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Terminator is Back at IMAX

Posted on June 24th, 2015 by

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Anyone looking for a brief escape from the outdoors to a dystopian future with evil robots should look no further than “Terminator: Genisys,” which opens this Tuesday at Navy Pier’s IMAX Theatre.

Being billed a reboot, this version features humans being attacked on two fronts: the past and present. In order to save his mother’s life, John Connor sends his trusted lieutenant back in time. Yet, when the lieutenant gets to the past, things do not seem right. For one, the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is now an ally and protector of Sarah Connor.

Twists aside, the crystal-clear images, coupled with IMAX’s customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.

For those who don’t want to wait until Tuesday to have a unique theater experience, several pictures are currently being shown at the pier. Animal lovers and families with young children may want to check out “Pandas: The Journey Home,” which follows the efforts to protect the vulnerable species as they get reintroduced to the wild.

Science fiction fans and thrill seekers can still catch “Jurassic World,” which is the fourth installment of the series and set two decades after the first disaster. You’d think they’d learn the first time.

Weather buffs will love Sean Casey’s film “Tornado Alley.” Casey starred in Discovery’s show “Storm Chasers” for five seasons where his quest to film into the heart of a twister with his Tornado Intercept Vehicle was thoroughly documented. This film is the amazing result of that mission.

The theater is located on Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) and features films at all times of day. For more information, visit imax.com/oo/navy-pier-imax.

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Enjoy 360 Chicago’s New Museum-Quality Look

Posted on June 24th, 2015 by

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We can all agree that waiting in line for anything is the worst, but 360 Chicago might have discovered a way for people to desire a slower line with their new concourse-level exhibit.

New visitors to 360 Chicago at the John Hancock Center will experience a museum-quality exhibit about Chicago and its neighborhoods as they wait in line. Bronzeville, Bucktown, Hyde Park, Lakeview, Logan Square, Old Town, Pilsen, Wicker Park, and Wrigleyville are each represented through iconic images, facts, sounds, and more along with history of Chicago in general with their new short video. The beauty and insight that this exhibit provides makes waiting in line seem a lot faster.

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The new concourse isn’t the only addition at 360 Chicago. At the observation deck new stadium-style seating has been installed to enjoy the breathtaking views from the 94th floor. Guests can enjoy drinks and bites from the Architect’s Corner where they also have coffee, gelato, and artisanal snacks. The new updates really add to the atmosphere of the views of the skyline, but of course there is no more thrilling of a view than from the Tilt! attraction.

360 Chicago is open 365 days a year from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and it is located at 875 N. Michigan Ave. The entrance is $19 for adults and $13 for children. To experience the Tilt! it is an extra $7. For more information visit 360chicago.com.

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Hot Doug Returns for Dog Dayz of Summer Festival

Posted on June 24th, 2015 by

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Those longing for just one more taste of Hot Doug’s encased meats and duck fat fries are in luck as owner and hot dog aficionado Doug Sohn is bringing back his famed stand this weekend only.

The stand’s super fans and hot dog lovers alike can find Sohn and his dogs at the Dog Dayz of Summer, a festival hosted by Sohn along with Goose Island Brewery this Saturday and Sunday. Festival goers will have their choice of craft beers to wash down their encased meats with, ranging from Matilda and 312 Urban Wheat to Blue Line and Green Line.

Along with dogs and the suds to wash them down, the event will also feature live music featuring bands such as Freakwater and Bare Mutants.

As he was at his encased meats emporium in Avondale, Sohn is the main attraction. Each session will feature a “Dog Dayz Discussions w/Doug.” Saturday’s first session will feature Sohn talking with David Manilow, the creator and executive producer of WTTW’s famed “Check, Please!” program, while the second session’s discussion will feature Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick.

Sunday’s first discussion session features Sohn talking with Senior Vice President of Vienna Beef Bob Schwartz, who authored the book “Never Put Ketchup on a Hot Dog.” The second session will feature Daniel Gerzina, senior editor of Eater.

Sohn closed his famous sausage superstore last October after more than a decade in business despite being as popular as ever. Lines often stretched around the block with people coming from far and wide to try his delicious creations.

Tickets for each three hour session are $75, which will get you five tickets for beer and access to unlimited amount of dogs, which will come in sample sizes. Perhaps the best part, there will be no hours-long line to wait in. Tickets will be sold up to an hour before the event starts and are will call only.

Sessions will go from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. June 27 and 28, with the festival taking place at the Goose Island Barrel Warehouse at 605 N. Sacramento Blvd. in Humboldt Park. While the site is nudged between Metra tracks, driving is the best mode of transportation. For more information, visit dogdayzofsummer.com.

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Explore River North at the 2015 River North Challenge

Posted on June 24th, 2015 by

EventPhotoFull_EventPhotoFull_RNC'15 Logo-SponsorsRiver North is a great area to enjoy drinks and an excellent meal, but it doesn’t offer too many places to enjoy games and challenges. The River North Business Association is helping change that with the River North Challenge.

Picture “The Amazing Race” but much more turned down and with a lot more delicious food and alcohol, and you’ve got the River North Challenge. Teams of four will run through River North completing physical and mental challenges to earn points that will be tallied up for a chance to win a grand prize from all the businesses in the area.

The grand prize isn’t the only opportunity to win something as all teams will be entered in a Door Prize Drawing where they have a chance to win gift certificates to restaurants, bars, and hotels along with spa packages. Teams are encouraged to dress up in a theme and those with the best outfits will win Best Costume. Of course, it wouldn’t be a River North Challenge with out some bites and libations, so teams will have great options to help them through their thinking process on the mental challenges at each challenge pit stop. I don’t know if it’ll help on the physical ones, but if it does then more power to you.

The event will end at Blackfinn Ameripub where winners will be announced, and all will enjoy some of their mouthwatering food.

The River North Challenge takes place June 30 starting at 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, 350 W. Mart Center Dr. Teams of four can register for $160 or individuals can register for $45. For registration and more information visit rivernorthchallenge.com.

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Get on Your Feet with the Estefans in Chicago

Posted on June 23rd, 2015 by

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Any story about an outsider breaking barriers to become a resounding success is always a great one to hear no matter the gender, ethnicity, or country, but a story that includes Cuban rhythms and the style of the ’80s is one that deserves to be heard, seen, and danced to.

“On Your Feet” is a foot-stomping musical about the lives of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, the Cuban artist and producer who have won 26 Grammy awards and sold over 100 million records. The play covers the difficulty that this power couple had from being relegated to only being thought of as an act for Latin countries to becoming the Latin crossover act that has since been used as a measuring stick by other artists.

Before I continue, I must make note that I am of Cuban descent, so it’s natural that I had a different kind of connection to this play than others may have. However, I think the Estefans’ story is found across this entire country. It is a story of exile, Gloria left Cuba at a very young age fleeing Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution; a story about the struggle of fighting for your dreams while trying to cope with your responsibilities, Gloria had to balance being part of the Miami Sound Machine and taking care of her father who had multiple sclerosis; a story of living within two cultures, Cuban and American; and a story of overcoming it all.

Of course, if it wasn’t for the talents of Ana Villafañe, who plays Gloria, and Josh Segarra, who plays Emilio, the play wouldn’t spark the way it does. Villafañe not only has a striking resemblance to Estefan, but I actively challenge audiences to try and differentiate Villafañe’s and Estefan’s singing voice. Villafañe has that same power, rasp, lower register, and accent that fans love about Estefan. More importantly, Villafañe captures the hesitation, heart, and wide eyes that not only Gloria has, but that most first-generation Americans have. Segarra has the strong accent down and excellently captures the audacious vision that made Emilio go from a bandleader of a small Miami act to having a hand in almost all major Latin crossover acts since the ’80s. The one callback that gets laughs throughout is Emilio’s constant English vocabulary mistakes.

The emotions and struggles are highlighted by Estefan’s music. Party anthems like “Conga,” “On Your Feet,” and “1-2-3″  bring a lot of life and shoulder shimmies—fans of the ’80s are going to love the outfits and hair. Yet, Estefan’s ballads help highlight the difficult moments in her life like the 1990 bus crash that almost took her life. In the play, “Coming Out of the Dark” helps paint her recovery. The creators have also done a great thing with using Estefan’s Spanish songs, like “Mi Tierra,” in flashbacks to her at a young age and her parents in Cuba.

In a time where many are eager to visit Cuba to get a taste of a forbidden island, “On Your Feet” is a great reminder that exiles like Gloria and Emilio Estefan, not governments, are the real reason why people are so interested in Cuba whether they know it or not.  Exiles like the Estefans were the ones who gave people around the world a taste of the real artistry, passion, and hard work that lives inside the 13 million people on an island in the Caribbean.

“On Your Feet” will run until July 5 at the Oriental Theatre located at 24 W. Randolph St. For showtimes, tickets, and more information visit broadwayinchicago.com/show/on-your-feet-15.

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Let Your Inner Animal Out at Adults Night Out

Posted on June 23rd, 2015 by

8/8/14 7:34:25 PM  Adult Night at Lincoln Park Zoo  © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2014

Adult Night at Lincoln Park Zoo
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2014

Come for the peace and quiet, and stay for the fun at Adults Night Out this Friday at the Lincoln Park Zoo

Ever wondered what the Lincoln Park Zoo was like after it closes down? Or even after dark perhaps? Whether you’re looking for a fun in-depth look at the wonderful zoo or wanted a perfect end to date night, Adults Night Out is an exclusive event for the 18 and up crowd to give Chicagoland’s enthusiasts an up close and personal experience with the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Leave the kids at home because this event is for adults only featuring a cash bar serving beer and wine, delicious food offerings, and a local DJ providing a musical backdrop to dance the night away to. While normally free to all visitors, tickets are required and the zoo will be closed for the event to provide a more personal experience for the attendees of Adults Night Out.

With unique animal encounters and opportunities to chat one on one with zoo experts, this will be more than just another party. Attendees will be able to view the zoo in a new light. Take a walk through the zoo’s luscious gardens and view the beautiful Chicago skyline from the nature boardwalk or observe the animals and their particular nightly routines, either way this night will surely be one you won’t soon forget.

Tickets can be bought in advance online at a discounted price, but will still be available at the event and there will be two more Adult Nights Out this summer in July and August. Proceeds of the event go to keeping the Lincoln Park Zoo free and open 365 days a year as well as maintaining state-of-the-art animal care, worldwide conservation efforts and extensive education programs.

Adults Night Out will be held Friday June 26th, from 6:30-10 p.m. at the Lincoln Park Zoo, entry is available through either the East or West gate and parking is available however public transportation is encouraged. For more information concerning Adults Night Out or the Lincoln Park Zoo go to lpzoo.org/events/calendar/adults-night-out.

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Cruise with Your Dad from Navy Pier

Posted on June 16th, 2015 by

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For those looking to give dad a unique experience this Father’s Day, Navy Pier has several fun cruise options that include food and drink as well as spectacular views of the city. From the comfort of Odyssey and Spirit of Chicago Cruise ships, fathers and their families can enjoy either brunch or dinner while cruising the waters of Lake Michigan.

In addition to being wined and dined, fathers and their guests are also treated to live DJ entertainment and dancing.

For brunch on the Spirit of Chicago, the ship begins to board at noon and the cruise goes from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.  The cost is $54.90 per adult and $32.95 per child ages 3-12, and includes a complimentary cocktail for fathers.

The ship starts boarding for dinner at 5:30 and sets sail from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Pricing starts at $74.90 per adult and $44.95 per child ages 3 — 12. Fathers get a complimentary cocktail.

The Odyssey is $69.90 per adult and $41.95 per child for brunch. In addition to fathers receiving a free cocktail, other guests get a complimentary mimosa or glass of champagne, and the menu is buffet-style. The ship will starting boarding at 12:15 p.m. and will cruise from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

For dinner, pricing starts at $92.90 per adult and $55.95 per child, with all fathers receiving a complimentary 12 oz. rib eye steak. The vessel starts boarding at 5 p.m. and cruises from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

These are among the many specialty cruises held throughout the year at Navy Pier. Others include mark New Year’s Eve, the Air and Water Show, Venetian Night, and the Fourth of July.

For more information on the Father’s Day specialty cruises, visit spiritcruises.com/chicago/cruises/specialty/fathers-day or odysseycruises.com/chicago/cruises/specialty/fathers-day. For more on daily cruises, visit navypier.com.

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Get a Taste of Randolph this Weekend

Posted on June 16th, 2015 by

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Those looking to ring in summer on a tasty note should look no further than the city’s hottest neighborhood, which will play host to the Taste of Randolph street festival.

The festival, in its 17th year, will host more than 20 different restaurants from the city’s burgeoning West Loop restaurant scene, giving attendees the opportunity to “get a taste of Restaurant Row without the reservation.”

Award-winning restaurants such as bellyQ, Grange Hall Burger Bar, and La Sardine are just some of the many vendors.

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The three-day event is not only for foodies, however. Music-lovers will be happy to note that a full lineup of bands that will play on three different stages. Acts such as Dinosaur Jr., The Dandy Warhols, Best Coast, and Lettuce will headline the event.

Those wanting to continue the party after the festival ends can go to two official after parties. The first will be at the Bottom Lounge Friday night, where tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The second is at the City Winery Saturday night, where tickets are $18 in advance.

While admission is free, a $10 donation is suggested to support the West Loop Community Organization, which is sponsoring the event. And for those willing to shell out a little more cash, the event is selling VIP tickets, $40 for one-day, and $100 for the full weekend. Perks include access to two VIP lounges, reserved seating, discounted beer and food options, and private restroom trailers.

Taste of Randolph will take place Friday, June 19 through Sunday, June 21 at 900-1200 W. Randolph. It will begin at 5 p.m. on the first day and noon the next two days while going until 10 p.m. each night. Parking and biking accommodations are still to be determined. The event can be accessed via the CTA’s Morgan/Lake Pink and Green line station.

For more information about this event, visit tasterandolph.com.

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Enjoy Sun and Art at the Gold Coast Art Fair

Posted on June 16th, 2015 by

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Proclaimed the “Granddaddy of American Art Festivals,” the Gold Coast Art Fair mixes incredible demonstrations by artists, live music, and interactive art projects to provide high culture to the masses at a low price.

The festival, now in its 58th year, has been ranked as a top 30 art festival in the country. Despite its name, it will be take place on Chicago’s front lawn, Grant Park. More than 350 artists will show, demonstrate, and sell their art. Diverse artwork of means ranging from $25 to $25,000 will be on display.

Most of the media being portrayed will be a worthy mix of jewelry, painting, photography, 2D, and 3D.

Live art demos and speed-painting will be among the many art-based activities. Live music, food, and activities for kids will make this event one for the whole family.

Event planners are also encouraging attendees to take advantage of other cultural attractions such as Millennium Park and the Art Institute to add to the perfect day exploring Chicago.

The festival will take place this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. It will be in the Butler Field section of Grant Park, at the corner of Monroe St. and Lake Shore Dr. While admission is free, a $5 donation is suggested in support the Chicago Park District’s Art Programs.

Parking is available at the several garages downtown. Public transit users can access the event through the Adams/Wabash elevated station, Monroe subway station, and several bus lines. To get discounted parking and more information, visit amdurproductions.com/gold-coast-art-fair-at-grant-park/.

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Chicago Pride Fest Returns

Posted on June 16th, 2015 by

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Those seeking to show their pride have the opportunity to do so at Boystown’s first official party of summer, the Chicago Pride Festival.

The event, a prelude to the Gay Pride Parade on June 28, is a two-day celebration of Chicago’s LGBTQ community. It will feature an eclectic lineup of arts and crafts, food and other vendors in addition to the live entertainment that will be taking place on two different stages.

One stage will be completely dedicated to performers in the gay community with several drag shows scheduled throughout the day. Music will also be a feature as several acts will be performing including pop duo The Veronicas, Estelle, Big Freedia, synth-pop guru St. Lucia, and nostalgia-filled Debbie Gibson.

One unique component of this festival is the Pet Pride Parade, in which proud owners parade their costumed pets on a short route throughout the events’ surrounding blocks. This will take place at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The fest itself will take place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Halsted Street between Addison and Grace Streets. Public transportation is the best bet here, with the Addison Red Line stop just a few blocks away.

While it is free, a $10 gate donation is suggested. Proceeds will benefit the Northalsted Business Alliance. For more information, visit northalsted.com.

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