The best of what to do in and around Chicago this month.
Chicago is the place to be this month, with its famous marathon, the International Film Festival, and a massive Halloween parade expected to bring visitors from near and far.
AFAR Local is our monthly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
October 1 | Literature
Chicago Book Expo
Book nerds will gather to listen to local authors speak, attend a free writing workshop, and browse nearly 100 book exhibitors at this massive annual book expo. So far, confirmed speakers include Greg Borzo (author of Chicago’s Fabulous Fountains), Wendy Pearlman (author of We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled), and Liesl Olson (author of Chicago Renaissance), among others.
12:00 PM - 5:00 PM | Columbia College, 1104 S. Wabash, Chicago | Free | website
October 8 | Outdoor event
Bank of America Chicago Marathon
You’ve got only three choices today: run, cheer, or get out of the way. And if you’re just learning about the marathon now, you’re probably not running it. But you can still get in on the fun by cheering on those marathoners while they race 26.2 miles through the city. You may even be inspired to run it next year.
Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St., Chicago | Free to watch | website
October 9 | Outdoor event
Columbus Day Parade
It’s the 65th anniversary of this festive parade, and it feels like every Chicagoan comes out to celebrate. The good spots (the sidewalks downtown, along State Street) go early, but the parade is long, with more than 150 bands, floats, and marchers, so you should be able to slip in to peek, even if you don’t stake out your viewing location at dawn.
1:00 PM | Starts at State Street from Lake to Van Buren | Free | website
October 10 | Music
Manson’s back! The shock rocker is doing a month-long tour leading up to Halloween centering around his new album, Heaven Upside Down. In Rolling Stone, Manson described his album as a new approach for him—specifically, one that is violent in nature—so this should be one crazy concert.
8:00 PM | The Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Ave., Chicago | From $59 | website
October 12 - 26 | Film
Chicago International Film Festival
Expect to see everything from psychological thrillers to dark comedies and political documentaries from all around the world at this year’s Chicago International Film Festival. Film newbies, masters, and rising stars will all be showcasing work, and the roster of events is seemingly never ending, so you’re sure to find a few things that draw you.
AMC E. Illinois St., Chicago | From $8 | website
October 18 - 29 | Dance
This classic romantic story danced by the Joffrey Ballet follows a young girl who discovers that her lover is betrothed to another, causing her to die of a broken heart. In the afterlife, the girl joins army of malicious forest-haunting maidens who agree to help her free her former lover—by any means necessary.
7:00 PM | Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy., Chicago | From $34 | website
October 24 - 25 | Music
The pop star has gone through a lot this year, and she’ll be reflecting on those changes during her two-day stop in Chicago. Katy Perry’s performance will play largely off her new album, Witness, which features “Chained to the Rhythm” and “Bon Appetite,” but she’s sure to play some old favorites as well. Noah Cyrus has announced a guest appearance at the show, giving attendees a two-for-one at this concert.
7:00 PM | United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago | From $30 | website
October 29 | Art
Arts in the Dark
Celebrate Halloween with Chicago’s art community at Arts in the Dark. The event will feature puppets, floats, live music, and other surprises, which will all form a dramatic parade through the Loop. The Art Institute, Architectural Biennial, and other major arts institutions in Chicago are behind the event.
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM | On Columbus from Balbo to Monroe | Free | website
October 31 | Holiday
Northalsted Halloween Parade
The Northalsted Halloween Parade is turning 21 this year, so you can bet it will celebrate with even crazier costumes and entertainment. Anyone is welcome to march, so if you’ve got a fantastic costume, go and snag your 20 minutes of fame. If you’re camera-shy, stay on the sidelines and grab a spot to watch. There will also be several costume contests.
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM | Halsted St. and Belmont | Free | website
November 24 | Plan ahead: Music & film
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in Concert
The Harry Potter films couldn’t get any better—and then the Chicago Symphony got ahold of them. At this family-friendly screening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Potterheads will get a little more than they bargained for with a film score reimagined by a live orchestra. It’s the perfect way to spend the Friday after Thanksgiving with your loved ones (and it will sell out fast).
8:00 PM | Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago | $108 | 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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