The holidays are over, but Bloomington is still teeming with fun things to do. Whether you want to embrace the cold and experience the winter outdoors or stay cozy inside with a book, a basket of yarn, or a drink (hot or alcoholic — or both!), the Bloomington area has you covered. Here’s a list of 12 unique events happening during January and February that will keep you busy during the post-holiday lull.
Arts & Crafts
Winter in Bloomington: a perfect time to learn a craft.
Macrame Plant Hanger Workshop
January 20, noon to 2 p.m.
Got a new plant but no place to put it? Hang it in your new macrame plant hanger that you make at Gather’s Macrame Plant Hanger Workshop! Gather, the “handmade shoppe and Co.” on Bloomington’s downtown square, will host the craft event on Saturday, January 20, from noon to 2 p.m. Columbus, Ohio fiber artist Sarah Harste will instruct participants in the basics of macrame knots; everyone can take home their own handwoven plant hanger! Materials will be provided, including beads and decorations, as well as a pot and living plant specimen. Tickets are $75 with a January 17 registration deadline.
Pendant Wire Wrapping
January 25, 5 to 8 p.m.
January 23, 6 to 8 p.m.
Bloomington Stitchery, 421 E. 3rd St., Suite 7, will host a guided craft night on Tuesday, January 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. The theme is Pride Patches, and participants will be able to design and hand-embroider their own felt badges. Event instructor Miranda Merkley says, “Participants of the Pride Patch event will be able to make their own badges to show the world what they’re proud of. Wear your pride on your sleeve! Or hat, or backpack, or jacket….” Materials will be provided. Visit the event page on Facebook to register and learn more. Tickets are $15 but attendees may craft as many felt patches as they like. Adults 18 and up only, plus BYOB!
The Great Outdoor Winter Wonderland
All four seasons offer plenty of reasons to get outside and experience nature — even in the cold of winter! Whether you’re into casual hikes or hardcore naturalism, Monroe County and the surrounding areas provide a spectrum of opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Without snakes!
New Year’s Resolution Hike
January 6, noon to 2 p.m.
If your New Year’s resolutions include getting more exercise, practicing a healthier lifestyle, or simply being outdoors more often, then hiking can help with all three. Sycamore Land Trust organizes plenty of social hikes throughout the year. Their New Year’s Resolution Hike is one way to start the year off on the right foot. Hikers will convene on Saturday, January 6, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Laura Hare Nature Preserve at Downey Hill for a scenic trek through the Brown County hills. The Hoosier Hikers Council recently finished blazing the 6-mile loop trail through the preserve’s nearly 600 acres of pristine Indiana backwoods. The hike is free for SLT members, $5 for nonmember individuals, and $10 for families; and you’ll need to RSVP ahead of time.
Master Naturalist Course
Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m., January 16 through March 6
Is it your desire to become an officially certified Master Naturalist, or do you simply want to expand your knowledge of Indiana’s flora, fauna, geology, and geography? Then perhaps the Indiana Master Naturalist Course is your ticket. The course will be led by more than ten experts, ranging from professors to conservationists to biologists to DNR specialists, with presentations and discussions focused on topics like nonnative species, forest management, water quality, and the identification of Indiana’s birds, trees, fish, and butterflies. Participants of the course can expect to connect with other Hoosiers who prioritize conservation and community-oriented values.
Hosted by Monroe County Parks and Recreation, the class will meet on Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m., January 16 through March 6. Sessions will be held at Karst Farm Park. The registration deadline is January 12 at 4 p.m. and space is limited. Cost is $50 per individual or $75 for a couple. Completion of the course will make participants eligible for certification as an Indiana Master Naturalist.
Eagles Over Monroe
January 26 through 28, daylong events
Between 1985 and 1989, 73 bald eagles were reintroduced to Lake Monroe. These days there are an estimated 100 pairs of eagles nesting in the area around the lake. Bald eagles mate for life, and they can live up to 30 years in the wild!
From January 26 through 28, Fourwinds Lakeside Inn will host Eagles Over Monroe, an annual event celebrating the majestic birds of Lake Monroe. Open to all, participating birders will have the opportunity to attend lectures, meet live raptors, tour the lake and the eagles’ habitat to see them in the wild, and maybe even spot a rare and elusive golden eagle. Go to the Visit Bloomington website for registration information and a detailed calendar of events.
Small Town, Big Shows
Bloomington’s musical repertoire is world famous. As such, three world-famous artists will be performing downtown in February.
February 5, 8 p.m.
Bloomington favorite Jens Lekman returns to The Bishop bar on Monday, February 5, presented by Spirit of ’68 Promotions. Lekman is a Swedish indie-pop musician — and one of Secretly Canadian’s longest-running artists — whose performances have become very popular in Bloomington over the past decade. Lekman likes to joke and have fun with his audience, but his performances are anchored by the intensity of his textured guitar sound and his deep vocals. Keep an eye out for Lekman enjoying his time in Bloomington. He’s known to stroll and see the sights, and, on past jaunts to our fair city, he’s even been spotted with his guitar on downtown street corners. There’s a long guest list on the event page, so attendants can expect a cozy crowd. Doors open at 8 p.m. The show is $20, begins at 9, and is 18+.
February 16, 8 p.m.
Gin Blossoms, the lighter side of ’90s alternative rock in a time of Nirvana and Soundgarden, will revitalize that golden past at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Friday, February 16. The performance is in celebration of the 25th anniversary of their second album, New Miserable Experience. The album contains the single “Hey Jealousy,” which, along with a few other early hits, led to the Gin Blossoms’ fame. The band will perform the album in its entirety along with a variety of their other popular songs. The show is scheduled for 8 p.m. Tickets are $45-55.
February 28, 8 p.m.
Ani DiFranco, the genre-defying ’90s powerhouse — singer, songwriter, activist, poet, and entrepreneur (she founded her own music label, Righteous Babe Records, in 1990) — is bringing the feminist fire to the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Wednesday, February 28. Part of DiFranco’s “Rise Up” tour, the show will certainly invigorate the inner activist in any attendee.
The tour is promoting her twentieth studio album, Binary. DiFranco is quoted as saying, “I’m just happy to have some good tools in my toolbox to address what’s happening now — the feminist diatribes are turned up nice and high on this record!” DiFranco will be joined by New York duo Gracie and Rachel, two stark female leads who cut right to the soul with haunting vocals, soaring violin, and poppy piano. The show is scheduled for 8 p.m. Tickets are $45-50.
Let the (Local) Shows Begin!
Big name bands aren’t the only shows worth seeing in town this winter. Bloomington’s local music scene is packed with shows featuring resident musicians. Shake the doldrums at a dance party, brush off the snow at a blues jam, or turn up the heat at one of Bloomington’s many music venues.
Weekly Blues Jam
Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
A Bloomington institution, The Players Pub is known for staging blues and bluegrass shows; the Pub also hosts spoken-word nights, jazz shows, and rock ’n’ roll. Every Tuesday at 8 p.m., The Pub hosts its Weekly Blues Jam. Each week, a different band — often an ensemble of local musicians — takes the stage to riff on some 12-bar blues while you sit back and enjoy a brew.
Afro-Latin Dance Party
January 20, 9 p.m.
Serendipity Martini Bar hosts a variety of themed events, from trivia nights to dance parties. This month’s Afro-Latin Dance Party, facilitated by Southern Indiana Kizomba Dance School, is on January 20 at 9 p.m. SoInKiz offers its own packed calendar of classes and dance parties, but they join with Serendipity to provide a monthly night of free lessons, Latin-themed drink specials at the cash-only bar, and endless dancing, including Kizomba, Semba, Bachata, Salsa, Cumbia, and Reggaeton styles.
Winspear Review 2018
January 25, 9:30 p.m.
Bloomington is home to a number of record labels. The new kid on the block, Winspear, was founded just a few years ago by college buddies Ben Wittkugel and Jared Jones. Now the label and management company has grown beyond its roots, including regional artists on its roster alongside local favorites like Amy O and Spissy.
On January 25, The Bishop will host the Winspear Review 2018, featuring performances from the label’s own Amy O, Duncan Kissinger, Kevin Krauter, and Major Murphy. With such clout as this, Winspear seems to have made itself comfortable alongside other local institutions. The show has a $10 cover and is 18+.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the goings-on in Bloomington this season. From theater productions to film festivals, craft nights to book clubs, Bloomington is buzzing with things to do. Tell us about the events you’re excited for on Facebook or in the comments below!