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.
On May 20, 1891, an estimated 6,000 people attended the first-ever Opening Day at Hawthorne Race Course. The event featured the Chicago Derby—a quarter-mile race won by a horse named Brookwood. Since that day, the facility has thrilled Chicago-area racing fans season after season with live competition and full-card simulcasting. But it hasn't always been easy. In 1905, for instance, racing was banned in Chicago for more than 15 years after several of the facility's horses became mired in a political scandal. And Hawthorne Race Course itself has had to overcome its fair share of adversity, including two fires, the most recent of which destroyed the grandstand in 1978.
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.
• For $29, you get one ticket in section 302, 303, 315, or 316 (a $49.50 value before fees, or up to a $59.90 value online, including all Ticketmaster fees). • For $55, you get one ticket in section 201, 202, 216, or 217 (a $99.50 value before fees, or up to a $111.05 value online, including all Ticketmaser fees).
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.