When you come to Chicago to help manage that trade show booth or to just attend one of our many trade show events, 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.
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.
2. MAXWELL STREET MARKET
Jan. 6, 13, 20, 27
Brave the cold to experience this century-old Chicago tradition. One of the few year-round outdoor markets, Maxwell Street Market is brimming with eclectic, international treasures waiting to be found every Sunday. Expect tools, clothing, collectibles, baked goods, produce and more – and come ready to bargain.
Nov. 23 – Jan. 6
It’s the most magical time of year to be at Lincoln Park Zoo. Millions of twinkling lights transform the zoo into a winter wonderland, with visits from Santa, incredible 3D displays, live ice sculpture carving, strolling carolers, musical light shows and more. The free display will be on select nights from Nov. 23 through Jan. 6. 2001 N. Clark St.
Jan. 11, 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.
5. CATCH FREE LATINO FILM SCREENINGS
Jan. 16, 23, 30
The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago presents these free film screenings, focusing on films from Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, and Brazil that depict the adventures, challenges and joys of being young in Latin America. Films will be shown on Wednesdays throughout January and February at the Chicago Cultural Center's Claudia Cassidy Theater.
Enjoy free admission for Illinois residents on Martin Luther King Day at these popular Chicago museums:
7. TAKE A DIP AT THE BEACH CHICAGO
Jan. 19 – Feb. 3
Head to Navy Pier to dip your toes into this faux sea of more than one million clear plastic balls. The Aon Grand Ballroom will be transformed into an indoor beach, thanks to a new, immersive art installation designed to mimic the sensations of a day near the water.
Whether you’re diving in or just watching from the beach, you won’t want to miss the Polar Plunge. Brave souls will raise money for a good cause before submerging themselves in the cold waters at Oak Street Beach. Lady Gaga, Jimmy Fallon, Vince Vaughn and other celebrities have all participated in years past.
9. POLAR ADVENTURE DAYS AT NORTHERLY ISLAND
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.
Through Jan. 27
Enjoy a winter wonderland in the shadow of historic Wrigley Field. Winterland at Gallagher Way will feature several free activities, including an interactive art installation and an outdoor screening of the movie Miracle. Plus, the ice rink is free for anyone under 12 years old.