These will be the largest fireworks display the City’s ever had and will be accompanied by a live simulcast from WGN. This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic still threatening the health and safety of Chicago residents, the City has introduced health guidelines that will encourage visitors and residents alike to celebrate safely.
“I’m thrilled that we are able to welcome back our New Year’s Eve fireworks and hope to continue this tradition into the future,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Importantly, the display can be viewed outdoors where the spread of COVID-19 is less likely, so our residents and visitors should feel comfortable while masking up and social distancing or even watching safely from home. I look forward to welcoming a happy new year.
Promptly at midnight, a fireworks display choreographed to a special music soundtrack will light up the sky synchronized across eight separate launch sites along the Chicago River and in Lake Michigan near Navy Pier. The display will be free to view, courtesy of the City, Choose Chicago, and participating partners from across the hospitality community. A website has been created to provide details about the event including locations where people can view the fireworks. WGN-TV will be broadcasting live starting at 11:00 pm and showcase the Midnight Fireworks and accompanying music soundtrack. Viewers are encouraged to watch the show from the safety of their homes.
The Chicago Department of Public Health encourages everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines are by far the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus. Even if you are vaccinated, consider a COVID-19 test (either through a healthcare provider or at home) before gathering, and encourage guests to do the same before indoor holiday gatherings. Tests can help protect unvaccinated children, older individuals, those who are immunocompromised, or individuals at risk of severe disease. As a reminder, the mask mandate for Chicago and Illinois remains in effect and a mask is required at all public indoor settings across the city. Many venues will also require proof of vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test for entry. Effective Monday, January 3, 2022, any individual 5 years of age or older will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to dine indoors, visit gyms, or enjoy entertainment venues where food or drink are being served. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, are sick, or experiencing any COVID- or flu-like symptoms; you should not attend any gatherings for New Year’s Eve, even if you are vaccinated. For more information on how to stay safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19, visit chicago.gov/covid.
“This will be the largest fireworks display in the City’s history and one of the largest anywhere in the world,” said Arena Partners CEO, John Murray, who is producing the event again this year after a 2-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic. “It is so great that the City is open again and welcoming people back to our fantastic hotels, restaurants, and cultural institutions.”
Event partners are located in close proximity to the display launch points, offering guests beautiful views and plenty of entertainment options. Visitors and locals alike are encouraged to eat, drink and be merry at a variety of partner venues and events. The fireworks will also be broadcast live on WGN-TV.
“Navy Pier is incredibly excited to host the return of its iconic New Year’s Eve fireworks show to ring in a new year with the city of Chicago,” said Marilynn Gardner, President and CEO of Navy Pier. “We look forward to welcoming guests to celebrate safely at Navy Pier, one of Chicago’s most treasured and important civic institutions.”
“As any Chicagoan knows, this is a city of big thinking and big plans and New Year’s Eve 2021 will be big,” said Glenn Eden, Chair of the Choose Chicago Board of Directors. “We are thrilled to be working with this outstanding team to welcome 2022 and ring in the new year with our residents and visitors.”
The event is made possible by support from the City of Chicago and partners from the hospitality industry, which employs more than 90,000 workers.
I love Chicago no matter the time of year, but this time of year with all the holiday lights and decorations, the streets and trees dusted with snow, it all takes on such a magical glow. That’s why I was happy when my friend Katie Papadopoulos of Choose Chicago sent me a list–and it’s a long one–of all the special ways to enjoy the city this season.
Visit the traditional Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza (celebrating its 25th anniversary this year) for a mug of glühwein and that perfect handcrafted gift. Lace up your skates and zip around The Peninsula Sky Rink (the only hotel skating rink in Chicago) followed by a traditional Holiday Afternoon Tea in The Lobby beneath the 20 foot Christmas tree. Marvel at the thousands of twinkling lights on display at ZooLights and Illumination at The Morton Arboretum or the dozens of festively decorated trees at the MSI’s Christmas Around the World display. Or head over to Navy Pier’s new “Light Up the Lake“, an indoor, temperature controlled experience featuring large-scale light-sculpture displays, a regulation-size Alpine ice rink, authentic holiday beer garden, kiddie train rides, Santa’s Village and gift market and other family-friendly events. Winterland at Gallagher Way will extend its festivities beyond the holiday season with ice bumper cars, skating lessons and curling lessons running through January/February 2022 and the popular Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon will return with a fun new collaboration with the blockbuster art experience Immersive Van Gogh, projecting visuals of sunflowers and starry night brush strokes onto the ice.
Come find out why Chicago was once again designated by Conde Nast Traveler’s readers as the Best Big City in the U.S. in 2021, for the fifth year in a row and check out what’s new in Chicago this holiday season!
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The holiday season kicks off in Chicago on November 20 with the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, returning for the annual Tree-Lighting Parade down North Michigan Avenue with Grand Marshals Mickey and Minnie Mouse from Walt Disney World® Resorts in Florida. The event-filled day begins at 11:00 AM. starting at Lights Festival Lane (401 North Michigan Avenue) with a festive thoroughfare of booths and family activities, including photos with Santa Claus. The parade of fabulous floats, giant helium balloons, exciting marching bands, celebrities, musical performances, Santa Claus, and more begin at 5:30 PM., helping illuminate the more than 200 trees along The Magnificent Mile.
The City of Chicago’s 108th Christmas Tree lighting in Millennium Park will return November 19, 2021 and shine through the holiday season until January 9, 2022. The festivities begin with a pre-show by DJ Selah Say (5:30-6:00 PM), performances by Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, the cast of Chicago Opera Theater, a youth dance ensemble from the Kenwood School of Ballet and special guests Dreezy Claus and Sister Claus (6:00-6:30 PM), the tree-lighting and fireworks (6:30 PM) and a post-lighting concert featuring DJ Selah Say, Cirque du Soleil, Chicago Soul Spectacular and singer-songwriter Brian McKnight (6:35-7:45 PM).
Bring the holiday season onto the waters of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan with a series of brunch, lunch and dinner cruises from City Cruises by Hornblowercelebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Prices range from $60 – $300 and include 2-3 hours of buffet or plated dinner service, spectacular views of the city skyline and local landmarks, onboard entertainment, festive decor, open bar for select cruises or the ability to upgrade your drink menu with creative cocktails, wine and beer.
The Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light Exhibitsreturn to theMuseum of Science and Industry (MSI) from November 17, 2021-January 3, 2022, an annual tradition that began in 1942 with a single tree and now has expanded to feature a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. This year, MSI is celebrating the golden age of travel with themed décor and a spotlight on the Pioneer Zephyr train and Take Flight’s 727, which have been newly reimagined. Entrance to the exhibits is included in the regular cost of entry with museum admission ($21.95 for anyone Age 12+, $12.95 for any child 3-11) but those who wish to take a picture with Santa in his photo studio inside the Holiday Store must buy a special timed-entry ticket.
Christkindlmarket, the beloved annual holiday tradition returns for its 25th season this year in Daley Plaza (November 19-December 24, 2021). Modeled after the 16th century holiday markets in Germany, this Christmas bazaar is a hub for traditional German fare, delightfully warm beverages, charming musical performances and charming holiday vibes that the entire family can enjoy. Enjoy a mug of glühwein (traditional hot spiced wine), snack on currywurst, schnitzel and pretzels and shop for the perfect handmade gift. Another Christkindlmarket will take place at Wrigleyville (November 19-December 31, 2021).
Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park is thrilled to announce a new winter experience, Fairmont Lodge, debuting for its inaugural winter season starting November 20-February 2022. Completely transforming the hotel’s lounge, Fairmont Lodge celebrates the winter season with cozy décor, fire pits, festive programming, overnight packages and more. Chef William Schultz completes the experience with a seasonal menu of wintery-themed bites like Sweet and Savory Fondue and S’mores, Oaxaca Spiced Short Ribs and more. Signature hand-crafted cocktails include a Flaming Eggnog made tableside and Oh So Delish Hot Chocolate, both served in a Lodge-themed collector cup. Cozy up to one of Fairmont Lodge’s nine indoor fire pit tables (every Wednesday-Sunday), enjoy weekly Thursday Happy Hours in December and check the calendar for special events.
The ninth annual Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum returns as a walking experience from November 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022. Visitors can explore 50 acres of the Arboretum’s majestic trees during this one-of-a-kind spectacle of color, light, and sound, and see returning favorites and surprising new sights, including a special Human+Nature display and an experience featuring 150 colorful lanterns. Along the one-mile, paved walking path filled with festive music and lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter, guests can warm up by a crackling fire and roast marshmallows for s’mores, or stop in one of the concession tents for a snack and beverage. Advance purchase is recommended as many nights will sell out.
IllumiBrew returns for two nights (November 18 and 19), a special event where an ages 21+ crowd can sample seasonal beers, ciders, and meads from popular Chicagoland breweries stationed along the Illumination trail; each tasting ticket includes fifteen 3 oz beer samples and a souvenir light up tasting glass.
Navy Pier’s “Light Up the Lake“ will open on November 26, 2021 and run through January 2, 2022. This indoor, temperature controlled experience will feature large-scale light-sculpture displays (more than 600,000 twinkling lights), a regulation-size Alpine ice rink, authentic holiday beer garden, kiddie train rides, Santa’s Village and gift market and other family-friendly events. Every ticket also comes with a free ride on the Centennial Wheel. Light Up the Lake will also offer sit-down dining with holiday-themed eats, signature cocktails, and seasonal brews.
Santa Baby Bar, opening November 17, 2021, returns for the holiday season with a multi-room, multi-level, over-the-top Christmas experience. All guests must reserve online, for no more than six people, and all tables are limited to no more than ninety minute intervals.
Returning for its ninth season, The Peninsula Sky Rink (2,100 sq ft) is the only hotel skating rink in Chicago, located above Chicago’s bustling Michigan Avenue. Surrounded by Chicago’s skyscrapers and twinkling lights, the rink is tucked into a pine tree winter wonderland and bathed in festive music and snowflake lighting. The skating rink’s outdoor menu features a selection of hot beverages and snacks including hot chocolate, hot cider, and other treats, and is available for groups to rent or for private events. All monies collected include skate rental ($20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under) and are donated to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Hephzibah Children’s Association.
Winterland at Gallagher Way (November 19, 2021 – February 20, 2022) will include a ceremonial tree lighting (November 29, 2021), ice skating on an 8,000 square-foot ice rink,Santa’s Workshop, wreath making workshops (December 4-5, 2021), holiday movie screenings (Thursdays in December 2021) and special programming at Hotel Zachary (weekends in November-December, 2021). New to this year’s transformation will be a special celebration of Hanukkah (December 5, 2021), ice bumper cars and skating lessons (January 2022) and curling lessons (February 2022).
The popular Winter Wonderland returns to The Godfrey Hotel’s I|O Rooftop Lounge. The heated, clear-dome igloos on the rooftop’s outdoor portico will make guests feel like they are in their own personal snow globe. Order a hot cocktail and s’mores to roast over the outdoor firepits and enjoy winter in Chicago under the city lights.
Minimum required to reserve one of the smaller (6-person) igloos is one bottle while the minimum for a larger igloo is $500. Due to extremely high demand igloos are only available for a two-hour window and fully close by 11PM (8PM on Sundays).
ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago’s favorite holiday tradition, is back and better than ever (from November 19, 2021-January 2, 2022) with a new Pepper Family Wildlife Center at the heart of the zoo, a new holiday lights experience on the Main Mall, and an exciting new light show on the South Lawn. Also new this year: sensory-friendly visit times and an impressive 18-foot holiday tree sure to inspire festive oohs and aahs. Tickets are $5 per person (free admission on Mondays and Tuesdays).
Guests at The Peninsula Chicago can enjoy Holiday Afternoon Tea in The Lobbybeneath the 20-foot Christmas tree; the menu features a traditional English tea menu, including a variety of finger sandwiches, fruit and plain scones with house made preserves, Devonshire clotted cream, seasonal pastries with choux, chocolate, and winter fruit creations. (Vegan and gluten-free options are available). Festive Afternoon Tea is offered through January 9, 2022.
Guests at The Peninsula Chicago can celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (December 24-25, 2021) with a Christmas Eve prix-fixe dinner in The Lobby featuring Wagyu, Maine Lobster, Scallops and Peking Duck followed by a lush dessert buffet. A trio band will provide the entertainment and dinner is priced at $205 per person, with an option to add wine pairings for $65 per person. Or they can join for brunch in The Lobby on Christmas Day with an American four-course menu featuring à la carte options combined with buffet items served from a carving, seafood, cheese and charcuterie station and a decadent dessert buffet. A string quartet will provide the entertainment as well as a balloon artist and magician to entertain children. Brunch seatings (10:00 AM to 5:00PM) are priced at $275 per adult, $75 per child (five to 12 years).
Ring in 2022, Peninsula-style at The Lobby’s New Year’s Eve Gala (December 31, 2021), where a five-course prix-fixe dinner and dancing will be accompanied by a live band. The 21+ event is black tie optional and is priced at $205 per person with an additional $95 for wine pairings. Z Bar will also be ringing in 2022 with a ticketed soirée starting at 8:00 pm with an open bar, abundant passed hors d’oeuvres, DJ-ed entertainment and a Champagne toast at midnight. The party concludes at 1:00 am. Tickets for this 21+ event are $195 per person, excluding tax and gratuity.
The Langham Chicago’s Holiday Afternoon Teawill return in partnership with Veuve Clicquot from November 17, 2021-January 9, 2022, where delicate pastries and savory petite sandwiches will be joined by Langham’s proprietary tea blends, seasonally-inspired treats and a special course from Veuve Clicquot.
Travelle at The Langham will serve a Christmas Eve Entrée Special (priced at $82 per person) on December 24, 2021 from 5:00-10:00 PM; the menu will include a truffled chicken “pot pie” for two adorned with herb-roasted chicken, truffled confit thighs, black trumpets, and Caroline ruby sweet potatoes.
On December 25, 2021 Travelle will serve a Christmas Day Brunch (11:00AM – 3:00PM) with a variety of breakfast favorites, omelets made to order, artisanal cheese and cured meats, exquisite sushi and seafood options, and heavenly pastries. (The buffet is $195 per adult and $60 for children 5-12 years of age, and prepayment and reservations are required through the Travelle Tock.)
Or there is a six course Christmas Day Prix Fixe Dinner ($165 per adult) from 5:00-10:00 PM featuring a Royal Kaluga Caviar Amuse, Beet Root Panna Cotta Salad and Wild Mushroom Risotto appetizer, followed by a Roasted Prime Filet entrée and dessert service of Mont Blanc and Petit fours by Chef Nitin.
Ring in the New Year at Travelle at The Langham with a New Year’s Eve Prix Fixe Dinner on December 31, 2021 (5:00-10:00 PM) with a seven-course prix fixe menu featuring dishes including Nantucket Bay Scallop Ceviche, Hudson Valley Foie Gras appetizer, and Grilled Australian Wagyu NY Strip. To finish off a magnificent dining experience, guests can enjoy an indulgent dessert with Intermezzo featuring lemon with Grand Marnier and an extravagant Chocolate Experience with Manjari mousse, praline cremeux, and hazelnut ice cream. A splendid wine collection will also be available à la carte. Reservations must be made in advance through the Travelle Tock and prepayment is required at $190 per adult.
Private experiences with Santa, dinner packages and private events offered by Swissôtel Chicago for the 2021 holiday season include:
Holiday Tradition Package: Stop by Santa’s Presidential Pad with up to 15 guests to visit the man of the season and overindulge in unlimited Swiss hot cocoa, champagne and holiday treats including Candied Orange SnoBall Cookies, Reindeer Chow, Eggnog Truffles and more. The experience also includes cookie decorating, crafts with Make to Celebrate, face painting and letter writing, complete with a visit to Santa’s Post Office. $50 of the total price will be donated to SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. Available to book every Saturday and Sunday for $600/hour from December 4 – December 19, 2021; 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.
Family Dinner Package: Gather with six or more loved ones for an over-the-top holiday dinner in the Santa Suite, Duplex Suite, Vitality Suite or Chef’s Table Virtual Suite. Enjoy a 4-course holiday-inspired menu by Chef Dan McGee, with menu items including Roast Chicken with red cabbage, spätzle, raclette cheese, chicken jus, Pomegranate Braised Lamb Shanks with a pomegranate bordelaise, Chocolate Peppermint Cake and more. Holiday crafts are available upon request. Dinners are available to book daily beginning November 20-December 26, 2021 at $150 per adult and $50 per child.
VIP Reception in Santa Suite: Whether it’s a corporate holiday party or family reunion, the Santa Suite can fit up to 50 people for private events beginning November 20-December 26, 2021. Work with the events team to curate an experience with festive cocktails and a menu featuring Chilled Potato Soup & Caviar Shooter, Smoked Duck Breast Marmalade, Curry Chicken Salad Sliders, Pecan & Roasted White Chocolate Tarts and more.
A series of Yuletide specials this holiday season at The Langham Chicago(available November 19, 2021 – January, 2, 2022) include Oh Christmas Tree (including luxurious one-bedroom suite accommodations with a decorated Christmas tree in-room, deconstructed champagne cocktails inspired by the season; and bespoke cheese and charcuterie; rates beginning at $1,100) and Dive into the Season (including lavish guest room accommodations, $100 food and beverage credit for poolside snacks and beverages, two hours of exclusive access to Chuan Spa’s indoor pool and holiday-themed floats; rates begin at $825.)
Or splurge on A Signature Christmas in a 2,400 sq. ft. suite with floor-to-ceiling windows featuring panoramic views of Chicago, a four-course, in-residence dinner prepared by Executive Chef Damion Henry, in-suite dining entertainment, Club Lounge access and a custom-designed holiday tree set in the parlor. (Rates start at $13,525.)
At The Peninsula Chicago, holiday packages like the Holly Jolly Family Holiday Package and Merry and Bright Couple’s Holiday Package include such amenities as an in-room holiday tree or Menorah, holiday welcome amenity or bottle of wine/Champagne upon arrival, access to library of holiday themed movies, books and games for the kids or a $100 gift card to the nearby Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue store, daily Peninsula breakfast and daily valet parking. Rates start at $1,250, packages available from November 26-December 31, 2021.
For six days, The Peninsula Chicago is offering special pricing for a Cyber sale commencing Thanksgiving Day (November 25, 2021) through Travel Tuesday (November 30, 2021) for 20% off rooms and suites on stays from December 1, 2021 – April 30, 2022. and special pricing on gift cards. The offers will only be available on the hotel’s website, or by calling the hotel directly.
For the eighth consecutive year, Swissôtel Chicago’s Presidential Suite will be transformed into Santa’s home-away-from-the-Pole for the holiday season, welcoming Chicagoans and visitors alike. The Santa Suite offers sweeping views of the city, and is filled with 17 Christmas trees, festive decor, games and holiday craft kits for the kids, cookie decorating stations, “Letter to Santa” packs, and more. Book the Holiday Penthouse Hideaway (starting November 20 through December 26, 2021, from $1,500 per night).
For a slightly more competitive price-point, consider a stay in an Elf Decorated Holiday Room featuring a Christmas tree and holiday room decor as well as a complimentary holiday amenity (Rates begin at $329 per night.)
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a must-see Chicago holiday tradition now in its fifth decade and enjoyed by nearly two million theatergoers, is back playing at Goodman’s Albert Theatre, from November 20 – December 31, 2021.
A Christmas Symphony Tour, a new Christmas tradition by the world’s biggest-selling soprano and GRAMMY® Award-nominated artist, Sarah Brightman, will play at the Auditorium Theatre on December 10, 2021.
“Home Alone” in Concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the beloved holiday favorite will return to the big screen at Symphony Center; John Williams’ delightful, Academy Award-nominated score will be performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Riccardi Muti, from November 26-28, 2021.
Leslie Odom, Jr.’s The Christmas Tour brings the GRAMMY®- and Tony®-Award Winning vocalist, songwriter, author and actor to Chicago for a one-night holiday season concert at the CIBC Theatre on December 4, 2021.
Christopher Wheeldon’s reimagined classicThe Nutcrackerfollows young Marie and the Nutcracker Prince on a Christmas Eve journey through the 1893 World’s Fair; this annual holiday tradition celebrating the magic of the season and the rich cultural heritage of Chicago returns to the Joffrey Ballet from December 4-26, 2021.
“’Twas the Night Before…” by Cirque du Soleil i is the exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas classic as only Cirque du Soleil can imagine a vibrant acrobatic spectacle about the joy of sharing and friendship at the The Chicago Theatre, playing from November 26-December 5, 2021
Located in Chicago’s Millennium Park, Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, a 110-ton elliptical sculpture made ofbrilliantly polished stainless-steel plates, now does more than just reflect the Chicago skyline and clouds above and the perfect Instagram backdrop for selfies on the ground. The sculpture, nicknamed The Bean because of its shape, now is also an AI powered chat bot capable of answering questions about the city.
It all began when Covid hit and the constant stream of visitors stopped. The Bean, which is decidedly not good at knitting or baking bread, became focused on moving beyond being the most beautiful gigantic drop of mercury-looking statuary–though we must say it did a great job at that. Eager to be a vital part of the visitor experience, The Bean worked hard at becoming a digital communicator—wanting to interact with the millions of visitors who come to Millennium Park each year.
When my fans come back, thought The Bean, I want to be ready. There were a few bad moments particularly when The Bean learned about other non-Bean art and culture for humans to enjoy in the city. This was a tough realization at first and The Bean did have an existential crisis but thankfully it was quickly dealt with after a few counseling sessions. Another glitch was that The Bean learned more than The Bean really wanted to know about intense fan rivalry between the Cubs and the Sox and how it splits the city into two regions: North of The Bean and South of The Bean. Being wise, The Bean refuses to say which team it likes best and denies reports that it was seen in Wrigleyville wearing a Cubs hat.
“We were surprised, and quite frankly, a little alarmed, when The Bean came to us and asked if we would be open to this new idea, after all we did not know The Bean had become sentient,” said Scott Stewart, Executive Director of Millennium Park Foundation. “However, after talking with Choose Chicago, we realized that our friend, The Bean, could be a great help to all of the visitors to Chicago so we are happy to be part of this project.”
Call it The Bean Knows All. Want to know where to get your favorite style of pizza? What’s happening in the city? Head to explorewiththebean.com to ask The Bean about anything from neighborhood restaurants to what events are happening next weekend as well as the latest in child-friendly activities, things to do, museum exhibits, and more.
Turning this 66-feet long by 33-feet high sculpture, one of the largest of its kind in the world, into an AI powered chat bot called for team work. A partnership was developed between Choose Chicago and Northwestern University Medill School’s Knight Lab, a diverse, multi-disciplinary and multi-generational community of designers, developers, students, and educators working on experiments designed to push journalism into new spaces says Glenn Eden, Board Chair of Choose Chicago, the official organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination.
“Our team of students was thrilled to have this opportunity to explore the design questions involved in making a conversational system that works well for visitors to Chicago,” said Joe Germuska, Executive Director of Knight Lab. “And if, in the future, The Bean needs us for new projects, we’re ready to help.”
The Bean Ups Its Game
Now that it’s also an AI powered chat bot, The Bean isn’t going to just sit back and relax. That’s not Bean-like. Instead, it wants to make even more friends and provide more information and so is continuously working to take its knowledge base to the next level. And by the way, The Bean loves when people take photos of it or pose with The Bean for selfies. But though The Bean thrives on attention, its goal is not to be The Bean-all when it comes to Chicago.
Instead, The Bean loves to share all that Chicago has to offer. All you have to do is ask.
Cloud Gate sits upon the AT&T Plaza, which was made possible by a gift from AT&T.
Millennium Park, located in the heart of downtown Chicago, is bordered by Michigan Avenue to the west, Columbus Drive to the east, Randolph Street to the north and Monroe Street to the south.
Photos are courtesy of Choose Chicago and The Chicago Architecture Foundation.
Just in time for the summer 2021 season, the Chicago Greeter program will now showcase the city’s diverse neighborhoods through four different initiatives
Chicago, IL – June 17, 2021 – Choose Chicago announces a relaunch of the popular and world renowned Chicago Greeter program. The program now includes four different initiatives bringing the knowledge and passion of this network of 200 volunteer guides to locals and visitors alike in new ways, while remaining free to the public: the original In-Person Greeter experiences, Welcome to Our Neighborhood walks, InstaGreeter Downtown meetups and Self-Guided Greeter tours presented by Bank of America.
From Chinatown to Pilsen and Greektown to Little Italy, Chicago’s neighborhoods tell the stories of the people who made the city their home throughout history. Since 2001, Chicago Greeter has shown how these neighborhoods have remained just as vibrant today, with bustling cafes, restaurants, museums, public art and more.
“Choose Chicago is proud to relaunch and expand the renowned Chicago Greeter program this summer and share authentic Chicago neighborhoods with locals and visitors alike,” said Jason Lesniewicz, Director of Cultural Tourism for Choose Chicago. “We now have four great ways to experience fascinating histories, diverse cultural traditions, iconic landmarks and off-the-beaten-path gems.”
Chicago Greeter Experiences
A recipient of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for over ten years, the original In-Person Chicago Greeter experiences offer deep dives of 2-to-4 hours of the Chicago neighborhood of your choice. Guests are paired with a friendly, local volunteer based on their neighborhood and subject of interest for a personalized experience. Tours are available in over a dozen languages and are available to book now.
Welcome to Our Neighborhood Walks
Explore Chicago’s neighborhoods with these new, free walks led by diverse community groups and neighborhood organizations. Walks will dive deep into the highlights of each community’s unique stories, top attractions and under-the-radar finds, all through the eyes of people deeply embedded in the community. The first of these tours to launch will be through Chinatown in collaboration with the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute on June 19 and July 17.
InstaGreeter Downtown Meetups
The InstaGreeter downtown meetups, returning July 2nd, were designed with those who are pressed for time or looking for a more flexible option in mind. These free, hour-long tours of Chicago’s downtown Loop neighborhood operate Friday, Saturday and Sundays departing at 11:30 am. No reservation is required and InstaGreeters depart from the Chicago Cultural Center’s Welcome Center located at 77 E. Randolph Street.
Self-Guided Greeter Tours
The new Self-Guided Greeter Tours, presented by Bank of America, provide visitors and locals alike curated, virtual tours designed by local experts to showcase each neighborhood’s unique history, culture and hidden gems.
Through the power of video, blog and social content, this series will shine a spotlight on six Chicago neighborhoods by leveraging the knowledge and expertise of the Chicago Greeter volunteers. Each part will feature a different neighborhood, including a unique Chicago Greeter itinerary and logistical instructions on how to best explore the neighborhood in person.
The digital content will launch this month, with a blog post highlighting a self-guided walking tour of Chicago’s South Loop. Additional content will follow on a monthly basis, with Kenwood, Bronzeville, Bridgeport, Pullman and West Ridge to follow.
“Chicago’s neighborhoods are teeming with history and culture, and that deserves to be celebrated,” said Paul Lambert, President of Bank of America Chicago. “We’re honored to partner with Choose Chicago to spotlight communities across the city’s South and West sides, to encourage people to visit these local landmarks, and to drive economic activity where it is needed most.”
Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination, leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. For more information, visit choosechicago.com. Follow @choosechicago on Twitter and on Instagram. Like us on Facebook.
For those who love Chicago’s wonderful food scene, this September is the time to enjoy one of the country’s best food festivals, Chicago Gourmet. Going on now until the end of the month, Chicago Gourmet organizers at the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA), the event’s founding sponsor – along with presenting sponsor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits – are offering a safe and spectacularly curated schedule showcasing Chicago’s diverse culinary offerings. Reservations and tickets are now available at chicagogourmet.org.
To help those impacted by the pandemic, this year the IRA is formally introducing the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF) Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, a new beneficiary of this year’s events. This recently established fund provides one-time, emergency cash relief to qualifying restaurant workers experiencing unforeseen hardships as a result of COVID-19. Funds raised through Chicago Gourmet will go toward providing necessary relief to those with critical need.
Chicago area star chefs and leading restaurants are embracing this year’s innovative format and community focus by volunteering their time, enthusiasm and expertise to the festival’s many programs. This September is a win-win for all. Food fans can enjoy a range of experiences and support the those harmed by the pandemic. Chicago Gourmet represents the best of this world class city–its caring and its wonderfully creative food scene. Here’s what going on:
Can’t Stop the Hop Presented by DoorDash
The official kick-off to Chicago Gourmet every year, the popular Hamburger Hop expands beyond Millennium Park in 2020 with Can’t Stop the Hop presented by DoorDash, the nation’s leading last-mile logistics platform. This year, 100 chef competitors offer tasty burgers for dine-in, delivery or carry out from September 1-13. Food lovers are encouraged to hop around town, or visit the DoorDash app or website, and try as many burgers as possible, and based on flavor and overall presentation, they will vote on their favorite at chicagogourmet.org.
The champion will be announced the week of September 14 and will receive a magnum of fine wine from Josh Cellars, a Yeti cooler filled with premium meat and seafood from Buckhead Meat of Chicago and bragging rights for a lifetime.
$1 of every burger sold benefits the IRAEF Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Click here for a list of participants. Additional sponsors include Buckhead Meat of Chicago, Turano Baking Co., Blue Moon, Josh Cellars, High West Distillery and Choose Chicago.
As part of this partnership, DoorDash will feature an in-app carousel for customers nearby select participating restaurants to order their burgers for on-demand delivery and pickup.
Go Gourmet Dinner and Virtual Series
Go Gourmet Dinner Series Presented by UnitedHealthcare. Intimate. Delicious. Memorable. Chicago Gourmet’s Go Gourmet Dinner Series Presented by UnitedHealthcare includes special, in-person events curated with love by many of the city’s most beloved chefs. Held on various dates between September 14-30, fans can revel in outstanding, multi-course dinners paired with wine and spirit selections courtesy of Unshackled by the Prisoner Wine Company, Legent Bourbon and more. The lineup includes:
Monday, September 14 – Wednesday, September 16 & Monday, September 21 – Wednesday, September 23: Chefs Laura, Kelly + Michael Cheng, Sun Wah BBQ
Tuesday, September 15: Chef Jose Sosa, Gibsons Italia
Wednesday, September 16: Chef Carlos Gaytán, Tzuco – With special guest chefs Gaby Ruiz from Carmela & Sal (Mexico City) and Gourmet MX (Villahermosa, Tabasco); Rodrigo Estrada from Agua & Sal (Mexico City) and Yemanyá (Mexico City); and Benito Molina from Manzanilla (Ensenada, Baja California) to commemorate Mexican Independence Day
Thursday, September 17: Chef Kevin Hickey, The Duck Inn
Sunday, September 20: Chef Erick Williams, Virtue
Monday, September 21: Chef Norman Bolden, Norman’s Bistro
Tuesday, September 22: Chef Tony Priolo, Piccolo Sogno
Wednesday, September 23: Chef Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde
Thursday, September 24: A special collaboration between Chef Cedric Harden, River Roast, and Chef Carolina Diaz, Terzo Piano (held at River Roast)
Wednesday, September 30: Chef Mari Katsumura, Yūgen
Reservations can be made directly with participating restaurants. To see the full lineup and reservations information, visit chicagogourmet.org. Prices and times vary per restaurant. All will adhere to current occupancy orders and health and safety guidelines.
Go Gourmet Virtual Series. Chicago Gourmet’s Go Gourmet Virtual Series invites celebrity chefs right into one’s home kitchen LIVE as they lead engaging cooking classes between September 14-30. Fans can purchase tickets to simply watch, or better yet, they can order meal kits in advance from anywhere in the U.S. to cook along and learn in real time. Meal kits arrive with ingredients to create a feast for four. Each live demonstration will also feature suggested beverage pairings and education from Campari / Aperol Spritz and JUSTIN Wines. The virtual schedule includes:
Monday, September 14: Chef Art Smith, Blue Door Kitchen & Garden
Wednesday, September 16: Chef Lorena Garcia, Lorena Garcia Cocina/Lorena Garcia Tapas
Thursday, September 17: Chef Thai Dang, HaiSous/Cà Phê Đá
Friday, September 18: Chef Fabio Viviani, Siena Tavern/Prime & Provisions/Bar Siena
Sunday, September 20: Chef Kwame Onwuachi
Tuesday, September 22: Chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill/ Topolobampo/XOCO/Tortazo/Bar Sótano
Saturday, September 26: Chef Jernard Wells, The Family Chef
Sunday, September 27: Chef Stephanie Izard, Girl & the Goat/Little Goat Diner/Duck Duck Goat/Cabra
Tuesday, September 29: Chef Jeff Mauro, The Kitchen/Sandwich King
All Go Gourmet events benefit the IRAEF Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. In addition to those named above, the series is made possible thanks to Mariano’s, US Foods, Bank of America, Gordon Foodservice, Performance Foodservice, Choose Chicago, Pepsi, Coker Service Inc. and Coca-Cola.
Let the bidding begin! The Chicago Gourmet annual online auction goes live September 14-30. Featuring an impressive collection of wine, spirits and dinner experiences underwritten by Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, one hundred percent of proceeds from the auction benefit the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. The non-profit organization – which has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships since its inception – provides mentoring, job training and financial support for the next generation of aspiring chefs and hospitality professionals.
Chicago Gourmet 2020’s media partners include NBC 5 Chicago/Telemundo Chicago, JC Deceaux, 93XRT, 101.9 The Mix and Chicago magazine.
ABOUT CHICAGO GOURMET. Chicago Gourmet, the nation’s premier culinary experience, returns for its 13th year September 2020. Created by the Illinois Restaurant Association to honor Chicago’s culinary achievements and the creative vision of the chefs, Master Sommeliers, and wine-, spirit-, and beer-makers who participate, it spotlights Chicago as an international culinary destination via its unparalleled epicurean talent. The 2020 event supports the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF) and the IRAEF’s newly established Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Chicago Gourmet is possible with the support of presenting sponsor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. For more information, please visit chicagogourmet.org and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
ABOUT SOUTHERN GLAZER’S WINE & SPIRITS. Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is the world’s pre-eminent distributor of beverage alcohol, and proud to be a multi-generational, family-owned company. The Company has operations in 44 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Canada, and the Caribbean, and employs more than 20,000 team members. Southern Glazer’s urges all retail customers and adult consumers to market, sell, serve, and enjoy its products responsibly. For more information visit www.southernglazers.com. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @sgwinespirits and on Facebook at Facebook.com/SouthernGlazers.
ABOUT DOORDASH. DoorDash is a technology company that connects customers with their favorite local and national businesses in more than 4,000 cities and all 50 states across the United States, Canada, and Australia. Founded in 2013, DoorDash empowers merchants to grow their businesses by helping to solve mission-critical challenges, such as customer acquisition, on-demand delivery, insights and analytics, merchandising, payment processing, and customer support. By building the last-mile delivery logistics platform for local cities, DoorDash is bringing communities closer, one doorstep at a time. Read more on the DoorDash blog or at www.doordash.com.
ABOUT THE ILLINOIS RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION (IRAEF) RESTAURANT EMPLOYEE RELIEF FUND. Established in 2020, the IRAEF Restaurant Employee Relief Fund is statewide emergency assistance fund that provides one-time direct financial support to restaurant industry workers facing unforeseen hardship as a result of COVID-19. Grants help cover basic living expenses such as rent, food and utilities as someone works through crisis. Donate here now.