Things to Do This Winter in Chicago: Calendar of Events

An antihibernation guide to cultural happenings during the drab months

DECEMBER

1 Catch Kanye West, with pal Jay-Z, at the United Center; ticketmaster.com. Or see Stew & the Negro Problem at Space; evanstonspace.com.

2 Electro-folk group Poi Dog Pondering plays a two-night retrospective starting tonight at the Metro. metrochicago.com

3 Tony-award-winning Broadway belter Faith Prince sings for one night only at Northwestern’s Cahn Auditorium. tic.northwestern.edu

4 Shopapalooza: One of a Kind Show and Sale Chicago, Dose Market, Do-Division Holiday, and Renegade Craft Fair are all open today.

5 The 1960s icon Jane Birkin sings French melodies at the Portage Theater. ticketweb.com

6 The indie-rock group The National plays the Aragon. aragon.com

7 Dream about sunnier days at the Escada spring trunk show at Neiman Marcus on Michigan Avenue. neimanmarcus.com FREE

Winter Wonderfest

8 Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier only lasts another month. winterwonderfest.com kid friendly FREE (Some activities are ticketed.)

9 Wisconsinite Justin Vernon brings his haunting folk crooning and Bon Iver to the UIC Pavilion. ticketmaster.com

10 Blow your kids’ minds with Blair Thomas’s fantastical puppets in A Kite’s Tale, at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. musicinst.org kid friendly

11 Take in verses from local writers at Poetry Off the Shelf. poetryfoundation.org FREE

12 Wilco headlines the Civic Opera House. Sold out—but worth a spin through Craigslist? civicoperahouse.com

13 Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa founder, hosts this preholiday celebration at the DuSable Museum. dusablemuseum.org

A cup of coffee

14 Learn to froth like the pros at Intelligentsia’s three-hour barista class. intelligentsiacoffee.com

15 The University of Illinois Press publishes Obama, Clinton, Palin: Making History in Election 2008, out today. press.uillinois.edu

16 Songs of Good Cheer, an annual benefit concert, carols today through Sunday at Old Town School of Folk Music. oldtownschool.org

17 Need a dose of primal drumming? Catch the heavy Japanese beat of Tsukasa Taiko tonight at the MCA. mcachicago.org

18 Who’s not in the all-star cast of this season’s boffo romantic comedy New Year’s Eve? Find out.

19 Actress Barbara Robertson kicks off the new season of Cabaret with a View at the Pritzker Pavilion. millenniumpark.org

20 Catch a major exhibition by DePaul art professor Bibiana Suárez, now at Hyde Park Art Center. hydeparkart.org FREE

21 On the second night of Hanukkah, behold Chicago Botanic Garden’s kosher buffet with the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band on the side. chicagobotanic.org

22 George Hamilton stars in La cage aux folles. Need we say more? broadwayinchicago.com

23 Blockbuster juggernaut: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake, Mission: Impossible IV starring Tom Cruise, and Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut are out.

A scene from 'A Christmas Story'

24 Watch A Christmas Story live (it’s a musical!) through the end of the month (or catch it on TBS tonight). thechicagotheatre.com kid friendly

25 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, adapted from the Jonathan Safran Foer novel, hits movie theatres today.

26 Last chance to smell the roses at Blossom II: The Art of Flowers, closing New Year’s Eve. garfieldconservatory.org FREE

27 New Year’s resolution: Learn to grow food. The Essential Urban Farmer, in bookstores today, shows you how.

28 Quaff seasonal craft brews at Goose Island’s monthly Beer Academy workshop. gooseisland.com

29 Chicago natives the Waco Brothers headline Schuba’s tonight. schubas.com

30 Kids climbing the walls? By now, the lines have died down for The Adventures of Tintin. kid friendly

31 Old school is the best school: Ring in 2012 at the Palmer House, chicagonye.com, or the Drake Hotel, chicago-scene.com.

  NEXT: JANUARY »

 

Photography: (Winter Wonderfest) courtesy of Navy Pier; (coffee) djgunner/istockphoto; (A Christmas Story) courtesy of TBS

 

JANUARY

1 Run, overindulger, run! Pop an aspirin and join the New Year’s Day 5K in Lincoln Park. chicagoevents.com

2 Waltz into the new year: The Strauss Symphony of America performs its annual Salute to Vienna concert. cso.org

3 Sara Paretsky’s latest detective novel, Breakdown, hits bookstores today. saraparetsky.com

4 Our kind of book club meets tonight: cocktails and lit at The Whistler. whistlerchicago.tumblr.com FREE

5 Catch Lookingglass’s new play about Jackie Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. lookingglasstheatre.org

A scene from 'Casablanca'

6 Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca get live orchestral backup from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. cso.org

7 Chicago Sketchfest courts the under-18 set in a daytime show for kids. chicagosketchfest.com kid friendly

8 Performance artist Sharon Hayes explores politics at the Art Institute, in her first solo show at a U.S. museum. artic.edu

9 Closing soon: Crime Unseen, at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, reimagines historical crime scenes. mocp.org FREE

10 Choreographer Twyla Tharp sets Frank Sinatra’s big-band sound in motion in Come Fly Away, opening today. broadwayinchicago.com

11 Can’t wait for the November elections? Watch the results in a different sort of race tonight: the People’s Choice Awards on CBS. peopleschoice.com

12 Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man begins previews tonight at the Court Theatre. courttheatre.org

13 Listen to fans debate the merits of new boss Theo Epstein on opening day of the Cubs Convention. cubs.mlb.com

14 Penultimate day for Tomorrow Never Knows, an indie-rock mini fest. lincolnhallchicago.com

15 Feel good about global warming at Blizzard of ’67, a new play at Chicago Dramatists about record-setting weather. chicagodramatists.org

16 Mei-Ann Chen, the Chicago Sinfonietta music director, conducts a two-night tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. chicagosinfonietta.org

17 Warm up with whiskey tastings at Koval Distillery’s semimonthly workshop. koval-distillery.com

E. Faye Butler

18 Don’t miss E. Faye Butler in Black Pearl Sings!, the Depression-era musical now onstage at Northlight Theatre in Skokie. northlight.org

19 The city’s longest-running fringe festival is well under way—Rhino Fest takes over the Prop Theatre through mid-February. rhinofest.com

20 There’s no celebrity Kathy Griffin won’t skewer during her two-night run at the Chicago Theatre. thechicagotheatre.com

21 Swap your set of wheels for new(ish) ones at the Chicago Winter Bike Swap at Harper College in Palatine. chicagowinterbikeswap.com kid friendly

22 See Diane D’Aquila as the queen in Elizabeth Rex on the show’s closing night at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. chicagoshakes.com

23 Second City’s touring company brings home its road show Laugh Out Loud. secondcity.com

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

24 Men in tutus: The all-male drag troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo performs tonight. harristheaterchicago.org

25 David Mamet’s incendiary Race is halfway through its run at the Goodman. goodmantheatre.org

26 Tonight the Music Box screens a directorial debut that just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. musicboxtheatre.com

27 Today through the weekend, Navy Pier becomes a snow-sculpture showcase. explorechicago.org kid friendly FREE

28 Singer Robbie Fulks brings the honky-tonk to Oak Park’s Unity Temple. utconcerts.com

29 Usher in the Year of the Dragon at the Chinese New Year Parade on Wentworth Avenue at Cermak Road. chicagochinatown.org kid friendly FREE

30 See Kay Rosen’s site-specific wall painting, cryptically titled Don’t Look Back, before it comes down. hydeparkart.org FREE

31 A chandelier made entirely of bones is one of several works haunting the Cultural Center in Morbid Curiosity. chicagoculturalcenter.org FREE

  NEXT: FEBRUARY »

 

Photography: (Casablanca) Everett Collection; (Butler) Stewart Talent New York

 

FEBRUARY

1 Come for the corporate malfeasance, stay for the talkback: TimeLine presents Enron. timelinetheatre.com

2 Read Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events, new short stories by the winner of a 2005 Nelson Algren Award. kevinmoffett.org

Doze with the dinosaurs at the Field Museum

3 Sleep under the stars at the Adler’s Astro-Overnight, adlerplanetarium.org, or doze with the dinosaurs at the Field, fieldmuseum.org. kid friendly

4 Does it feel like Sweden yet? Sample locally distilled aquavit on a tour of North Shore Distillery in Lake Bluff. northshoredistillery.com

5 Trombonist George Lewis plays a hometown concert with the International Contemporary Ensemble tonight at the MCA. mcachicago.org

6 We love movieoke! Tonight at The Whistler. whistlerchicago.tumblr.com FREE

7 Green Day’s pop-punk opera, American Idiot, opens today at the Oriental Theatre. broadwayinchicago.com

8 Haven’t seen Jellies yet? The nearly yearlong exhibit of all things Cnidaria closes soon. sheddaquarium.org kid friendly

9 Catch a $5 movie at the revamped Patio Theater. patiotheater.net

10 Nod along at the 52nd annual University of Chicago Folk Festival this weekend. uofcfolk.org

11 Naboo you? Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace, now in 3-D, returns to theatres this weekend.

Lady Gaga

12 Last year, Lady Gaga hatched from an egg onstage. Stay in for tonight’s Grammy Awards on CBS. grammy.com

13 The 104th Chicago Auto Show started Friday and revs through next weekend. chicagoautoshow.com

14 Ignore Valentine’s Day and head to McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn for the second annual Winter Jazz Fest. home.cod.edu/atthemac

15 The Grammy-winning sextet Eighth Blackbird reprises Contempo at the Harris Theater. harristheaterchicago.org

16 After a Broadway run and national jaunts, Superior Donuts gets a Chicago storefront production, opening tonight. maryarrchie.com

 

Photography: (dinosaur) syldavia/istockphoto; (sleeping bags) sorenp/istockphoto; (Gaga) Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom

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