Everything You Need to Do in Chicago This Spring

Published On 04/26/2018 Published On 04/26/2018
Chicago Beer Classic
Chicago Beer Classic | Chicago Beer Classic
Chicago Polar Plunge
Chicago Polar Plunge | Chicago PhotoPress
Mar 3
Hubbard & Wolcott
Join the teams of costumed freaks to race decked-out shopping carts through the streets at this Iditarod-inspired annual mobile food drive and scavenger hunt. It causes un-classifiably delightful chaos through Chicago neighborhoods late every winter, and it's a blast whether you want to watch or participate.
Cost: Registration fee TBA
Mar 3
Field Museum
Need an excuse to visit the Field Museum this winter? How about spring seasonal beers and specialty brews poured for VIPs to make this night at the museum infinitely more enjoyable than the Ben Stiller travesty? Just be sure to plan ahead: Tickets won't be sold at the door.
Cost: $45-$55
Mar 4
North Avenue Beach
This annual fundraiser for the Special Olympics includes “swimming” in the frigid waters of Lake Michigan, followed by a “melt down” party inside the North Avenue Beach boathouse with music and food. Shrinkage has never expressed itself so elegantly.
Cost: No registration fee, but there's a $200 fundraising minimum
Mar 17
As the unofficial end of winter in Chicago, one of the city’s most notorious day-drinking traditions features a green-dyed Chicago River and more green beer-amped idiots than the Beaumont at 4am. If you've never been in Chicago for St. Paddy's Day, you're in for a treat.
Cost: Free, but $40 for VIP seating
Friday - Saturday
Mar 23-24
UIC Forum
Locally sourced organic cuisine takes center stage at this food fest with healthier-side samplings along with thought leader panelists in agriculture, chef demos, and the chance to meet real-life actual farmers.
Cost: Saturday festival is free; Master Class and Trade Show are $55-65
Friday - Sunday
Mar 23-25
Donald Stephens Convention Center
Finally pull the trigger on that sweet-ass new Chicago flag tat at this fest featuring tattoo artists and vendors as well as an array of well-inked entertainment, including actors and musicians. It runs for a full weekend and you can expect appearances from the cast of the reality show Ink Master.
Cost: $20-$40
Mar 24
Union Park
Demand action from lawmakers in this march to end gun violence and mass shootings in schools. Children and families will be out en masse across the country, so if you feel strongly about this particular issue, show your support. The march in Chicago starts at Union Park at 11am. Also keep in mind that HeadCount is registering voters there and at several of the events around the country. 
Cost: Free
Saturday - Thursday
Mar 24-15
Liar's Club
Join Liar’s Club owner Herb Rosen at one of the coolest bars in the city as he welcomes veteran NYC punks Murphy’s Law and kabuki-masked surf rockers Daikaiju to play his 50th birthday bash.
Cost: TBA
Friday - Saturday
Mar 30-31
Donald Stephens Convention Center
Bassnectar throws down some seriously heavy beats at this two-night, rave-style spring gathering of EDM heads. You can expect lasers, art, and music in a full-on immersive sweatbox.
Cost: $119-$239
Old Style Pizza Summit
Old Style Pizza Summit | Kailley Lindman/Thrillist
Apr 1
The Office’s Creed Bratton takes the stage on Easter Sunday. The actor and musician played a fictionalized version of himself on the hit NBC sitcom and performance-wise is known to take his guitar onstage to accompany his jokes. What could go wrong?
Cost: $20-$35
Friday - Saturday
Apr 6-7
UIC Forum
The annual bacon-worshipping event showcases a massive arsenal of bacon-themed creations from top local chefs, along with “bacon arts” poetry and music segments, plus the awarding of the Golden Rasher Awards. If you love bacon, it's basically Christmas.
Cost: $65-$180
Apr 8
Headquarters Beercade
A firkin is a traditional English brewery unit of measure for casks that comes out to about 72 pints, and it's also used to refer to ales served unfiltered and unpasteurized directly from a cask without the addition of carbon dioxide or nitrogen. The fifth edition of this celebration of such cask-conditioned ales brings together beer nerds and 40 participating brewers with rare brews and unlimited firkin pours to geek out to all day long.
Cost: $10-$30
Apr 9
Wrigley Field
So what if the Cubs home opener falls on a Monday this year? You’re taking the day off. Again. It might as well be an official municipal holiday.
Cost: $64-$299
Apr 15
Concord FiftyFive
This loving testament to the majesty of grilled cheese is just cheesy enough, featuring cheese-filled delights like Philly cheesesteaks, mac & cheese, cheesecake, and more to benefit charity.
Cost: $40-$60
Friday - Sunday
Apr 13-15
Navy Pier
America's first-ever halal fest comes to Chicago this spring with a “Taste of Halal” food hall, halal-themed bazaar, cooking demonstrations, entertainment including comedy shows and concerts, and even beauty classes. Entry is also super cheap, as far festivals go.
Cost: $5
Apr 14
Lincoln Park Zoo
Stroll the zoo with wine glass in hand to take in the spring vibes at the historic Café Brauer with food and live performances, plus VIP access for an early crack at the stash.
Cost: $35-$60
Apr 14
Logan Square Auditorium
There's nothing quite like sipping a mojito on a beach in the summer, but even if those months are a bit far off, rum is still a spirits king, and this festival is dedicated to it. It'll feature three separate sessions depending on your taste, including an industry networking session.
Cost: $10-$120
Apr 22
Thalia Hall
Two sessions packed with glorious pizza delights plus a pop-up exhibit from the US Pizza Museum, Chicago-inspired art galleries, DJs and, of course, enough Old Style for a small army. If you can't make it for any reason, we'd definitely recommend the best pizza places in Chicago.
Cost: $45
Thursday - Friday
Apr 26-27
Various locations
See local street artists set up live installments as you rock to EDM at this music fest in Pilsen’s Lacuna Artist Lofts. Performers include names from the EDM scene like Toadface, DJ Hatcha, and Truth. There'll also be a pre-party at Bottom Lounge and an afterparty at Bourbon on Division.
Cost: $20-$60
Apr 28
Empty Bottle
Check out iconic local folk, bluegrass, and Afrobeat acts like Chicago Afrobeat Project and Lawrence Peters Outfit at this daylong celebration of folk music and community. There will be Lagunitas beer and hooch onsite courtesy of Sugarlands Distilling.
Cost: $15
Chicago Beer Classic
Chicago Beer Classic
May 5
Various locations
It’s Cinco de Mayo. You’re allowed to act (a little bit) like an idiot. Feel free to do so at this crawl of local Wrigleyville haunts including John Barleycorn, Moe’s Cantina, and Old Crow Smokehouse with brunch buffet. You'll even get a T-shirt out of the deal.
Cost: $10
May 5
Soldier Field
This massive brew-down at the field features tailgating, stadium tours, and pretzel necklace–making demos in addition to a local-heavy assemblage of ales and the chance to chat with master brewers.
Cost: $45-$75
May 6
UIC Pavilion
Highly in-demand eats from top local wing slingers like Howells & Hood, Kitty O’Shea’s, and Mahoney’s grease the wheels of this uber-popular eat-a-thon with wing eating contest and a vote for best wings. And take note: this may seem like unbridled gluttonous chaos -- and it is! -- but it's also a fundraiser for local and national charities, so you can feel a little bit better about that 33rd wing.
Cost: $35-$100
Friday - Sunday
May 18-20
3100 North Ashland
This is the first street festival of Chicago festival season, and it takes place in a pop-up tent with a beer garden and live music. So yeah, by the time this rolls around, we'll be ready for summer. The full lineup is TBA, but Mayfest never disappoints.
Cost: $10-$25
Friday - Sunday
May 25-27
18th & Ashland
This massive Latin-themed Memorial Day rager features lucha libre wrestling, art, music and, of course, top local chefs and restaurants offering their finest interpretation of authentic Mexican mole dishes.
Cost: $10-$25