There's a lot to celebrate in Chicago this week. Wine geeks can stop in River North for a mid-day tasting and cheese pairing, while soccer fans can meet-and-greet with Chicago's finest footballers. Finish off your week by celebrating the world's diversity at Navy Pier, where there will be a cultural kick-off to a massive seven-week event.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.
February 25–27, March 1 | Concert
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The world-famous Chicago Symphony Orchestra is adding even more star power to its ranks. Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen will lead the musicians through Beethoven’s “Overture to King Stephen,” Lutoslawski’s “Symphony No. 3,” and Salonen’s “Foreign Bodies.” Then, as if the incredible lineup of compositions weren’t enough, world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma will awe with his rendition of Shostakovich’s “Cello Concerto No. 1.” Head over early for pre-show drinks and small bites at Tesori, which is connected to the orchestra hall.
Times vary | 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago | From $55 | website
February 27 | Wine tasting
River North Wine and Champagne Fest
Take a mid-day break to taste more than 35 wines and champagnes from all over the world, plus their most delicious cheese pairings, at the River North Wine and Champagne Fest. The fest’s two venues—with different samplings and DJs—are literally right next door, so hop between at your pleasure. Drinks to be sampled will include a 2014 Chevalier De Bayard and toasted coconut almond sparkling sake, among others. Besides the wine and cheese, attendees will also receive a slew of freebies, including Uber credits, gift cards and more.
12–4 p.m. | Moe’s Cantina & Old Crow Smokehouse River North, 155 W. Kinzie St., Chicago | Phone | From $50 | website
February 28 | Academy Awards party
Variety’s 11th Annual Awards Party
You don’t need to be in Hollywood to feel Oscar-ready. In Woodridge, a 40-minute drive from Chicago, guests get all done up red-carpet style and partake in a night of dinner and champagne, a silent auction, and, of course, a live broadcast of the namesake awards going on in Los Angeles. Proceeds go to benefit Variety of Illinois, a charity that works with disabled children.
6 p.m. | Hollywood Blvd. Cinema, 1001 W. 75th St., Woodridge | $50 | website
February 28 | Cultural celebration
Neighborhoods of the World
Come to Navy Pier for the kickoff of their ongoing diversity celebration. Every Sunday for the next eight weeks, Navy Pier will transform into a new part of the world, highlighting the varied cultures of Lithuania, Mexico, Greece, the Philippines, Poland, Africa, Italy, and India. This week, you’ll be able to get a crash course in African food, music, dancing, and history.
12–4 p.m. | 600 E Grand Ave., Chicago | Free | website
February 29 | Pro soccer kick-off
Chicago Fire Season Kick-off Luncheon
Meet and mingle with Chicago’s professional major league soccer team at their season kick-off party. Fans can pose for photos with the players, participate in a silent auction for Fire swag, and help the team get their season going with a bang. Proceeds go to fund soccer and education programs for Chicago’s underprivileged youth (last year’s raised over $90,000!).
11 a.m.–1 p.m. | Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr., Chicago | (708) 496-6657 | From $95 | 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.