It's that time of year again, the autumn conference and
fundraising season has arrived, and Chicago has everything to help you create a
unique and successful experience for your attendees. Here is a guide to
traditional and contemporary venues, dynamic food and drink ideas, and décor
that captures the essence of fall in Chicago.
Sports facilities offer a fun, collaborative environment for
meetings and events, especially during the exciting football and basketball
seasons. Soldier Field, home of the
Chicago Bears, and the surrounding parkland provide wonderful views of the city
and lakefront, as well as world-class service and amenities. You can rent one
of the many versatile indoor spaces, or take the party outside onto the field
itself. The United Center, which
hosts the Bulls and Blackhawks, is also a multipurpose venue that can host
events of all sizes. Spaces such as the NHL Room, NBA Room and Ketel One Club
offer traditional sports motifs that will give your attendees a taste of
Chicago's strong sports history and spirit.
Theater and art are major staples of fall in Chicago. You
can pick from a wide range of facilities that capture the glitz and glamor of
stage entertainment, such as The Civic
Opera House, a 1920s theatre that features one of the largest stages in
Chicago, as well as private dining rooms and a grand foyer. The Bank of America Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre and Oriental Theatre, also offer
spectacular architecture and designs that are sure to impress your clients and
their guests. For an art-centric event, try The Art Institute of Chicago. Its sophisticated Modern Wing
features the highly sought-after Griffin Court and Pritzker Garden, two spaces
that allow your guests to stay in the elegant entranceway or experience the
crisp fall weather at their leisure. You can also select the Museum of Contemporary Art for a large,
eclectic event, or Lillstreet Art Center for a more intimate reception.
Chicago welcomed a number of new venues in recent months,
just in time to host your fall event. Tanta opened in River North in August, serving up Latin American fare in its main
dining room, an upstairs private area and lounge, and a rooftop space with
garden walls (currently seasonal). Parliament
and the Kensington, another River North addition that opened in August,
offer two unique spaces for your event. Parliament, the lounge, can fit over
650 guests and features polished gold fixtures, which really make it feel like
autumn. For those warmer fall days and
evenings, the rooftop Kensington provides guests with lush greenery and great
views of the city. The Langham Hotel recently reopened after a large renovation, and now features 15,000 square feet
of event space and an upscale Mediterranean restaurant, Travelle. Other new or recently renovated venues
in Chicago include the Aloft Chicago
City Center, Hyatt Regency McCormick
Place and Fairfield Inn & Suites
Chicago Downtown/River North.
Food and Beverages:
Chicago is known for its world-class dining scene and
classic dishes, so be sure to incorporate some local favorites at your fall
event. Many of the Chicago catering companies are happy to create custom menus
and dishes to fit your themes. If you select a sports venue, take the party to
the next level with mini Chicago-style hotdogs or traditional Italian beef
sandwiches. Chicago-style pizza is always a winner at events, and Lou Malnati's offers some of the best
in town. Pair these with some of the regions craft beers from Goose Island Brewery.
Latin flavors are everywhere this fall, so why not embrace
this delectable cuisine with some tacos from de cero - HELLO TACOS, which offers a wide variety of specialty
items made from scratch, as well as house-made salsas and guacamole. A spiced chai or apple cider cocktail would go
nicely with the ethnic fare.
And don't forget dessert. In the fall, pie is a must-have at
any event. Serve up some classic varieties, such as apple and pumpkin, or
change things up with sweet potato and rhubarb from Hoosier Mama Pie Company. Cheesecake is another popular Chicago
dessert, and Eli's Cheesecake has
been proudly serving the sweet treat in Chicago since 1980.
Fall presents a number of potential themes and décor ideas.
A simple way to embody the season is by selecting colors like red, orange and
gold, and incorporating lots of decorative foliage, such as leaves, vines and
garlands. For something a little more sophisticated, go for deeper colors, like
purple and burgundy, contrasted with silver or gold accents.
Halloween allows for some imaginative touches, such as
cauldrons, pumpkins, and glittery cobwebs. Table centerpieces could be made
from different components of the holiday, like witch hats and coffins. This
theme also lets you have some fun with lighting schemes and special effects;
and attendees could be encouraged to dress up for a masquerade-style event.
Guest participation is a big part of any meeting or
fundraiser and it is important to get attendees involved with the event and
each other. Develop interactive games and activities, such as pie-making
courses or other cooking demonstrations that will give your guests a hands-on
experience. Create videos or shows for
them to watch while they dine, or set up small booths or workshops around the
space so they can enjoy a variety of different happenings throughout the night.
The fun does not have to be limited to the day- or
evening-of event. Attendees can take part in some popular activities around the
city. Guests can catch a hit show at any of Broadway In Chicago's award-winning
theaters; take a nice walk or Segway tour along the lake or through downtown; or
visit one of the seasonal exhibits at Chicago's world-class museums. Encourage
your guests to check out the diversity of the Chicago by venturing to one of
its 77 dynamic neighborhoods, each of which hosts fall festivals and offers
seasonal food and drinks for all to enjoy.
Get more meeting
planner tips and resources.