Hyatt Regency O’Hare
This celebration of Japanese animation and nerd culture includes cosplay, arcade gaming machines, voice actors, video game consoles, autographs, and anime screenings.
Chicago’s only Christmas Eve gala features two levels of mingling and dancing with private hosted cocktail reception, light appetizers, and afterparty at LIQR Box.
Under the Gun Theater
Sure, you could spend New Year’s Eve at one of those massive hotel parties at the Hilton, Congress, or The Drake. Or you could choose this event with two hours of comedy, burlesque, magic, and other assorted weirdness. Your call.
Subterranean & Chop Shop
This annual underground extravaganza takes place at Subterranean and Chop Shop over the first weekend of 2019 with 35+ indie bands including Elephant Gun, Meat Wave, Bobby Conn, and many more.
Cost: $40 for weekend pass
There’s nothing sketchy about this annual winter tradition featuring over 180 sketch comedy groups making up the world’s largest festival of its kind taking over each of Stage 773’s four performance spaces over 10 days.
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Mid-January seems about the right time to get the hell out of Dodge. Solicit the help of travel experts like Rick Steves and Pauline Frommer at this travel expo which includes speakers, destination theater, scuba diving, camel rides, and wine tastings.
Chicago’s annual mini-SXSW hosts cooler-than-you indie acts like Cave, S. Carey, and Varsity plus live comedy around town at venues including Schubas, Lincoln Hall, Metro, The Hideout, and (new this year) Sleeping Village.
Cost: 5-day pass $100