The weekend is finally here!  Chicagoans will be celebrating “The Big Thaw” in more ways than one!!

It is only fitting that after this past week’s polar vortex, Groundhog Day will be celebrated this Saturday with two events!  First up is the 7th annual Groundhog Celebration at The Leigh Gallery (3306 N. Halsted St.) in the Lakeview neighborhood from 12:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.  Have your photo taken with the Gallery Groundhog; then enjoy Groundhog punch, Groundhog cookies ,and giveaways.  Be sure to keep an eye out for special promotions as well.  Second, celebrate Woodstock Groundhog Days at Woodstock Moose Lodge (406 Clay St.) in Woodstock (61.2 miles northwest of Chicago).  This event commemorates the classic 1993 film of the same name starring Bill Murray. The festivities include the annual Chili Cook-Off! The public is invited to sample the chili and vote too.  Attendees will also gather to see Woodstock Willie (area groundhog) leave his tree trunk home and predict if winter will stay or go!  All I’ve got to say about this is “no shadow – bring on an early spring!!”

The 2019 Chicago Ale Fest – Winter Edition is this Saturday at Lacuna Artist Lofts (2150 S. Canalport Ave.) in the Pilsen neighborhood.  This fest features over 100 American Craft Beers – with a strong focus on winter seasonals, live music, an infusion tent, and five of Chicago’s best food trucks.  In addition, the “Hidden Gems Booth” features mystery bottles from each brewery’s personal cellar to give guests an opportunity to try a ton of impossible to get beers!  So come beat the winter blues and thaw out with one of the largest selections of winter beers in Chicago!!

Celebrate the Year of the Pig and its promise of prosperity at the Chinese New Year Celebration  at the Art Institute, Modern Wing Entrance (159 E. Monroe St.) in The Loop on Saturday (1:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m.).  This multi-generational event features art making, storytelling, music, games, and gallery tours in both English and Mandarin!  Afterwards head on over to Maggie Daley Park (337 E. Randolph St.) for the Lantern Celebration from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  The Lantern Procession will travel through Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park and end with New Year’s activities including a lion dance, art making, and ice skating!!

As The Big Thaw continues on Sunday, I’m sure Chicagoans will be out in droves to attend one or more of Chicago’s Super Bowl LIII Parties as the Los Angeles Rams take on the New England Patriots!  For example, Dutch & Doc’s (3600 N. Clark St.) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood is hosting a family-friendly Super Bowl watch party with unlimited spaghetti and meatballs, Caesar salad, garlic bread, and ice cream — kids under 12 eat for free!  Or catch the big game action on a 32-inch TV in a private heated igloo with winter props, blankets, and more at Joy District (112 W. Hubbard St.) in the River North neighborhood!  Or let 10pin (330 N. State St.) on the Near North Side host your viewing party for the big game with $25 unlimited bowling all day and a free pizza buffet to anyone bowling during the game!

Here’s to The Big Thaw!!!