The League of Chicago Theatres, in partnership with Choose Chicago, launched the inaugural Chicago Theatre Week (CTW) in February 2013, and this year it was met with even more success. Designed to drive ticket sales to theatres and create visibility around the phenomenal theatre scene in the city, Chicago Theatre Week has become an annual tradition every February. This week-long program offered discounted tickets ($15 and $30) to over 100 productions from participating theatres including Broadway In Chicago, The Second City, Steep Theatre, Goodman Theatre and many more.
2. New Exhibits
Museum of Contemporary Art Exhibits David Bowie Is: This September, the Museum of Contemporary Art will become the only U.S. venue of the highly acclaimed world tour of the David Bowie exhibition, expected to be the most attended show in the MCA's history. This exhibition presents the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie -- one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. This exhibit is designed to demonstrate how Bowie's work has both influenced and been inspired by wider movements in design, theater, and contemporary culture. More than 300 objects, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades are brought together from the David Bowie Archive for the first time.
Art Institute's Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary: Opening June 24 of this year, Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938, is collection of over 80 paintings, collages, drawings, photographs, periodicals and early commercial work that showcases the breakthrough years of creator of some of the 20th century's most extraordinary images, René Magritte. The exhibit follows the artists from his time in Brussels, where he gained recognition as a Surrealist and aimed to, in his words, "challenge the real world," to Paris where he met Surrealists Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró. Acclaimed designer Robert Carsen has been commissioned to create this dazzling installation for Magritte. The exhibit will also showcase pivotal research done in Chicago that found "lost Magritte" under the Art Institute's iconic Time Transfixed.
Few places in Chicago have been as meaningful to the fabric of the city as Wrigley Field and its iconic ivy-covered walls. And to honor it, Wrigley Field's 100th Birthday will be celebrated all year long throughout the Chicago Cubs' 2014 season. These celebrations will give fans a look and feel of the last 100 years of baseball and other events played within these historic, ivy-clad walls. With 10 decade-themed homestands throughout the year, complete with throwback player uniforms, specialty food offerings, historic bobbleheads, and game-day entertainment, this once-in-a-lifetime season long celebration is not to be missed by baseball fan and history fan alike.
4. Five Highly Anticipated New Hotels
The Kinzie Hotel - January, 2014
The Kinzie Hotel (20 West Kinzie Street) has opened in the space currently housing the Amalfi Hotel. The five story, 215-room, upscale boutique hotel's multi-million dollar renovation boasts a timeless contemporary look and new image that pays tribute to John Kinzie, an original Chicago settler and renowned explorer who made a historical stamp on Chicago throughout the 19th century. Chicago's own history plays a large role in the thoughtful design of The Kinzie Hotel, with pre-Chicago-Fire maps painted in individual guestrooms and work from local artists reflecting the streets of Chicago along the hallways. The navigational branding speaks to the hotel's tagline "Chicago Starts Here," encouraging guests to explore the city as John Kinzie once did in the early 1800s.
The Godfrey Hotel Chicago - February 1, 2014
Located adjacent to the Hotel Felix in Chicago's River North neighborhood, this 16-story upscale boutique will feature stunning architecture and a stylish overall interior. The space comes complete with 189 rooms and 39 suites, 24-hour fitness center and a 10,000 square-foot rooftop bar and lounge called the IO Urban Roofscape. This IO Urban Roofscape indoor-outdoor venue will host events ranging from small meetings to receptions of up to 1,500 guests. With a menu simply inspired by Chicago favorite brews and sliders, IO will include an indoor waterfall, a two-story outdoor fire pit and a video wall to showcase Chicago sports.
Hotel Indigo Chicago - Millennium Park - Spring 2014
U.K.-based InterContinental Hotel Groups PLC announced a new 156-room hotel located on Michigan Avenue just north of Millennium Park in the Atlantic Bank Building. An estimated $20 million renovation will include adding additional floors, a rooftop bar, state-of-the-art accommodation space and 8,000 square-foot multilevel restaurant, including the basement lounge and wine room which will occupy the building's existing bank vault. This will be the third Hotel Indigo, and as the previous two reflect the neighborhood and surroundings in which they stand, and will be paying homage to the architecture around it. David Burke of David Burke's Primehouse will be bringing a Midwestern farm-to-fork concept to Hotel Indigo's 150-seat restaurant.
SOHO House Hotel - August 2014
The West Loop's Fulton Market district will welcome the exclusive members-only SOHO House. SOHO House will be the first hotel in the heart of Chicago's Restaurant Row. The six-story, 35-room hotel will include a full-sized pool, a rustic Cowshed Spa with five treatment rooms, 12,000-square-foot gym, a glass-enclosed rooftop bar and three open-to-the-public restaurants: London-based Pizza East, a burger join and a chicken concept - both with a British twist. Pizza East, Chicken Shack and an unnamed burger bar will all be casual British-inspired eateries.
Virgin Hotel Chicago - Fall 2014
Located one block off Michigan Avenue, the historic art deco Dearborn Bank 27-story landmark building features 250 rooms with a vibe that follows the hip, fresh brand created by Sir Richard Branson. Two restaurants, meeting and event spaces, rooftop bar and lounge, and the Virgin Clubhouse are just a few of the amenities available to guests. The hotel will be restoring and recreating the significant historic and architectural elements of this Chicago landmark building. Virgin Hotels will define its excellence by building on the experience the brand has gained in operating award-winning Clubhouses around the world - unique spaces where our guest can get work done, nourish and refresh themselves, meet other interesting people, or just take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.Virgin Hotel in Chicago will be the first in world for its brand, before Virgin's next property planned for New York's NoMad neighborhood in 2016.
5. Chicago's Unstoppable Culinary Scene
Chicago continues to be a culinary hot spot on the world stage, and this year is no exception. Coming off of a decorated year in 2013 and being awarded a total of 29 Michelin Stars to 25 individual restaurants, 2014 has opened the gates for many new culinary endeavors and restaurant openings. To look forward to this year, Brendan Sodikoff will be debuting his sixth restaurant concept, an authentic barbecue off Restaurant Row in the West Loop called Green Street Smoked Meats, which will feature a Japenese-inspired Ramen bar by the name of High Five Ramen. Homaro Cantu will take his calling card of combining food and science to the next level this year with the opening of Berrista Coffee, a concept which will be centered around the West African fruit known as the "miracle berry" that have the ability to make sour foods taste sweet; Cantu initially brought this berry to the forefront of the public's attention with his other restaurants, Moto and iNG. Chicago favorite Rick Bayless is also slated to open two new properties this year, coming onto the scene in the Wicker Park neighborhood, and inciting quite a bit of excitement with the signing of a lease on the West Loop's Restaurant Row. Also joining the culinary scene this year is a chef-focused and local ingredient-driven juice bar by the name of Owen & Alchemy, brought to you by Chicago's unstoppable restaurant group Element Collective. Newly opened The Chop Shop in Wicker Park/Bucktown is the brainchild of Mario Minelli, Nick Moretti, and Joshua Marrelli come to life with The Chop Shop Butcher, The Chop Shop Bar, The Chop Shop Restaurant, and the Chop Shop 1st Ward Event Space. With such an impressive foundation amongst the culinary community here in Chicago upon which to build these new restaurants, Chicago is not to be overlooked for the talent and innovation that has become the norm on the dining scene.
6. Music Venues: Thalia Hall (Pilsen) & The Promontory (Hyde Park)
Entertainment venues in Chicago are developing strong roots in local neighborhoods outside of the downtown area. Two of the Chicago area's best known live music business minds are coming together in this year to open not one, but two brand new venues. Bruce Finkelman, founder of beloved West Side venue the Empty Bottle, and owner of SPACE in Evanston Craig Golden are gearing up to open The Promontory a two-story space in Hyde Park and Thalia Hall in Pilsen, a city landmark long awaiting revamping. Thalia Hall already houses restaurant Dusek's and basement bar Punch House. Each space will host eclectic collections of bands, as well as many community events, including famers markets, to engage the neighborhoods around them. Thalia Hall will be open in late May, with The Promontory following close behind.
7. Chicago: The Craft Brewery Capitol of the U.S.
Lagunitas Brewing Company: In Chicago, we have Goose Island founder John Hall to thank for making the craft brewery scene what it is today, starting back in 1988 with the opening of Goose Island. Twenty-six years later, the state of Illinois is currently home to more than 80 craft breweries, up 67 from just 2012, and 2014 shows every sign of continuing this Chicago-beloved upward trend. After the first test batches began brewing in December, Lagunitas Brewing Company's new Chicago brewing facility. Lagunitas founder Tony Magee originally had planned to open this brew house producing 150,000 barrels of beer per year, with the maximum capacity. With demand soaring in recent months, the facility will now open making 250,000 barrels in the first year with an eventual capacity of 1.7 million, making it the second largest craft brewer in the country, and the largest since the Chicago Fire of 1871. This $22 million facility in Douglas Park will service the Midwest and East Coast and is the jumping off point for national distribution, and is currently open to the public.
Moody Tongue Brewery: Another such dedicated brewery will open its taproom this year after starting to produce beer on draft by the end of 2013: Mood Tongue Brewery. After extensive cooking experience led him to transition into the world of brewing at Goose Island, Moody Tongue Brewmaster Jared Rouben is committed to a style of brewing known defined by Moody Tongue as "culinary brewing," a new genre that forges a connection between brewing and cooking to give the beers much of the flavor and aromatic characteristics found in wines and ciders.
8. New Festival: The Great Chicago Fire Festival
An ode to the legendary Great Chicago Fire of 1871, this festival will be a summer long event, culminating on October 4 with a grand procession and fire spectacle along the main branch of the Chicago River and feature acrobatics, live music, wild mechanical objects and much more. This signature event will be a city-wide celebration to become the cultural and economic beacon for all Chicagoans, and eventually the world. Prior to this grand spectacle event from May 3 - October 3, 2014, community residencies in 15 Chicago neighborhoods will work together over the summer with a local artist to create large-scale sculptures in public parks throughout the city. The dynamic public art created in these neighborhoods will be presented at The Grand Spectacle, which will serve as a finale showcasing the work of over 10,000 community members and over 200 professional artists in addition to the celebration.
9. New Attractions
The John Hancock Observatory will debut a new attraction this year called 360 CHICAGO, sure to be met with enormous excitement. This attraction will take thrill-seeking visitors to a whole new level from Willis Tower's Sky Deck, and will be unveiled this spring and promise visitors the "Best Views. All Around." The observatory takes it a step further than the Sky Deck, providing interactive learning opportunities at every turn. From the moment they step off the elevator, visitors are awed by the breathtaking, 360-degree views of Chicago (and the ability to see as many as four surrounding states). This new 94-story-high attraction will open the last week of April.
Navy Pier Renovations are now underway, kicking off in November of 2013 and set to phase into existence throughout 2014. This contemporary makeover will be focused on more green space, revamped Children's play area in the Crystal Gardens area, new fountains, gardens, and structures. Even Chicago's beloved Ferris Wheel will be refurbished! These renovations will encourage more visitors to experience and enjoy all that Navy Pier has offered tourists for decades, but with a more open, clean and contemporary feel. Dining and shopping options throughout the Pier will be significantly upgraded Because Navy Pier is an important unifier between Chicago and the lakefront, these renovations have been met with open arms by locals and visitors alike.
10. Chicago Airport Updates - Getting You Here Easier
Expedited Customs clearance, the technology which has already been successful at O'Hare International Airport, has expanded Midway International Airport during the first quarter of this year. Chicago's Midway International Airport launched the innovative Automated Passport Control (APC) program to help travelers move more quickly through the U.S. border clearance process by entering information at a self-service kiosk. The implementation of this technology follows the success with which it was met at Chicago O'Hare International Airport, with reduced wait times for passengers at O'Hare's Terminal 5.
New Routes - Chicago is making it even easier to get here this year with 17 new direct international routes to Chicago added in 2013, in addition to 24 new direct domestic routes to Chicago. These new direct flights to Chicago are your expedited ticket to experiencing all that Chicago has to offer this year, whether you're visiting for the first time or you're returning for a second or third time. Chicago is committed to easing your journey to here and back, and to making every experience in between memorable and worth repeating.
A New Yoga Room has been added in O'Hare International Airport, available for all of its travelers. Even as one of the U.S.'s busiest airports, O'Hare now offers its travelers a designated room to relax, practice yoga, and meditate. O'Hare is also home to XpressSpa, offering massages, manicures and hot shaves in addition to Yoga. Later this year, you'll also have the chance to take a quick nap in one of their upcoming "Minute Suites" for tired passengers.
11. The 606 Park
Chicago is known for its dedication to lake side parks and reserved green spaces amidst its towering architecture, and this year will take this legacy to new heights. Named for the 606 zip code prefix all Chicagoans share, the 606 park and trail system on Chicago's Northwest side is transforming nearly three miles of unused rail line into the elevated Bloomingdale Trail (its centerpiece). The trail will connect to five ground-level parks, an observatory, a wheel friendly event plaza, and art installations. This urban oasis will serve as a new way to explore Chicago on trails for bikers, runners, and stroller. The project is the signature of Mayor Emanuel's push to create 800 new parks, recreation areas and green spaces throughout the city over the next five years.
12. High End Chicago Shopping
Fashion Outlets of Chicago brings together more than 120 of the world's most relevant retail brands, and is anchored by Bloomingdale's The Outlet Store, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Forever 21 and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th. Located just a quick drive away from the heart of Chicago on the way to O'Hare, Fashion Outlets of Chicago offers to check your luggage and all of your shopping bags into your flight; travel hands-free to the airport and see your bags when you land back home.
TOM FORD Flagship Store is now open in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood in the building that was once the Esquire Theater. The fourth directly operated TOM FORD flagship in the U.S., TOM FORD occupies 4,700 square feet over two floors in this luxury retail center. Tom Ford considers Chicago to be "a city of impeccable style and taste," and saw this opportunity to have a presence here as an essential move for the luxury brand. This flagship features the TOM FORD Menswear Salon and the luxurious VIP Salon, both created to exude the mood of rich comfort in the heart of Chicago's Gold Coast.
13. Annual Festivals: Gospel Music Fest, Blues Fest, Jazz Fest, Taste of Chicago
Taste of Chicago (July 9-13, 2014): We are serious about food in Chicago. Be prepared to get your grub on at the annual Taste of Chicago, the world's largest outdoor food festival, in Grant Park! For five days, live music, children's activities and upwards of 3 million visitors makes this event the hottest party in the city.
Chicago Blues Festival (June 13-15, 2014): Enjoy the largest free blues festival in the world! Five stages and more than 500,000 blues fans take over Grant Park, proving our city is the "Blues Capital of the World." Past performers include Bonnie Raitt, Ray Charles, B.B. King, the late Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy and the late Koko Taylor.
Chicago Jazz Festival (August 28-31, 2014): Join hundreds of thousands in celebrating Chicago's rich jazz history in this free event, the first of which began as a tribute to Duke Ellington in 1974. Currently the largest, free festival of its kind in the world, the Chicago Jazz Festival regularly draws top names in the genre.
Chicago Gospel Music Festival (June 27-29, 2014): Enjoy exhilarating music by renowned Gospel artists during this free festival June 26-29 at the Chicago Cultural Center and Ellis Park! Stages will showcase the best in local, national and international gospel performers.
The Second City's 102nd Revue is written and performed by an all-star cast including Chelsea Devantez, John Hartman, Mike Kosinski (Jeff Award Nominee - Actor), Tawny Newsome (Jeff Award Winner - Best Revue), Emily Walker and Steve Waltien with Jeff Award-Winning Director, Mick Napier. Jesse Case will be at the keys as Music Director and Craig Taylor returns for his 34th Revue as Stage Manager for The Second City Mainstage.