixe menus for brunch, lunch and dinner, offering diners the chance to experience how the city’s tastes have evolved far beyond hot dogs and deep pan pizza.

Venues across Chicago / 20 January-5 February 2023

University of Chicago Folk Festival

(Photo: Matt Dinerstein / Courtesy University of Chicago Folk Festival)

Each year, the University of Chicago Folk Festival brings together folk musicians from all over the world for a weekend jam-packed full of concerts, workshops, and dances. From bluegrass to Cajun to traditional Irish music, the event celebrates folk music in all its myriad forms. A production of the University of Chicago Folklore Society, this has been an annual University event since way back in 1961 and remains one of the most popular extra-curricular events on the instutition’s calendar.

International House, Assembly Hall / 10-11 February 2023

Cider Summit Chicago

After a two-year hiatus due to pandemic restrictions, the Chicago edition of the region’s largest hard cider tasting event returns to Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom for a one-day celebration of all things cider. Now in its 9th year, guests can sample over 200 local, regional and international ciders, including meads, fruit spirits and cocktails, from more than 50 producers. Other highlights include an Escanciar (Spanish pour) competition, merchandise stalls, and plenty of food trucks.

Aon Grand Ballroom, Navy Pier / 4 February 2023

Chicago Auto Show

(Photo: Aaron & Alli Merrell via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

This acclaimed automobile show will be expanding its offerings in 2023, including adding a second Exhibition Hall. The event will also feature the return of numerous fan-favourite events, with attendees able to utilise both indoor and outdoor test tracks, with electric vehicles, hybrids and gas-powered vehicles all available. There’ll also be a Chicago Drives Electric educational and informational hub where visitors can learn more about electric vehicles, while refreshments will include an impressive selection of local craft beers.

McCormick Place / 11-20 February 2023

‘Death: Life’s Greatest Mystery’ exhibition

(Photo: Field Museum / Artwork by Blue Rhino Studios)

Inviting visitors to consider their own big questions about death, this exhibition explores cultural and biological perspectives that hold possible answers to some of life’s biggest questions – with a sharp focus on life’s inevitable conclusion. Through artifacts, specimens, and immersive media experiences, visitors can learn how life and death are part of a universal, continuous, and cyclical process. Experience connections between life, death, growth, and decay in a multimedia experience at the heart of the exhibition, and se how life goes on after death – and could not without it.

Field Museum / Through 27 August 2023

Chicago Theatre Week

Theatre tickets can often be prohibitively expensive, especially for families, but Chicago Theatre Week, now in its 11th year, opens the city’s world-renowned theatre scene up to the masses with great value discounted tickets to more than 100 performances. Musicals, improv, drama and more take place in a wide range of venues, from downtown theatre halls to under-the-radar storefronts,, allowing visitors and locals alike to sample the extraordinary range of theatrical offerings throughout the Chicago area.

Venues across Chicago / 16-26 February 2023

Cupid’s Undie Run

(Photo: Cupid’s Undie Run)

For most people, venturing outside in Chicago during February would only be considered with multiple layers of clothing to protect you from the elements. However, a group of intrepid fun-seekers buck this trend each year by jogging a chilly mile through the city’s neigbourhood of Wrigleyville in just their underwear – all in the name of charity. Participants are encouraged to augment their undies with creative costumes. Money raised goes towards research into neurofibromatosis.

Wrigleyville / 25 February 2023

Retro Rides — Klairmont Kollections Car Experience

Car lovers can celebrate decades of automotive history at this inaugural event at Navy Pier. Over 100 classic cars, all borrowed from the collections of car collecting icon Larry M. Klairmont will be on display, while live music and lashings of food and fun will add to the entertainment. The vehicles on show are some of the most historically innovative engineering classics you’ll find anywhere, providing an opportunity for all of Chicago to witness vehicles that have contributed to pop culture through futuristic technolog by serving as symbols of personal freedom, art and science.

Festival Hall, Navy Pier / 16-22 February 2023

By Paul Joseph