Featured events in March
The North Shore's annual salute to this prized family of flowers is the perfect cure for wintertime blues. The greenhouses and gallery will be packed with more than 10,000 in-bloom orchids, featuring an array of hybrids. This year's theme is "Into the Tropics," so you can look forward to seeing plenty of flower that are accustomed to much warmer climates.
Contemporary art comes to the Driehaus Museum for the very first time, when the Gilded Age mansion hosts Shonibare’s sculptures dressed in colorful high-Victorian costumes and two collections of photographs. The British-Nigerian artist's work is spread throughout the house, contrasting the humor and irony of his creations with the beautiful, antiquated spaces in which they reside.
After taking two months off, Art on theMART is back. For five nights each week the 25-story-tall video installation takes over the side of the Merchandise Mart, filling the building's historic facade with vibrant colors and moving images. Harnessing 34 digital projectors, the show features work by a rotating lineup of artists and is best viewed from Wacker Drive or the Riverwalk, between Wells and Orleans Streets. Art on theMART lights up the night Wednesday through Sunday, with projections beginning approximately 15 minutes after sunset.
The Gene Siskel Film Center's annual European Union Film Festival serves as North America's largest showcase for films from European Union nations, including countries like Austria, Belgium and Croatia. This year's program features more than 60 films, representing all 28 EU nations. Highlights of the lineup include Romanian murder mystery Thou Shalt Not Kill, German teen drama Tiger Milk, Spanish animated film Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles and Hungarian Cold War comedy Lajkó--Gypsy in Space.
Each year, C2E2 brings a ton of comic book creators and some notable TV and movie stars to McCormick Place for a bonafide pop-culture bonanza. Head to the convention floor and you'll find cosplayers, attendees and creators mingling in a sea of vendors hawking all manner of comics, toys and memorabilia. You can also line up to attend a panel or score an autograph from some of the notable guests in attendance, including Paul Rudd (who will reunite with Clueless co-stars Alicia Silverstone, Donald Faison and Breckin Meyer), video game voice actor Nolan North and Firefly actress Summer Glau.
Local chefs and industry experts come together at the annual local and sustainable food conference. The Good Food Trade Show kicks off the event on Friday, March 22, hosting panels devoted to topics like urban farming, hemp products and farm-to-table cooking. On Saturday, March 23, anyone can register for free tickets to attend the Good Food Festival, which features cooking demos from Joe Flamm of Spiaggia, Sandra Holl of Floriole, David Miller of Baker Miller and more local chefs and restaurateurs.
Celebrate your tattoos or plan out a few new ones at the annual Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention in Rosemont. You'll be able to make an appointment with a tattoo artist (including talent featured on Ink Masters) or show off your existing body art in a competition. While you're on the show floor, make sure to check out performances from fire-breathers, contortionists, acrobats and more inked-up daredevils.
Mark the arrival of spring in Chicago (at long last!) by heading to Navy Pier, where the Chicago Flower & Garden show will leave you craving warmer weather. Visitors can sit in on instructional seminars, walk through manicured gardens, purchase plant-related souvenirs at the market and obtain culinary tips from chefs at cooking demonstrations. The Kid's Activity Garden offers hands-on projects for kids, such as learning how to plant seeds and growing vegetables.
Shake off the winter cobwebs by going for an 8K run or a two-mile walk through the Loop at this St. Patrick's Day-themed race. Thousands of participants dress up in green and begin their journey in Grant Park, winding through the Loop before crossing the finish line in the downtown park. If you're willing to brave the chilly temperatures, you'll get a T-shirt, a medal and access to the post-race party, featuring live music and refreshments.
Journalists, writers, filmmakers, photographers, poets and musicians take part in a multimedia variety show that's designed to capture the feeling on flipping through the pages of your favorite publication. Pop-Up Magazine teams up with education organization XQ for the latest edition of its show, which tasked contributors with telling stories about things that are happening in modern high schools. Throughout the evening, you'll hear about a high schooler who ran for school board president, a school cafeteria restaurant critic and a sociology class trying to track down a serial killer. Plus, all proceeds from the evening benefit a local non-profit.
Concerts in March
Listening back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania experimental outfit Black Moth Super Rainbow's 2003 debut, Falling Through a Field, it almost sounds as if the band arrived fully formed, combining creepy vocoder-assisted vocals with warbling vinatge synth arrangements. Led by the core duo of frontman Tobacco (who also composed the theme for HBO's Silicon Valley) and keyboardist the Seven Fields of Aphelion, the group has only gotten weirder with age, finding new ways to insert its warped melodies into tracks that approach a woozy form of pop music. At Sleeping Village, Steve Hauschildt (formerly of Cleveland trio Emeralds) opens the evening with the sparkling, minimalist techno of his recent album, Dissolvi.
Chicago rapper Cupcakke is best known for her extremely raunchy rhymes and one-liners, but her recent album, Eden, finds ways to move beyond sex and offer a more intimate look at her beliefs. Between quips about genitalia, Cupcakke promotes body positivity, lashes out against abusers and dedicates an entire track to celebrating individuals with autism. If you're a fan of quick-witted flow and don't mind a few graphic references to bodily fluids, this hometown concert should be a real treat. Australian dance-pop trio Haiku Hands and local footwork producer DJ Taye open the show.
The Empty Bottle hosts the launch of a brand new house music dance party, paying tribute to Chicago's legacy as an incubator for cutting-edge electronic musicians. Local DJs Sam White, Desadeca and SupesBase will spin tracks during the inaugural edition of the free party, exploring the various permutations of the Chicago house genre while guests bust moves under the Bottle's disco ball.
Every year, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy returns to the Vic Theatre for a pair of special benefit performances that allow him to dig into his extensive catalog of songs. With Wilco on a temporary hiatus from touring, the past year has been a particularly fruitful one for Tweedy, who published his debut memoir (Let's Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc.) and released his first proper solo album, WARM. You can expect an evening packed with some of Tweedy's most memorable tunes, including tracks he wrote with Wilco, Uncle Tupelo and Loose Fur. Plus, all proceeds from the shows benefit a slew of local charities, including Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, Be Alright, Direct Effect Charities, One Tail at a Time and Alive Rescue Chicago.
Going from a grocery store bagger with a SoundCloud account to a featured artist on Cardi B's smash hit "I Like It" in just a matter of years, Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio (a.k.a. Bad Bunny) has become the face of the bugeoning Latin trap scene. The Puerto Rican artist with a penchant for shaving intricate patterns into his buzz cut and wearing wacky sunglasses recently released his debut album, X 100pre, which featured collaborations with Diplo and Drake. If you dig hip-hop en español, you should probably catch Bad Bunny at Allstate Arena before he moves on to even bigger stadiums.
Hailing from Texas, singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves made a name for herself with twangy tunes about small-town living, romance and staying true to yourself. On Golden Hour, Musgraves frequently moves beyond country music, experimenting with bouncy disco arrangements and vocoder-aided vocal melodies that exhibit her usual pristine pop sensibilities. The catchy hooks and harmonies are infectious, but the most striking element of Musgraves' music is its raw emotional honesty.
Once known for writing banjo-picking, foot-stomping folk-rock anthems, the lads of Mumford & Sons have comfortably settled into their new identity as radio-friendly rockers. The group's latest album, Delta, takes Marcus Mumford's vocal harmonies and places them atop moody electronic compositions that wouldn't sound out of place on a Coldplay record. It's an obvious direction to take for a band that can easily fill arenas, but at least it will be interesting to hear how Mumford & Sons integrates the twangy choruses of smash hits like "I Will Wait For You" and "The Cave" into a set of sleek new tunes.
The Oscar, Tony and Grammy-award winning composer repsonsible for the songs from Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King that soundtracked your childhood takes the stage for an evening of storytelling and performances. In addition to his classic Disney catalog, expect to hear tales from Menken's work on Little Shop of Horrors and his musical contribution to the first Captain America movie.
Set amid the lavish surroundings of Paris at the beginning of the 19th century, La Traviata follows courtesan Violetta as she falls in love with a young man named Alfredo. But the romance is not meant to be, as Alfredo's father forces him to leave Violetta, setting the stage for a tragic romantic tale. Featuring detailed costumes, oversized puppets and Giuseppe Verdi's rousing score, the Lyric's production of this classic opera seems extravagent in all the right ways.