The Inside Scoop
Learn what’s how and what’s happening in Chicago this summer.
With all there is to do and see in Chicago, it’s understandable feeling a little overwhelmed when deciding what to tackle next. For that reason, we take aim at giving you the inside scoop on upcoming events, tips, hidden gems and what’s new around town.
FAMILY FUN FESTIVAL AT MILLENNIUM PARK
Millennium Park in the summer is more than just your average tourist attraction. From June 9-Sept. 3, Millennium Park is home to Family Fun Festival, where families with kids of all ages can spend the summer in the park taking in exciting theater shows and taking part in hands-on activities.
Brought to you by the museums and cultural institutions, kids can get a little dirty gardening in the city, become immersed in Chinese culture during China Week or choose the outcome of “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs” theater production. Each week there is something new for kids and families to do, including Culinary Creations week and even a Chicago Neighborhoods week.
On a daily basis in the Family Fun Tent, families can take part in dancing and singing with the Old Town School of Folk Music. Or step over to the Family Fun Tent Activity Zone, where there are crafts projects and science and environmental activities, all guided by some of Chicago’s excellent museums.
For a complete list of activities visit www.millenniumpark.org or call 312-742-1168.
— PATRICIA HALL
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MUSEUM FREE DAYS
Free days this summer: June 7-11.
Art Institute of Chicago
Free to the public every Thursday evening from 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Chicago Children’s Museum
Free for everyone on Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. Free for ages 15 and under on the first Sunday of every month.
Chicago History Museum
Free every Monday from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Free (general admission) on the second Monday of every month. Other free days this summer: June 2, 3, 14; July 12; Aug. 9, 24.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Free and open to the public 365 days per year from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Free every Tuesday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Museum of Science and Industry
Free (general admission) to the public on June 7-11 and Aug. 30.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
“Suggested Donation Days” every Thursday.
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TUESDAYS MEAN MOVIES IN THE PARK
Chicago continues its annual tradition of summer cinematic fun with Movies in the Park, running Tuesday nights from mid-July through the end of August. Each year, the city parks play host to dozens of movies on huge outdoor screens. While most know the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival in Grant Park, the movies don’t stop there. The public can also experience many other films in various neighborhood parks around the city.
The movies typically range from dramas to comedies and from classic to contemporary. Last year’s selections included Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Psycho and Tootsie. Everyone is welcome for each movie, but some films may be better suited for older audiences. All movies begin at dusk and are free.
Movie-goers are encouraged to bring a blanket, since the ground provides the only seating for this event. However, many go beyond just the blanket and usual movie snacks by bringing their own picnic.
Those attending should be prepared to enjoy the movie rain or shine, as cancellations occur only with severe weather. Audiences should get there early to reserve a good spot.
For a complete listing of the movies in the city’s neighborhood parks, visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com.
For more information about the movies in Grant Park, including approximate start times, visit www.chicagooutdoorfilmfestival.us.
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‘MUSIC WITHOUT BORDERS’ AND ‘WORLD CLASS JAZZ’ FREE THURSDAY CONCERT SERIES
Sample the city’s ongoing year-round celebration of international music when Music Without Borders returns to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park for its fifth summer. Presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Millennium Park, the series expands this year to include eight double-bill concerts, beginning Thursday, June 3 and closing July 22, featuring traditional folk and pop artists from around the globe.
The free concert series features music spanning four continents — Europe, Africa, South America and Asia —with nine groups making their Chicago debut at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
Also, the celebrated Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz series returns to Millennium Park featuring Chicago’s leading jazz artists across the spectrum of jazz — from Latin to Big Band to experimental sounds — and includes world premiere commissions, international collaborations and centennial celebrations. This free weekly series begins Thursday, July 29 and closes September 2.
For more information about Music Without Borders, World Class Jazz and any of the other programming in Millennium Park, visit www.millenniumpark.org, call 312-742-1168 or visit Millennium Park on Facebook.
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Lollapalooza 2010 made quite a statement by securing ostentatious pop star Lady Gaga to headline the three-day festival Aug. 6-8 in Grant Park. Gaga is the heavily painted new face of pop music, an international success who is sure to bring a spectacle and fresh — undoubtedly “fabulous” — crowds to this annual music event generally headlined by aging acts.
Recent fests trumpeted Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine and Depeche Mode. However, along with Gaga, critical successes Arcade Fire and Phoenix are headlining this year, as well as The Strokes, a seminal band of the 2000s. (Soundgarden and Broadway-tainted Green Day are this year’s nods to the past.)
But before you can make it to see what Gaga’s wearing, you need to endure what can be a grueling three days of music madness. We’re talking more than 75 bands, food, beer and August heat. Here are my tips to do it right:
■ Drink water, save beer. You’ve seen the t-shirt, but the slogan fits. Yep, Chicago is hot in August, so drink a ton of water. The tip here is to buy one bottled water early and then wait in the long lines at the public drinking fountains for refills.
■ Avoid the stage. Unless you’re 16 and have boundless energy, find a nice distance from the stage. Crowds really tighten up around the stage and create dangerous heat boxes. It sounds just as good, if not better, further from the stage.
■ Eat Elliot. Festival organizers tapped Chicago celeb chef Graham Elliott to prepare food. Black pepper parmesan truffle popcorn anyone? How about lobster corndogs? This is a rare treat for the tatted-up rocker chef to prepare some food. The tip here, eat lunch early. This not only enables you to catch some lesser-known, quality bands, but it gives you open season on the best food tents, like Graham’s. Then, in the evening, when it’s crowded, head for the quick Connie’s pizza line.
■ Don’ t buy the t-shirts. The merch tent hawks t-shirts and posters of your favorite bands, but the prices are high. Save yourself some dough and buy your favorite band’s stuff online, directly from them. Also, do you really want to be the guy in a Lolla 2010 t-Shirt, put it on five years from now, and then show everyone how old your shirt is?
■ Listen to the unknown. Normally, I’d say skip the headliners and see the small stages, but the headliners are tight this year. That said, there are so many solid bands you probably don’t know. Force yourself to check them out. Try: Harlem, a rickety hillbilly-sounding punk band, kind of like Ben Kweller meets No Age; Wild Beasts, a fun, fey English pop band; HEALTH, a screeching, heavy, experimental noise band; or The Morning Benders, an Americana indie rock band similar to The Dodos.
— DAN OCHWAT