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Special Events-Great Places and Spaces
2009 was the 11th year and unfortunately what looks to be the final year for this festival due to city budget cuts. In 2011 the Chicago Architecture Foundation joined several other international cities in doing an Open House weekend October 15-16, it appears to have replaced the GPS weekend
This is one of my favorite weekends in Chicago because it combines some of my favorite things-architecture, neighborhoods and free tours ($3 per tour convenience charge if you sign up online). There used to be tours on both Saturday and Sunday, 2009 is the 1st year that they are just on Saturday.
2009 is the 11th year that the city of Chicago has sponsored this, in past years we've visited Eli's cheesecake factory, Graceland Cemetery, Hyde Park (and it's connection to the 1893 Columbian Exposition), the Architectural River cruise, Uptown, Humboldt Park, Oak Woods cemetery and another free boat tour on Lake Michigan. In 2005 we visited Wicker Park, Chinatown, a Haunted bus tour, Second City walking tour of Old Town and the Gold Coast. 2006 we visited Jackson Boulevard, Potter Palmer's Gold Coast and Lincoln Square, 2007 we visited the new South Loop and the old Edgewood Historic District. In 2008, we visited Kenwood, Rosehill cemetery and a visit to the WGN studios with Rick Kogan. 2009 we will be going on the Bike Obama tour from Bobby's Bike Hikes and a tour of Little India on Devon Avenue.
The online registration for the premium events-the river/lake cruises, Eli's, bus tours, Segway tours and a couple of others-fill up pretty quickly but I there may still be space on the day of registration on some of them.
And there are a bunch of tours that are only available day of registration. Tickets are issued first come first serve starting at 7:30 am at the Chicago Architecture Foundation at 224 S. Michigan. In past years there have been lectures and buildings open to the public that aren't normally, looks like they have suspended that, at least for 2009.
For more info, check out the website below.
- Budget Travel
The Old Town Art Fair
A 2 Day Community Art Fair in Chicago usually held in one of the first two weekends in June usually between 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The suggested donation at one of the entrances to the Art Fair is usually under $10, but as it says it is a suggested donation, so you can contribute whatever you would like.
The art fair is held in a couple of blocks of Chicago's Old Town neighborhood which I have become much more acquainted with in the past several years and will be come even more familiar with since my oldest son moved there in June, 2012.
Besides the art there are a number of food vendors and music throughout the 2 day event.
Daley Plaza-seasonal events
There always seems to be something going on in Daley Plaza which is home to the Daley Center and also home to the Picasso sculpture. In the summer there are concerts, dancing and many ethnic festivals. Daley Plaza/Center is named for Richard J. Daley, Chicago's mayor from April 1955-December 1976 and father of former Mayor Richard M. Daley (April 1989-May 2011).
May 24-October 18, 2012 Farmer's Markets on Thursdays, 7am-3pm
October the plaza is decorated for Halloween with a haunted house and the fountain flows with orange water, in past years there have been performances by the Midnight Circus which are very entertaining, October 26-30, 2012.
November 23-December 24, 2011 the Christkindl Market is there, an open air German style Christmas market with vendors selling ornaments, crafts and lots of food
around Thanksgiving, late November the Holiday tree lighting ceremony takes place, November 23, 2011
For a full listing of monthly events, click on the website below and click on Under the Picasso
Wells Street Art Festival
Summer brings warm weather, thunderstorms and people out in droves in Chicago. It's also marks Street Festival Season in the city! Every weekend during the summer you can find, at the very least, one or more street festivals in various neighborhoods all over the city. One of my favorites is the Wells Street Art Festival. This particular festival is usually held every year in the middle of June. They close down about a mile long strip of Wells Street in Old Town and local artists set up booths down the middle of the street. The restaurants lining the street open up their outdoor cafes and some even set up booths in the festival hawking corn on the cob, margaritas, sandwiches, lemonade, etc. They suggest a donation of $5 at the entrance and all the proceeds go to the neighborhood council. They provide you with a map and a list of the participating artists in the fair. All of the art on display is for sale and it's a great way to meet the artists personally and learn more about them and their work. Local bands also play throughout the weekend. Check out the Chicago Reader (a weekly newspaper) to see what festivals are going on each weekend. Each festival reflects the host neighborhood well.
- Arts and Culture
Taste of Chicago
Downtown in Grant Park!!!!!
July 4th weekend is the best time!!! Tons to eat, tons of performers to see from diving off a 100 ft. plank, to street performers. Then you have all the prizes and concerts to see as you and your party get going when the fireworks come out!!!
Midwest's Largest Literary Event
It seems like my wife and I have gotten into the City of Chicago more in the past year or so since our oldest son moved into the Lincoln Park area of Chicago a few years ago. A few summers ago we made our way to the Lincoln Park area to walk around at the Old Town Art Fair and then took the "L" to just south of downtown to walk around at the Printer's Row Book Fair. There were actually a couple of other fairs going on in the city that weekend, but covering 2 was more then enough.
Great selection of old and new books, vintage postcards, author readings and interviews.
- Arts and Culture
Special Events-Fireworks at Venetian Night
Venetian Night appears to have been cancelled for 2010 due to budget cuts
I think the best fireworks of the season are not at the 4th of July festivities but at Venetian night held on a Saturday in late July/early August. The fireworks are preceded by a concert in Grant Park and a boat parade.
If you want to see the fireworks from Lake Michigan and aren't lucky enough to know someone with a boat, most of the tour boat operators have special fireworks cruises on that night just expect to pay a lot more than normal.
Do not try to drive downtown on Venetian Night, an estimated 675,000 people show up to watch the fireworks so the traffic getting in and out of the city is terrible and you have to wait for all the pedestrian traffic to clear out on the way out. A better idea is to park near an el station, we were already at Greektown so we hopped on the blue line to Monroe and Dearborn and walked the rest of the way and there were no crowds on the el.
Special Events-Air & Water Show
August 17-18, 2013 Due to the federal sequester, two of the show favorites, the Thunderbirds and the Golden Knights, will not be performing in 2013
Held in mid to late August on a Saturday and Sunday from 10 am-3pm, the Chicago Air and Water Show is a free show featuring civilian and US military aircraft and watercraft, the highlight being the US Navy Blue Angels or the US Air Force Thunderbirds at the end of each day. Also enjoyable are the acrobatic flyers such as the Lima Lima flight team which is based out of Naperville, IL, the Oracle plane and the Red Baron team.
Check the CTA website (www.transitchicago.com) for ideas on where the best viewing areas are and how to get there which is posted several days before the event. This is probably the most popular special event in Chicago besides the 4th of July, attendance is estimated at 2 million people over the 2 days, so you do not want to drive!!!!
Since we live south of the city, we usually drive up to 31st Street and Lake Shore Drive, park the car and ride our bicycles along the lakefront path to the Air Show.
In 2004, we went out on a friend's boat for a different vantage point. Although we really enjoyed the trip and the remarkably quick time to get there and back, the air show is staged so that the folks on North Avenue beach get the best show.
TASTE OF CHICAGO
This is the 4th of Luly food festival that takes place in Grand Park. Strolling there, you can enjoy delicious food from more then 70 restaurants. It's great event but it's important to know your limit and be strong enough to stop eating. After few hours of trying the whole world's cuisines, eating Saganaki sticks and ice-cream at the same time made me really sick...
It's such a great event taking place on last Saturday of July in Grant Park and its lakeshore. You can admire a colorful parade of decorated boats and then wait for breathtaking fireworks synchronized to the music . Just remember to get as close to the lake as possible. Otherwise you won't hear the music.
Pride Parade: Taste the Rainbow!
Chicago's Pride Parade is one of the largest in the nation, and indeed it is a massive event lasting over three hours long!
I just happened to be in Chicago that weekend and decided to check it out. It was a great time and reminded me a bit of Mardi Gras, with many floats tossing beads and a few proud lesbians exposing their breasts. Mostly it was just like any parade, with colorful floats, people tossing and handing out things, politicians, and such, but most of the groups had connections with the gay community. There were also many Chicago businesses, news reporters, and the Stanley Cup even made an appearance! The Skittles "Taste the Rainbow" float was cute!
Unlike the typical images (including my own!), not all of the floats featured flamboyant men wearing nothing but undies and drag queens. There were many floats that would fit into any regular parade, but if you're looking for the queens and skantily-clad queers, you won't be disappointed! There's plenty of both!
Arrive early for a good spot to view the parade and don't forget your sunscreen!
- Gay and Lesbian
- Budget Travel
GRANT PARK MUSIC FESTIVAL
Held in Millenium Park, the GRANT PARK MUSIC FESTIVAL is Chicago's free, outdoor summer-long, downtown classical Music Festival. The Festival presents 32 concerts from June 15 to August 20.
Our VT Meet Chicago included taking in the Music Festival. It was absolutely fabulous. It's been a much loved Chicago tradition for the past 77 years. People came out in droves - bringing folding chairs, blankets, babies and beverages. The entire Great Lawn (where we all sat) and half of the Seating Bowl, were available on a first-come basis. The front portion is reserved for season members.
Patrons may bring food and beverages, including beer and wine, to the Festival which is supported by public and private funding.
This was a great idea Rich and Kristi, as we really were able to socialize with our fellow VT members, in a relaxed and entertaining atmosphere.
Taste of Chicago
A Taste of Chicago is a large showcasing of foods from throughout the city, all of which you can sample! Vendors are alligned along every walkway in Grant Park, so there is a wide variety of foods to choose from. To get the food, you need to purchase tickets at the ticket stands located near the entrances/exits of the park. Each food will have a specific number of tickets that it will cost in order to buy.
Along with the endless amount of food vendors, there are concerts and other activities going on in the area. The event occurs the weekend before July 4.
Taste of Chicago is the largest food festival on Earth, so come hungry, bring your money (and some patience) and sink your teeth into the Windy City!
- Food and Dining
Musica al Fresco
Free concerts are performed regularly throughout the summer in the Jay Pritzker Pavillion at Millenium Park. Pack a picnic and enjoy a variety of music from symphonies, broadway shows and opera. This will be the first summer season since the Park opened in July 2004.
Sitting on the lawn is free, the seats are reserved for members and donors.
The schedule can be found at www.grantparkmusicfestival.com
Taste of Randolph
If you want to see how Taste of Chicago was intended to be like (and was back in the late 80s) check out the Taste of Randolph festival. It usually takes place in early to mid- June.
This three-day event highlights food from some of Chicago's best restaurants and features the second annual Taste of Randolph Culinary Pavilion, beverage concessions, and popular live entertainment. In previous years, participating businesses have included Bar Louie, Flat Top Grill, La Luce, Marche, onesixtyblue, Red Light, Sushi Wabi, The Tasting Room, Via Bella and Vivo, to name but a few.
Friday night entertainment features home grown Blues Legend- Son Volt. Saturday's line-up includes The Black Keys. They saved the best for last on Sunday with Michael McDermott and Toad the Wet Sproaket.
$10 suggested donation to get in.
- Food and Dining
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