With everything you have to do, places to go, people to visit there might not have been time to fit in everything you hoped to see by Dec. 31. No worries. Some of the fun shows, exhibits and festivals will still be around in January, 2019.
Lyric Opera’s delightful “Cendrillon” (Cinderella ) runs through Jan. 20 and its exceptional “La boheme” continues at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, through Jan. 31. For tickets and more information visit Lyric Opera.
“Steadfast tin Soldier at Lookinggglass Theatre in the Chicago Water Works at 821 N. Michicagn Ave. runs through Jan. 13. For tickets and other information visit Lookingglass.
“Wonderland Express” is at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe (just east of Edens Expressway) through Jan. 6. (This is a time and date ticketed show) For tickets and other information visit . For parking check Chicago Botanic.
“Zoo Lights” at Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St.,, Chicago, is open New Year’s Day and continues through Jan. 6.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
October has enough food, music, art and fall events to fill several calendars. Here are just a few of the events to tack up on the board.
Two art shows
“Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys1917-1918” is at Navy Pier beginning Oct. 5 and continuing through Nov. 18, 2018 in Polk Bros Park (across from the Pier’s entrance). A free exhibit, the works are by photo journalist Michael St. Maur Sheil.
Taken over eight years, the compilation tells stories of battleground transformations, peace and remembrance. It works well with Navy Pier’s history. Originally called the “Municipal Pier” it was later renamed Navy Pier in honor of naval veterans who served in World War I. (It became a training center for the U.S.Navy in 1941before returning to public use for an education institution and then an entertainment destination).
An opening commemorative event is at the Pier Oct. 5 at 5:15 p.m. followed by the Navy Band Great Lakes Wind Ensemble that plays at 6 p.m. in the Crystal Gardens. For more information call (800) 595-PIER (7437 and visit Navy Pier. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago.
The Chicago Creative Coalition (C3) is holding its 20th Annual Gallery Walk Oct. 18 2018 at four River North galleries. Basically a semi- private tour, the Gallery Walk requires registration. C3 members $15, general admission $20, students $5. Visit Gallery Walk Registration.
All-Inn fest, a three-day indoor music festival will be at Halsted Street bars from aliveOne to The Store from Oct. 11 through Oct. 13, 2018. Admission is free with a wristband gotten from aliveOne, Tonic Room or The Store. Bar and band hop beginning at 8 p.m. For more information visit Lincoln Park Chamber All Inn.
Randolph Street Market goes indoors with Octoberfest Oct. 27-28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. An indoor venue featuring more than 125 vendors, the Market is at 1341 Randolph St. The Octoberfest celebration will have pumpkins but also antiques and clothing. For more information visit Randolph Street Octoberfest.
Two spooky-ish fall color destinations
Visitors to the Morton Arboretum can combine leaf looks with the scarecrows, cider and scary adventures of the season at the Morton Arboretum during the Fall corol festival. Also, look for the Glass Pumpkin Patch and Jack o Lantern Hikes dates.The Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Hwy 53. Lisle, IL For more information go to Morton Arb.
Pumpkins at the Chicago Botanic Garden will be lining the walkways Oct. 24-28, 2018 from 6:30-10:30 p.m. during the annual Night of 1000 Jack o Lanterns. Take photos for some ideas of how to carve your pumpkin next year. The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd. Glencoe. The event has timed tickets. For tickets and other info visit Chicago Botanic.
An unusual free festival marks the end of summer in and around Millennium Park Sept. 22, 2018. It’s the YAS Fest, an all-day music, dance, art and theater event that showcases the arts talents of Chicago’s young people in the final weeks of “The Year of Creative Youth.”
“The Year of Creative Youth provides an incredible opportunity to support the creativity and growth of artistic children across Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This festival is our city’s largest showcase of youth artists, featuring the creative works of hundreds of young people from arts organizations in neighborhoods across the city. We celebrate their talents and the mentors who inspire them.”
YAS Fest has several performances and participatory events taking place from 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. with some events extending to 7 p.m., held throughout the Millennium Park area from the Pritzker Pavilion, Chase Promenades and Cloud Gate Plaza to the Chicago Cultural Center across Michigan Avenue and the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing across from the park at Monroe and Michigan.
There are even kinetic sculptures a block west of Michigan Avenue on Wabash between Washington and Randolph Streets.
“When young people believe in themselves and are encouraged to bring their ideas forward, we know they’ll create the kind of society that uplifts us all,” said Vicky Dinges, Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Allstate.
“That’s why Allstate is focused on empowering our next generation of leaders by investing in programs like the arts that help young people build critical social and emotional skills. We care about the future of Chicago and our youth and are proud to recognize them as problem solvers, change agents and artists,” said Dinges whose company is a prime sponsor of the festival.
Look up! The best time to watch Chicago’s annual Air and Water Show is actually Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, when the North Beach crowds are low and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are high over the city’s waterfront.
If you live fairly close to the lake you will probably hear them overhead on Friday even if you are in the northern suburbs. Yes, the Thunderbirds are 2018’s headliners.
As for the weekend, even though the show goes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, the headliners have tended to do their thing towards the end.
Finding a prime spot at North Beach, the festival’s loci, does mean coming early but how much sun is OK? The show can be seen from south of North Avenue at Oak Street and north to Fullerton Avenue.
Speaking of Fullerton, check with Theater on the Lake which is hosting a catered viewing party that includes an open bar. Theater on the Lake is at 2401 North Lake Shore Drive at Lake Michigan and Fullerton.
However, arguably the best spot if going to North Avenue beach is at The Shore Club if reservations aren’t already filled. The Shore club is at 1603 N Lakeshore Dr.
The Signature room, on the floor 95 in the Hancock Building is a choice spot but lunch reservations may be filled so check its lounge on the 96th floor or consider going to the observation deck “360.” You will need tickets. For information visit 360. The Hancock is at 875 N. Michigan Ave.
Down on the ground, The Patio at Café Brauer and the bridge behind it are good viewing points for some of the air action and the café is offering some deals on beer. Cafe Brauer is at 2021 N. Stockton Dr. in Lincoln Park.
In Chicago, food and music just go together. Ergo, no surprise that two big food festivals also feature bands and two mega music festivals include food vendors. Even a free summer jazz series is steps away from a slew of food counters and restaurants.
Diet after Labor Day. Head over to Grant Park July 11-15, 2018, to taste more than 70 restaurant favorites that have made Chicago a foodie town. The festival is free but tasting is by tickets. They are sold in strips of 14 for $10 (expect a $3 charge for Taste amenities). Also available are 1-6 tickets for smaller “Taste of Portions” from each food vendor. Look for pop-up restaurants, food trucks and five-day regular booths. New this year is the Taste Oasis tent, a cool AC place in the park’s Butler Field to hang out and taste. Taste Oasis is $50 for the day you choose.
Great a great mix of country music and food at the Windy City Smokeout, July 13-15, 2018. The event stretches between Grand Avenue and the Chicago River. What to expect: barbeque flavors and styles from all over including Nashville and Chicago plus such folks as Renee Blair and Brett Young. For tickets, hours and other info go to Windy City Smokeout.
How do you like to celebrate Independence Day? If in the Chicago area and looking for really spectacular fireworks, you are likely to find none better than the Aon Summer Fireworks’ July Fourth show at Navy Pier. You can make it an all-day Pier experience or go out on a boat to watch.
If you like the idea of saluting US troops, love entertainment and enjoy a good fireworks show but don’t want to deal with crowds or transportation concerns, there is a really good, gather-round-the-TV option.
The fireworks are spectacular and Navy Pier is a fun destination with good skyline views, its famous Centennial Wheel, games, shops, restaurants and entertainment in the Miller Lite Beer Garden.
The Pier does fill to capacity on the Fourth so go early. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the Fourth. Gates actually close when the pier is filled. but guests with advance tickets for shows or restaurants will be allowed on. See the Capacity and Transportation categories at Navy Pier.
Take advantage of public transportation or the Pier’s free trolley service. Offsite parking is cheaper than the Pier’s garages. In addition check the holiday’s Code of Conduct on the same site. For instance, no pets are allowed except service dogs because of the crowds.
Watch the fireworks with 3D glasses aboard a Mercury Cruises boat. Mercury is hosting a 2. 5 hour lakefront, skyline tour that includes Chicago’s spectacular fireworks show off Navy Pier. Guests will be given 3D glasses to enhance the fireworks experience.
The cost, $64 adults and $49 children under age 15, includes the cruise, treats and glasses. The cruise leaves at 8 p.m. to tour the lakefront. Fireworks are at 9:30. For tickets and dock location and information visit Mercury Cruises.
Watch the country’s annual Capitol Fourth celebration that is broadcast live from the West Lawn. On PBS from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ET, the celebration honors the men and women in uniform and their families with a star-studded concert, then presents Washingtin D.C.’s fireworks.
Four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano Renee Fleming will be singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel,” John Williams be on video on the 40th anniversary of “Superman” and there will be a tribute to the Beach Boys.
Also featured are music legend Jimmy Buffett with the “Escape to Margaritaville cast, three-time Grammy Award-winning Pentatonix, pop siner/songwriter Andy Grammer, legendary actress/singer/dancer Chita Rivera, Motown stars The Temptations and multi-platinum country music star Luke Combs.
In addition, the amazing lineup also includes, Gospel singer CeCe Winans, Grammy-winning violinist Joshua Bell, The Voice season finalist Kyla Jade and the National Symphony Orchestra led by pops conductor Jack Everly.
The celebrations is funded by grants fromn The Boeing Company, the National Park Service, the Department of the army and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.