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Ever since it began in 1977, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon has become a world-class marathon attracting both locals and top runners from around the world! For this year’s race, Sunday, October 7, 45,000 participants registered in a record six days—so unfortunately, it sold out for participants wanting to sign up. Don’t worry, though! That doesn’t mean you don’t have to miss out on the fun! The very first Chicago Marathon was also known as “The people’s race anyone can come and enjoy,” and this still holds true today.

The fun will begin Thursday, October 5 with a two-day, free-to-the-public Health and Fitness Expo at McCormick Place Convention Center. With more than 200 exhibitors, the expo will offer Bank of America Chicago Marathon merchandise and the latest in running footwear, apparel, nutrition and technology. After that, plant yourself along the 26.2-mile course throughout the city, and cheer on your favorite runner, or just cheer on the masses!

And when the race ends in Grant Park, celebrate victory (either yours or someone else’s) with the 27th Mile Post-Race Party in Grant Park’s Butler Field! The outdoor party will have tons of food, beverages and live entertainment. Plus, it’s free to the public!

Not able to see the marathon in person? NBC Chicago will provide complete live TV and online coverage of the marathon on race day. Enjoy the marathon in the comforts of your own room at Broughton Hotels of Chicago – City Suites Hotel, The Majestic Hotel or The Willows Hotel!

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lollapalooza: an extraordinary or unusual thing, person or event; an exceptional example or instance

Over the last 20 years, Lollapalooza has come a long way, but one thing stays constant: the festival is for the fans.

This weekend (August 3-August 5), Chicago will play stage to music legends from around the globe. What once started as a traveling punk-rock road show (put together in 1991 by Jane’s Addiction frontman, Perry Farrell), Lollapalooza, or Lolla, has made its home on the 115 acres of open green space in Chicago’s Grant Park and has evolved into a larger-than-life music festival.

Today, thousands of fans from around the world come to partake in this three-day festival of endless performances. Lolla’s multiple stages feature 130+ artists in a variety of genres from hip-hop, electronica, reggae, indie, rock, modern roots and more! This year’s headliners include: the Red Hot Chili Peppers; Jack White; The Shins; The Weeknd; Bloc Party; and more.

Yes, Lolla is primarily a music festival, but there is plenty more to do in between sets. Your pass will get you into a host of entertainment venues in Grant Park: meet your favorite band at the f.y.e. Autograph Tent; play the latest video games at the Playstation Loft; munch on some Chicago favorites, like Franks ‘N’ Dawgs, Wow Bao and Goose Island Brewpub, at Chow Town; and much more.

Check out information on Lollapalooza 2012, and book a room with Broughton Hotels of ChicagoCity Suites Hotel, The Majestic Hotel or The Willows Hotel – today!

Calling all foodies! Your favorite Chicago summer event is here again—the annual Taste of Chicago!

Every summer since 1980, Chicago’s beautiful Grant Park has been host to the world’s largest outdoor food festival, with upwards of 3 million visitors attending the event every year!

From July 11-15, visitors and locals alike can choose from a wide variety of the Windy City’s most popular cuisines, featuring 70-plus local restaurants and more than 300 menu items. Each vendor will be serving six items, two of which are special “Taste of” sample-size portions, so there will be something to please everyone—even the pickiest eater.

Need to take a breather in between sampling dishes? There will be live music (featuring headliners: Jennifer Hudson, Death Cab for Cutie, Roshon Fegan, Chaka Khan and Dierks Bentley), and fun family activities, too!

While admission is free, food and drinks are purchased through tickets sold at the Taste of Chicago (strips of 12 for $8).

This is an event not to miss! With tons of food and great music in the country’s most beautiful city, how could you not have a great time?

There are many ways to enjoy a concert in the city, but listening to the beautiful sounds of classical music and sitting under the stars and Chicago skyline at The Grant Park Music Festival makes your summer concert experience a unique and unforgettable one.

In its 78th season, The Grant Park Music Festival is the nation’s only free outdoor classical music series. Each summer, the Festival provides beautiful classical tunes to all of Chicago in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

And this weekend, June 29 and 30, The Grant Park Chorus will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special performance of Stravinsky’s Les Noces, Whitacre’s Cloudburst, Tormis’ Raua Needmine and Orff’s Carmina Burana. Conductors Carlos Kalmar and Christopher Bell will share the podium for an unforgettable program.

You can sit in the comfortable Seating Bowl or lounge on the gorgeous Great Lawn—with the gorgeous Chicago skyline backdrop and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion’s supreme acoustic system, every spot in Millennium Park makes “the best seat in the house.”

Find out more information on the Golden Anniversary Choral Spectacular today.

Looking for something exciting to do to end the summer? Well there’s nothing better than the Chicago Jazz Festival. Starting next week, September 1-4, the city will be alive with spectacular sights and sounds!

Performances will happen in multiple locations including the Cultural Center, Millennium Park and Grant Park. Some featured performances include Randy Weston and the Chicago Jazz ensemble, Joe Lovano with David Liebman and Ravi Coltrane, Cassandra Wilson, Roy Hargrove and so many more!

Lucky for you, admission is free! Bring your blankets, chairs and picnic baskets! Don’t want to pack a picnic lunch, no worries; there will be food vendors for your enjoyment. Just remember keep your grills, pets and alcohol at home!

Come listen, dance, picnic on the grass and enjoy the most extensive jazz festival in the world! To find out more, including the full line-up, times and locations be sure to check out the Chicago Jazz Festival today!

The sound of amplified guitars, bombarding drums and wailing singers will fill Grant Park this weekend.  For the 6th straight year the Lollapalooza music festival is invading Chicago for 3 days of showcasing some of the best artists in the country.

This year’s headliners include Eminem, the Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Muse and Cee Lo Green, but they represent only a small portion of the over 130 bands scheduled to perform on multiple stages from Friday through Sunday.

2011 marks the 20th year of the wildly successful event, which has grown dramatically from humble beginnings of about a dozen bands in 1991. Originally a touring festival, the settling of Lollapalooza in the Windy City in 2005 has allowed for more room and stages to accommodate the many acts and activities that have grown to embody the event.   

Some notable bands that have played Lollapalooza in the past include; The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, and Jane’s Addiction, whose front man Perry Farrell is the festival’s founder.

Besides just music, Lollapalooza features a wide assortment of other activities. If you don’t want to go to each and every stage there are several lounges with video screens for catching multiple acts simultaneously. There are also plenty of food vendors in an area known as Chow Town. Toyota is even sponsoring a playground where event goer’s movements will help power a snow cone machine.  

For those of you who are conscious of the environment, a special section of the festival, known as Green Street, is dedicated to highlighting the festival’s green initiatives. There will also be an array of various vendors selling eco friendly products.

There is even a special section for children called, you guessed it, Kidzapalooza. Which will feature an assortment of popular age appropriate acts.

Unfortunately this year’s Lollapalooza is completely sold out, but it’s never to early to start planning for next year. For more information on Lollapalooza check out it’s website lollapalooza.com

“Go play outside, it’s a beautiful day,” our parents were right, it is beautiful and there is no better way to experience a nice day in Chicago than spending it in the park. You’ve probably heard of the more popular Millennium Park or even visited “Chicago’s front yard” Grant Park, but you may not realize that The Windy City has a thriving park system containing 7600 acres of parkland, 534 baseball fields, 25 beaches, 6 golf courses 518 playgrounds 90 gardens and 2 world-class conservatories.

These summer months are the perfect time to go out and explore the acres and acres of parkland Chicago proudly maintains. Feel the sand between your toes at Fargo Beach, smell the flowers at Rainbow Park Victory Garden, or watch the beauty of historic Buckingham Fountain . In fact, do all three. There is so much to experience in Chicago’s more scenic areas you’d be hard pressed to fit it all into one summer. Now is the perfect time to enjoy the simple tranquility of nature in Chicago’s parks.

Besides their inherent visual appeal, Chicago’s parks boast a wide variety of free and low cost attractions. From Kayaking to Dancing , the park system has something to fit everyone’s interests. Movies in the Parks , for example, are just one of the unique attractions that make the greener side of Chicago so great. Millennium Park even has its own event list and hosts a wide variety of events and attractions including fitness events, concerts and festivals.

So go play outside! Get some fresh air, exercise and experience scenic Chicago!

1) See The Grant Park Orchestra

Want a great mix of music, culture and American pride? On Sunday, July 3rd from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Grant Park Orchestra will be performing a special America themed Independence Celebration which will feature classic patriotic songs.

2) Go to a Cubs vs. White-Sox game

Seeing the Cubs and White-Sox play is one of the best ways to experience America’s pastime. These two teams have one of the longest running rivalries in Major League Baseball and are sure to deliver a great game. Plus, it just doesn’t get much more American than good old-fashioned baseball. This year we’re lucky enough to see both of Chicago’s teams face off on July 3rd.

3) Have a good Laugh

Whether you’re a comedy buff or merely a casual fan, Stand up for America, a comedy event that gathers 13 of Chicago’s best comedians, is a unique way to celebrate the holiday. On July 4th at 7pm head to the Comedy Sportz Theatre for a reminder of how great freedom of speech is!

4) Enjoy quality family time at a Parade

Going to a parade is truly a great way to make some great family memories. Go check out one of the many parades in the Chicago area taking place on Independence Day.

5) Baby you’re a firework…

Of course, the most obvious item on the list. It’s true though, fireworks and the Fourth of July just go together. Celebrating America’s independence through fireworks has been a tradition since 1776, and should be a staple of your Independence Day celebration. Fortunately there are plenty of firework displays in the Chicago area for you to experience this great American tradition.

There are a lot of factors that come together to give a city its individual personality. The skyline, people, location, culture and countless other attributes combine to create a city’s unique atmosphere. There’s definitely a lot to be said about a city that boasts impressive architecture or is known as a cultural hotspot, but one of the most underrated yet appealing characteristics a city possesses is its food!

Here in Chicago we have a diverse cuisine to be proud of, and it’s not all about pizza!  That’s why Taste of Chicago exists. Taste of Chicago is a food festival where a wide range of restaurants from the city come together to give people a true taste of what the city’s food is really all about.

This year Taste of Chicago begins on June 24th and goes through July 3rd, and will take place in Grant Park. Admission to the event is free, although food vendors will be selling special “taste of” items at two dollars or less ensuring that event goers can sample Chicago’s foods without spending too much money. If you want to get the full experience plan on attending multiple days though because a whopping 59 restaurants will be participating this year!

Besides food, Taste of Chicago will be featuring musical acts, to help give a good sound track to your tasting pleasure. Chef demonstrations, family activities including games and crafts, also make up some of the additional non-eating activities during the event.  There will even be a 5K Run so you can burn off some of the calories you are sure to consume during the festival!

The Grant Park Music Festival is the nation’s only remaining free, outdoor classical music series, and this summer we’re celebrating its 77th season. Each summer, the Festival is committed to providing free classical music to all of Chicago in its new venue—the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. A visit to the Grant Park Music Festival is an excursion to a world-class park and an unforgettable outing to a one-of-a-kind festival.  With the gorgeous Great Lawn, a comfortable Seating Bowl, membership opportunities and special options for groups there is certainly a spot in the park just right for you to enjoy the beautiful sound of classical music outdoors.

The Grant Park Music Festival offers performances by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, as well as special appearances by guest performers from around the world, totaling well over 30 world-class performances every summer. The 2011 Season runs from June 15-August 20. Performances are typically Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:30pm and Saturdays at 7:30pm.

There are many ways to enjoy a concert in Millennium Park and new “Plan Your Visit” section on their website is designed to help you make the most of your time at the Festival.