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Dee Snider, Curious George, and Nutcracker expected at 2014 McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

Posted on November 25th, 2014 by

10425424_10152884539751410_2345580711215554917_nIf you’re dreading all the prepping for your Thanksgiving dinner then start your day with some fun and entertainment with 2014 McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade.

Leading the procession this year will be rock star Dee Snider along with Ronald McDonald. Parade goers will enjoy the sounds of some of the country’s great marching bands along with some of your childhood favorite characters like Curious George, Fred Flinstone, Arthur, Madeline, Strawberry Shortcake, and Scooby Doo but filled with helium and about 40 feet taller. One of the great things to see every year is how they get those enormous balloons under the El tracks.

If you’re having trouble picking which of the city’s great productions to attend while you’re in town the parade serves as a great way to pick as many of the city’s shows will perform. Audiences can expect performances from Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol,” The Joffrey Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” Black Ensemble Theater’s “Tribute to Etta James,” “Million Dollar Quartet,” Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” and more.

The State Street Council started the parade in 1934 to boost spirits during the Great Depression, and it has been succeeding in that ever since. The parade does a great job of representing the different types of people in Chicago with over 20 different cultures represented in last year’s parade. And you’ll never know what tricks are up their sleeves like the recreation of the parade scene in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” done in 2011.

The 2014 McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade starts at 8 a.m., so you’ll want to get there early to beat the crowd of hundreds of thousands that usually attend. The parade will take place on State Street from Congress to Randolph. Also, if you can’t make it downtown you can tune into WGN as they will be broadcasting all three hours of the parade. For more information visit chicagofestivals.org.

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Tickets on Sale Now for Winter WonderFest

Posted on November 24th, 2014 by

Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier

Find thrills without the chills inside the 14th annual PNC Bank Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier. Taking place Dec. 5 through Jan. 11, tickets are now on sale for this indoor winter playground that is jam-packed with family fun. Featuring 170,000-square-feet of rides, giant slides, and even a Chicago Blackhawks Indoor Ice Skating Rink there’s no better place to enjoy the best of winter… indoors.

All attendees (ages two and up) must have a ticket to enter. There are two types of tickets: General Admission Ticket and Activity Ticket. Save when you buy in advance online. Save even more – more than 30% online – when you buy in advance and visit on special Deal Days. Most attractions and rides within the event, including Chicago Blackhawks Indoor Ice Skating Rink, require the purchase of an Activity Ticket for participation.

Ticket Information and Deals

Includes admission and access to more than 25 rides and activities* including Chicago Blackhawks Indoor Ice Skating Rink with skate rental. *Height and other restrictions may apply.

  • Standard Days (every Saturday and Sunday plus Dec. 22 – Jan. 4): $22.50 online/$25 walk-up PURCHASE NOW
    CYBER MONDAY: Buy Standard Days Activity Tickets online and save $5. Use code 121405111. Limit four per coupon. Online only. Offer valid through 12/1/14 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Deal Days (Dec. 5, 8-12, 15-19, Jan. 5-9): $17 online/$19 walk-up PURCHASE NOW
    CYBER MONDAY: Buy Deal Days Activity Tickets online and save $3. Use code 111405211. Limit four per coupon. Online only. Offer valid through 12/1/14 at 11:59 p.m.

Click here to view Cyber Monday coupon

General Admission Ticket: $3.75 online/$5 walk-up PURCHASE NOW
Includes admission and the following rides and activities (height restrictions apply): Jingle Jym Jr., Kringle Carousel, Reindeer Express Train Ride and photo ops Holiday Howdy Horse and Snowglobe Live!

Visit www.winterwonderfest.com for full event details. All event details subject to change.

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Light Up the Streets at the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

Posted on November 19th, 2014 by

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It’s definitely cold outside, but it doesn’t feel like the holidays yet. Well, make sure to hit Michigan Ave. this weekend as Chicago turns on the holidays.

The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival returns to flip the switch on the over one million lights on the trees stretching on Michigan Ave. from Oak St. to Wacker Dr. The 1.2 million spectators will watch as Mickey and Minnie Mouse light the mile in a parade of helium balloons of some of your favorite characters along with some of your favorite entertainers including Brandon James of “America’s Got Talent,” Sabrina Carter from “Girl Meets World,” and even Anna and Elsa from “Disney on ice Present Frozen.”

However, the parade isn’t the whole festival as earlier in the day you can enjoy special offers from retailers and hotels on the Magnificent Mile as well as performances on the BMO Harris Bank Stage from artists like Kendall Schmidt of Big Time Rush, Nico and Vinz, and Jacquie Lee. It all ends in spectacular fashion with fireworks over the Chicago River.

The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is Saturday, Nov. 22 on Michigan Ave. from Oak st. to Wacker Dr. The festival starts at 11:00 a.m. with parade kicking off at 5:30 p.m. through 7:00 p.m. and the fireworks show at 6:55 p.m. For more information including a full schedule of events and a festival guide make sure to visit themagnificentmile.com/events/lights-festival.

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Game On at Navy Pier this Weekend

Posted on November 19th, 2014 by

ChiTAG

The Chicago Toy & Game Fair (ChiTAG) returns to Navy Pier Nov. 20-23 for four, jam-packed days celebrating play and the entrepreneurs who make toys and games!

ChiTAG is the largest public toy and game show in the nation, featuring the holiday season’s newest offerings from some of the bestselling brands in the world, as well as critically-acclaimed, award-winning games from independent retailers. Here is just a sampling of the things to see and do at this year’s fair:

  • Featured Exhibits: See robots, Rainbow Loom, dinosaurs, Star Wars characters, a truck filled with video games, carts, and so much more.
  • Zoomer Dino presents Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo LIVE! – (Saturday 11/22): To quote Jurassic Park, “We have a T. rex”. One of the spectacular life-size dinosaur puppets will be making limited showings at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair on Saturday.
  • Young Inventor Challenge, presented by Spin Master(11/22): A fantastic opportunity for children ages 6 to 18 to showcase their own original toy & game inventions to toy & game industry professionals, members of media and the general public. Registration for the Young Inventor Challenge is at http://chitagfair.com/young-inventor-challenge/.
  • Rummikub National Championship! (11/22): The Chicago Toy & Game Fair is hosting the Rummikub National Championship. The winner of the tournament receives round trip airfare and a travel stipend to compete in the World Championship next year in Germany.
  • Illinois State Yo-Yo Championship (11/22): A dynamic performance competition (featuring ladder climbs). Hands-on tips for all skill levels; online and day-of registration available. This immensely entertaining contest will feature multiple divisions in both the Sport and Pro categories.
  • Star Wars Luncheon (11/22, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.): Meet and eat with your favorite Star Wars characters. Enough said.
  • Meet the Inventors (11/22 & 23): Leslie Scott, inventor of the worldwide tower stacking sensation Jenga, will be giving copies of her book “About Jenga” to the first 1,000 attendees at the fair. She will also be available for signings from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. each day. You can also meet the inventors of Rainbow Loom, Zoomer the Robot Puppy, and more!

Ticket Information - $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-13. More information, including a $2 off coupon and complimentary admission guidelines, can be found on the ChiTAG ticket page: http://chitagfair.com/tickets-and-hours/

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Your Tea Party Awaits at “Lookingglass Alice”

Posted on November 19th, 2014 by

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When Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wrote “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” he dedicated it as a Christmas gift to the real-life Alice, and the Lookingglass Theatre has brought back their high-flying adaptation of the novel as a gift to Chicago audiences.

For those familiar with the book or the animated film you are aware of how the story stretches the limits of fantasy as Alice travels through what seems like a nonsensical adventure in her dreams. However, I promise that no film, cartoon, or book can truly make you feel the fantasy as the Lookingglass Theatre’s “Lookinglass Alice.” The Lookingglass’ small space might seem like an obstacle to produce such a magical play but director David Catlin saw that space and took it as a gift to present an acrobatic, gymnastic, and death-defying version of Alice that perfectly transmits the story’s setting and message: don’t rush to grow up.

On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the publication of the novel and 10th anniversary of the original production, “Lookingglass Alice” is still fresh and still able to keep the audiences laughing and gasping. Adults who are already familiar with the tale won’t be able to blink as they won’t want to miss any of the mind-blowing acrobatics, and children will be enthralled in both the gymnastics and story. In addition, at such close quarters don’t be surprised if you end up being invited to the tea party.

“Lookingglass Alice” will run Nov. 25 – Feb. 15, 2015 at the Lookingglass Theatre located at 821 N. Michigan Ave. For more information on showtimes and tickets visit lookingglasstheatre.org/event_page/lookingglass-alice.

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Travel to Germany Without Leaving Chicago for the Holidays at the Christkindlmarket

Posted on November 17th, 2014 by

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Can you feel that? No, not the snow on your shoes or the lack of feeling in your fingertips. It’s the holidays, and Chicago’s best holiday village is back to help you get in the spirit.

A little bit of Germany returns with Christkindlmarket Chicago. For the 19th year this tiny European village pops up in the heart of the city with over 50 vendors in their traditional wooden huts selling one-of-a-kind holiday ornaments, toys, beer steins, jewlery, and more along with sweet treats and delicious food. Christkindlmarket is as authentic as it can get with over 65 percent of the vendors flying in from Germany. The strudel, schnitzel, sausages, and imported beer will also help bring out the German culture. For the real cold days make sure to take advantage of the glühwein (hot spiced wine) inside the Grand Timber House and Festival Tent.

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The strudel and glühwein not German enough for you? How about the rotating array of musicians and performers that will grace the market like the Alpine Brass band, Glen Sorgatz Trio, and the name sake and gift-bringer of the market Christkind. There will also be some non-German entertainment like the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Canterbury Carollers, and some college acapella groups.

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Don’t forget to bring the kids to enjoy Kinder Korner where they can participate in some holiday arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, and visits from Christkind. In addition, for those who might not be able to make it into the city they can still enjoy the magical tradition in Oak Brook at the Oakbrook Center. In Oak Brook you can find the same German spiced wine, beer, food, and gifts along with a a special selection of vendors from the Christkindlmarket Chicago.

Christkindlemarket Chicago will run Friday, Nov. 21 — Wednesday, Dec. 24 at the Daley Plaza located at 50 W. Washington St. The market opens from Sunday – Thursday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. For a full schedule of events and more information visit christkindlmarket.com.

Christkindlmarket Oakbrook opens Friday, Nov. 28 – Wednesday, Dec. 24 at Oakbrook Center located at 100 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, IL. The market will be open Thursdays – Sundays until Dec. 14. From Dec. 18 – 24, the market will be open daily. The hours are Thursdays, 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; and Sundays, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. For more information on Christkindlmarket Oakbrook at christkindlmarket.com/oakbrook.
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Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and Dance Theatre of Harlem at Auditorium Theatre

Posted on November 12th, 2014 by

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The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University has two performances this week that will likely have you tapping your feet and dancing in your seat.

The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic celebrates its 10th birthday at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University with a performance that will touch plenty of crowd favorites. Led by artistic director and Emmy-Award winner Orbert Davis, “CJP @ 10″ will feature “Collective Creative,” a piece following the history of the African Diaspora, “Do you Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans,” featuring Grammy Award-winning Howard Levy, and a selection of songs from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughn. Along with Levy the 60-piece orchestra will be joined by Dee Alexander, Terisa Griffin, Maggie Brown, Bobbi Wilsyn, Ari Brown, and Mwata Bowden.

After a 16-year absence the Dance Theatre of Harlem will return to Chicago for their 125th Anniversary Celebration. The acclaimed company will be performing “Return,” a mix of classical ballet and the music of Aretha Franklin and James Brown, “Gloria,” a tribute to Harlem set to Francis Poulenc’s “Gloria,” and “Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven,” choreographer Ulysses Dove’s piece on loss and living in the moment set to Arvo Pärt’s “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten.”

“CJP @ Ten” will take place Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m., and the Dance Theatre of Harlem will take place Nov. 21 – 23 at various times. Both will take place at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University located at 50 E. Congress Parkway. For tickets and more information visit auditoriumtheatre.org.

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Get in the Holiday Spirit with Macy’s on State Street

Posted on November 12th, 2014 by

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Yes, it’s not even Thanksgiving and we’re already talking about the holidays. Just kick out that Scrooge mentality and open yourself to enjoy one of the most magical and warming times of the year, and one department store knows how to get you in the spirit.

Macy’s has been a big part of the American Christmas tradition since the timeless film “Miracle on the 34th Street,” and while that Macy’s is in New York our Macy’s on State Street also knows how to get you in the spirit. Nothing else will spark that holiday spirit like the store’s Great Tree display in the historic Walnut Room. At 45-feet tall, the tree is covered with 3,000 silver colored ornament and 6,000 LED lights, and every hour on the hour you can catch a light show that plays off the ornaments.

Of course, you can’t miss the infamous window displays. “The Journey of a Christmas Wish” marks the 47th year of the animated displays where we follow our young protagonist’s imagination as she mails her letter to Santa. You can then head inside and visit with Santa at Macy’s SantaLand where you can have a chat and take a picture. In addition, you can learn about all the holiday traditions for an hour-long guided tour every Friday at 11:30 a.m.

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Both photographs by Sebastian Biedron.

The Great Tree will be up through Jan. 4 while Santaland will run through Dec. 24.  For more information on Macy’s holiday events visit visitmacysusa.com/visitor-center/macys-state-street.

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Interstellar: The IMAX Experience

Posted on November 12th, 2014 by

Only a handful of theaters nationwide are offering the full, 70mm IMAX Experience of Christopher Nolan’s buzzed-about space-time epic “Interstellar” and Chicago is one of them!

Playing now at the Navy Pier IMAX Theatre, “Intersellar” tells the tale of a widowed astronaut (Matthew McConaughey) who is recruited to pilot a mission in hopes of finding an alternate planet that humans can inhabit.

This special experience features 15 perf/70mm film projection which combines the brightest, clearest images at almost 10 times the resolution of standard projection formats, with powerful, laser-aligned digital sound and customized theater geometry to create the most immersive movie experience available.

For tickets and showtimes, visit Navy Pier IMAX Theatre online.

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Discover local Chicago music at Wicker Park and Bucktown’s Chillfest 2014

Posted on November 12th, 2014 by

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We love doing round ups of the big artists that come to town, but Chicago’s local musicians are where its heart and soul are, and our most character-filled neighborhood is creating a great setting to get to know them.

After a promising inaugural year, Chillfest is back in Wicker Park  and Bucktown where many of the neighborhood’s shops, restaurants, and bars will serve as venues for over 100 artists performing living-room style sets. You can catch great local artists and bands like Tall Walker, Elle Casazza, Matthew Morgan, and Ambre Doss performing acoustic sets at restaurants and shops like the Emporium Arcade Bar, Frontier, and Jackson Jungle Gallery, among others. After the festival, you can head to the after party at Subterranean to catch The Root Cause, Brothers StarRace, Safe Haven, Mike Golden and Friends, and The Soil and the Sun.

Chillfest 2014 kicks off Saturday, Nov. 15 from 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. For information on all the artists, venues, and tickets to the after party visit chillfestchicago.com.

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