While nothing beats an exotic escape, you don’t need to jet-set for a serious dose of culture. We rounded up 10 things you can do to glimpse the world beyond Chicago without ever leaving.
A Viking ship arrives at The Field Museum.
1. Get to Know the Vikings The Field Museum promises to challenge preconceptions of the Viking people as brutal warriors with an exhibit showcasing almost 500 artifacts dating from eighth- to 11th-century Scandinavia, including swords and armor, the oldest known Scandinavian crucifix, and a replica of a Viking ship. Through October 4. 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312-922-9410; Explore the exhibit here
2. Catch a Foreign Film Watch a movie you’ve never heard of at the 18th annual European Union Film Festival, which showcases 61 new feature films from 27 countries. Through April 2. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., 312-846-2085; Browse the schedule here
A performance of El Pasado Nunca Se Termina.
3. Lose Yourself in the Sounds of Mexico Mariachi meets opera in the world premiere of El Pasado Nunca Se Termina (The Past is Never Finished), presented by Lyric Opera on March 28-29. The show, featuring music by mariachi group Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, tells the story of star-crossed lovers on the eve of the Mexican Revolution. Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., 312-419-0033; Purchase tickets here
4. Dine with Flamenco Dancers Sip seasonal sangria and share tapas while Chicago-based dance group El Payo performs a contemporary take on traditional Flamenco at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba’s Flamenco Dinner Show. April 11. 2024 N. Halsted St., 773-935-5000; Call for reservation
A Ragamala dancer.
5. Experience the Magic of India An Eat, Pray, Love excursion may be out of reach, but Indian dance ensemble Ragamala and jazz saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa will give you a taste of the subcontinent with Song of the Jasmine, their performance fusing Western jazz and South Indian music and movement. April 11-12. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., 312-280-2660; Purchase tickets here
6. Indulge in Coastal Dishes Toast warmer weather with Nacional 27’s Costa Rican-inspired Jaguar Colada (rum, passion fruit, and coconut, served in a coconut), part of a special menu showcasing the flavors of the tropical country. Also on the menu: papas bravas (potatoes in a spicy tomato aioli) and the Guaro Sour (aguardiente, lime, simple syrup). April 9-11. 325 W. Huron St., 312-664-2727
Homemade gnocchi at Eataly.
7. Learn to Cook Like the Italians Mix and roll your own potato gnocchi in a hands-on cooking class at Eataly’s La Scuola. Then watch the chef prepare three versions of the classic Italian staple with seasonal sauces, which you’ll get to enjoy while sipping complimentary wines. April 30. 43 E. Ohio St., 312-521-8700; Book the class here
8. Spend an Evening Across the Pond Check out Birmingham-born ska band The English Beat (formerly The Beat) on April 20 as frontman Dave Wakeling makes City Winery his stage. Listen for the ska hits that propelled The Beat to fame in the '80s and tracks off The English Beat's new album, Here We Go Love. 1200 W. Randolph St., 312-733-9463; Purchase tickets here
Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre.
9. Take a Trip Around the World Chicago Rhythm Fest kicks off with Stomping Grounds, a series of dance concerts evoking the cultures of Mexico, Spain, Africa, Ireland, and the U.S. Among the dance companies performing are Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre, and Trinity Irish Dance Company. April 14-May 13. Various locations, 800-982-2787; See the schedule here
10. Sip International Wines Wine Riot visits Chicago May 15-16, bringing with it 250 wines from around the world. Sample French Bordeaux and Tuscan Lambrusco, and while you’re at it, gather tips from experts on everything from the winemaking process to food-wine pairings. Great Hall at Union Station, 500 W. Jackson Blvd., 800-430-1553; Purchase tickets here
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF THE FIELD MUSEUM; TODD ROSENBURG (LYRIC OPERA); ED BOCK (RAGAMALA); FACEBOOK.COM/EATALYCHICAGO; STOMPING GROUNDS