Instead of worrying about getting around downtown Chicago with the NASCAR Race July 1 and 2 in 2023, consider taking a fireworks cruise on Tall Ship Windy that Saturday before or Wednesday after July 4.
It goes from Navy Pier so you get the Pier’s Fireworks without the downtown hoopla and street closures. You can also come down a day early and stay in the Sable Hilton Hotel right on Navy Pier to enjoy fun rides, a beer garden, restaurants, art exhibits and a vacation with great views.
On the Fourth
Tune in to PBS at 8 p.m. CT July 4 for “A Capitol Fourth,” a really special annual concert from Washington D.C. that features international stars and patriotic music.
Among this year’s headliners are Renée Fleming, Boyz II Men, Belinda Carlisle, the Broadway cast of “A Beautiful Noise (Neil Diamond) the Muppets, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets and the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly.
Then, stay tuned forWashington DC Fireworks shooting over the National Mall at 9 p.m. CT, co-sponsored by the National Park Service.
Writers Theatre in Glencoe is celebrating March with “Once” a wonderfully performed musical about hope and love wrapped in Irish tunes.
Grocery stores such as Sunset Foods in the northern and northwest suburbs are celebrating with pots of four-leaf clovers.
Many bakeries throughout the Chicago area are celebrating March with cakes, cookies and cupcakes topped with green frosting.
And luck is wished to everyone because the Chicago area loves to celebrate all things Irish during St. Patrick’s month of March.
So, get out the calendar to pencil in top events. But first know that you will be welcomed with the word Fáilte, toasted with the word sláinte pronounced slahn-che (to good health) and will hear the lovely phrase, Céad Míle Fáilte: A hundred thousand welcomes.
Thanks to the Plumbers’ Union, the Chicago River turns green the morning of March 11 at 10 a.m. followed by the Plumbers’ Union sponsored parade at 12:30 p.m. Go early to see the river dying between State Street and Columbus Drive on Wacker or along the Riverwalk. Hang out downtown until the parade steps off from Balboa at Grant Park and heads north along Columbus Drive to Monroe. Among the largest in the country, it’s three hours of bagpipers, floats and Irish Step Dancers. (And politicians)
Two good parades are also held March 12 in Chicago neighborhoods: Southside Irish and Northwest Side Irish.
The Southside Irish Parade is noon to 3 p.m. along Western Avenue starting at 103rd Street going south to
to 115th. It’s a family friendly parade that started in 1981 with a couple of families and has grown to where it attracts people from all over the city. It does not tolerate drinking but neighborhood pubs are open after the parade.
The Northwest Side Irish Parade, celebrating its 20th anniversary, is the same day, same time. Find official parade and after party info at Northside Irish. The parade goes along Neola Avenue to Northwest Highway to Harlem Avenue as it winds through the Norwood Park neighborhood.
Pubs throughout the Chicago area are ready to party. Most will have specials on Irish beer. Some pubs will feature entertainment by talented Irish Step Dancers and soulful musicians.
Among the most popular pubs celebrating St. Patrick’s Day isChief O’Neills, 3471 N. Elston, Chicago. It will be open from 8 a.m March 11 through 2 a.m. Msrch 12 with a cover charge of $10 from noon on. But more festiviies will be on March 12 with no cover charge. O’Neills will feature traditional Irish dishes and entertainment on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17 with a cover charge at 4 p.m. See more about O’Neills festivities. at St Patrick’s Festival 2023.
In Beverly, the Southside Irish Parade neighborhood, the Cork and Kerry at 10614 S, Western Ave., is popular.
In the northern suburbs, Hackney’s on Lake, a longtime favorite restaurant and bar in Glenview with Irish roots, celebrates with good Irish beer and an extensive menu. The original Hackneyh’s on Harmes (more than 80 years old) is also still around as an intimate dining spot known by word of mouth.
Where to go after the Downtown Parade March 11. (Both require tickets)
Wear green and celebrate the Irish way at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N Knox Ave. Chicago. Its St. Patrick’s Day Festival is perfect for all ages with Irish food, music, dance, children’s activities and Irish gifts on sale from 1 to 11 p.m. Also, its Fifth Province Pub is a traditional Irish pub.
Shamrock’n the Block at Old St. Patrick’s Church on DesPlaines Street between Monroe & Adams (700 W. Adams) in Chicago’s West Loop, does an annual Irish pub pop-up with a heated beer garden tent, food and entertainment plus shamrock craft packs for kids. from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Go celebrate and remember the popular Irish toast: “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.”
What if your team doesn’t make Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12. Or you crave a fun event to brighten winter. Around Chicago found four events. At least one should appeal.
Celebrate Chinese New Year
Also called the Spring Festival and a celebration of the Lunar New Year, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit and goes from Jan. 22 through Feb. 5.
Chicago’s Chinatown and Uptown (Argyle) neighborhoods hold lion and dragon dances, parades and other Lunar New Year events.
Uptown celebrates Jan. 28 from noon to 4 p.m. with the parade stepping off at 1 p.m. from Argyle Street and Winthrop Avenue. For details visit Argyle Lunar New Year. Chinatown’s parade is Jan. 29, 1 p.m. at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue. See details at Chinatown Community Lunar New Year.
Or celebrate with dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Most decorate in red and some hand out red envelopes.
February starts with a fun, fanciful forecast in Woodstock, IL, northwest of Chicago. “Groundhog Day,” a movie that celebrates a rodent’s telling when Spring will come, was mostly made in Woodstock, IL. The town subbed, sorta, for Punxsutawney, PA. The month continues with the country’s largest auto show, followed by the Chicago Botanic Garden’s famed Orchid Show.
Go to Woodstock for Groundhog Day
The tiny town of Woodstock celebrates its “Groundhog” film locations and continually show the movie beginning Feb. 1, 2023. But the main event is early morning Feb. 2, when their groundhog, Woodstock Willie, forecasts the coming of Spring.
Released in 1993, the movie reappears every year similar to its theme of caught in a time warp. Directed by Harold Ramis with screenplay by Ramis and Danny Rubin it stars Bill Murray as cynical weatherman Phil Conners and Andie MacDowell as local TV producer Rita Hanson who wants “world peace.”
Take a look at today’s and tomorrow’s vehicles from SUV’s to concept cars. Use the simulators. Eat and just have fun. Held at McCormick Place, Chicago’s huge convention center, 2301. S. King Dr, Chicago, the show runs Feb. 11- 20, 2023. For the schedule, pricing and list of things to do visit About the Show | Chicago Auto Show and its links.
Discover beautiful, even bold, colors at the Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show
Stroll through CBG’s Greenhouses, Feb 11 through March 25, 2023 to see different sizes and colors of orchids. Garden notes predict 2023 will have even more color than 2022. In addition, orchid specialists and vendors will be on hand to answer questions and sales. The Illinois Orchid Society will also be there March 11-12.
Certainly, holiday shows such as Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” on stage to Dec. 27, and Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol,” up through Dec 31, were on our calendars two months ago to plan the outing. Both are traditional go-to shows for many Chicagoans.
But the season for holiday shows won’t be over until the last toast hails a new year. So here are a few shows that may not have caught your attention. One is a good-old standby that still merits a seat while one is a startling new take on an old stand-by and one is fun for youngsters. They can fit into the remaining count-down days of 2022.
“White Christmas” just opened at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie with Irving Berlin’s music and lyrics and a new book by David Ives and Paul Blake. it’s a post WWII feel-good, rom/com with joyous music and such lasting melodies as “Blue Skies,” “Count Your Blessings,” and “How Deep is the Ocean.” Presented by Music Theater Works which used to use Cahn Auditorium in Evanston, “White Christmas” continues through Jan. 1, 2023 at 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie. For tickets call (847) 673-6300 or visit musictheaterworks.
Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol” at Writers Theatre is not a Goodman Theatre-style production although it mostly uses Dicken’s storyline. Aunt Trudy has been asked by her late husband Joe’s relatives to do the “Christmas Carol” puppet show that he did annually. She says she’s not really an aunt to the relatives watching on zoom since she never married “husband” Joe and her unhappiness comes across at the start of the show. A storm arrives, the power goes out and ghostly “puppets” intervene until Trudy realizes she has no choice but continue the Christmas Carol story with shadow puppets and ghosts. She, as was Scrooge, is a different person by the end of the play. Manual Cinema’s “Christmas Carol” is at Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, through Dec. 24. For tickets and more information visit Writers Theatre. Masks are highly recommended. (Audience most be age 6 and older).
“Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins” is playing at Strawdog Theatre in the Edgewater neighborhood. Based on the Caldecott Honor award-winning book by Eric Kimmel and adapted by ensemble member Michael Dailey with music and lyrics by Jacob Combs, the play follows a traveling troupe of actors who find no one in a town they visit are celebrating Hanukkah because goblins haunt the old synagogue. The production continues through 31, 2022 at The Edge Off-Broadway Theater. Tickets are free with reservations at www.strawdog.org. (COVID protocol: Audience members aged 2+ years must wear a mask covering their nose and mouth. Audience members aged 5+ years must provide, before entering the venue proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or proof of negative PCR test.)
If guests are in town for the holidays or enjoying Chicago’s festive downtown before the season ends is on the do list, think skating near skyscrapers, colorful lights, holiday trees. Think Downtown Chicago. Two ice rinks are in or next to Millennium Park and one is a short distance away at Navy Pier. Bring skates or rent them.
McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Operated by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and special Events, the Millennium Park Foundation and presented by Hilton, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink has free admission. However, skaters need to reserve a time. Very few time slots may be available at the last minute. Sessions are 90 minutes.
The rink has been up since mid-November and continues through March 5, 2023, weather permitting. It’s at 11 N. Michigan Ave. between Randolph and Monroe Streets.
Skaters are requested to arrive 45 minutes before their reserved admission time. Snacks and hot drinks are available in Momentum Coffee and Millennium Hall. For Thursday through Sunday and holiday sessions at 5 p.m. and later, entrance is at a Security Checkpoint. For weather closure updates check Millennium Park’s facebook and twitter pages.
The Pier’s ice rink is part of “Light Up the Lake” festival on now through Jan. 7, 2023.. Bring skates or rent them, There’s no charge beyond the festival admission of $15 for adults and children. Lockers are also available. Area is not for photo and flashing light sensitive visitors. Online tickets needed.
With so many fun, tasty and sparkling events now happening post COVID shutdowns it’s easy to miss a couple that should be on the calendar, this year.
One of a Kind
It’s an art show, a gourmet gift show and a stuffing-stocker show.
Wear comfortable walking shoes here because One of a Kind’s holiday show takes up an entire floor of The Mart. It’s that gigantic building on Wacker Drive and the Chicago River (222 Merchandise Mart Plaza).
Held Dec. 1-4, there are more than 500 booths to peruse ranging from photography, glass, wearable art jewelry, paintings and woodwork to tasty spices, chocolates, candies and sauces.
Home to the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark St., Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood is holds a Julmarknad holiday market, a St. Lucia Festival of Lights and a Julmiddag, the traditional Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord.
The Julmarknad , a holiday bazaar of Scandinavian and other crafts plus Santa and entertainment is Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..
The St. Lucia Festival of Lights is Dec. 13 with its crowning down in the Nordic House at the Wrigley Building (400 N. Michigan Ave.) at noon and the candle-lit procession in Andersonville on Clark Street beginning at 4:45 p.m. VisitSt. Lucia Festival of Lights.
Then the Julmiddag smörgåsbord is at the Museum Dec. 18, 2022 at 5 p.m. It includes a St. Lucia procession, a visit from Tomten (Santa) and dancing around the Christmas tree. Make reservations at julmiddag. by Dec. 13.
Chicago’s warm (finally) weather this Memorial Day weekend is perfect for a day laughing at monkeyshines at two zoos or a pirate-ship sail along the city’s shoreline. (Zoo note: both zoos require masks at their indoor animal houses).
Visiting the 235 acre Brookfield Zoo can be an all-day family event.
Starting May 26, visitors can see the cute tapir calf just born to his mom, Sorghum. He has been staying indoors at the Pachyderm House but mom and baby might wander to their outdoor space on the north side of the building because the weather will be warm. Now is a good time to see the calf with his white stripes. The marking fade by age six months. The South American tapir is related to the horse and rhinoceros.
Beginning May 28, the Butterflies area, closed the past two years, has reopened and includes moths. Located near the North Gate, entry is $4 adults, $3.50 seniors 65 and older and $3 children. Visitors will be able to see the transformation to butterflies in an off-exhibit space.
While wandering the zoo, be on the lookout for such ice-age creatures as a 15 ft tall wooly mammoth and the 18 ft long mastodon. They are among Dino Dan’s 30 life-sized animatonic animals staying at the zoo April 1 through Oct. 30, 2022.
Brookfield Zoo entrances are at North Parking Lot 8400 31st St, and South Parking Lot 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways. Current hours: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
There are admission and parking costs. Tickets can be purchased ahead on line and are good for the entire day of entry. Adults $24.95, Seniors 65 and older $19.95, Children age 3-11 $17.95, age 2 and younger free. Parking is $15 and can be paid upon arrival.
*Visitors who have a general admission pass with a barcode, a member guest pass, a Chicago Public Library Museum Pass or a Museum Adventure Pass, can bring that to the zoo for entry, no reservation required.
At 49 acres, Lincoln Park Zoo is doable in half a day. Get a zoo map at the Visitor Center near the main entrance at 2400 N. Cannon Dr.
Time the visit to watch Seal Training at 11:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. near the main entrance . Then, be sure to visit the Pepper Family Wildlife Center.to see Pilipili, a recently born, African lion cub. His name means “pepper” in Swahili.
Lincoln Park Zoo is north of Chicago’s Magnificent (shopping) Mile.There are are several entrances with East gate near the paid parking lot being the main one. View the free parking map for all entrances. Current hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The zoo is free and opened every day. For more information visit Lincoln Park Zoo.
Sail on Tall Ship Windy
For a different sailing experience, take a 75 minute trip along Chicago’s shoreline on Windy, a Tall Ship docked at Navy Pier. Listen to pirate and maritime stories.
Wear something green on March 17, the date Saint Patrick died in the fifth century. But if you want to watch a parade in his honor or see the Chicago River turn green you’ll want to start celebrating St. Patrick’s Day the weekend before the anniversary date.
Chicago River Dyed Green
On Saturday, March 12, 2022, start your celebration near Chicago’s Mag Mile at the Michigan Avenue Bridge, Wacker Drive on the south bank or the Riverwalk on the north bank.
That is where the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130 work their secret formula magic each year between Columbus Drive and Wabash Avenue, Saturday morning before Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Typically using two motor boats and usually starting about 10 a.m., union members pour and disperse gallons of an orange-colored environmentally-safe vegetable powder into the water.
The process takes about 45 minutes and draws a big crowd so if you go you’ll want to get to the area early for a good vantage point.
Originally started in 1962 using a fluorescent dye that made the water green for a few weeks, the dying process was changed to an eco-friendly powder that turned the river green for a few hours.
Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Next, head to Columbus Drive for the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It begins at 12:15 p.m. at Balbo Drive and continues north to Monroe Drive.
Expect to see floats, Irish dancers, bagpipers and bands including the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band which has been leading the parade since 1956. Then, you will hear lots of applause as representatives of the 2022 theme, Chicagoland’s Essential Workers, march into view. Of course there will be city, state and US politicians. For more info visit St. P:atrick’s Day Parade org.
Irish American Heritage Center Fest
Wind up at the St. Patrick Festival at Irish American Heritage Center for good food, beer and entertainment from 1 to 11:30 p.m. While there absorb Irish culture in its museum. Find tickets and more information at Irish American Heritage Center (irish-american.org) (Children welcome and ages 11 and under have free admission.
South Side Irish Parade
The St. Patrick salutes continue on Sunday, March 13 with the popular South Side Irish Parade in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago at noon.
A family-friendly parade, it began as a really small, kids only parade by a couple of neighbors in 1979. However, it grew and grew to become so popular across the Chicago area attendance disrupted its Beverly neighborhood until restrictions on parking and drinking were put in place.
So go but observe neighborhood requests. The parade is on Western Avenue from 103rd Street to 115th Street. For more information visit Home – South Side Irish Parade
Northwest Side Irish
If Northwest is more your location, consider the Northwest Side Irish Parade March 13 that also beings at noon. It goes from Neola Avenue to Northwest Highway.
A fun, community event, the parade winds through Chicago’s Norwood Park neighborhood. It begins at the William J. Onahan School, goes south on Neola venue to Northwest Highway and then heads north to Harlem Avenue. There is an after parade party at Zia’s Social. Visit Northwest Side Irish Parade.
You might hear Céad mile fáite (A hundred thousand welcomes) n or Erin Go Bragh (Braugh) roughly meaning Ireland til the end of time, there or at the Irish Heritage Center.
Ice skate amid van Gogh’s swirling colors. Down a mug of mulled wine or snack on a warm pretzel. Browse artisan goods. The holiday season is back with delightful choices for all ages.
Tis the season for millions of twinkling lights to transform paths from the Chicago Botanic Garden and The Morton Arboretum to Lincoln Park and Brookfield Zoos. But if looking for something different to do this year skate against a Chicago cityscape. Mask wearing is encouraged as well as social distancing.
Downtown Chicago area
Look below the “Bean” at Millennium Park at Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue where skaters move to music and can take lessons at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. Skating is free and available now through March 6. To avoid overcrowding, reservation tickets are needed. Visit City of Chicago :: McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Just east of the McCormick Rink is the quarter-mile Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon where visitors can skate a top of van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and “Sunflowers” thanks to a partnership of the Chicago Park district and “Immersive Van Gogh.” Open now thru March 13, 2022, reservation tickets are needed. Admission with your own skates is free Monday through Thursday and $5 Friday through Sunday and on holiday dates. Admission with skate rental is $16 Monday through Thursday and $20 Friday through Sunday and on holiday dates. Maggie Daley Park and Skating ribbon is at 337 E. Randolph St. Visit Gogh skating for more information and reservations. Maggie Daley Park
A bit further north and east (600 E. Grand Ave.), skaters will find indoor ice at Navy Pier’s Alpine Rink in Festival Hall. It’s part of the Pier’s Light Up the Lake Festival that features a beer garden and shopping through Jan. 2, 2022. https://navypier.org/
The Rink at Gallagher Way, a large community patch of lawn abutting the Chicago Cubs stadium, is frozen over for ice events such as bumper cars and curling but its main use during the annual Winterland at Gallagher Way is for ice skating and skate lessons now through Feb. 20, 2022.
Admission is free for skaters 12 years and younger and $6 for skaters 13 years and older. Visitors can bring skates or rent them there for $12. Bags can be checked for $2. For hours and more information visit Winterland at Gallagher Way
Parkway Bank Park, Rosemont’s fun entertainment district and the Chicago Wolves Ice Rink, hosts Skating in the Park now through Feb. 27,2022. Bring skates or rent them for $8. For hours and more information visit Parkway Bank Park – It’s all here in Rosemont
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone leaving holiday shoppers with time to search for something different for themselves and others.
To find interesting fashion and home décor items and yummy food, go to the Chicago Artisan Market at Fulton Market West Loop on Dec. 12. For more information and ticket reservations visit About – Chicago Artisan Market.
Chicago a cappella, a versatile, talented vocal ensemble of professional singers, is back doing concerts across the Chicago area. “Holidays a cappella,” a program of beautiful Christmas and Chanukah music, runs Dec. 3 through Dec. 12, 2021.
Founded in 1993, Chicago a cappella has a subscription series and does live and broadcast-media musical content plus educational outreach programming. The group gives performances on tour and in special engagements.
Check the following schedule for a concert near you:
Friday, December 3 (8 PM): St Josaphat Church, 2311 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
Saturday, December 4 (8 PM): Highland Park Community House, 1991 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park
Sunday, December 5 (4 PM): Community UMC, 20 Center St., Naperville
Friday, December 10 (8 PM): Fourth Presbyterian Church (Buchanan Chapel), 115 E. Delaware Pl., Chicago
Saturday, December 11 (8 PM): Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Sunday, December 12, (4 PM): Pilgrim Congregational, 460 Lake St., Oak Park