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Chicago Feb 4–10: Intergalactic Mardi Gras, Chinese Cirque du Soleil & Real Life Downton Abbey

Culture is on the menu this week in Chicago, with a new ballet at the Joffrey debuting, a Chinese martial arts show in town for the Lunar New Year, and the Chicago Philharmonic taking the stage in nearby Evanston. If you’re as obsessed with Downton Abbey as we are, then your place will be at the Driehaus Museum, where they’ve managed to snag dozens of the costumes used on the popular series. 

AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.

February 6 | Science
Mars-di Gras
Take your Mardi Gras celebration into space at the Adler Planetarium, where a one-day planetarium-wide eshibit will give you an inside look at Mars. You’ll be able to command a robot through challenges and learn more about the rovers that live on the Red Planet, experience what it would be to live, work, and play on the planet, and design your very own Martian helmet. 
9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. | 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago | $12 | website

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February 7 | Escape the city
Take a day trip to Evanston, a quaint suburb of Chicago right on the lake. Don't miss The Stained Glass, a wine bar and bistro worth a trip on its own, or FEW Spirits, which makes its own gin and whiskey from locally-sourced grains. The highlight of the weekend, though, is Chicago's own philharmonic orchestra performing Eight Seasons, a combination of three famous concertos inclusing Vivaldi's The Four Seasons at the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on Sunday. 
2 p.m. | Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston | From $10 | website

February 9May 8 | Museum exhibit 
Driehaus Museum
Feed your Downton Abbey fever by checking out more than 35 of the award-winning costumes from the addictive British TV series. You'll learn about the costumes themselves which were made using original early 20th century fabric, whether Sybil Crawley's dresses were re-created from paintings or photographs. More so, though, the exhibit will put the famous show in the larger context of Britain's TV-drama-worthy history. The Driehaus Museum, with its beginnings as the home of early 20th century Chicago artisocrats, makes the experience all the more immersive. Splurge on a ticket that includes ending with a traditional English tea time. 
10 a.m.–6 p.m. | 40 E. Erie St., Chicago | (312) 432-8933 | From $25 | website 

Evanston, Illinois

February 9 and 13 | Chinese New Year
Long Yun Kung Fu Troupe
Celebrate the Chinese New Year with the Long Yun Kung Fu Chinese martial art troupe, making its Midwest debut this year. The troupe is comprised on some of the best martial artists from across China, handpicked for the occasion by the actor Jackie Chan. Their performance is part martial arts, part dance, and the result is an elegant—and deadly—Chinese version of Cirque du Soleil. 
7:30 p.m. | Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., Chicago | From $35 | website

February 1021 | Ballet
Joffrey Ballet, Bold Moves
With Bold Moves, the Joffrey proves yet again why it's Chicago's premiere ballet company. The show takes the audience through three ballets, one of them a world premiere choreographed by award-winning dancer Ashley Page. See the world-renowned dance company move like waves in a piece inspired by the expressionist art of Edvard Munch, tell the story of a Japanese warrior separated from his love by a jealous monk, and illustrate the sound of a violin concerto. 
Times vary | Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy., Chicago | From $32 | website

Danielle Braff lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and her dog. When she’s not writing, she’s out photographing her city and running around frantically trying to fit as many events as she can into her day. You can check out her other articles at Daniellebraff.com.

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