No matter how dismal April has been (minus one great beach day) Spring is in the air. You know that because organizations and institutions such as the Shedd Aquarium are celebrating Earth Week with a clean-up day April 21, because One of A Kind Spring Show will be back at the Mart with lots of gift ideas for Mother’s Day, friends and family and because it’s time to fly a kite in Lincoln Park.
Shedd gets down and dirty for Earth Week
Shedd, working with a GLAD team (Great Lakes Action Days) is looking for volunteers at some specifically designated beaches from 10:30 a.m.to noon on April 21. For beaches in the program and how to sign up visit GLAD or call (312) 692-3330. You’ll be GLAD you did. For more Shedd info visit Shedd Aquarium Conservation.
Think art, gifts and craft demonstrations
The One of a Kind Spring Show ® returns to the Merchandise Mart April 27-29, 2018. This year’s show features more than 300 art and gift booths and the Lillstreet Art Center’s demonstrations and hands-on activigties. The Merchandise Mart is at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza on the northside of the Chicago River west of Wells Street. For more information visit One of a kind show.
Kites fly on Cricket Hill
Kites will be flying high on Lincoln Park’s Cricket Hill (Montrose and Wilson)May 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Lake Shore Drive between Montrose and Wilson). Fine if you have a favorite kite but if not Chicago Kite will be selling kites. Part of the fun though of going is too watch professional kite flying demonstrations with unusual kites. For more information visit Chicago Kids and Kites.
Four-day tickets to the mega (more than 170 performances) music festival at Grant Park, Chicago, Aug. 2-5 are on sale at 10 a.m. today, March 20, 2018. It features more than 170 performances from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Special dinners, teas and parades mark Chicago’s Chinese New Year celebration of the Year o the Dog 4716.
With a vibrant Chinatown and several excellent Chinese restaurants plus venues such as the Chicago Cultural Center and Navy Pier promoting Chicago’s ethnic groups, there are plenty of places to learn more, see more and enjoy more Chinese dancing and dishes.
Often called the Lunar New Year and sometimes known as the Chinese Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year in 2018, begins Feb. 16 and ends 15 days later. However, tied to the Chinese lunisolar calendar, celebrations start the eve of the first day and culminate in the Lantern Festival.
If you go to any of Chicago’s Chinese festivals or restaurants, expect to see lots of red and the words “happiness” and “good fortune.”
Here are some Chinese New Year events to put on your go-to calendar.
Decorated with red lanterns and a décor that celebrates the Year of the Dog, The Peninsula Chicago is a thoroughly Asian hotel (it is celebrating its 90th anniversary in Hong Kong).
This is a good place to stop in for Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea in The Lobby where tangerine trees and red flowers wish everyone good fortune. The tea includes special savories and sweets for $65. The Peninsula is at 108 East Superior Street.
In addition, there will be a Lion Dance that weaves through The Lobby during Afternoon Tea at 3:30 pm., Feb. 17. Children can “feed” lettuce to the lion for good luck in the coming year. The Lion Dance begins at the hotel’s front entrance amid drumbeats and cymbals (scares evil spirits) at 3:15 p.m.
For an authentic, eight-course Chinese dinner, reserve a table at The Peninsula Chicago’s award winning Shanghai Terrace. It includes, among many other dishes, ginger wild chicken, seafood siewmai with black truffle, pan-fried prawns and kung pao beef tenderloin. Cost is $138.
For more information please call (312) 573-6620 or (866) 288-8889 and visit Peninsula Chicago.
Feb. 15-Feb. 28
Stop in at Koi Fine Asian Cuisine in Evanston for dishes from its “Lucky Menu.” Different dishes represent wealth, long life, happiness, prosperity, good relationships and family. Reservations will be needed for the Lion Dance there Feb. 24. Koi is at 624 Davis St., Evanston. Call 847-866-6969 and visit Koi.
Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center hosts Chinese dancers, martial arts and music from noon to 1 p.m. There will also be a peek at the Chongqing Chuanju Theater Troupe which performs at Symphony Center the next day. The Chicago Cultural Center is at 78 E Washington St. For more information visit Chinese Fine Arts Events.
See acrobatic choreography, gorgeous costumes and enjoy Chinese arts during an afternoon at Symphony Center, home of the CSO. Performances featuring the Dong Fang Performing Arts and the Yellow River Performing Arts are from 1:45 to 2:30 p.m. in Buntrock Hall.
This is followed with opera segments by the Chongqing Chuanju Opera Theatre and folk music by Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra at 3 p.m. in Orchestra Hall.
The first program is free to ticket holders of the second program. Symphony Center is at 220 S. Michigan Ave. For tickets and other information visit CSO tickets.
Head over to Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom for Chinese activities, shows and food. Navy Pier partners with the Chinese Fine Arts Society to present the Chicago Chinese Cultural Center Lion Dancers, Martial arts, Chinese music and the Flying Fairies dance troupe from 1 to 5 p.m.
The event is part of Navy Pier’s free Global Connections sponsored by ComEd. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. For more information call (800) 595 Pier (7437) and visit Navy Pier Global.
The Uptown neighborhood’s Argyle Street has a parade with floats, dragon dancers and marchers from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The procession goes from Argyle and Broadway Streets to Winthrop Avenue. For more information visit Explore Uptown.
Go to Chinatown for the community’s annual lunar parade and to celebrate this neighborhood’s 106th anniversary. It’s a fun, colorful event featuring lion and dragon dancers, marching bands, floats and Ronald McDonald. The parade starts at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue at 1 p.m. then goes north on Wentworth and west on Cermak. For more information visit CCC Foundation.
Fortunately when schools close for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, several Chicago museums answer the what-to-do question with free or discounted admission for Illinois residents. In addition, the Black Ensemble Theater and the Chicago Children’s Theatre also have programs.
Here are some places to spend quality time Jan. 15, 2018.
On Chicago’s Museum Campus, Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., (312) 922-7827, The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., (312) 922-9410 and the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake shore Dr., (312) 939-2438, all have free general admission to Illinois residents. (Not included: all access to special exhibits).
At the Art Institute of Chicago, the Ryan Learning Center (entrance at the Modern Wing, 159 East Monroe St. is doing “Say it Loud” program of story telling, arts and discussions from 10 :30 a.m. to 3 p.m. No registration needed. However, admission to the museum is also free that day for all Illinois residents as part Free Winter Weekdays, January 8–February 15, 2018.
Four Chicago doings, call them the ABCDs, are here to chase away January gloom.
A is for an amazing art show of the works of homegrown, internationally known artist, Winifred Godfrey. Running from Jan. 14 through Feb. 25, 2018 at the Beverly Art Center, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago, the show brightens the indoor landscape with her famed flowers. The opening reception is Jan. 14 from 2 to 4 p.m.. For more information call (773) 445-3838 and visit Beverly Art Center Events.
B stands for boat show. The annual Chicago Boat, RV and Sail Show is back in town. Held now through Jan. 14, 2018 at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, the show becomes a fun family day. There’s hands-on activities ranging from fishing and paddle sports to lessons, seminars and virtual reality experiences. For tickets and more information visit Chicago Boat Show.
C banishes the doldrums with comedy. The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival returns to the city Jan. 11 through 21, 2018 at Stage 773. The venue is a theater complex at 1225 W. Belmont Ave. What to expect: 130 shows by returning troupes and new artists. Among the highlights is “ The Future is Female: A discussion with women about the climate of Chicago comedy,” Jan. 20, 3 p.m. in the Thrust theater with panelists from The Second City, Susan Messing of Annoyance Theater and WGN Radio’s Patti Vasquez. For schedule, tickets and other information call (773) 327- 5252 and visit Chicago Sketch Fest. www.chicagosketchfest.com.
D is for that important word “discount” because $10 and $15 or less tickets are now available for Chicago Theatre Week. The annual week when Chicago area production companies have tickets for their shows at special prices is Feb. 8 through Feb. 18, 2018. But tickets for shows that week went on sale Jan. 9 and they go quickly. To snag the show you want visit Chicago Theatre Week. To see a list of all shows visit League of Chicago Theatres at Chicago Plays.
You know that Chicago celebrates the holidays with sparkling lights but if you don’t want to have to walk or drive all over to see them then check out the Holiday Lights Tour that takes folks to them on a double-decker trolley.
The tour starts its rounds from the John Hancock Plaza Tree at 875 N. Michigan Ave. It continues for 2 hours, 30 minutes with a stop at nearby Sprinkles Cupcakes, then over to the Christkindlmarket followed by a stop at Lincoln Park for ZooLights before ending back at the Hancock Center.
The Holiday Lights Tour goes from Nov. 24 through Dec. 23. For tickets, tour dates and hours visit Chicago Trolley.
ZoolLights at Lincoln Park is more than a walk on the wild side. Along with visiting the animals and strolling among glowing, color-changing lights, there is a Light Maze labyrinth ($3), rides on the Endangered Species Carousel and a Lionel Train Adventure.
ZooLights entry is free but on Family Nights of Dec. 11, 18 and Jan. 1, the rides are also free.
ZooLights is Nov. 24-26 and Dec. 1-3 and then every night from Dec. 8 through Jan. 7 except Dec. 24-25. Hours are from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Lincoln Park Zoo is at 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago. For ticket and other information call (312) 742-2000 and visit Lincoln Park Zoo/events.
Brookfield Zoo glows with more than a million LED lights during Holiday Magic, weekends Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17 and during the week Dec. 26-31. Don’t miss the events 41-foot high talking Tree, other trees that seem to dance to music and large light-shaped animals. Lights go on at 4 p.m.
Brookfield Zoo’s main parking lot is at First Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield, IL. For more date, hours and specific holiday events call (708) 688-8000 and visit Holiday Magic.
Pumpkins still adorn some front doorsteps and Halloween candies still sit on some shelves but with Thanksgiving coming early this year (Nov. 23) and stores looking for a cheerful buying season, holiday decorations and events are already going up and beckoning.
If you have been downtown Chicago recently near Daley Plaza you likely noticed that the Christkindlmarket is already going up for its Nov. 17 opening and that Macy’s has already decorated its State Street and some Randolph Street windows. Its 45 foot high Great Tree is up in the Walnut Room sparkling with 2,000 ornaments and 6,600 lights.
So yes, it’s somewhat early to plan on where to go for some holiday cheer of the non-alcholoic, event type. But if you don’t want to miss a fun activity, a repeat of a delightful family tradition or something that might start a new tradition, take a look at what’s coming up, print this and circle those events worth putting on your calendar.
The events tend to fall into those that open Nov. 17 and the ones that start the day after Thanksgiving on Nov. 24.
Head to Millennium Park before 6 p.m. to ooh and aah when the lights switch on the 62 foot Norway sprice donated by Darlene Dorfler, Grayslake. The Oakdale Christian Academy Choir will be singing and cast members from Goodman Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ will perform. Santa and Mrs. Claus are also expected to visit. Admission is free. The tree will be up through Jan. 6, 2018.
The Chicago Christkindlmarket opens weekdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and stays open Friday-Saturday until 9 p.m. Location: Washington Street between Clark and Dearborn Streets. Admission free. For other information call (312) 494-2175.
See trees from a different perspective when the Morton Arboretum has lights moving on them to music. In addition there is an Illu-medallion that can now be purchased to reflect the interactive light display. Tickets are date and time specific. Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Il Hwy 53, Lisle. For more information call (630) 968-0074.
The festival opens Friday with activities and food from 4 to 8 p.m. in Lights Festival Lane (Pioneer Court) at 401 N. Michigan Avenue. The Michigan Avenue tree-lighting parade, sponsored by BMO Harris Bank and led by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, happens on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. after a day of activities starting at 11 a.m. at Pioneer Court and at Michigan Avenue shops. The parade begins at Oak Street and goes south to Wacker Drive ending with Fireworks at 6:55 p.m. .
Begun in 1942 with one tree, the exhibit now has a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree plus more than 50 trees and displays. They are decorated by volunteers to represent many different cultures. MSI is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive.
The European holiday market is now opening in other Chicago area attractions. On Nov. 24 it opens in Naperville at the Naper Settlement, 523 S Webster St, and at the Park at Wrigley, 3637 N. Clark St.
If going to Wrigley, bring skates ($5 age 13 and older, free 12 and under) or rent them there because along with the Christkindlmarket the Park has an ice skating rink. If going there Nov. 28, take in the Tree-Lighting Ceremony when a Colorado Spruce tree from will sparkle with 2,700 bulbs. Instead of worrying about parking take the CTA Red Line or Clark bus 22 or Addison 152.
The garden welcomes winter with a wonderland of lights outside and miniature trains speeding around Chicago landmarks plus decorated halls and greenhouses inside. Entry is ticketed and datge and time specific. The garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd, just east of Edens Expessway, Glencoe. (847) 835-5440
Art Institute of Chicago’s annually welcomes the holidays with a wreathing of its famous lion statues at 10 a.m., then continues the day with hot chocolate, music and drop in art activities through 3 p.m. While there, stop downstairs at the Thorne Miniature rooms because they are fun to see and some even get a holiday decoration. The museum is at 111 S. Michigan Ave.
So that in the coming weeks you don’t have to say “oops, I forgot” or “oh, I wish I had known,” here are some fun and interesting choices of what to do now through Nov. 5, 2017.
Short Story Theatre
Short story theatres are trending now in the Chicago area. (See StorySlam). Highwood, a tiny city between Highland Park and Lake Forest known for its restaurants, also hosts short story telling.
Its next time is Oct. 26 when the theme is Survival. Stories are likely to be about lost wives, geese, road trips or angels.
So come to Miramar Bistro at 301 Waukegan Ave. east of the North Line train tracks at 7:30 p.m. Or come earlier and eat there first. Just tell them when making a reservation that you are staying for the Short Story Theatre. Show tickets are $10 at the door, cash or check. Phone 847-433-1078.
Boo at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Hand-carved pumpkins line the paths Oct. 26-29 for Night of 10000 Jack-O-Lanterns. Tickets are date and time specific so get yours before you go to avoid disappointment. Times are from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, east of Edens Expressway. For tickets and other information call (847) 835-5440 or visit CBGHalloween.
Broadway in Chicago
At the Cadillac Palace Theatre, ‘Les Miserables, Cameron Mackintosh’s new production that is garnering rave reviews, closes Oct. 29. For tickets visit BroadwayinChicago.
Then, School of Rock’ an exuberant show with new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber opens Nov. 1. For tickets and other information visit Broadway Rock.
Verdi and Wagner
If you enjoy opera at its best know that Lyric Opera of Chicago has openings, closings and reviews similar to many downtown shows. Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’ that also received rave reviews, has only three performances left: Oct. 26, Oct. 30 and Nov. 3. Wagner’s next Ring cycle opera, ‘Die Walküre,’ opens Nov. 1. For tickets and other information visit Lyric Opera.
Sip and Stroll Festival
Visit more than restaurants and other businesses in Lincoln Square for the semi-annual Ravenswood Wine Stroll. Nov. 2 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are for one of five different routes: three in Lincoln Square and two in Ravenswood. For tickets and route information see Lincoln Square Wine Stroll.
Really old and last century modern
Winnetka Community House’s famed Antiques + Modernism show runs Nov. 3-5 with an evening, first peek party Nov. 2. Because it’s a 60-year-old nationally known event, dealers bring their fine antiques and excellent mid-last-century modernism jewelry and furniture. For ticket and other information visit Winnetka Show.
Where high-end art and superior design mix
Known as SOFA for bringing together Sculpture Objects Fine Art plus Design, the annual Chicago event is back at Navy Pier Nov. 2-5. Go upstairs to the Festival Hall to see what the international galleries say are trending now in the art world. For tickets and other information visit SOFA.