Three of our top calendar picks for family fun this month.
Forget those heart-shaped boxes of candies stuffed with nougat, lemon cream or coconut. This Valentine’s Day, find your sweet spot at Homewood’s Chocolate Fest, a celebration of everything cacao. The annual event includes live music, children’s activities such as crafts and cooking demos, and to-die-for samples from local vendors (check out the chocolate chili). It’s also a great chance for amateur bakers to get their chocolate on at the Chocolate Bake-off Contest, where the winner gets crowned “Master Pastry Chef.” Take that, Gordon Ramsay! Free. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 20. H-F Park District Auditorium, 2010 Chestnut Road, Homewood. (708) 798-3000.
There’s a new maestro in town! Kids can try out the conductor’s baton at the Fox Valley Philharmonic’s Children’s Concert, where they take turns in the spotlight conducting the pros. During intermission, the whole family can get up-close-and-personal with woodwinds, strings, percussion and brass. The concert’s featured music is the kid-friendly “Toy Symphony” by Leopold Mozart. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s Wolfgang’s dad. Free; donations welcome. 3 p.m. Feb. 21. Our Savior Lutheran Church, 420 W. Downer Place, Aurora. (630) 476-9072.
By this time in the season, we’ve started to hate (or is it despise?) the chilly temps and grimy snow that signify Chicago winter. There’s no better place to rediscover your love for winter than the Fire& Ice Winter Festival, where creative activities like ice bowling and ice fishing remind you why you used to enjoy the cold, while the campfire (complete with marshmallow roasting) give hope for warmer days on the horizon. $5, free adults. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 5. Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens, 1801 S. Indiana Ave., Chicago. (312) 328-0821.