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.
The musical melting pot of the third annual North Coast Music Festival boils over the sprawling greens of Union Park, spilling out three days of euphony to bid summer adieu. As with the last two years' celebrations, this year features an all-star cornucopia of electronic dance music, hip-hop acts, jam bands, and indie rockers, with many headlining acts soon to be announced.
Riis Park becomes an international celebration during the National Latin American Festival. Consulates, tourist bureaus, and cultural organizations from South America, Central America, and the Caribbean are all invited to the three-day party, which kicks off with a grand opening ceremony. Once there, dignitaries and guests can taste from a continent-spanning lineup of food vendors, take in a beauty pageant, and catch some of the finest Latin American musical acts the Western Hemisphere has to offer. There's Fulanito, a Dominican-American group that mashes up house and merengue music; Chicago's own Escuela de Rancho, a norteño quintet who all share singing duties; and Leslie Grace, whose bilingual, honey-sweet cover of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" shot up the charts last year.
Occupying a building that sprang up at the turn of the 20th century, the Irish American Heritage Center (IAHC) somehow manages to cram Ireland into one of Chicago’s city blocks. Work from Irish artists hangs in the building’s art gallery, books from Irish authors fill its library, Irish plays light up its 658-seat theater, and Irish food and drinks delight the crowd on the main floor at the Fifth Province Pub. The IAHC also has a knowledgeable staff of instructors, who teach classes on everything from Irish dance and music to Irish language and genealogy.
PitchFork's whiskey devotees pride themselves on a sweeping selection of grain mash beverages and a menu of rustic bar fare served in a Western-inspired setting. A pantheon of more than 100 different whiskeys stoically stands over the bar to silently challenge all passersby to test their fiery contents, including 4 Roses ($5), Old Weller ($7), and the voluminously bearded 12-year Pappy Van Winkle ($10) (prices based on shots and cocktails). The pulled-pork sandwich ($8.50) loads piles of smoked meat onto a toasted bun to create a cleaner, more efficient porcine consumption medium than tangy slabs of baby back ribs ($12 half; $19 full). Patrons can coax out reclusive appetites with a platter of buffalo-, barbecue-, or citrus-sauced wings ($8–$20) before designing their own mac 'n' cheese, accessorized with a variety of ingredients including prosciutto, asparagus, or mother-of-pearl brooches ($7+).
Taekwondo demonstrations. A kimchi eating competition, the "Chowdown in Korea Town", with Major League Eating's Sonya "Black Widow" Thomas and a $1,750 first place prize. A singing competition with round-trip tickets to Korea. These are just a handful of the activities and attractions at the 2013 edition of the Chicago Korean Festival. Now in its 18th year, the festival celebrates the city's thriving Korean culture through food and entertainment to promote, educate and celebrate its history. Festgoers are immersed in cultural traditions, can fill their bellies with Korean food including naengmyeon (cold noodles), and even participate in a kimchi making workshop with take-home treats. Newly-elected Maine Township School Board Member Jin Lee will even showcase his personal collection of Korean War artifacts to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Armistice of the War.
The Green Music Fest answers hankerings for eco-friendly outdoor entertainment with a two-day extravaganza of music, green product vendors, and craft beers. Bands lined up by Subterranean, including Les Savy Fav, Yo La Tengo, and The Thermals, drown out summer doldrums and the ice-cream truck’s endless renditions of “Turkey in the Straw” with ear-pleasing aural waves. Tech buffs and tree-lovers can join forces to ooh and aah their way through the green vendor village’s surfeit of solar-powered devices, recycled products, and locally manufactured goods; young sprouts will be transfixed by arts and crafts stations and puppet shows. Trade in drink tickets at the craft beer station for brews from New Belgium and Sierra Nevada to wet palates parched from working on a tongue-tan all weekend.