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Journey through the Chicago Humanities Festival

Posted on October 22nd, 2014 by


For 25 years the Chicago Humanities Festival has been providing thought-provoking panels, authors, films, and musicians for Chicago, and this year is no different.

With the theme of “Journeys” the Chicago Humanities Festival has more than 80 events that will surely be of interest to a wide variety of people. With most events being apart by only 5 or 10 minutes walking, you can learn and be inspired by multiple programs a day.


Anjelica Huston. Photograph by Paul Jasmin.

Foodies aren’t going to want to miss the presentation by renown chef Marcus Samuelsson about how to make great culinary dishes at home. Music lovers will have a lot of programming to choose from whether it be a bus tour of Chicago blues landmarks with historian Tim Samuelson, a conversation with opera singer Renée Fleming, a presentation from rocker Patti Smith about her critically-acclaimed memoir, or a few songs from one of the world’s great unsung voices Darlene Love. Political junkies won’t want to miss a panel featuring Steve Schmidt, David Axelrod, and Steve Edwards. Film fanatics need to check out “Life Itself,” the documentary on Roger Ebert, and a conversation with cinema star Anjelica Huston on her new memoir.

The Chicago Humanities Festival kicks off Oct. 25 and runs through Nov. 9 at multiple locations. For help picking out programs to see go to where you can pick events based on your interests.

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Special Autism Speaks and Blue Man Group Show

Posted on October 22nd, 2014 by


The Blue Man Group (BMG) has been entertaining audiences in Chicago for over 15 years and are always making changes and additions so the performances are never stale. With a new partnership BMG is making one of their performances more comfortable for certain visitors.

Autism Speaks and BMG are working together for a performance that will be slightly modified for autistic audience members. You’ll notice the changes in the lobby where a calming environment will be created with dim lights, quiet corners, and bean bags for a sensory break. For the show audiences will notice some volume reduction at certain points in the show and headphones will be available for those who want them. These changes should help those with autism and still be an extremely entertaining show. In addition, $5 of every ticket will be going to Autism Speaks, one of the leading autism science and advocacy organizations.

The special Autism Speaks performance from the Blue Man Group takes place Sunday, Oct. 26 at 4 p.m. at the Briar Street Theatre located at 3133 N. Halsted St. For more information visit

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Hit the Sky with Chicago Helicopter Experience

Posted on October 21st, 2014 by


Chicago has some of the world’s best attractions, and they’re not too hard to get to on foot. However, if you’re not used to a lot of walking it can be rough, so this weekend put your feet up and enjoy the city’s best sites from a different vantage point.

Chicago Helicopter Experience (CHE) provides a unique way to see one of the country’s best skylines with an excellent fleet of helicopters. CHE offers daytime, twilight, night, and private tours that last 30 minutes on their newly acquired and beautifully painted EC130. The tour leaves from Wheeling, IL and only takes six minutes to get to Downtown Chicago, which gives you a chance to see the beauty of the greenery in the surrounding suburbs before the city’s skyline takes your breath away. The Hancock Center, Willis Tower, Trump Tower, Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, and more are part of the tour. The best thing is when the tour makes you appreciate landmarks that aren’t top of mind such as Graceland Cemetery.

Though I’m not a helicopter connoisseur the EC130 was more comfortable than I thought it would be. You’d expect a helicopter that fits six people to feel tight but actually it didn’t feel cramp and there was a lot of room to stretch your legs and move your body to see the amazing sights. The size of the helicopter helps provide big windows that gives great sight lines from anywhere in the helicopter even in the center seat in the back row. An added touch that CHE provides is that the pilot is a great guide in Chicago history and trivia that keeps the tour entertaining and educational.

With a clear weekend ahead book your tour at Chicago Helicopter Experience located at Chicago Executive Airport, 1071 S. Wolf Road., Wheeling IL  Hangar 10. If you return to the city later in the year you’ll be able to take off closer to the sights with their Downtown helipad. For more information visit


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Concierge Picks: Green Festival, Robie House, and Haunted Segway Tour

Posted on October 21st, 2014 by


Haunted Segway Tour

Anthony Gates, concierge at JW Marriott Chicago, is this week’s concierge correspondent and shares his top three picks for things to do around town.

For those who love to live a more sustainable and healthier life, head over to Navy Pier this weekend, Oct. 24 – Oct. 26 for Chicago’s Green Festival, a celebration of the best in green living. There is something for everyone to see, do, and eat! See a large variety of products and services to work, play, and live green. Shop from over 250 eco-friendly unique businesses for all and eat both vegan and vegetarian with cooking demos and samples.
Green Festival at Navy Pier
600 E. Grand Ave.

The Robie House was one of the most defining moments of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture career. Friday, Oct. 24 join the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust for a final night in October to enjoy his architectural masterpiece at After Hours at the Robie House from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wander in celebrated iconic spaces and enjoy music, drinks, and light hors d’oeuvres in an inviting atmosphere. Admission is $30 for members, $35 for non-members.
October After Hours Robie House
5757 S. Woodlawn Ave.

Get into the Halloween spirit with a haunted tour from Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours. Helmets are decorated with creatures, brains, knives, and arrows just to mention a few. Glide with the undead-dressed guides as they explore the haunted and eerie in beautiful downtown Chicago. View the city skyline, river walk, and Michigan Ave. at night while they relate the history of Chicago’s terrible disasters—the East Land, the Iroquois Fire, the Green Hornet, and more.
Haunted Segway Tour with Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours
238 E. Monroe St.

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Green Festival Returns to Navy Pier

Posted on October 20th, 2014 by

Chicago Green Festival 2014America’s largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event returns to Navy Pier this weekend (Oct. 24-26).

Now in its ninth year, the Green Festival offers attendees the opportunity to learn from innovative green brands, national and local businesses, and pioneering thinkers about how to live healthier, more sustainable lives – and experience the latest in sustainability and green living.

With more than 200 exhibitors participating, Green Festival Chicago will include products and services from categories like food, sustainable beer and wine, fashion, pets, kids, yoga and health, to energy, home construction and design. Festival attendees can taste organic, vegan/vegetarian foods, take part in hands-on cooking and fitness demos, educational activities, and learn from inspirational speakers.

Green Festival Chicago will feature unique stages and pavilions for people of all ages including:

  • Sustainable Beer and Wine Garden
  • Yoga Pavilion, featuring free yoga instruction and classes
  • Family Fun Stage with interactive and educational activities for young eco-warriors
  • Vegan/Vegetarian Food Court, featuring local artisanal cuisine
  • The Lifestyle Stage, featuring experts on the green business and technology sector

In addition, as the show will take place the weekend before Halloween, Green Festival attendees are invited to celebrate HalloGreen with exhibitors. Families in costume will receive free entry to Green Festival and kids and adults can safely trick-or-treat and enjoy organic, non-GMO, vegan and vegetarian HalloGreen candy samples in the Family Fun Area.

Green Festival runs from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday and SundayFestival Hall  A. Tickets purchased online are $10 for a one-day admission or $15 at the gate. There is also a 50% discount on day passes for groups of 10 or more. Children aged 16 years and under and attendees arriving by bicycle are granted free admission. Discounts are also available at the gate for seniors, students and veterans. All tickets provide access to exhibit floor, workshops, speakers and films. Tickets can be purchased online at

-Sponsored Post

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Chicago Made Fall Showcase

Posted on October 15th, 2014 by


What if you could’ve been at Kanye West’s, Common’s, Wilco’s, or Smashing Pumpkins’ first shows in Chicago? You would have a story to tell for your entire life. A new program lets you discover tomorrow’s Kanye or Wilco.

The Chicago Made Fall Showcase will give you a glimpse of Chicago’s future stars. What started as a showcase at SXSW is now returning home with four artists that you’ll surely hear more of in the future.

Psalm One, also known as Hologram Kizzie, is not like the over-sexualized rappers of today and feels like a throwback to the queens of rap like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah where lyrics rose to the top. She already traveled the globe with hip hop icons like Rakim but still stays close to home by doing her part in helping the community with her Rhymeschool after-school program.

If you’ve been asking where the soul is in today’s music you can find it in Chicago’s The O’My’s. You’ll feel the grooves in your bones with a band that takes from ’60s soul and r&b music. However, the voice of Maceo Haymes will catch your ear quickly as his ability to control his natural rasp and then hit falsettos in a beautiful tone is something that is hard to compare.

Alex Wiley is a rapper with a production in the vein of Kid Cudi but an intensity and personality all his own. With critical acclaim from “XXL,” “Huffington Post,” Hot97, and SXSW this Hyde Park rapper Alex Wiley will likely show up on your television soon with his Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.

With Paper Thick Walls it’s all about the intricate instrumentation and the interplay of Eric Michael and Kate Schell’s voices. Touring with the likes of The Lumineers and Company of Thieves these indie rockers have been everywhere across the country sharing their Sufjan Stevens-esque productions with their sweet and at times melancholy voices.

The Chicago Made Fall Showcase takes place Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. at Thalia Hall located at 1807 S. Allport St. For more information visit

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10th Annual Bucktown Apple Pie Contest

Posted on October 15th, 2014 by


Pie weather is upon us and Bucktown is about to fulfill those cravings.

For the tenth year in a row guests will be amazed by the excellent skills of the contestants of the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest. More than 125 amateur bakers will battle it out for the best apple pie all in a fundraising effort for Holstein Park.

9th Annual Bucktown Apple Pie Contest by Brian Ayala/MEDILL

Organizers are expecting over 2,000 guests with somewhere around $15,000 of funds being raised. The pie will be judged on crust, filling, presentation, and taste among other criteria chosen by Linda Hoskins, executive director of the American Pie Council, Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune food writer, Shelley Young, owner of The Chopping Block, and Ina Pinkney, a Chicago baking and culinary icon. Don’t worry they’ll be plenty of pie for the guests to try.

The 10th Annual Bucktown Apple Pie Contest takes place Sunday, Oct. 19 from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Holstein Park located at 2200 N. Oakley Avenue. For more information visit


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3 Must-Have Menu Items For This Weekend

Posted on October 14th, 2014 by

The temperature has dropped a bit and it’s been a little drab outside but all that does is increase the desire to do the best thing there is to do in Chicago—eat. The weather increases the desire for some great Fall food and here are three menu items you should take a bite of this weekend.


At Aberdeen Tap in West Town pick a grinder, any grinder, and you wont be disappointed. These open face sandwiches will keep you coming back but there’s one that is truly a decadent beast. The pork belly grinder is perfect for the season. The braised, crispy pork belly lays on the toasted bread and supports the weight of the sauteed kale and the apple cinnamon butter, which really gives it that autumn feel. Get it for $11 served with a side of steak fries.

Aberdeen Tap
440 N. Aberdeen St.


Comfort food is always great this time of year, and if you ask any Central or South American they’ll let you know there is nothing more comforting than arepas, corn pancakes. Bar Takito adds some crazy flavors to the traditional arepa with the addition of mushrooms, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and aji peanut sauce. As if that wasn’t enough, you can top it with delicious chorizo or chicken. For $10 – $18 it is a great plate to share with friends.

Bar Takito
201 N. Morgan St.



Now that we’ve checked off the savory let’s finish off with the sweet and for that make a trip to Epic. Yes, pumpkin is everywhere but that shouldn’t deter you from trying the amaretto pumpkin cheesecake topped with rosemary almond crust and a cranberry compote. Doesn’t sound delicious? Because it is.

112 W. Hubbard St.

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Concierge Picks: Chicago Ideas Week, Open House Chicago, and Hubbard Street Dance

Posted on October 13th, 2014 by

The Second City Guide to Dance

“The Art of Falling.” Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Sheila Garg, chef concierge at Hotel Monaco, is this week’s concierge correspondent and shares her top three picks for things to do around town.

This has become one of my favorite weeks of the year. Chicago Ideas Week and Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago coincide yet again. Add Hubbard Street Dance to the mix and this becomes a week of tough scheduling decisions.

Chicago Ideas Week, October 13 – 19, features 180 events over the six days. The fourth annual event brings together some of the world’s top speakers and innovators to talk about an incredibly diverse lineup of topics with the goal of “sharing ideas, inspiring action, and igniting change.” There are large themed talks, more intimate conversations, hands-on labs, and even curated dinners. This year’s speakers include David Axelrod, Deepak Chopra, George Lucas, Stephanie Izard, and many more. Most events are just $15 and many sell out quickly.
Chicago Ideas Week
Oct. 13 – 19

Open House Chicago gives locals and visitors access to enter 150 spaces all over the city that are not normally accessible to the public. Spaces include architecture studios, churches, private clubs, corporate headquarters, banks, breweries, and more. Go backstage of the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park; access the vault in the Chicago Board of Trade; tour the alderman offices and council chambers in City Hall; see the original Sears Tower, or enjoy countless other unique experiences in this annual celebration of Chicago’s architecture. This completely free event has definitely changed the way I see my city, giving me an insider’s view of buildings I otherwise walk by every day.
Open House Chicago
Oct. 18 – 19

As if the week weren’t full of enough amazing events, Hubbard Street Dance is also presenting the first show of its 2014 – 2015 season. Hubbard Street and Second City, world-famous dance and comedy companies respectively, have joined in a unique collaboration to develop “The Art of Falling.” There are just five chances to see this show: it runs Oct. 15 – 19 at the beautiful Harris Theater in Millennium Park.
“The Art of Falling”
Oct. 15 – 19

Harris Theater
205 E. Randolph St.

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Chicago Announces Oct. 13 Phil Stefani Day

Posted on October 13th, 2014 by

Just to add to his induction into the Chicago Culinary Museum and Chefs Hall of Fame, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has declared Oct. 13 as Phil Stefani Day.

Phil Stefani is the mastermind behind some of the city’s greatest restaurants including Riva Crab House, Tuscany, and the marquee Phil Stefani’s 437 Rush. In the official proclamation he is recognized for “providing every customer with unique, memorable and fulfilling dining experiences through thoughtful and personal service.”


In celebration of the induction and proclamation Stefani’s restaurants will be running a series of specials from Monday, Oct. 13 through Thursday, Oct. 16. Enjoy $4 glasses of Ruffino Chianti Docg Monday – Thursday. On Monday enjoy that glass of Chianti with free calamari with the purchase of an entree while supplies last. On Tuesday enjoy maccheroni cipriani for $7. Wednesday is the day to enjoy rigatoni sausage ragu for $7. Finally, on Thursday try the pollo montecarlo for $8.

For more information on Phil Stefani’s proclamation, induction, and specials make sure to visit

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