Festivals

Celebrate Winter at These Outdoor Festivals

Photo courtesy of Gallagher Way/Facebook

Winter in Chicago is notoriously arctic—after all, this is the place where Chiberia and polar vortex were coined. But that doesn’t mean the city is a veritable tundra until spring, nor does the city shut down for a few months with nothing to do. On the contrary, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate the season and get outdoors. From a rooftop beer festival to an adventurous outing with Siberian huskies, here are five ways to celebrate winter in all its snowy, chilly glory.

Photo courtesy of Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery/Facebook

February 8: Polar Beer Fest 
Chicagoans know braving the winter can require liquid assistance. That’s why Rock Bottom’s midwinter gathering on its rooftop patio in River North is called the Strong Ale festival; it will feature more than 50 craft beers to warm the soul. Details: Noon–4 p.m.; $40
—Jim Morris, Beer

Through February 16: Winterland at Gallagher Way
In the summer, Wrigley is all about the Cubs, and in the winter it turns into a cold-weather extravaganza! There’s always something to do at Gallagher Way this time of year, from ice-skating to getting your fill of cozy food and drinks; it’s worth checking out what’s going on at this family-friendly outdoor space.
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun

February 21: Fire & Ice Winter Festival 
No matter the forecast, there’s something so magical and comforting about roasting marshmallows over a fire. And you can do just that at this indoor-outdoor festival at the Chicago Women’s Park & Gardens. The family-friendly affair is great for all ages, featuring snacks and activities like hot chocolate, cider, crafts, karaoke, games, and more, all designed to celebrate community in the South Loop and encourage Chicagoans to get outside and enjoy the season.
—Matt Kirouac, Food/Beverage

Music Frozen Dancing / Photo by Jessica Mlinaric

February 22: Music Frozen Dancing
How much do Chicagoans love music festivals? Enough to stand outside in February. Presented by Goose Island Beer Co. and Empty Bottle, Music Frozen Dancing heats up the street outside the Empty Bottle with a free block party headlined by Hot Snakes. Other acts include Pissed Jeans, Hide, Crash Course in Science, Hitter, and Hecks. Heat lamps will be on-site, and while it’s free to attend, donations to benefit the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will be accepted at the door. Details: 1 p.m. at the Empty Bottle; free
—Jessica Mlinaric, Music

February 29: Polar Adventure Days
Bundle up and get ready to have fun outdoors. This annual event puts you face-to-face (at a safe distance, don’t worry!) with Siberian huskies, wolves, and other wintry animals. There are also nature-inspired crafts, plenty of cool birds to scope out, and, of course, hot chocolate. If there’s snow, there will be snowshoes available, too. Details: Noon–4 p.m.; free to attend, $3 parking
—Samantha Lande, Family Fun