In the dead of winter, it can feel like spring will never return to Chicago.
Fortunately, the city and suburbs both offer a huge selection of activities to make the time go by faster. Here are 16 of the biggest winter festivals and events happening in the Chicago area.
Fillet of Solo Festival
When: Jan. 15 to 31
Where: Lifeline Theatre at 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. and Heartland Studio Theatre at 7016 N. Glenwood Ave.
Hours: Shows begin at 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. depending on the date and venue
Admission: Festival passes are $50, and tickets for individual performances are $10. A free kickoff event on Jan. 13 will sell discounted festival passes for $25.
What It's About: Fillet of Solo brings together 14 storytelling collectives and numerous solo performers to celebrate Chicago’s storytelling and live lit scene.
Chicago Restaurant Week
When: Jan. 22 to Feb. 4
Where: 354 Chicago area restaurants
Hours: Varies depending on the restaurant
Admission: Prix fixe menus start at $22 for lunch and $33 or $44 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity).
What It's About: For 14 day, a record 354 restaurants in the city and suburbs offer multi-course menus highlighting Chicago’s culinary diversity.
When: Jan. 22 to 23
Where: McCormick Auditorium, Northwestern University
Hours: 6 p.m. Jan. 22 to 6 p.m. of the following day
Admission: Tickets go on sale Jan. 1 at 10 a.m. Online and general admission is $35 per ticket, with student pricing at $25 per ticket. Tickets are limited to five per customer.
What It's About: Take part in a B-movie marathon lasting 24 hours with audience participation and door prizes.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
When: Jan. 22 to Feb. 21
Where: Oriental Theater
Admission: Ticket prices range starting at $67
What It’s About: Tony and Grammy winning “Beautiful” is the true story of how Carole King skyrocketed to stardom.
International Kennel Club of Chicago Dog Show
When: Jan. 27 to 31
Where: Lake County Fair Grounds, 1060 E. Peterson Road, in suburban Grayslake
What It's About: The dog show features prize competitions, access to breeders and many activities.
When: Jan. 29 to 31
Where: The Hilton Chicago
Admission: Weekend passes are $40. Kids ages 4 to13 get $10 passes with the purchase of a hotel package. Individual passes will go on sale at a later date.
What It's About: This the 24th annual SoxFest where fans of all ages can get autographs, photos and a chance to talk with their favorite Chicago White Sox players.
Pedway Brunch Tour
When: Dates available starting Jan. 30
Where: 221 N. Columbus, Radisson Blu Hotel, inside main lobby
Hours: 9:30 a.m.
Admission: Adults and seniors pay $70 and $60 per ticket respectively. Tickets for children under 12 cost $50.
What It’s About: Guests will learn about Chicago’s history while walking through the city’s heated pedway. Participants will also get to enjoy a tasty breakfast buffet at American Craft Kitchen inside the Hyatt Regency.
Bite Night 2016
When: Jan. 29
Where: 178 Forest Ave., Oak Park
Admission: Tickets cost $30, or $100 for four
What It’s About: Guests can enjoy all you can eat “bites” from 50 area restaurants plus live music and doors prizes.
Lakeview Polar Bear Club Polar Plunge
When: Jan. 30
Where: Oak Street Beach, 1000 N. Lakeshore Drive
Hours: Plunge begins at 12 p.m., but participants should arrive by 11 a.m.
Admission: Early registration/donation is $30 per swimmer, and regular registration is $40 per swimmer. The event is free to watch, but donations are encouraged.
What It's About: Every year since 2002 LBPC has been raising funds for families dealing with crises by jumping into Lake Michigan in the dead of winter.
Steamy Swamp Punk Mardi Gras Bash
When: Jan. 30
Where: Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington Street
Hours: Regular event is from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., and the after-party bash is from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. at Billy Goat Tavern.
Admission: $50 by advance purchase only
What It's About: This Mardi Gras Bash changes theme each year and will feature live music by The Heard and Big Shoulders Brass Band, as well as a buffet and drinks featuring hurricanes, swamp juice, beer, wine and pop.
Chicago Winter Bike Swap
When: Jan. 31
Where: Harper College, Palatine
Admission: $5, free for children 12 and under. Free parking.
What It’s About: The annual bike swap is returning for its ninth year, offering cyclists bargains on all things biking.
Chicago Theatre Week
When: Feb. 11 to 21
Where: Various theaters in Chicago
Hours: Times vary
Admission: $15 to $30 or less
What It's About: Celebrate theater in Chicago by attending discounted shows throughout the city at theaters of all shapes and sizes.
Chicago Auto Show
When: Feb. 13 to 21
Where: McCormick Place
Hours: Begins at 9 a.m. every day
Admission: Tickets cost $12 for adults and $6 for children and seniors.
What It's About: Calling all motorheads! The annual Chicago Auto Show features nearly 1,000 different cars on display as well as new technology and accessories to go along with them.
The Orchid Show
When: Feb. 13 to March 13
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Admission: $10 for adults ($8 for members), $8 for seniors 62 and older and children between 3 and 12 ($6 for members) and free for children 2 and under.
What It's About: Bask in the presence of more than 10,000 blooming orchids in the middle of winter and spend the evening at a cocktail tasting at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Cider Summit Chicago
When: Feb. 27
Where: Navy Pier Grand Ballroom
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Admission: Tickets cost $30 and go on sale Nov. 15 through Feb. 26. Additional tasting tickets will be for sale on site for $2 per ticket. Designated driver tickets are available for $5 and include a bottle of water.
What It's About: More than 150 ciders will be available for tastings along with specialty food to pair with the drinks. This event is only open to those 21 and older.
Naperville Winter Ale Fest
When: Feb. 27
Where: Frontier Park in Naperville
Hours: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: General admission is $50 for anyone drinking and $20 for designated drivers.
What It's About: The third annual Naperville Winter Ale Fest will feature more than 130 unique beers from craft breweries around the country as well as live music and food truck fare.