Attractions and Special Events
Lollapalooza is an annual music festival. It began in 1991 when Perry Farrell thought of the idea as a farewell tour for his band, Jane’s Addiction. Farrell is still involved with the planning of the festival to this day. In 2005 he partnered with William Morris Agency and Capital Sports Entertainment to find new ways to grow to get the festival to grow. Since then it has grown into an international destination music festival that celebrates the alternative genre.
The festival is featured in multiple international locations which vary from year to year. However, the main Lollapalooza festival is held in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois. Every year tickets to the 4-day festival sell out within 24 hours. Local artists, such as Chance the Rapper, have gained notoriety due to their performances here.
Wrigley Field is a historic baseball park located on the North Side of Chicago in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. Known as “The Friendly Confines” Wrigley is home to one of the most iconic sports franchises of all time, the Chicago Cubs.
Wrigley first opened in 1914 as Weegham Park, but it wasn’t until approximately 2 years later that the Cubs played their first game there. Although, it wasn’t until 1927 that the field was officially renamed to Wrigley after the Wrigley family purchased a controlling interest in the team.
Wrigley has maintained its status as one of the premier locations in all of sports partly based on the fact that it has retained so much of its original luster. It’s one of only three parks that still has a hand-turned scoreboard, an ivy-covered brick outfield wall, and is located directly in the middle of a residential neighborhood…which makes finding a parking spot incredibly fun! Consistent renovations have added new bleachers, box seats, and much more, but it’s the history that leaves you in awe when you walk under the famous red marquee over the front door, not the glittery lights.
The Shedd Aquairum is an indoor public aquarium located along Lake Michigan on the south side of Chicago. At one point, it was the largest indoor aquarium in the world with over 5,000,000 US gallons of water. Making its home on the Museum Campus on Lake Shore Drive the aquarium also shares space with the Adler Planetarium and the Museum of Natural History.
The Shedd Aquarium was able to be built because of a $2 million donation from John Groves Shedd, the namesake of the museum. It was his intention that the aquarium showcase “the greatest variety of sea life under one roof.” When it opened in December of 1929…it did not disappoint.
It was revolutionary for the time, having both a freshwater and saltwater aquaria. Over time it continued to grow and embrace its role as a leading institution. It is now home to over 32,000 animals with mammal, reef and seahorse exhibits. Over 2.5 million people came to visit the aquarium in 2016 from all over the world.
Navy Pier is a 3,300 foot long pier located in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. It extends from the shoreline into Lake Michigan and has become one of the top recreational destinations in the Midwest. Housing parks, shops, restaurants and family fun activities, Navy Pier has something for everyone.
Navy Pier opened to the public on July 15, 1916 with humble beginnings. The original purpose of the pier had more to do with trade and goods than entertainment. It was designed mainly for the docking of freights and passenger travel ships with a modest amount of restaurants and establishments. However, over time it began to adapt and change to meet the needs of the city. During WWII it served as a training center for the U.S. Navy and in 1946 The University of Illinois at Chicago began to hold classes there.
Today Navy Pier is home to a countless number of attractions. From the Children’s Museum and the Shakespeare Theater to the fireworks on July 4th, something is always happening. When you stop by…don’t forget to check out the new Ferris wheel. The DW60 is the only one of its kind operating in the U.S. Although the original model was retired in 2015, the new one more than delivered on the iconic status the wheel has become.
Chicago Auto Show
The Chicago Auto Show is an annual event held every year at the McCormick Place in the city of Chicago. It is the nation’s biggest and largest running auto show in North America. The event began in 1901 and was only put on hold because of World War II. The country stopped the production of cars for consumer use because all of the manufacturing plants in America were retooled to accommodate the defense and aviation industries. Because of that the auto show was not held between the years of 1941-1949.
Widely known as the most influential consumer auto show of the year, the Chicago Auto Show has taken on a life of its own. It boasts over 1,000,000 visitors every year and continues to grow. With more than 1 million sq. ft. of exhibition space and special days (family day, ladies day etc.) the auto show changed from something guys checked out to an event the entire family could enjoy.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a grease monkey, a gear head, or just a regular person who enjoys having a great time. The auto show has transformed itself from a niche event to one that is looked forward to be everyone. The newest and most innovative automotive technologies, good food and games, and a lot of smiling faces await everyone who stops by.
The Chicago Marathon is an annual marathon held in the city of Chicago. It is one of the six World Marathon Majors and is also an IAAF Gold Label Race. It was established on September 25, 1977 and has been held every year since.
The race has generated great interest among both individuals and organizations. Promoters of the event have developed relationships with corporate sponsors who put up prize money, thus enticing elite athletes to compete. Non-profits and charities have also used the event as a means to fund raising.
Millennium Park is a public park located in the Loop. Millennium Park covers a total of 24.5 acres and is actually part of a bigger area, Grant Park. The park was conceived as an idea to celebrate the 3rd millennium. However, many problems common to the construction industry led to the park officially opening on July 16, 2004…four years behind schedule. In 2017 Millennium Park was the top tourist destination in Chicago.
The park serves many purposes for many people, and its versatility is part of what’s led to its popularity. Its known for having four prominent art pieces: Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, and the Lurie Garden. In the winter there is ice skating open to the public, and the summer has a variety of musical performances, including the Grant Park Music Festival.
Taste of Chicago
The Taste of Chicago is the world’s largest food festival, held annually in Grant Park. In 1980, Arnie Morton, creator of the famous Morton Group restaurant chain, decided to have the best Chicago restaurants line up and offer their goods. He worked out a deal with the mayor and Commissioner of Cultural Arts to block off Michigan Ave and from there the legend began.
They initially thought 100,000 people would come to the event. 250,000 visitors later they knew they had something special. Today there are rides, musical performances and a variety of family friendly events. In all its years of operations the Taste has only closed for a full day, one time, in 2006 to excessive rain causing unsafe conditions.” People don’t travel all the way to the Windy City just to see empty vendor stalls. Millions of people come from around the world to visit the Taste. It gained so much popularity that many cities have tried to incorporate their own “Taste of…” food festivals.
House of Blues
The House of Blues is a chain of live music concert halls and restaurants located in the United States. Many people believe that there is only one House of Blues, or that the location in Chicago is the only location. Fortunately, this isn’t the case! The awesomeness that the House of Blues delivers can be experienced in multiple locations, from Boston to California.
Isaac Tigrett started the House of Blues as a labor of love. Growing up in Tennessee he was raised on blues, R&B, gospel, and rock-n-roll music. Once he became an adult he recognized the need for a high quality, blues based club. He created the House of Blues to not only entertain people during a night out, but also serve as a place for both established and up and coming musicians.
Many of the decorations have deep meaning and historical roots. From the stage curtains representing enslaved African artwork, to the hand painted signs that reflect on the history of juke joints, the House of Blues has woven itself into the fabric of our society. Great music, great food in a great atmosphere. You’re guaranteed to have a great time.
Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean, is a public art sculpture located in Millennium Park. It was designed by the artist Sir Anish Kapoor and has become a staple for tourism in Chicago. Measuring 33 by 66 by 42 feet, it is composed of 168 stainless steel plates that were welded together in such a way that it is completely seamless. The underside of it is an omphalos, the ancient Greek word for navel. In ancient Greek mythology Zeus sent two eagles in opposite directions to meet at the “navel” of center of the world.
Cloud Gate is situated in a way which allows it to reflect the sky and also the Chicago skyline. Kapoor designed it in this way to engage the viewer and blur the line between what is and what is possible.
What I wanted to do in Millennium Park is make something that would engage the Chicago skyline … so that one will see the clouds kind of floating in, with those very tall buildings reflected in the work. And then, since it is in the form of a gate, the participant, the viewer, will be able to enter into this very deep chamber that does, in a way, the same thing to one’s reflection as the exterior of the piece is doing to the reflection of the city around.
Chicago Restaurant Week
Chicago Restaurant Week is an annual event organized every winter by Choose Chicago. It allows visitors, foodies and lovers of all things amazing, to enjoy specialty menus from over 370 participating Chicago restaurants. For two weeks you can sample great food from an amazing range of restaurants for an affordable price; $22 for brunch or lunch, and $33 and/or $44 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity).
Different restaurants participate every year and as the popularity of the event continues to grow, it only adds to the variety. Located all over the city and offering specials that range from an early breakfast to a late dinner, Restaurant Week has it all.
Lyric Opera of Chicago is one of the leading opera companies in the United States. It was founded in 1954 by Carol Fox, Nicola Rescigno and Lawrence Kelly. Carol Fox was the first American female opera impresario and at the age of 28 she was already taking center stage. Rescigno was a prominent figure in Italian opera repertory and saw the young, creative energy and knew it was an outlet for his vision. He served as the artistic director for the startup company and built it into something that became iconic.
The opera is currently held in the Civic Opera House which is located at 20 N Upper Wacker Dr #400.
The Joffrey Ballet is a professional dance company that is located in Chicago. They were founded in 1956 by Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino. They were renowned artists who felt discouraged because at the time many ballets were only performing reduced versions of ballet classics. Joffrey and Arpino felt that ballet was too beautiful to be compromised and toured the country in a station wagon, performing original ballets.
In 1966 they were invited to become the main ballet attraction in New York City, proving that dedication to a dream mixed with an incredible talent and work ethic can pay off. After many successful years in the Big Apple, in 1995, the Joffrey Ballet left New York and took up its permanent home in Chicago. They currently have plans to make their new home the Civic Opera House in 2020.
Buckingham Fountain is a large public fountain located in Grant Park at 301 S Columbus Drive. It is a work of art that represents Lake Michigan. The four sets of sea horses surrounding it represent the 4 states, (Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana) that border the lake.
It was donated in 1927 by Kate Buckingham in memory of her brother, Clarence Buckingham. Kate and Clarence were both avid art collectors and had donated countless works of art to public institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago. He had already passed, and she thought it would be a great tribute in his name.
The fountain is open to the public from mid-March through November from 8am – 11pm. There is free WiFi for all visitors and water shows run every 20 minutes.
The Christkindlmarket is the largest German Christmas market in the United States. It’s held in Daley Plaza every year, but has recently added a second location in Wrigleyville and a 3rd in Naperville. The market features traditional German food and drinks along with hand-made goods, ranging from glass ornaments to wood figurines.
The German Chamber of Commerce in Chicago got the idea from a festival of the same name, in Nuremberg, Germany. They though that bringing a festival to Chicago was a great way to celebrate the German heritage in the area. In only its second year the festival had over 750,000 visitors.
Chicago Air and Water Show
The Chicago Air and Water Show is an annual air show held on the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago. It began in 1959 and has been held every year since. The famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds alternate years as the headliners for the show.
The Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds are some of the most accomplished pilots the world has ever seen. The Air and Water show has become famous for the death defying stunts and aerial maneuvers they have performed. Dare devil acts, parachuting, and even a water ballet are just a few of the events planned throughout the performance.
Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
The Zoo Lights is an annual event held in Lincoln Park where every square inch of the zoo is covered in Christmas Lights! Well…not really every single square inch, but it is a lot. In fact, over 2.5 million lights are run over everything to create an amazing display.
The Zoo Lights typically run for a few weeks and are great time for the both the family, and just adults. Entrance is free and there are plenty of things for everyone to enjoy. Ice sculptures, snowman building contest, ferris wheels, and hot chocolate can be found all over. And when you want to leave the kids at home and just spend time with that special someone, Zoo Lights turns into Brew Lights! On a few select evenings the park is open only to adults and you can purchase alcohol while you walk the grounds.
Open House Chicago
Open House Chicago is an annual festival held by the Chicago Architecture Foundation that offers behind the scenes access to great buildings in the city. For 2 days visitors, tourists, and the just overall curious get a chance to get a glimpse inside buildings and structures that have helped make Chicago famous. What began as something small only a few years ago has turned into a nationally known event. In its first year, Open House drew in 23,000 visitors. Fast forward to 2017 and there were over 100,000.Towering skyscrapers, residential homes, structures and memorials…the problem you’re going to have is trying to figure out how to fit it all in. You only have two days!
As the CAF continues to expand programs and educational activities about architecture in the area the event will only continue to grow in scope. Already it is considered one of the premier events in the country and unique in how it opens up normal, but unseen space.
The Naperville Ribfest is a festival held in the summer, usually over July 4th, in the city of Naperville. Organized by the Exchange Club of Naperville, this event is one of the largest rib festivals in the country. Featuring national headline music acts and BBQ chefs from across the nation this festival draws in millions of visitors each year.
5 Music stages and award winning BBQ guarantee a great time for the whole family.
Join us at Knoch Park in Naperville, Illinois, (located 26 miles west of Chicago) for an amazing #partywithapurpose!
Chicago Jazz Festival
The Chicago Jazz Festival is a very famous music festival held in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. The festival originally started as a tribute to the great jazz musician Duke Ellington. It was shortly after his death in 1974 that the first gathering was held. Over 10,000 people attended and from there it continued to grow. It became an annual event and within a few short years the Chicago Cultural Center took over organizing the event with the official blessing of the city.
Some of the most famous jazz musicians from around the world have played here. Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Anthony Braxton, Betty Carter…the list goes on and on. However, the festival isn’t just known for showcasing the biggest names in the industry, it also serves as a prominent stage for young talent.
Winter Wonderfest is annual event held in Festival Hall on Navy Pier. It began over 17 years ago and was officially known as Mayor Daley’s Winter Wonderfest. Since then it has grown to take up over twice the space of the original event. It features an incredible amount of activities for the entire family to enjoy.
Arctic sleigh rides, ice skating, massive Christmas trees and photo opportunities galore await you inside this winter paradise. There are toy trains, a rock climbing wall, bumper cars and hot cocoa. There’s enough going on to make sure the fun never ends! There’s also a great opportunity to meet Santa. He’s always in demand this time of year so his schedule is tight, but he makes time for the Winter Wonderfest, it’s too big an event to miss.
Chicago Blues Festival
Chicago is a town that has always taken its Blues seriously. The scene may not be what it once was, but the quality can still rival what you find anywhere else. That’s never more obvious than at the legendary Chicago Blues Festival. From its very humble beginnings to today, the greats have always acknowledged the role Chicago played in Blues development and treated the festival accordingly.