Every summer, Grant Park is host for a free outdoor classic movie festival on Tuesday evenings. More information is on the official City of Chicago webpage below. I have not been to one of these yet, but for all of us classic movie-lovers, this would be a great experience!
Chicago is an extremely neighborhood oriented city with each area possessing a very specific and interesting character. During the summer there are a large number of huge city festivals, i.e. Taste of Chicago, Chicago Blues Festival, etc. but there are also smaller neighborhood festivals where many of the locals go to drink some beer and listen to live music over the summer weekends. These places are a great way to mingle with young Chicago residents and see some of the neighborhoods that the normal tourist wouldn't normally think to venture too.
The "Christkindlmarket" celebrated its 10th anniversary this December. It has a "sister market" in Nuremberg, Germany. This years market opened on November 25 th by the Christmas Fairy with the lighting of the tree. There was live entertainment and fireworks celebrating the opening of this years market. The Christkindlmarket will stay open until December 22, 2005. There are many events planned throughout the coming weeks, with a holiday cookie contest, raffles for a trip to Germany on December 18th. On December 17 The Canterbury Carolers perform.
The Christkindlmarket offers many different vendors selling Christmas ornaments, angel chimes or "pyramids," lace tablecloths and German "wood" art and of course the famous Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks. There were great alpaca coverups from Tibet and Ecuador there as well.
Bring an appetite with you for the many treats available: Fruits dipped in chocolate, fresh marzipan, hot apple cider and "Hot Gluewein/Glogg", Potato pancakes and Hot pretzels, Wurst, and Stollen. Of course you can find that true "German" treat known as "churros." Ok ok yes I am joking "churros" are not German but a treat found in Mexico as well as Spain. So you could say the Christkindlemarket is multi-cultural festival.
You can find the Christkindlmarket Near Daley Plaza at Clark Street/Dearborn Street/Washington Boulevard
Starting in mid-July and going until the end of August, the city of Chicago shows movies in Grant Park every Tuesday night. Shows start at 8:30 but get there much earlier if you want a good spot since 20,000+ show up. Check the weather and don't forget to bring some food.
Always the second weekend in June this festival is the oldest juried art fair in the country. Quite an event in itself. Food, art, lots of beautiful people and gardens. (Not the same as the Wells Street Arts festival which is held the same weekend). Place to go to see lots of 30 somethings drink beer, look good and pretend to look at art.
My trip to Chicago just happened to coincide with the first annual BuskerFest, an annual event that invites street performers from all over the country to come perform their acts, however strange, on the streets of Chicago.
It was a three day event (Aug 1-3) and was spread out over several square blocks. I only caught a bit of it but it was worth seeing. Every act was 'free', but the artists work on tips so fill the hats when they come around.
Visit Christkindlmarket a little bit after Thanksgiving, into the Christmas season. You'll find tons of German wares for sale in this outdoor market. The best part is the food... they have great German brats and kraut, plus you CAN'T go wrong with potato pancakes and applesauce. Mmmm... hey, but there's also German beer and other different German foods, if that's your thing. Anyway, it's located in Daley Plaza, which is just off State Street, and you can't miss it... there's the huge Picasso artwork in the square, along with the huge Christmas tree.
If you happen to be in Chicago over St. Patrick's Day, make sure to go down to the Magnificent Mile to watch them die the river green.