As the weather warms in Chicago, north-siders will scramble to seats inside historic Wrigley Field, with all the throwback charm of its 1914 construction. But those living south of the River do it a bit differently—they head to the sleek and modern U.S. Cellular Field, affectionately dubbed The Cell. Replacing the Sox’s old home at 35th and Shields, The Cell—formerly known as “the new” Comiskey Park—opened in 1991 to give fans more than 40,000 unobstructed views of the field, the players, and the huge exploding scoreboard. Day and night, colorful fireworks shoot from the centerfield board before every game and after every homerun and win. As no game would be complete without classic ballpark food, a variety of concessions sell such staples as hot dogs and pretzels, as well as more gourmet treats, including steak sandwiches and brownie sundaes. Before or during the game, young fans can head to the 15,000 square-foot Comcast Fundamentals area, where the White Sox Training Academy coaches teach kids the ins and outs of baseball on a youth-sized wiffle-ball diamond and inside batting and pitching cages.
Facilitating the fan-delighting collision of comic-book universes and intergalactic heroes, Wizard World organizes Comic Cons and pop-culture conventions across the continent. At each event, stars from the silver screen set down roots in booths across the convention floor, wielding markers for autographs and their photo-op-ready smiles. Past guests have run the gamut from William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, and the cast of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Away from the crowds, stars also participate in talks and Q&A panels as part of the event’s programming. Along with beloved actors, Wizard World’s conventions grant guests a chance to interact with writers and artists as well as partake in activities such as gaming tournaments and costume contests.
Organized by a diverse leadership team of filmmakers, public attorneys, journalists, and other progressive professionals, the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival seeks to spark social change by providing a high-profile venue for independent, activist artists from all over the world. Over three days, ideas flow freely among festival-goers at the luxurious Showplace ICON during discussion panels, cocktail parties, and world-premiere film screenings. Though international in scope, the festival provides a local focus as well, featuring appearances from Illinois activists and films made by Chicago high-school students.
When a group of jazz club owners, musicians, writers, and fans founded the Jazz Institute of Chicago in 1969, the goal was to find new audiences for all forms of jazz. To achieve that, the nonprofit institute's programming has taken on many forms itself, in its performances and educational resources alike.
Since 1979, for instance, the institute has planned the Chicago Jazz Festival, a Labor Day weekend gathering of Chicago jazz musicians as well as national and international acts. The JazzCity concert series, established in 1997, collaborates with the Chicago Park District to bring new jazz to neighborhoods through the city. Meanwhile, at the NextGenJazz program, young musicians are given residencies at the Drake Hotel, where they can refine their skills and dedicate tunes to their all-time favorite bellhops.
Besides showcasing jazz through live concerts, the institute helps nurture the next wave of jazz talent with its Jazz Links program. Since 2003, Jazz Links has hosted monthly student jam sessions and even enlisted students to perform at venues like Millenium Park. Jazz Links has likewise assisted more seasoned musicians and instructors with opportunities such as public high school residences and a summer camp for jazz band teachers.
Most music critics will tell you that blues music is at its best when it's got raw emotion sizzling beneath the surface, or, at the very least, when it's got raw meat sizzling on wood smokers in the background. Fortunately, the Windy City BBQ Classic has the second part of that statement covered in spades. During the all-inclusive event, professionals from 30 BBQ restaurants around the country compete to be honored for serving the best ribs, pork shoulder, chicken, and brisket, along with a $2,500 grand prize. Admission includes samples from all restaurants, while VIP admission comes with all-day tastings of up to 30 varieties of craft beer from five different breweries, including pours from Lagunitas Brewing Company. Guests can also opt for cocktails made with Tito's vodka, and the premium admission includes a bloody mary bar an hour prior to the event with Vintage Vines. Live blues. will be provided by Shirley King, The Cash Box Kings, Blue Road, and Toronzo Cannon. A portion of the proceeds go to Operation BBQ Relief, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of natural disasters.