Best outdoor events in Chicago this winter

“Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet shall keep them from making their appointed rounds.” That’s one thing Chicagoans have in common with the U.S. Postal Service, anyway. We won’t let a little winter weather keep us inside, and our fair city obliges with a packed lineup of events.

Polar Adventure Days

Explore Northerly Island and come face-to-face with live animals, engage in winter activities, and create nature-inspired crafts. Events take place both outdoors and inside of the Visitor Center. Tour the Northerly Island Natural Area; see Siberian huskies, wolves and other live animals; encounter birds of prey from Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation; explore the island on snowshoes (if there’s snow); enjoy a treat and sip hot cocoa. Dec. 10; Jan. 21; Feb. 25.


It’s a headache for rush hour commuters and a strain on budgets, but snow in the city is still worth celebrating. At Snow Days Chicago, watch teams of professionals create some pretty incredible snow sculptures. This year, the event moves from Grant Park to Navy Pier.

Snow Days Chicago

Teams of artists from around the country and the world gather starting Feb. 4 to create sculpting masterpieces out of 10 ft. blocks of man-made snow. Other winter-themed activities for kids and families, including The Snowboard Experience, snow games and snow painting. Sculptures will be available for viewing Feb. 6-7, during the day and night with special nighttime illumination. The colorful lighting display begins at dusk. From 11 a.m.-1 p.m. both days, enjoy a visit from Shedd Aquarium’s Magellanic Penguins. Guests can see the penguins from up close and can also ask the trainers questions about the penguins, their habitat and more.


Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition

Watch snow-sculpting teams form “frozen art” from giant blocks of snow. Abstract shapes and whimsical figures take shape under the skilled hands of state teams and high school teams. Walk or drive the one-mile route through the park to see sculptures. Spectators can cast their vote for “People’s Choice.” Awards ceremony will be 1 p.m. Jan. 28.


Northbrook Winter Carnival

Celebrate the season with indoor and outdoor activities at this annual family event.


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