7 Quirky Reasons to Visit Chicago This Winter Season

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7 Quirky Reasons to Visit Chicago This Winter Season
There are plenty of reasons to visit Chicago—even in the dead of winter. Scroll through the slideshow for seven of our favorite urban cold-weather activities.
Photo by Yulia Denisyuk
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    Yes, You Should Visit Chicago This Winter Season
    Winter months are tough on the residents of “Chiberia” (a term coined by local forecasters during 2014’s extreme cold weather that has stuck), but the city doesn’t slow down during this season. Chicagoans know that winter can last all the way into April, and they are determined to make the most of it. Between sipping spiked tea, playing a few rounds of Ping-Pong, and spending “adults-only” nights at the museum, locals have the arctic blast covered and invite you to come along. If you dare, these seven unique experiences will make you want to book a ticket to Chicago this winter.
    Photo by Yulia Denisyuk
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    1. The Upside-Down Tea Party at the Virgin Hotels Chicago
    If your ideal version of afternoon tea involves sitting next to a certain not-so-sane hatter, then you’ll enjoy the Upside-Down Tea Party at Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels Chicago. Set in the airy Commons Club lounge on the property’s second floor, the tea session involves servings of boozy—and regular—versions of oolong and Ceylon black tea infusions along with flavorful canapés and delicate sweets just large enough to fit onto your saucer. Each tea-infused cocktail comes in its own wonderfully mismatched cup, just like the March Hare would have wanted it.
    Photo by Yulia Denisyuk
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    2. The Annual Donut Fest’s Donut Contest
    For your inner doughnut connoisseur, the team at Bobalky & Gnocchi is running Chicago’s annual winter Donut Fest on January 29th. Now in its fifth year, the fest will line up crullers, rings, and long-johns from some of the best Chicago doughnut establishments, including Glazed and Infused and Doughnut Vault. You can feel good while eating these doughnuts, too, because profits from the festival benefit Un86d, a charity that helps restaurant professionals deal with unexpected medical bills.
    Courtesy of Donut Fest
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    3. The Absinthe Celebration at The Violet Hour

    At The Violet Hour, chairs with backs twice your height and heavy folds of lush velvet curtains will make you feel as if you’ve suddenly shrunk to miniature proportions. To encourage the nearly forgotten art of socializing in public spaces, the artisanal cocktail lounge in Wicker Park has a set of strict rules, including one that forbids cell phone use inside. Come in the afternoon for L’heure Verte, the Absinthe Happy Hour designed to help patrons cope with dark winter nights while rekindling a local love for the oft-misunderstood green spirit.
    Courtesy of The Violet Hour
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    4. A Round of Ping-Pong at AceBounce
    The immense Ping-Pong playground in the North Loop area, AceBounce, combines simple fun of the classic game with an intricate food menu designed by local kitchen maestro Rick Gresh. The new venue has hosted game parties for the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey. Part-entertainers, part-event organizers, AceBounce’s Game Gurus come straight out of Chicago’s own Second City comedy club to ensure that the gloom of winter is checked at the door.
    Photo by Anthony Tahlier, AirBounce
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    5. The Brewery Tour at Cruz Blanca
    According to Rick Bayless, superstar chef and the recipient of the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, winter’s best activity is sampling fresh brews from the gleaming tanks of the recently opened Cervecería Cruz Blanca. On the tour, you’ll learn the story behind the brewery’s focus on European beer-making traditions and sample Smoke Alley, a delicate, smoked wheat ale inspired by its Oaxacan namesake, the smoke-heavy “taco corridor” along downtown Oaxaca’s Mercado 20 de Noviembre.
    Photo by Galdones Photography, Cruz Blanca
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    6. Chinese Lunar New Year Festivities
    Ring in the Year of the Rooster with weeklong celebrations all across town. Warm up for the main event with a special indoor performance by the National Peking Opera Company on January 28th at the Art Institute of Chicago. Two of the most famous Peking Opera icons alive today, Mr. Yu Kuizhi and Ms. Li Shengsu, will be making an appearance. Later, join tens of thousands of other winter lovers outside for the annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade on Sunday, February 5th.
    Photo by Adam Alexander Photography, Choose Chicago
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    7. Adler After Dark
    There’s a new way to enjoy the museum experience in Chicago—one that is sans kids and avec plenty of cocktails. The Adler Planetarium’s monthly adults-only evenings feature exclusive access to the museum’s observatory and exhibits, including the close-up view of the Chicago skyline. February’s event, Cosmic Clue, will ask for your help in solving a fake murder at the museum and will run workshops on real astronomical mysteries such as black holes and dark matter.
    Courtesy of City of Chicago, Choose Chicago
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