Festivals in Illinois

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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.

2230 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago,
IL
US

Most days, the area surrounding the corner of State and Main Streets is home to lively businesses including Kiwi Cafe & Bar, Kryptonite Bar, and J.R. Kortman Center for Design. Twice a month from May to September, however, the intersection is transformed into a giant block party thanks to Main Street District, a community organization that seeks to promote cultural activities, shopping, and dining in Rockford. While shops and restaurants exhort visitors to eat and shop local from vendor booths, live musical performances get the two blocks rocking. Music serves as the uniting factor for these three-day block parties, which have featured such performers as alt-rock band The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, country music star Rodney Atkins, '80s/'90s tribute band Too White Crew. Locals can get it on the act by singing along with dueling pianos and live-band karaoke, giving them a chance to work out their unresolved feelings toward a high-school crush in song.

205 West State Street
Rockford,
IL
US

Music and yoga are perfect bedfellows: both can invigorate the body, and both can mollify the mind. So the Chicagoland yoga community has paired the two together for the Naperville Fusion Summer Music Festival, filling the air with a culture of positivity, creativity, and expression. All day, yoga workshops invite first-timers and experienced flexers alike to tap into the unity of body, mind, and spirit, while musical acts bring crowds together without slowly making the festival grounds smaller and smaller. Lila, for instance, tucks audiences under a blanket of tranquility with her kirtan music, whereas Under the Willow treats ears to traditional bluegrass tunes. A bounce house and family-fun train keep toddlers as peaceful as their parents, and Two Brothers Brothers Company provides liquid serenity in the form of beer and coffee for of-age patrons.

2135 City Gate Lane
Naperville,
IL
US

Originally opened in 1927, the Genesee Theatre slowly deteriorated over the course of the century until its closing in 1989. But starting in 2001, a $23 million cash infusion from the city allowed 120 volunteers to restore the theater to its Gilded Age splendor. Its elegant trappings include authentic wall fabrics, an exact replica of the original marquee, and a 2,200-pound chandelier that gently spotlights the grand lobby and every audience member passing underneath to show how everyone is a star if you really think about it.

203 North Genesee Street
Waukegan,
IL
US

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.

3501 S Laramie Ave
Cicero,
IL
US

Everybody has personal drink specifications—a little more whiskey here, a little less beer there. That's why seven booths at House of Music Entertainment are outfitted with table taps, where diners pour their own brews and spirits. Of course, guests can defer pouring duties to bartenders, who supply drafts, bottles, and cans from an extensive beer selection that includes microbrews, such as Founders alongside beloved classics.

The libations complement House of Music Entertainment's version of American bar food, which includes unorthodox options such as chimichangas filled with Philly cheesesteak or chicken cordon bleu fixings. For night owls, a late-night menu serves bar staples, such as fried zucchini and jalapeno poppers, from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m.

Those late night snacks keep patrons nourished as they watch the latest football matches, baseball games, and referee hugging competitions on the bar's 80 plasma televisions. Inside House of Music Entertainment's 15,000-square-foot theater, concertgoers take in a show by musicians such as Naughty by Nature and Carly Rae Jepsen, both of which recently graced the 28-by-30-foot stage. They've built up an extensive media gallery inclusive of not only national acts but also the local bands and DJs their theater showcases. During the summer season, patrons can also enjoy the al fresco scene on the bar's patio.

1227 North Rand Road
Arlington Heights,
IL
US

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