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Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Choose Chicago, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Millennium Park Foundation in announcing today that Chicago’s Millennium Park welcomed nearly 12.9 million guests in just the second half of 2016—making it the #1 attraction in the Midwest and among the top 10 most-visited sites in the U.S. Based on new attendance counting technology, the figures put the Park in the company of Central Park (New York, N.Y.) and the National Mall (Washington, D.C.).
“Millennium Park has become part of the cultural fabric of Chicago, bringing children and families together from all parts of the city to experience world class culture for free,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “With 12.9 million visitors to the Park in just the second half of 2016, I am proud to see it become the #1 attraction in the Midwest.”
Last year alone, Chicago broke tourism records by welcoming 54.1 million visitors citywide, moving the city closer to reaching the Mayor’s goal of 55 million visitors by 2020. With new events and cultural programs added each year—including hundreds of free cultural events at Millennium Park this summer, and the second edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial expected to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors this fall—Chicago is on track to continue breaking records.
Thanks to new and improved technology, Millennium Park attendance is now measured by a third-party vendor using passive electronic sensors. A June 15 through December 31, 2016 pilot project covering approximately half of the Park—centered around Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”) and three main entrances—estimated 12,859,360 unique visitors. The new six-month estimate relies on similar technology used by other major events, tradeshow, retail spaces and airports around the world.
“Millennium Park is Chicago’s town square—a lively, spectacular gathering spot located in the heart of the city and a destination for Chicagoans and visitors alike,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “We invite the citizens of the world to come experience this state-of-the-art collection of art, architecture, gardens and design that provides the backdrop for hundreds of free cultural events this summer.”
Millennium Park is Chicago’s town square and the anchor of an urban cultural campus that includes the Chicago Cultural Center, Maggie Daley Park and the Art Institute of Chicago—all connected by the Chicago Cultural Mile. Attendance at Maggie Daley Park is also growing, with an estimated 3 million visitors in 2016. In addition – last year Navy Pier brought in a record 9.3 million visitors.
Opened in 2004, Millennium Park is a 24.5-acre urban park in the heart of downtown Chicago, home to the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture (also known as “The Bean”) by Anish Kapoor, Crown Fountain designed by Jaume Plensa, the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the internationally-acclaimed Lurie Garden and more. Previous estimates of attendance at Millennium Park revealed 5 million annual visitors.
“Chicago’s early planners dreamed of an accessible ‘park for all people,’ where residents could learn, relax and enjoy life in the company of others outdoors, and aside from life’s pressures,” said Scott Stewart, Executive Director of the Millennium Park Foundation. “The Foundation built on that legacy by creating a park that set new standards for public land use, and in so doing created a destination tourists from around the world now look to experience, and other cities look to emulate.”
2017 Summer Season Schedule: May-October
Live music has been a hallmark of Millennium Park since its founding, and this summer is no exception. The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and its partners are pleased to present a diverse lineup of Chicago artists as well as musical acts from across the U.S. and the globe.
A Chicago House Music Celebration will kick-off the summer in Millennium Park on Saturday, May 27, from 1-9pm at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Great Lawn and the North Promenade tent. Throughout the day, DJs and live performances will showcase the various sounds and styles of house music, the musical form born in Chicago that has gone on to revolutionize dance music internationally.
The 32nd Chicago Gospel Music Festival returns to Millennium Park, as well as the Chicago Cultural Center, this June 2–3. The two-day festival, featuring local, national and international artists, celebrates the music style’s deep Chicago roots with traditional choirs and contemporary urban gospel music. Admission is FREE. For details, visit chicagogospelmusicfestival.us.
NEW! In 2017 experience the blues live in Millennium Park at the 34th Annual Chicago Blues Festival happening June 9–11. At its new home in Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St.), the Blues Festival shares the great Chicago-born music tradition with the world and shines a spotlight on its contributions to hip hop, rap, R&B, rock, pop and more. in the city’s premier outdoor music venue. The headliners performing at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion over the three days include: Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues, Rhymefest, William Bell, Gary Clark Jr., Rhiannon Giddens, Ronnie Baker Brooks and Nellie Tiger Travis. Admission is FREE. For details, visit chicagobluesfestival.us.
The Millennium Park Summer Music Series will offer an exciting line-up of outdoor concerts on most Mondays and Thursdays, June 12–August 21, at 6:30pm, at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The music series features a wider variety of genre-defying music from top local, national and international artists—both established and emerging. All performances are FREE.
Pack a picnic for dinner and a movie under the stars at the Millennium Park Summer Film Series, Tuesdays, June 13–September 5 at 6:30pm. Take a seat at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or spread out a blanket on the Great Lawn to watch your favorite films on a state-of-the-art, 40-foot LED screen. The series is co-curated by DCASE and the Millennium Park Foundation. Before each feature film, the ChicagoMade Shorts program will screen the work by a locally-based filmmaker.. Admission is FREE.
NEW! Grab your dancing shoes for the SummerDance Celebration on Saturday, August 26, a day-long dancing festival throughout the park featuring the SummerDance-Off at Cloud Gate. During the month of July, a city-wide dance contest will be held as part of SummerDance in the Parks at select Chicago Park District locations with residents showing off their ‘footwork’ and ‘stepping’ skills for a chance to participate in the event. The FREE admission festival is noon-9:30pm. Complete details will be announced later this spring.
On August 28 at 6:30pm, the 4th Annual Fifth Star Honors presented by DCASE and Allstate Insurance Company will celebrate Chicago’s creativity with a night of stars under the stars, honoring legendary Chicago artists and cultural institutions with an exciting spectacle that includes performances, moving video tributes and a concert immediately following. Admission is FREE for this public celebration at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. For a list of the 2017 honorees and performers to be announced soon, visit fifthstarhonors.org.
A favorite Labor Day weekend tradition, the 39th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival, August 31–September 3, showcases four stages of free live performances by Chicago’s vast jazz talent alongside national and international jazz legends and artists. Produced by DCASE and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago, festival admission is FREE. For details, visit chicagojazzfestival.us.
The 19th Annual World Music Festival Chicago rounds out the city’s summer music festivals taking place September 8–24 in various locations including at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion on Saturday, September 9, and Saturday, September 16, 3–6pm. The city-wide, multi-venue festival has attracted over 800,000 concertgoers and has presented more than 800 artists and ensembles from over 80 countries since it began in 1999—making it the largest world music festival in the U.S. Artists will be announced at a later date. Admission is FREE. For details, visit worldmusicfestivalchicago.org.
For more than 80 years, the Grant Park Music Festival has been Chicago’s summer musical sensation, demonstrating that classical music, performed by a world-class orchestra and chorus can have a transformative impact on the city. The tradition continues June 14–August 19 with Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Carlos Kalmar and Chorus Director Christopher Bell leading the award-winning Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus in a summer of world and Midwest premieres, along with Festival favorites and renowned guest artists. Most performances are Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, with free seats available for every concert. The Grant Park Music Festival is presented by the Grant Park Orchestral Association, in partnership with the Chicago Park District and DCASE. Start times vary. For the complete schedule, visit www.grantparkmusicfestival.com.
Millennium Park Presents, May 26–October 1 (select dates), is a series of one-night-only performances curated by DCASE that showcases opera, dance, Broadway hits, classical music, Mariachi and more from some of Chicago’s best-loved cultural institutions. All performances are FREE. The summer’s lineup for the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is available at millenniumpark.org.
Additionally, Millennium Park Presents Make Music Chicago on Wednesday, June 21, at 11am–4pm. Make Music Chicago, presented by Rush Hour Concerts, links Chicago with over 700 cities worldwide for an annual music-making celebration on the Summer Solstice. Enjoy free musical events in Millennium Park’s Wrigley Square. Grant Park Music Festival Open Rehearsal at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is also part of Make Music Chicago. For the complete schedule, visit makemusicchicago.org.
For the fitness-minded—Millennium Park will once again offer FREE Summer Workouts on the Great Lawn, Saturdays, June 3–September 2. Each workout is 45 minutes, with classes beginning on the hour, every hour from 7-11am. Workouts and start times are: Pilates at 7am, Yoga at 8am, Strength Training (NEW) at 9am and Zumba® at 10am. Weekday Yoga will also be offered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, June 6 – August 31, 7:30–8:15am. Summer Workouts are produced by DCASE with grant support provided by McDonald’s Active Lifestyles Endowment, managed by the Millennium Park Foundation.
Millennium Park will continue to showcase seven recent sculptures by American artist Chakaia Booker in an exhibition in the Boeing Galleries running through April 2018. The Plain Dealer says, “The art of Chakaia Booker, who creates spectacular sculptures from discarded tires, melts expectations like burning rubber on pavement.” The exhibition is FREE; hours are 6am–11pm daily. Exhibition support to the Millennium Park Foundation is made possible by the Boeing Endowment with additional support from the Richard Driehaus Endowment. The sculpture selection committee is managed by the Millennium Park Foundation.
Families are invited to join the fun all summer long with activities, including music and arts and crafts for kids of all ages at the Famiily Fun Festival, June 19-August 20, 10am–2pm. The series is presented by the Millennium Park Foundation with additional support by the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, under the tent on the Chase Promenade North. Admission is FREE.
For teens and visitors of all ages, the After School Matters Summer Program, Monday to Friday, June 26–August 11, 9am–1pm, will showcase Chicago teens discovering their potential all summer long— including programs in furniture painting, hat design, mural creation and more (under the tent at Chase Promenade South)—and After School Matters Jazz Band rehearsals and performances (Wrigley Square). After School Matters provides 24,000 opportunities throughout the city each year for Chicago teens to develop their talents in the arts, communications, science, sports and technology, while gaining critical skills for college, careers, and beyond. For details, visit afterschoolmatters.org.
Lurie Garden is a internationally acclaimed 5-acre urban oasis for fun and enrichment in the Southeast corner of Millennium Park, open daily 6am–11pm. FREE summer event include the annual Lurie Garden Plant Sale on Saturday, June 3, 10am–2pm (with hands-on gardening programs and tips). Lurie Garden is supported by the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Foundation Endowment managed by the Millennium Park Foundation. For details and registration information, visit luriegarden.org. Stay in touch with Lurie Garden by liking us on Facebook (The Lurie Garden) and following us on Twitter and Instagram, @LurieGarden.
Experience an award-winning restaurant — and the city’s largest al fresco dining venue — at the Park Grill and The Plaza at Millennium Park, offering contemporary American cuisine with a Chicago flair inside and casual fare, live music, a family-friendly game tent, full walk-up bar & more outside. Open daily 11am–10pm. Need something on the go? From cooling off with ice cream, to creating your own Chicago-style picnic, Park Café and Concessions has you covered. For complete information, visit parkgrillchicago.com.
Millennium Park is located on Michigan Avenue, bordered by Randolph St. to the north, Columbus Dr. to the east and Monroe St. to the south. The Park is open 6am–11pm daily. For the latest news and events, download the Millennium Park app, visit millenniumpark.org, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @Millennium_Park.
To plan your trip to Chicago for Millennium Park events and more, visit choosechicago.com.
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.
Millennium Park Foundation
The Millennium Park Foundation, a private, philanthropic not-for-profit partner, was created in 1998 to support the City of Chicago’s efforts in the design, construction and management of Millennium Park. It is the steward of Millennium Park’s internationally-recognized icons and public features. These include the prestigious Jay Pritzker Pavilion and dramatic BP Pedestrian Bridge, world-renowned Cloud Gate and Lurie Garden, iconic Crown Fountain, and exquisite Boeing Galleries for public art exhibitions. Through its ongoing development initiatives, the Millennium Park Foundation is dedicated to keeping Millennium Park a free and accessible venue for all Chicagoans today, and for generations to come.
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