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WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2013

Upcoming events, new restaurants and exciting openings -- discover 13 things to look forward to in 2013.

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From the opening of The Field Museum's vaults to Restaurant Week 2013 to three must-see summer music festivals, take a peek at the exciting events and happenings coming this year throughout the city.

1. CHICAGO RESTAURANT WEEK & FIRST BITES BASH

Feb. 1–10: Imagine if $22 could buy you a decadent three-course meal that includes chorizo-and-squash risotto, wagyu beef brisket and chocolate-and-almond dacquoise (dessert cake). It can — during Chicago Restaurant Week, when more than 200 restaurants feature prix fixe menus at affordable prices. Mark your calendars now: Menus will be announced on ChooseChicago.com in January.

Get your tickets now to the First Bites Bash kick-off event on January 24 and enjoy samplings from 50 of Chicago's best chefs.

2. CHARLIE BROWN AND THE GREAT EXHIBIT

Ends Feb. 18: How did Peanuts characters like Charlie, Lucy and Snoopy come to be? Don't miss out on your chance to peek into the imaginative mind of Charles Schulz through original cartoons, memorabilia, a recreation of Schulz's California studio, hands-on activities and more, all at the Museum of Science and Industry. Tickets

3. THE BOOK OF MORMON

Extended through Sept. 8: Tickets to this nine-time Tony Award®-winning must-see musical are still available, thanks to an extension that opens up seats through the end of the summer. Watch the writers of "South Park" take on organized religion in a way that is hilarious, poignant and shockingly sweet. Tickets

4. PROMONTORY RESTAURANT

Early 2013: This new restaurant/bar/concert venue will be housed in a 25,000-sq.-ft. space just across the street from the new retail/restaurant development Harper Court. Brought to you by the owner and the chef of Michelin-starred Longman & Eagle, the cuisine remains a mystery, but music will certainly be on the menu.

5. BIG TEN MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

March 14–17: Four days of heated match-ups and epic rivalries will all take place at Chicago's United Center, as basketball's best battle it out on the court. Who will return home the champion? Details: choosechicago.com/bigten2013

6. THREE MUST-SEE MUSIC FESTS

Summer 2013: It's music to your ears: Three of Chicago's most popular music festivals are back and better than ever. The sounds of summer kick off with the Chicago Blues Festival (June 6–9), the world's largest free blues fest, followed by the Chicago Gospel Music Festival (June 20–23), featuring world-renowned gospel artists, and topped off with the Chicago Jazz Festival (Aug. 29 – Sept. 1), attracting the top names in jazz.

7. TASTE OF CHICAGO

July 10–14: It's the world's largest food festival, complete with everything from local classics such as the Chicago-style hot dog to international influences such as deep fried Chinese bread, but it has more than awesome eats. Taste of Chicago also features celebrity cooking demos, live music and entertainment. Sample the fare, learn from the chefs, mingle with mixologists and enjoy the tunes. Details

8. CHICAGO AIR & WATER SHOW

Aug. 17–18: It's the largest free show of its kind in the U.S. — line up along the lakefront or relax on a blanket on the beach to see gravity-defying jets, aerial stunts and daredevil parachute teams soar through the sky. More

9. MULTI-HOTEL DEVELOPMENT

June 2013: Three hotels, 19 floors, one convenient location. Business meets style in the heart of River North, amid a development that will house the new Aloft Chicago City Center, Hyatt Place and Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown/River North. You can also expect a street-level restaurant, the sophisticated Aloft w xyz bar and two separate exercise facilities (one dedicated to Aloft guests, and one shared by Hyatt and Fairfield guests).

10. EATALY

September 2013: Mario Batali's mega food emporium — it's a market, restaurant and school whose mantra is, "We cook what we sell, we sell what we cook." — will open in River North next year. Whether you want to purchase pasta (or meat, or cheese), dine on Italian dishes or take a cooking class, Eataly will have it.

11. 2013 BMW CHAMPIONSHIP

Sept. 9–15: The third of four events for the PGA TOUR Playoffs, the BMW Championship takes place in a suburb of Chicago, as 70 golf greats hit the green to determine which of them will advance to the TOUR championship in Atlanta. Tickets

12. OPENING THE VAULTS: WORLD'S FAIR

Oct. 25, 2013 – May 4, 2014: The Field Museum opens its collections to give you a never-before-seen glimpse into the Columbian Exposition of 1893, the birthplace of chewing gum and the Ferris wheel.

13. THE MAGNIFICENT MILE LIGHTS FESTIVAL

Nov. 23: See the launch of one million lights on 200 trees along Michigan Avenue, as the holiday season kicks off with a lighting parade (with Mickey Mouse himself as master of ceremonies), more than 40 floats, live music, a fireworks finale and stellar shopping.



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