Chicago is one of the world's great travel destinations for families during the winter months, with great restaurants, museums and theater and all kinds of free and affordable events open to everyone, Mayor Richard M. Daley said today.
“Today I want to remind the people of Chicago, of Illinois and the entire Midwest region that there is no better winter travel destination for them than the one that's in their own back yard,” Daley said at a news conference with hospitality industry officials held at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Av.
The Mayor said that travel and tourism are critical to carrying out the City’s strategy of growing the local economy for years to come.
“If travel and tourism aren’t healthy, it costs us jobs, revenue and other economic activity,” he said.
The Mayor outlined a number of events and activities taking place in Chicago in the winter months:
- Winter Wonderfest begins tomorrow at Navy Pier and runs until January 2.
This is the 10th year for the event that features more than 750,000 holiday ornaments, hundreds of decorated trees, an indoor Ferris wheel, games, slides and carolers.
- The holiday tradition of caroling at the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park will be renewed the next three Friday nights (December 3, 10, 17) at 6 p.m. Hear and sing-along with some of the City’s best choral groups.
- Children’s choirs from all across the City will be singing in the City Hall lobby Wednesdays through Fridays from Noon to 1 p.m. until December 17.
- The City’s annual Sports Festival will be held at McCormick Place December 18 and 19 with activities and competitions for thousands of young people.
- The City’s downtown farmstand continues to operate at 66 East Randolph, offering edible products all produced within 250 miles of Chicago.
- The zoo lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo are on now through January 2.
- Sunday December 5 there is a free “Dance-Along Nutcracker” presentation at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.
- The Goodman Theater’s “A Christmas Carol” is on stage now through New Year’s Eve and the Joffrey Ballet’s production of the “Nutcracker” is at the Auditorium Theater December 10 through 26.
- Once again, the hospitality industry is offering great holiday hotel packages at many locations, including the City’s newest hotel, the J.W. Marriott at LaSalle and Adams.
- As winter goes on, the annual “Snow Days” festival will be held at Navy Pier January 28-30. It features a snow sculpting competition, dog sled races and many activities for kids.
- The Winter Dance Festival sponsored by American Express takes place in Millennium Park every weekend in February with ice skating lessons, late night ice dance parties and the rare opportunity to enjoy open dancing and dance lessons behind the glass doors on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage.
- Starting January 1, “skate in the sky” at the world’s highest ice rink at the John Hancock Observatory.
- And the 4th annual Chicago Restaurant Week will take place from February 18th to 27th, with more than 200 restaurants offering special menus with special prices.
- February is African-American History Month and a great time to visit the DuSable Museum of African American History on the South Side.
The City’s tourism website – www.explorechicago.org -- has a complete list of the many events that will take place in Chicago during winter and much other information that will help people plan their activities in our city.
“When we attract visitors to Chicago – and when Chicagoans explore the City -- we help create jobs for hard-working people and keep our hospitality industry and all our local business community strong,” Daley said. “So to the millions of people who live nearby, I want to say: Chicago has it all. Take advantage of what we have to offer.”
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