It’s easy to forget what the holidays are about when you’re running from store to store and waiting in long lines at the post office. The holidays are about the loved ones we surround ourselves with and how lucky we are to have them with us. The holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” reminds us of that every year. Witness a live radio performance with foley sounds and all at the American Blues Theater of “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!”
Aside from hearing the great story of George Bailey’s selfless actions and his realizations that his loved ones need him as much as he needs them, audiences can enjoy holiday carols, actual radio commercials from real sponsors, and milk and cookies with the cast and crew at the American Blues Theater’s adaptation. Make sure you take your kids to the 2:30 p.m. show on Sunday, Dec. 22 because Santa will make an appearance and give kids a keepsake to take with them.
The American Blues Theater is located at 2257 North Lincoln Avenue inside the Greenhouse Theater Center. Tickets to the show are between $19 and $49. For more information visit http://www.americanbluestheater.com/.
It’s easy to forget that trees are these majestic living things that help us survive instead of another decorative feature on the Magnificent Mile. The Morton Arboretum has found a way to dress up their trees and point out their personalities at Illumination, which runs to Jan. 4 every night starting at 4:30 p.m.
Grab a coat and your kids and stroll along a mile of illuminated trees that each have a different interactive feature. The draped lights are worth the visit alone, but you can change the color of the tree lights when you sing to it at the Tree Harmony section. At the Shadow Lanterns section watch as the lights and shadows change depending on how the wind hits. Also, all you tree huggers out there will finally know how a juniper feels when you see it change colors once you wrap your arms around it. And if hugging isn’t enough and actually want to be a tree you can project your face on 30-foot evergreens and see the colors change at the Personalitrees section.
Along with the mile-long walk you can enjoy hot cocoa and cookies while your child enjoys the Enchanted Railroad, a two-leveled model train traveling through a small winter wonderland. Make sure to spot Thomas the Tank Engine.
The Morton Arboretum is located 4100 Illinois Route 53 in Lisle, Ill. Tickets to Illumination are $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 2 – 17. Make sure to buy your tickets in advance as same-day tickets are not available online or over the phone. To learn more visit http://www.mortonarb.org/events/illumination.
Gwendolyn Ramsey, concierge at the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, is this week’s concierge correspondent and has your concierge picks for the week of October 1st through October 7th.
Greektown is a favorite family destination. With so many restaurants it is hard to choose which casual upscale atmosphere and which freshly prepared dish we will choose. Two of her favorites are Santorini and Greek Islands. They happen to be around the corner from each other and always draw a good crowd. From flaming saganaki cheese and fresh fish to broiled lamb, these restaurants will comfort you with great food, wine and atmosphere.
Pooches and tigers and elephants! Oh my! UniverSoul Circus has arrived and will be performing at Washington Park until this weekend and then moves to Union Park next week. Don’t miss seeing death-defying acts, aerialists, contortionists and more! Laugh, dance in the aisles and provide thunderous claps of appreciation. This is fun for the whole family! Ask your concierge about tickets and their full schedule.
Another family event happening in town showcases the beauty and romance of a childhood love story. Ballet West presents “Sleeping Beauty” at the Auditorium Theatre this weekend. Beautiful costumes and set design coupled with classical music to fit the scene this production will inspire your little princess and prince to dream big!
Tags: Auditorium Theatre, concierge video picks, Family Friendly, Greek Islands, greektown, Gwendolyn Ramsey, Santorini, Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, Union Park, UniverseSoul Circus, Washington Park
The Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival™ presented by MasterCard® returns to Chicago this week, running from August 22 to September 2, 2013.
The Festival provides the perfect excuse to start shopping for the Fall/Winter season, with a variety of offers and a non-stop calendar of festivities, many of which are free to the public. Special events include standout fashion shows, culinary celebrations, live outdoor concerts and more.
Highlights of the 2013 Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival include:
Big-name and high-end retailers, award-winning restaurants and iconic attractions through The Magnificent Mile district also present unique in-store experiences as well as elegant evenings to remember. A sampling of events includes:
We don’t like to be too demanding but you should probably listen to us when we say cancel your plans this weekend as it’s finally time for the best street festival of the summer (according to the Chicago Tribune but we also are in favor). Wicker Park Fest begins this Saturday, July 27th and it is about to rock your world in one of Chicago’s most eclectic neighborhoods.
For the ever-so-low price of $5, yes that’s correct, FIVE dollars, you will be immersed in a festival featuring over three stages of live music, four displays of performing arts, more than twelve food vendors, 20-plus retail vendors AND a separate fest just for the kiddos. There’s probably five dollars in change under your couch cushion, so start digging.
The festivities begin at 12 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday including the live music which has a lineup that is receiving quite the buzz. With headliners such as Cults, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Meat Puppets, and more (including DJs spanning all of your favorite genres) this is shaping up to be the perfect weekend to jam. Also, for those who care about the environment, this year’s festival will be offering not just recycling but also disposing and compost stations manned by an “Eco-Ambassadors” to ensure you’re separating the paper from the plastic. Go green!
Catch the fest on Milwaukee Avenue from North Avenue to Paulina Street, which will include nine different entrances to avoid the large crowds, from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on July 27th and 28th. There are a variety of transportation options to get to Wicker Park Fest but public transportation or walking and biking will be the easiest. For the L take the Blue Line to the Division or Damen stops and for the bus take the Milwaukee 56, North 72, Damen 50, or Division 70 bus to the Division/Ashland/Milwaukee Avenue intersection or the Damen/North/Milwaukee Avenue intersection. Bike parking will also be provided. The $5 suggested donation fee will benefit local non-profit organizations such as Burr Elementary School and the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce. For more information visit www.wickerparkfest.com.
An armada of beautiful sailboats will cut through the wind and serene waters of Lake Michigan this Saturday, July 13th, as the partnership between the Michigan Avenue magazine and the Chicago Yacht Club present Ashore Thing. Coupled with the occasion will be the thrilling 105th Race to Mackinac.
Taking to the waters around Chicago’s Navy Pier at 10 a.m., use those sunglasses or cover your brow with your hand as you look out onto the lake in search of these masterpieces of buoyant wood and sailcloth.
Known more commonly as “The Mac” by the locals, the Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac traces its origins back to 1898. Since then, the navigation of the 333-mile route of freshwater in competition has become a tradition for Chicago and its visiting seafarers. With more than 300 participants this year—each manned by a diverse crew of sailors ranging from New Zealand or “down under” to the Americans of Maine—the Mac will display nautical talents from all over. Experts and hobbyists alike will go at it in naval sport for this adored event.
It is not all history though. Bring the little ones as there are tons of activities for them to do on the Pier. Sure they will like the boats, but face painting and balloon artists are immediate entertainment that makes for big smile and laughs. What will really mesmerize your kids however is when they get the chance to make their own “buoy bucket”. Meet your children halfway for this event and let them go crazy while you and a loved one look out at the boats from the East End of the Pier.
At the Pier, enjoy some cocktails or refreshments as you lounge around. Veuve Clicquot, Belvedere and Stella Artois are available to choose from at the bar near the viewing party. After the parade, dance with the musical currents into the afternoon as the partnership has managed to snag Fig Media’s DJ Megan Taylor. Music, drinks and boats! What could be better for a Saturday in Chicago? For additional information and to RSVP, visit here.
Nothing quite says summer in Chicago like a good ol’ street festival on Lincoln Avenue! Thousands will flock to Lincoln Square July 12-14 for the 2nd annual Square Roots festival, featuring local and regional craft breweries, original artists secured by the Old Town School of Folk Music, and some of the best food Lincoln Square restaurants have to offer. This event reconnects residents with the cultural “roots” of this historic Chicago neighborhood.
The festival will take place along Lincoln Avenue from Wilson to Montrose and there is a suggested donation of $10 for adults; $4 for kids/seniors; and $20 for families with proceeds benefiting the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of commerce and Old Town School of Folk Music’s scholarship programs.
Food vendors like Byrons Hot Dogs, Fountainhead, Gather and Himmel’s Chicago have delicious eats for you and your family. Have some cool beer while you walk around as more than 30 brews from Chicago will be on tap like 5 Rabbit, Founders, Hinterland and Virtue Cider to name a few.
The venerable Old Town School of Folk Music has gotten together a range of performers for the fest. Gracing the four stages, both indoors and out, come and see Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, Sallie Ford or even The Sound Outside. Fatoumata Diawara and Savoy Family Cajun Band will also be performing.
Square Roots Festival Hours:
As some might be aware, Broadway’s biggest blockbuster Wicked is due to return to Chicago this fall, but before taking the stage it’s planning on hitting the skies first! Catch Wicked’s own Hot Air Balloon make a special appearance among the clouds in Lisle’s Eyes to the Skies Festival starting on Wednesday, July 3.
Join the celebration as the festival celebrates its 31st anniversary with its yearly attendance of more than 50,000 people. Talk about a party! This festival includes all the necessities to make it a great event including live music, a carnival, two food courts, nightly fireworks and of course daily hot air balloon launches. With all this excitement the Eyes to the Skies festival has been selected six times as “One of the County’s Top 100 Tourist Destinations” by the American Bus Association. With the addition of the Wicked balloon, this year is surely not-to-be-missed so come out and defy gravity.
The festival will run through Saturday, July 6, and admission is $5 for adults and free for children 5 and under. For more information on the festival visit www.eyestotheskies.org. Wicked tickets are also now available for groups of 20 or more by calling 312-977-1710. Individual ticket sales will begin later and the show runs from October 30th until December 21st.
Beginning on April 27th, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium will offer guests the opportunity to explore the grace and wonder of stingrays in its new, hands-on special exhibit Stingray Touch.
The outdoor, seasonal exhibit will allow guests to see – and feel – the texture and movement of these gentle animals.
Located under a tented structure on the aquarium’s south terrace, the new 18,000-gallon pool will feature approximately 40 cownose rays and yellow rays. The diamond-shaped cownose ray glides through the water with a wingspan of up to three feet long. Cownose rays are commonly found living near the water’s surface, and they are constantly on the move.
Guests will have exceptional views of the rays’ natural behaviors across the 80-foot-long and 22-foot-wide habitat. The smaller, round yellow rays are bottom-dwellers known for their unique spotted coloring and will be admired through varying vantage points of the two-and-a-half-foot-deep pool.
In the wild, the stingrays’ barbs are a defense mechanism used against predators. Without those threats, Shedd’s animal health team painlessly trims the barbs on the rays in Stingray Touch (similar to clipping fingernails).
At the seasonal special exhibit, Shedd staff members will guide guests through the 15-minute touch experience, while providing interesting facts about stingrays, including information about how choosing sustainable seafood protects stingrays in global waters.
Like many other fishes, cownose rays are accidentally taken as bycatch – marine life unintentionally caught and discarded during fishing – by commercial fisheries. Choosing sustainably-caught seafood is an easy and important way to protect rays beyond Shedd.
Illuminated with a combination of natural light and creative lighting fixtures, the habitat will accommodate curious explorers of all ages, inviting them to see the stingrays through various angles during this up-close encounter. The sleek and vibrant interior of the exhibit will be matched outside with colorful gardens filled with seasonal native plants and flowers wrap around the tented structure.
Shedd has an extensive history of caring for several species of stingrays, including freshwater rays in Amazon Rising; blue spotted rays, ribbontail rays, fiddler rays and whiptail rays in Wild Reef; and southern rays, yellow rays and cownose rays in Caribbean Reef; and starting this spring, cownose and yellow rays in Stingray Touch.
This limited-time experience is scheduled to run from April 27 through fall 2013, weather permitting. For more information, visit www.sheddaquarium.org.
There’s still time! Bring the family to Navy Pier and enjoy 170,000-square-feet of delightful fun for all ages at Winter WonderFest, running now through Jan. 6th.
A beloved holiday extravaganza, Winter WonderFest features dozens of rides, games, and live entertainment in addition to an expansive indoor ice skating rink, inflatable slides and so much more.
New Winter WonderFest activities this year include Zero Gravity, a thrilling ride that spins adventurers at high speeds and holds them in place with full Winter WonderFest force while tilting at a 45-degree angle! Also, don’t miss Winter WonderTown where families can mingle with townsfolk and explore their favorite hangouts. Mayor Burl Evergreen in City Hall presides over the town that includes Café Ambrosio, Miss Jackie’s Frost and Highlights Salon, Theodore Behr’s emporium and the gorgeous brownstone at the end of the block where the townspeople like to gather to meet new friends.
Attendees are also able to watch some amazing performances by live bands on the Winter WonderFest Stage. The fest’s remaining lineup of talent includes:
So what are you waiting for? Shake off that cabin fever and head down to Navy Pier while this uber-fun fest is still in full swing.