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Chicago October 20–26: The Halloween Gathering & The Burials

The best of what to do in and around Chicago this week

There are a bunch of spooky activities in store for you in Chicago this week. It all kicks off with a kid-free evening at the Museum of Science and Industry, where you’ll get to check out previously off-limits oddities. Next, the city’s cultural institutions take on the Halloween theme at a fun evening gathering. Make sure to catch Steppenwolf’s production of The Burials, which isn’t spooky but is still very scary. End the week at the zoo, where they’re making the bat, spider, and scorpion exhibits even more eerie than usual to match the season.

AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.

October 5 - 22 | Theatre
The Burials
Steppenwolf’s unfortunately relevant and poignant presentation of The Burials, by Caitlin Parrish, is closing this week, and it’s one you’d regret missing. The story follows Sophie, a normal girl who finds herself in the spotlight after her brother goes on a shooting rampage at his high school. Sophie must deal with the aftermath of the crime, torn between defying the media’s negative depiction of her brother and stopping her father from using the event to further his own political agenda. Director Erica Weiss has created an intense, disturbing production that is empowering for anyone who has ever worried about gun violence.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N Halsted St., Chicago | From $15 | website

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October 22 | Halloween
The Halloween Gathering
For the second year, Chicago’s cultural mile (located on Michigan Ave. between the Chicago River and Roosevelt Rd.) is throwing a Halloween bash unlike any other in the city. Institutions along the mile, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Art Institute, and the Field Museum, collaborate to create a dramatic display with performances, arts and crafts, pop-up installations, and even a parade. Dress in your finest costume and head to Millennium Park, Grant Park, and George Solti Garden, where music, dance, and art will get a spooky spin in celebration of the season.
2:00 PM - 8:00 PM | 55 N Michigan Ave., Chicago | Free | website

October 22 - 23 | Family fun
Boo! at the Zoo
Head to the zoo for some not-so-scary Halloween festivities this weekend. Boo! at the Zoo is an annual tradition that provides fun for the entire family, including crafts, a corn maze, pumpkin carving and smashing, plenty of spooky animal talks (these are done in the owl, scorpion, raven, large snake, and, of course, the bat areas), a costume contest, and a parade. Plus, there’s a special treat that’s new this year: Ferrara Candy Company will be stationed throughout the zoo to give out sweets and for photo opps. If you miss it this weekend, Boo! at the Zoo will be back October 29 and 30.
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM | Brookfield Zoo, 31st and First Ave., Brookfield | From $13 | website

The Burials

October 22 - 23 | Escape the city
Batavia, Illinois
Grab your Halloween costume (or at least black clothing) and head an hour’s drive from Chicago to Batavia, where they’re hosting BatFest on October 22. There will be tons of family-friendly activities, including a pumpkin seed spitting contest, pumpkin carving battles, hayrides, a farmer’s market, dance performances, and a BatArt contest. Stay the whole weekend and check out the Red Oak Nature Center (bring a bike or some hiking boots), along with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (which has great hands-on activities for science buffs).
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM | Batavia Riverwalk and Peg Bond Pavilion, Batavia | Free | website

October 17 - 23 | Festival
Chicago Ideas Week
Innovators from around the world are gathered in Chicago to give talks and do hands-on workshops with curious fans. The roster includes FIFA World Cup Champion Abby Wambach, Skinnygirl cocktail creator and Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel, and Academy Award–winning screenwriter Graham Moore of The Imitation Game fame. Basically, there’s someone here to geek out over no matter what your interests are.
Times, locations & prices vary | website

Danielle Braff lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and her dog. When she’s not writing, she’s out photographing her city and running around frantically trying to fit as many events as she can into her day. You can check out her other articles at Daniellebraff.com.

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