Chicago’s Millennium Park
Chicago’s Millennium Park is a large public park located in the Loop community area of the city. It covers a 24.5 acre section of North Western Grant Park. This park was opened on July 16th 2004, and since then it has become a top tourist destination in Chicago and the Midwest with over 25 million annual visitors. While there are many of reasons to visit this park at any time of the year, here are some highlights to keep in mind when you visit it.
Jay Pritzker Pavilion
This open air pavilion is the crown jewel of Millennium Park. This open air pavilion has 4,000 fixed seats plus an additional lawn seating area that fits 7,000 additional people. The pavilion hosts a wide range of music acts and performances, which range from mainstream bands, classical musicians, opera singers and others. All events at the pavilion are open to the public, including the rehearsals. You could hire a city guide who would take you and inform you of who is rehearsing and at what times.
Other events include the Annual Millennium Park Summer Film Series, where every Tuesday evening at 6:30 pm, from June 13 to September 5th, classic blockbuster films are shown at the pavilion. The event is also completely free, and the movies are shown with concert-hall quality sound system for a memorable movie going experience. Cinephiles and those looking to explore a different side of Chicago will love attending this festival.
AT&T Plaza and Cloud gate
The AT&T Plaza is a public space that hosts the world famous Cloud gate sculpture, designed by the Indian born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor. This sculpture is a highly polished, reflective steel sculpture that looks like a giant bean made of mercury. This culture reflects the city’s skyline, and it’s a huge hit with tourists, and with those looking for the perfect selfie.
The crown Fountain is an interactive piece of public art designed by Jaume Plensa., made up of two black granite monoliths facing each other. Each monolith is about 15 feet in height, and have LEDs sandwiched under glass bricks. There is also a reflecting pool placed between the monoliths. The towers uses the LEDs behind the bricks to display faces and animation. On hot days, water spouts from the towers and the faces projected through its LEDs making it look like the subjects mouths are spouting out the water, just like a gargoyle fountain.
The Harris Theater is a performing arts theater located along the northern edge of Millennium Park on Randolph Street. It was constructed in 2002, in order to have a venue for small and medium-sized music and dance groups. It serves as a home venue for many different music and dance groups including the Chicago ballet, The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Old Town School of Folk Music, Hubbard Street dance Chicago, and many others. The theater has hosted several successful jazz performances, and other unique events such as “Imagine Tap”, a show that features an array of tap dance styles. Unlike many other venues of this kind, the Harris’ theater is unique for its industrial aesthetic.
McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink
The McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink is a venue located along the western edge of the Millennium Park. It opened up on December 20th 2001 and became the first attraction in Millennium Park to open. It is generally open for ice skating from mid-November until mid-march. It hosts over 100,000 skaters annually. It is also completely free if you bring your own skates, but if you don’t own a pair, you can always rent them for only $12.
For the rest of the year, the rink gets converted into Chicago’s largest open air dining facility, which also includes a large walk-up bar. The 150-seat outdoor restaurant offers scenic views of Chicago Millennium Park and hosts various culinary events and musical performances during its months of operation.
The Lurie Garden is a five-acre garden that pays homage to Chicago’s motto, “Urbs in Horto” (City in a Garden). This garden features thousands of plants of more than 240 varieties. Most of the plants are native to North America, and all are grown organically, with no extra chemicals. Because of the huge plant biomass, it has become the home of migratory birds, butterflies, honeybees and songbirds. The Lurie Garden offers free educational programs, presentations and events for the whole family year-round, and it focuses on presenting an urban model of responsible horticulture.