Free Things to Do in Chicago This October and November

Chicago Pumpkin Carving Contest Jack-O-Lanterns, carved lit pumpkins, cute We need free things to do in Chicago now more than ever. Who can afford a $8 beer and a $12 movie in this financial and economic uncertain time. I have heard more people say they are staying in to save money than I have in years. I still like to go enjoy Chicago though and sometimes you can do that for free if you know where and when the events are happening. Here are some free things to do in Chicago that are scheduled over October and November. I am guessing this is going to be a lean Christmas too.

1. A Kevin Coval reading free admission from The author, educator, HBO Def Poet and founder of Louder than a Bomb at The Chicago Teen Poetry Festival. He reads from his newly released book “Everyday People.”

2. Sixth Annual Pumpkin-Carving Party at the Avenue Tavern at 2916 North Broadway in Lakeview Call 773-975-7000. Free at 8pm-12am midnight on October 16th. Carve your own pumpkin creation and win prizes (pumpkin carving tools are provided). Afterward, the weird and wacky jack-o-lanterns are displayed outside the bar sidewalk through Nov. 1 or until the rot, or are carried away by squirrels whichever happens first.

5. Free Bingo/Tango 312-397-4010 at the Museum of Contemporary Art at 220 East Chicago Ave. Play some bingo and Learn Tango in the same night. What could be better? Between games, Somer Surgit and Agape Pappas teach quick Tango lessons. Every 2nd Tuesday of the Month at 6pm.

6. Yay for Free Stitch ‘n’ Bitch! 312-280-2660 Don’t you know knitting is cool now? Meet more young hip urbanites with creative focus at the Stich and Bitch. Yarn and crafts not provided, but bring whatever you are working on. Evey 1st Tuesday at the Museum of Contemporary Art. 5:30 pm.

7. Dia de los Muertos: La Vida Sin Fin 312-738-1503 The nation’s largest Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead exhibit, this 22nd annual collection highlights local and international artists.

8. The 12th Annual North Halsted St Halloween Parade 773-868-3010 Expect crazy costumes and over the top behavior in Boystown. The parade travels north on Halsted Street, from Belmont Avenue to Cornelia Street. Post-paradefestivities include a costume contest for your pets and your humans as well as live performers and entertainment by Halsted and Roscoe Streets. 

9. Green City Market at 1750 North Clark Street 773-435-0280 Hey, window shopping and browsing is free right? This great organics fest of food is still going in harvest season through October 29th.

10. The Weekly fireworks show at Navy Pier 312-595-7437 This is still going too, the fireworks have not stopped even though summer is over. They still set off a 10-minute fireworks display over Lake Michigan set to music every Saturday night at dusk.

11. Free admission for the Museum of Science and Industry 773-684-1414  This is for General admission only and only on Tuesdays. It still costs to park, see the Omnimax and 3-D movies or go on the “U-505″ submarine tour.

12.Freeeee Comedy Shows – Battle-Prov ComedySportz improv students face off against other funny local improv teams. For Discount/free days call 312-922-9410. There is free general admission in Feb and the 2ndMonday of each month. It’s usually wicked cheap funny anyway at $4-$7 per show at Comedy Sportz which is at 929 West Belmont Avenue.

13. Wicker Park Critical Mass Bike Ride 312-551-7300 ext. 11 This monthly bike ride through the Wicker Park neighborhood is a fun way to enjoy the fall leaves and colors and get exercise at the same time. Plus you meet cool hip urban eco friendly bike riding people.

14. Sunday Salutations Free yoga class 773-883-8860 Stretch and strengthen your muscles for free at this weekly class in the park, which is always weather permitting. Hosted by lululemon’s Halsted store anda different new yoga studio each month.

15. Free Literary Open Mic 773-489-2353 Bring your best poetry or prose and read it aloud at this weekly event.

16. Free Fall Cooking Demonstrations 773-241-5200 Get tips on picking seasonal produce and learn how to prepare turkey burgers with coleslaw and cranberry mayonnaise. Hyde Park Farmer’s Market at 5200 S. Harper Avenue at 9am on Thursday October 16.

17. The Free Grasshopper Show 773-880-0199 A rotating roster of eight current I.O. training center students pair up with I.O. instructors in a very funny longform harold improvised show. IO Theater is at 3541 N. Clark Street in Chicago.

18. The Free Improv Jam 773-880-0199 Be careful, the volunteer audience members perform improvscenes with veteran I.O. comics. Local improv guys Brett Lyons and Nathan Jensen host and drag you up on stage too if you let them. Same address as above.

19. Chelsea Handler book signing 773- 935-3909 The comedy writer and performer signs her new book of funny personal stories, “Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea.” 

20. Daniel Vosovic book signing 312-573-0564 The exciting “Pro ject Runway” finalist discusses his new book, “Fashion Inside Out: Daniel V’s Guide to How Style Happens from Inspiration to Runway and Beyond.” OMG!

21. The Free Daley Plaza 12th annual Halloween celebration, formerly called “Pumpkin Plaza,” features a haunted village, pumpkin decorating (weekends only), storytelling, live performances and more. Afternoons in late October.

22. The Great Walnut Room Tree Lighting at Macy’s in November 312-781-5454 Designer Tommy Hilfiger lights the 45-foot-tall tree in the Walnut Room. The tree, trimmed with nearly 15,000 lights and 4,000 ornaments, is on display through Jan. 11.

23. 13th Annual Christkindlmarket Chicago 312-494-2175 An open-air, German-style market showcases handmade ornaments, accessories, clothing and gifts from more than 50 vendors. Also features German food and drink such as beer, hot spiced wine, potato pancakes, bratwurst, schnitzel, strudel and more.

24. Howl-o-ween 312-595-7437 Bring your pooch for a cute dog costume parade in Gateway Park, or browse pet merchandise, information and animals are up for adoption inside the Festival Hall.

25. Isaac Mizrahi signing is new book at Barnes and Noble. 312-573-0564 The fashion designer discusses his new book, “How to Have Style.” Did you ever want to see the guy in person that brought high style to Target?

26. State Street Halloween Happening Parade 312-744-3315 Costumed participants march to Daley Plaza, where Halloween Pumpkin Plaza festivities include a costume contest, candy giveaways, performances, appearances by “Wicked” cast members and more.

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