Snow way out
Navy Pier's annual winter party returns this year with snow-sculpting competitions among 15 professional teams from around the world and 12 local high school teams. Watch as cold carvers from India, Mexico, Ukraine, Argentina, Norway, the Czech Republic and other countries pare and mold snow into magical creations illuminated by a festive light display each night of Snow Days. Enjoy snow painting, an interactive snowboard experience, kids' activities, live entertainment and the Shedd Aquarium's Magellanic Penguins up-close and indoors.
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at Navy Pier's Gateway Park, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. Free. navypier.com/snowdays.
He blinded me with food science
Food has become theater, and "Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour" proves it. The show, staged at Chicago's Oriental Theatre, is a mixture of comedy, culinary arts, mad science, multimedia lecture and music. The interactive element means you could find yourself onstage serving as Brown's assistant.
3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. Ticket prices vary. (800) 745-3000 or tinyurl.com/l7u47u9 for details and prices.
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Make this Valentine's Day special with a Chillcation -- a romantic escape in Chicago dedicated to shedding winter monotony with a quick break to relax and reset. Participating hotels are the Conrad Chicago, Hilton Chicago and Palmer House Hilton. They all offer Just Chillin' packages that include perks like complimentary breakfast for two, free or discounted parking, a selection of DVDs for in-room movie nights, and two Chillcation insulated mugs with unlimited refills for coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
Packages must be booked by March 31 for stays through April 20 at the Conrad Chicago, 521 N. Rush St.; Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave.; and Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St. Rates start at $103 per night. chillcation.com.
Cuckoo for cocoa
You'll be rolling in the deep chocolate at the second annual In Celebration of Chocolate extravaganza at The American Club resort in Kohler, Wis. It's three days of chocolate-themed seminars, educational demonstrations, tastings and experiential dining. The weekend festival commences with the In Celebration of Chocolate Wine Dinner, then it's a full day of educational demonstrations hosted by food and beverage experts from The Kitchens of Kohler. The Signature Event is a gala-style affair with myriad food tastings and confections at the Kohler Design Center. Finish at The Wisconsin Room farm-to-table restaurant for a Chocolate Lovers' Brunch. Reserve hotel packages at The American Club or Inn on Woodlake or select from the a la carte ticketed events.
Friday through Sunday, Feb. 7-9, at The American Club resort, Kohler, Wis. Event prices vary. (800) 344-2838 or AmericanClub.com.
Polar vortex annex
It's a Frosty Frolic in Cambridge, Wis., a sweet town between Madison and Milwaukee. Count on wacky outhouse races, kites on ice, turkey bowling and watch the Dip for Dozer Plunge. In between, browse area boutiques for Valentine's Day specials; experience artist demonstrations in their studios (Cambridge is known for its community of potters); and enjoy wine tastings and an overnight stay.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, in Cambridge, Wis. visitcambridgewi.com/frostyfrolic.htm.
On the rocks
Nearby St. Joseph, Mich., beckons with its annual Magical Ice Fest and an avalanche of activities. Watch professionals do their thing during the NICA Certified Individual Ice Carving Competition including Ice Wars -- a head-to-head competition by carving champions. Get in on a scavenger hunt, see a breathtaking evening display of fire and ice, watch magician John Dudley perform a variety of tricks and stop in at Waikiki Weekend to learn how to hula with live hula dance demonstrations.
11 a.m. to midnight Friday, Feb 7; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at various venues in downtown St. Joseph, Mich. MagicalIceFest.com or (269) 985-1111.