Winter WonderFest

 

Navy Pier celebrates winter
Navy Pier celebrates winter

We had a great time visiting the Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier.

The event is sponsored by Fifth Third Bank and even though it is geared primarily toward the little ones there is plenty of fun for the whole family.

Essentially this is an indoor carnival. In fact the brochure claims “thrills without the chills.”

For the little tykes, designated as under 46 inches tall, there are two bouncers and other games in the Jingle Jym Junior area right by the entrance.

WinterFest at Navy Pier is a fun family experience (Photos by Reno Lovison)
WinterFest at Navy Pier is a fun family experience (Photos by Reno Lovison)

Of course the Kringle Carousel which is the first thing you see when you enter is fun for anyone looking for a classic carnival experience. My wife never misses an opportunity to ride a carousel.

There’s mini golf artic style and an artic plunge is a giant inflatable slide topped by an enormous polar bear.

The Lighthouse takes those 36” and taller up a roughly thirty foot lighthouse then unexpectedly drops them repeatedly for a bit of a thrill.

The Winter Tube is a slippery snowless toboggan-like slide, only rather than a sled, you ride a kind of colorful inner tube style ring.

Ice skating at WinterFest
Ice skating at WinterFest

I think a feature for many is the star spangled ice skating rink. This seems like it might be an attraction for teens looking for a fun date night, especially if mom makes you take your little brother along.  But indoor ice skating is actually my idea of enjoying the sport.

Kids love to climb and what could be more fun than making your way to the rafters via the Snowy Summit Climbing Wall?

The gigantic Christmas tree is beautifully decorated offering a perfect back drop for a photo or just to be enjoyed from virtually every vantage point within the fair.

Gaze up at the wonderful Christmas tree.
Gaze up at the wonderful Christmas tree.

The Cliff Hanger is certainly the most visual and most exciting offering, whirling you at break-neck speed in a kind of hang glider looking contraption, ultimately landing you gently back the ground.

The psychedelic lighting of the Winter WonderWhirl adds a lot to the sense of excitement.

There are bumper cars, an excursion train, Tilt’a Whirl and spinning Hot Cocoa Cups.

Enjoy plenty of holiday photo ops which you can do yourself or take advantage of the photo package available for purchase on site.

There are snacks, additional rides and attractions and as a nice bonus each ticket also includes a ride on Chicago’s very own Centennial “Ferris” Wheel.

This is a good excuse to get off the couch and do something together as a family or just another nice way to enjoy a trip to Navy Pier.

DETAILS: You will find the Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest at the West end of Navy Pier on the Lakefront at Illinois Street through Jan. 6, 2019. For tickets and information visit NavyPier.org

Reno Lovison

 

 

 

Holiday gift ideas Mart show

 

Quilts by Kathleen Johnson at One of a Kind Show Chicago. (J Jacobs photo)
Quilts by Kathleen Johnson at One of a Kind Show Chicago. (J Jacobs photo)

Wear walking shoes because the more than 600 booths at the One of a Kind Show Chicago has taken over the 7th Floor of The Mart and they are worth investigating.

From gourmet foods along one wall to artists selling jewelry, glass, ceramics, paintings, interesting wall art, quilts, wooden objects, hats and bags, the One of a Kind Show is fulfilling holiday shoppers’ gift list.

They’re also finding items for their own jewelry box, given the number of shoppers trying on earrings and necklaces at the Patricia Locke (she was there for the opening) booth during “early access” hour Thursday.

Patricia Locke at her booth in the One of a Kind Show ((J Jacobs photo)
Patricia Locke at her booth in the One of a Kind Show ((J Jacobs photo)

BTW, The Locke booth also featured Rook + Crow jewelry, a less expensive line that didn’t go in for colored stones but was well designed.

This is not a quick walk-through show.

It’s a chance to chat with Midwest artists and gourmet food purveyors such as Wisconsin quilter Kathleen Johnson who brought gorgeous pieces that easily qualify as art work, Chicago multi-media artist and designer Emmy Star Brown who is also in demand as muralist and Chicago suburban artist Danuta Loane about her fine ceramics.

Danuyta Loane's ceramics (J Jacobs photo)
Danuyta Loane’s ceramics (J Jacobs photo)

And there are the Flaherty’s from Moline, IL to talk to about their yummy Irish Toffee and sample their hot Buttered Rum.

Opened Dec. 6, the show continues through Dec. 9, 2018 for holiday shopping and returns April 26-28, 2019 to start the spring-summer art fair season indoors.

The Mart is on the north side of the Chicago River between Orleans and Wells Streets. For ticket, hours and other information visit One of a Kind.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Around town in December

Certainly Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” and Macy’s State Street holiday windows are on many folks’ traditional “do” list. But there are also other good shows to see and fun places to go as December 2018 turns into January 2019.

Cendrillon (Cinderella)at Lyric Opera. (Photo courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago)
Cendrillon (Cinderella)at Lyric Opera. (Photo courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Shows

“Into the Woods,” Stephen Sondheim’s “not happily ever after” take on traditional fairy tales, is at Music Theater Works at Cahn Auditorium on Sheridan Road in Evanston Dec. 22-31. Music Theater Works was formerly called Light Opera Works.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is about magic, love, and in this production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, is backed by a mash-up of rock, jazz, blues and doo-wop., Dec. 6, 2018 -Jan 27, 2019.

“La Ruta” world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre  Dec. 13-Jan. 27. At U.S.-owned factories in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, La Ruta is just a bus. But to the women who live, work and often disappear along the route, it’s much more.

Opera

“Cendrillon” (Cinderella) at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, select dates from Dec. 1 through Jan. 20.

Concerts

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass plays numbers from Holst to Tchaikovsky, 8 p.,. Dec. 19, at Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. and the CSO does Handel’s “Messiah” at 8 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Symphony Center.

Activities

Ice skating at rink in Millennium Park (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)
Ice skating at rink in Millennium Park (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)

Ice skate free in Millennium Park if you bring your skates, skate rental is $13 weekdays and $15 Friday-Sunday and holidays. Skating rink is street level on Michigan Avenue below Cloud Gate (The Bean) between Washington and Madison Streets.  Hours and more information at Millennium Park.

Take a “Holiday Lights, City Lights’ bus tour with the Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E. Wacker Dr., Chicago and then check out CAC’s diorama on the main floor and skyscraper exhibit upstairs.

However, you can still find traditional holiday ideas at After Thanksgiving and Holiday shows and shopping plus light sights.

Enjoy!

Jodie Jacobs

 

Around Town: After Thanksgiving

Once the food and fuss of Thanksgiving has been set aside in the fridge and dishwasher there should be more to holiday fun than trying brave the crowds in stores on Friday and shop on line on Monday.  There is a wonderful ballet and opera that opens, an art show full of gift ideas and a zoo that becomes magical on the weekends.

Shop the art at the One of a Kind Show. (OOAK photo)
Shop the art at the One of a Kind Show. (OOAK photo)

One of a Kind Show

Find gifts  at the One of a Kind Show at the Mart. Artists bring their sculptures, paintings, jewelry, ceramics, furniture and fashions. And vendors bring gourmet foods. The show is fun and it’s hard to leave without finding something for others or oneself.

The show runs Dec.6 through 9 at Merchandise Mart, on the north side of the Chicago River bordered by Kinzie, Wells and Orleans Streets. For tickets, hours and other information visit One of a Kind Show.

Enjoy Brookfield Zoo at Night during Holiday Magic (CZS photo)
Enjoy Brookfield Zoo at Night during Holiday Magic (CZS photo)

Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic

Visit Brookfield Zoo when more than a million colorful lights edgbe buildings, form larger-than-life animal shapes and line the paths – thanks to Comed and Meijer. Holiday Magic is on Saturdays and Sundays of December weekends and also Wednesday through Monday of Dec. 26-31.

Tip: look for the Talking Tree and the special entertainment scheduled each weekend. Park and enter at the North Gate, 8400 31st St. (1st Avenue at 31st Street), Brookfield. For admission, hours and a complete schedule of Holiday Magic activities and entertainment call (708) 688-8000 and visit CZS Holiday Magic.

Alberto Velazauez in The Nutcracker. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)
Alberto Velazauez in The Nutcracker. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

Two December First show openings

Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” and the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Cinderella” open Dec. 1, 2018.  “The Nutcracker” runs through Dec. 30,2018 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on Congress Blvd. at Michigan Avenue. This is the re-imagined staging by choreographer/director Christopher Wheeldon that takes place at the 1893 World’s Fair. The music is Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famed ballet. For tickets and more information visit Joffrey Nutcracker.

“Cinderella,” Jules Massenet” magical “Cendrillon” comes to life with funny, wicked, charming characters and delightful arias at the Lyric Opera House at six performances from Dec. 1, 2018 to Jan. 20, 2019.  For tickets and information visit Lyric Opera Cendrillon.

Jodie Jacobs

Top holiday shows and shopping plus light sights

The Joffrey Ballet's Nutcraker at Aurditorium Theatre. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)
The Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcraker at Aurditorium Theatre. (Photo by Cheryl Mann)

If you don’t want to be saying “Oops” this holiday season then 1. Don’t wait to get tickets to the shows you or your family want to see and  2. Do put those holiday events you want to go to on the calendar.

The good news is that there are numerous great holiday shows and happenings in the Chicago area. The problem news is that the many places to go, things to do and see make it hard to narrow down the choices to what is doable.

Tip: Be realistic when weighing what is manageable with kids, tired feet and meal breaks.

The following suggestions offer three Chicago area choices in each category – shows, shopping and spectacular lights and sights:

 

Shows

A Christmas Carol At Goodman Theatre (2017 photo by Liz Lauren)
A Christmas Carol At Goodman Theatre (2017 photo by Liz Lauren)

What: Goodman Theatre’s “The Christmas Carol” Nov. 17-Dec. 30, 2018

Where: In Goodman Theatre’s Albert Theatre at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago

Why: Goodman’s production of Charles Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol” is  a Chicago tradition that never gets old with new staging often added. But the show is also a talking point for families on what is important.

How:: See ticket and other information at Goodman Theatre/Carol

 

What:  Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” Dec. 1-30, 2018

Where: Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr. (50 E. Congress Pkwy) at Michigan Ave.

Why: Going to the Joffrey’s “Nutcracker” is also a Chicago holiday tradition. It was beautifully re-imagined  last year by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon as a visit by Marie and her mother to the 1893 World’s Fair. The mysterious Great Impresario turns the visit into an adventure. And it is all set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous music.

How: Find tickets and information at Joffrey Nutcracker

 

What: Lookingglass Theatre’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” Nov. 7, 2018 through Jan. 13, 2019.

Where: Lookingglass theatre is in the Chicago Water Works at 821 N Michigan Ave, Chicago.

Why: Lookingglass productions are highly innovative, well acted and engrossing. This tale based on a Hans Christian Andersen story is being staged as an exciting spectable by ttalented, creative Mary Zimmerman.

How: Tickets and information are at Lookingglass Theatre.

 

Shopping

Good gift shopping at the Field Museum (J Jacobs photo)
Good gift shopping at the Field Museum (J Jacobs photo)

What: The Field Museum Store, anytime

Where: The Field is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, the furthest west building on the Museum Campus.

Why: The museum has a fantastic gift shop with items that would appeal to all ages.

How: For hours and admission visit Field Museum or shop on line

 

What: Christkindlmarket Chicago, daily Nov. 16-Dec. 24, 2018 and Naperville Thursday through Sunday Nov. 23-Dec. 24 2018.

Where: In Chicago at Daley Plaza on Washington Street between Dearborn and Clark Streets and in Naperville  at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St.

Why: It’s fun to see, buy and taste the type of Bavarian gifts and treats popular at holiday markets in Germany.

How: More information is at Christkindlmarket

 

What: Art Institute of Chicago Gift Shop, anytime

Where:  On line and at the museum, front entrance at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and the Modern Wing entrance at 159 E. Monroe St.

Why: Gift shop entrances do not need admission fees or tickets. The shops carry one-of-a kind gifts that won’t bust the budget. The Modern Wing has good glass items and the main gift shop has excellent jewelry and ties. Both  shops have Frank Lloyd Wright  items and gifts inspired by other artists. Also visitors like to take holiday  photos with the wreathed lions in front.

How: For hours visit the museum at artic.

Spectacular lights and sights

Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo
Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo

What: Lincoln Park Zoo Lights Nov. 23-Jan.6

Where: In Lincoln Park at 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago

Why: See the animals while strolling among 2,5 million lights thanks to Com Ed and Invesco. Also visit Santa, watch ice carving, sip warm spiced wine, snack on holiday treats and watch a 3D light show.

How: Find hours and admission at LPZoo Zoolights.

 

What: Chicago Botanic Garden Lights and Wonderland Express Nov. 23-Dec. 21,2018

Where: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

Why: the Garden’s event is called Wonderland Express but before going into the building that has trains zipping through Chicago landmarks, see trees and walkways lit by thouands of lights and visit the greenhouses’ topiaries and poinsettias. Then don’t worry about the “snow” falling on shoulders inside the exhibit building. It’s all about fun and winter wonders.

How: For hours and admission visit Chicago Botanic/Wonderland

 

What: Morton Arboretum Illumination Nov. 17, 2018-Jan 1, 2019

Where: The grounds of the Morton Aroboretum at 4100 IL Hwy 53, Lisle.

Why: These lights don’t stay still. They change color, they move to music, they’re interactive and Illumination, supported by Com Ed and Invesco, is fun.

How:: See hours and admission at MortonArb/Lights

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

Around town early November

 

Modern by Design at the Chicago History Museum is a stop on Design Chicago's Near North Day. (Photo courtesy of Chicago History
Modern by Design at the Chicago History Museum is a stop on Design Chicago’s Near North Day. (Photo courtesy of Chicago History Museum)

Art Design Chicago event Nov. 10

Try to catch at least one of the places on Art Design Chicago’s free Near North Design Day.

From 10 a.m. to noon, activities range from celebrating the Zepher and “Chicago Streamlines America” exhibit at the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St.) to the Newberry Library’s (60 W. Wsalton St.) lecture and Ghawazee belly dancing related to its “Pictures from an Exposition:  Visualizing the 1893 World’s Fair” exhibition

Then, from noon to 4 p.m. they range from a clay printmaking workshop with Sharon Bladholm related to “Clay printmaking inspired by Edgar Miller at Art on Sedgwick to a photo workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. at the DePaul Art Museum (935 W. Fullerton Ave)  related to “Yasuhiro Ishimoto: Someday, Chicago” exhibition.

Art on Sedgwick is at 1408 N. Sedgwick and the Sedgwick Stjudio is at 1544 N. Sedgwick.

There is also a viewing of the Roger Brown Study Collection at 1926 N. Halsted Ave. For the complete schedule of places and times visit Art Design Chicago.

A free trolley going between sites makes it easier to fit in at least a couple of places. Art Design Chicago is a Terra Foundation for American Art project to heighten awareness of Chicago’s role as a design center

 

Speaking of design

If you haven’t visited the Richard Norton Gallery at 612 Merchandise Mart Plaza, stop by to see “Kenn Kwint Linear Expressions” which opened Nov. 8 and some of the other artists represented by this major Chicago gallery. For more information visit Richard Norton Gallery.

 

And speaking of Near North

“Replay Lincoln Park,” a popular pop up bar at 2833 N. Sheffield is back beginning Nov. 9, The theme this year is “Friends” and includes Monica’s apartment and Chandler and Joey’s place. For more information, please call (773) 665-5660 or visit Replay Lincoln Park.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

Around town: Ethnic and scary events end the month of October

 

See Young Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein at the CSO (Photo courtesy of CSO)
See Young Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein at the CSO (Photo courtesy of CSO)

Frankenstein is back in town

See the scary “Bride of Frankenstein” and funny “Young Frankenstein” movies with background music by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.  Oct. 26 For tickets and other information call (312) 294-3000 and visit CSO.

Or see Remy Bumppo’s scary production of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” Oct. 28-30 (Oct. 27, 27 and 31 are sold out) at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. For tickets and other information call (773) 975.8150 or visit RemyBumppo.

 

Historic African American Design exhibit

“2019 African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Race” opens Oct. 27, at the Chicago Cultural Center. The exhibit runs the advertising gamut from illustration, cartoons, and graphic design to architectural signage, product and exhibit design and sign painting.

Located up on the fourth floor and continuing   through Mar. 3, 2019, the exhibiti s part of the current Art Design Chicago events that explore the city’s art and design history. Art Design Chicago is partially funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

The Chicago Cultural Center is at 78 E. Washington St. For more information visit City of Chicago.

 

Historic designs by African Americans on exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)
Historic designs by African Americans on exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center. (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)

 

Hobnob with mummies

The Oriental Institute, an internationally known center for study of ancient Middle Eastern civilizations, is holding Mummy Tours every half hour Oct 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. Space is limited so registration is  needed. Admission is free but adults are asked for a $5 donation.  The event also includes Mummy Simulations. Tickets to the Mummy Simulations (also every half hour) are free to adults, $3 per child, and can be purchased at the event.  For registration and other information visit Oriental Institute. .For questions call the OI Public Education Office at (773) 702-9507. The Oriental Institute is at 1155 E. 58th St. on the University of Chicago campus..

 

Dia De Los Muertos

Maxwell Street Market is celebrating the Day of the Dead Oct. 28 from 10:30 a.m. to-2 p.m. with the dedication of a surrealist Mexican mural, pumpkin carving. An ofrenda (altar) workshop, other arts and crafts and live music. The Maxwell Street Market is at 800 S. Des Plaines Ave. For event times and more information visit Maxwell Street Market.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

Two different Halloween celebrations

 

Halloween Parade on State Street
Halloween Parade on State Street

This year get into the Halloween spirit with an unusual parade and event downtown Chicago Saturday, Oct. 20. Follow up tasty  treats the following Saturday, Oct. 27 and Wednesday Oct. 31 at Navy Pier.

 

Downtown

First, get thyself and friends down to State Street between Lake and Van Buren Streets between 6 and 8 p.m. for “Arts in the Dark” to see floats, dancers, lantern carriers and a weird assortment of performers parade by. The fun procession is co hosted by the Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Chicago Loop Alliance.

Then , from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. be at the ”Bean” (Cloud Gate Plaza) in Millennial Park for music, circus-style side-show characters, magicians, video projections, fortune tellers and even a kids station for the younger crowd hosted by DCASE. Best stairway into the park is at the east end of Washington Street and Michigan Avenue.

Continue the fun in Maggie Daley Park east of Millennial Park  (337 E. Randolph St.). Here, the Chicago Park District is passing out candy and showing the movie “Beetlejuice. For more exercise try Mini Golf at $11 or the Skating Ribbon and Climbing Wall with a $20 package price.

For more info visit Arts in the Dark.

Trick or Treat at Navy Pier (Photo by James Richards IV)
Trick or Treat at Navy Pier (Photo by James Richards IV)

 

Navy Pier

Next Saturday bring a treat bag to Navy Pier, receive a candy passport at Guest Services Desk at the main entrance for list of treat stations and participating businesses from 1 to 5 p.m. Then liten listen to music by different bands in “Sequence Chicago’s free fall/winter performance series.

The Halloween celebration ends at the Pier Oct. 31 with more candy handouts from 3 to 7 p.m. and bands. (Registration for the free Centennial  Wheel ride is full)

Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. For more info visit Navy Pier.

Jodie Jacobs

Theater costumes sale

Costumes at Goodman Theatre.
Costumes at Goodman Theatre.

Heads up community theater companies, anyone interested in gorgeous costumes, wigs or planning on dressing for a costume ball, the costume shop at the Goodman Theatre is holding a “yard” sale Oct. 20, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its building, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago.

Some noted items on sale are headwear from “Crowns,” uniforms from “King Lear,” pageant costumes from “Another Word For Beauty” and flag costumes from “Father Comes Home From the Wars.”

Admission is free. All sales are final and proceeds help support the Goodman. Items range from $1 to more than $300 and must be picked up the same day.

Jodie Jacobs

Four freakishly fun Halloween happenings

Godfrey Hotel has haunted rooms. (Godfrey Hotel photo)
Godfrey Hotel has haunted rooms. (Godfrey Hotel photo)

 

Party in the Haunted Hotel

Some Chicago hotels are reputedly haunted such as the Congress Plaza on Michigan Avenue. But seeing ghostly figures there is not guaranteed. Thus, to be sure to come across spooky guest rooms, visit the Godfrey on West Huron, Oct. 27, 2018 when it holds its annual Haunted Hotel. The fourth floor rooftop lounge will be serving bewitched potions. Daring guests are welcome to explore the 20 haunted rooms on the fifth floor. The event goes from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tickets start at $45 per person. For ticket and other information visit Godfrey events.  The Godfrey Hotel Chicago is at 127 W. Huron St.

Or party with the real Frankenstein

Before the Court Theatre holds Manual Cinema’s world premiere of its version of “Frankenstein” on Nov. 1, it is opening the show’s final dress rehearsal to a limited number of ticket holders who are ready to party Oct. 31, 2018.  Attendees should come dressed ghoulishly creepy or creatively spooky to compete in a costume contest and hungry enough to wolf down strange hors (or is it horror) d’oeuvres and cocktails. Tickets are $75 and cover the pre-show party at 6:30 p.m., performance and then a post-show artists’ mingle. Purchases of two or more tickets drop the price by $5. The Court Theatre is at 5535 S. Ellis Ave. at the west end of the University of Chicago Hyde Park campus. For tickets or other information visit the box office, call (773) 753-4472, or visit Court Theatre.

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