Sure, the weather has been a bit kind to us thus far, but don’t expect that to stick around much longer. To avoid the typical hibernation you’ll consider falling into again this year, dive into 2012 with a plan—a survival guide, even. Tack this list of freebies, festivals, pantsless stunts and more up on the fridge to remind yourself to dig yourself out of the couch once in a while throughout the month.
See the full list of January events at chicago.metromix.com/events.
(Free!) 3-9: Free Fitness Week
For the non-committal types: Before throwing down some serious cash on a year-long gym membership, test the waters for free at one of 71 Chicago Park District fitness centers around the city. Make room for us on the treadmill, will you? chicagoparkdistrict.com.
5-15: Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival
Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago is the alleged birthplace of improv comedy, but what about its just-as-funny sister, sketch comedy? See why our city plays host to this, the largest sketch comedy festival in the world, featuring more than 150 performances by artists from around the globe (and around the corner) in just over a week. Times vary. $14-$15 per show, $160 all-fest pass.
7: ‘Murder at the Art Museum’ Scavenger Hunt
Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.
Turn your dreams of participating in an elaborate murder mystery in an exotic location into reality (thanks for planting the seed, “Saved by the Bell”). The Watston Adventures scavenger hunt series invades the downtown art museum for a classic mystery involving a murdered curator and the clues he left behind. Think you have the smarts to decipher the clues and figure out whodunit? 2 p.m. $36.
(Free!) 8: No Pants Subway Ride Chicago
What can we tell you about this annual rejection of pants in public? Not much. The meet-up location details are kept secret until about a week before the big day, but keep an eye on the Facebook group’s page for instructions should you choose to rep the Chicago chapter of the stunt started by the Improv Everywhere team in New York City. Noon-3 p.m.
(Free!) 9: Old Town School of Folk Music opening ceremony
Old Town School East Building, 4545 N. Lincoln Ave.
What a way to celebrate your 55th birthday—the Lincoln Avenue mainstay kicks off 55 days of celebration for its anniversary year with the opening of a brand new, 27,000-square-foot facility and concert hall across the street from its main buildings. Tour the building and join in on the ribbon-cutting and community singalong. Look out for even more classes, workshops, performances and fun in the coming year. 10:30 a.m.
11-15: Tomorrow Never Knows
Remember when this mid-winter pop fest was Schubas’ worst-kept little secret? The five-day music fest has now expanded to five venues—Schubas, Lincoln Hall, Metro, Hideout, SmartBar—and includes shows from comedians (Hannibal Buress, Todd Barry), local acts (White Mystery, Kid Color), national favorites (Grouplove, Com Truise) and more. Prices per show vary. $100 five-day pass.
(Free!) 21: Winter Block Party for Chicago’s Hip-Hop Arts
Metro, 3730 N. Clark St.
A little winter weather can’t stop Chicago from block partying (well, indoors, anyway). Show your love for the local hip-hop arts community at this annual bash featuring films, galleries, breakdancing crews and the crowd-pleasing Emcee Olympics emcee battle. Noon-6 p.m.
28: Lakeview Polar Bear Club Celebration of Shrinkage
Oak Street Beach, 1000 N. Lake Shore Drive
You’re not afraid of a little icy water, are you? Show the new year who’s boss by taking a dunk with over brave souls in this seasonal tradition, which also raises money for local families in need. Noon. $20-$30: lakeviewpolarbearclub.com.
(Free!) 29: Lunar New Year Parade
Cermak Road and Wentworth Avenue
This isn’t any ol’ Chinese New Year celebration—the parade kicks off the many Chinatown Centennial bashes to come, honoring 100 years of the neighborhood in Chicago. Check out the parade for the marching bands, floats and the mystical dragon. 1 p.m.
4: Soup and Bread at Hideout
7: Glitter Guts 4th Anniversary Party at Lincoln Hall
8: Elvis Fest at The Original Mother’s
13: The Original Improv Gladiators: Season 15 at The Cornservatory
13-14: Crispin Hellion Glover Returns at Music Box Theatre
16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Chicago History Museum
18: Portlandia: The Tour at Hideout
20-21: Kathy Griffin at Chicago Theatre
23: Funny Ha-Ha: Welcome to the 2012 at Hideout
26: Sundance 2012 at Music Box Theatre
27-29: Snow Days Chicago at Navy Pier
Jessica Galliart is the RedEye Social Media Lady and Events and Theater Producer. firstname.lastname@example.org