Here are the five coolest things to do in and around Chicago this week
The coming week is going to be a delicious one in Chi-town. Our fanciest steakhouse yet has just opened, there’s a Best of the Midwest cookoff, and an early Halloween festival offers a great excuse for some candy nibbling. British celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi is even in town to speak at the Chicago Humanities Festival. If you’d rather throw your food (or just watch it hurl 300 feet through the air), there’s a whole festival dedicated to catapulting pumpkins across the fields of the Racine County Fairgrounds. When you’re full, head to the Music Box Theater for 24 hours of horror films (after which you may never want to eat again).
Now open | Restaurants
Swift & Sons
Does Chicago need another steakhouse? Judging by the fevered anticipation of Swift & Sons, which finally opened in the West Loop last week, the answer is yes, especially when it's a project this grand. How's this for decadence? The restaurant, in a former meatpacking warehouse, is the biggest and most expensive project to date for the Boka Restaurant Group, which is responsible for such hot spots as the Girl & the Goat and Balena. So what did that all that money pay for? Stunning tilework on the floors and walls, enormous leather booths, a wine room, crystal chandeliers, and a separate seafood restaurant within the steakhouse. Luckily, Swift & Sons' menu prices don't match its opulent decor: The classic steak frites is $28, there's a burger for $16, and wines by the glass run as low as $10—all pretty reasonable, for a steakhouse.
1000 W. Fulton Mkt., Chicago | (312) 733-9420 | website
October 24 | Festival
Halloween Gathering on the Cultural Mile
This city-sponsored festival brings together Chicago's creative communities—from theater to art to comedy to dance to music—for one huge Halloween celebration in and around Millennium Park. Kids can head to Maggie Daley Park for a costume procession along the skating ribbon at 2 p.m., followed by a variety of dance performances. At the TheatTRICKS Stage at Wrigley Square, you can catch improv comedy and a performance of Shakespeare's spookier scenes, and at the Conjure Creative Tent on the Chase Promenade, you can make your own spooky lanterns, Halloween masks, and Dia de los Muertos sugar skulls. At 6 p.m., take that lantern you made to the Halloween parade on Columbus, from Balbo to Monroe, and light it up while you watch a procession filled with costumes, music, and a "Thriller" dance mob.
2–8 p.m. | Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago | Free | website
October 24–25 | Film
Music Box of Horrors
Whether you like your horror films chilling, gory, suspenseful, or laughably absurd, you'll find something to freak you out during this annual 24-hour movie marathon at the Music Box Theatre. The 1929 movie house, while one of the best-preserved and most stunning in the city, has all the creaky chairs, odd sounds, and darkened nooks to make the films extra-creepy. Don't miss the tribute to Wes Craven, featuring a talk with horror expert Joseph Maddry and a showing of The Serpent and the Rainbow; a screening of the only known 35mm print of XTRO; the silent film The Unknown with Lon Chaney, featuring live organ accompaniment; and the seminal classic Frankenhooker.
Noon Sat.–noon Sun. | Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., Chicago | (773) 871-6607 | From $30 for a festival pass | website
AFAR Local is published every Wednesday, so check back for insider updates on restaurant openings, festivals, exhibitions, shows, weekend escapes, and more. Planning a trip? The AFAR guide to Chicago has you covered.
October 24–November 8 | Festival
Chicago Humanities Festival
Proving that not everything needs to revolve around ghosts and goblins this time of year, the 26th edition of the Chicago Humanities Festival brings to Chicago some of the world's most innovative intellectuals, artists, and performers to give more than 100 lectures, talks and tours. The goal? To understanding humanity a bit better, learn a thing or two, and challenge your mind. The roster this year includes London chef Yotam Ottolenghi on fusing Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines (Oct. 24), House of Cards's executive story editor Laura Eason on the writing process (Oct. 27), rising-star writer Roxanne Gay on cultural identity (Nov. 6), and comedian Patton Oswalt on his cinephilia (Nov. 7).
Times and locations vary | From $5 | website
Great Pumpkin Chuckin' Fest
As long as pumpkins have graced front porches, local toughs have delighted in throwing and smashing them after nightfall. The Pumpkin Chuckin' Festival near Racine, Wisconsin, celebrates a far more mature (and nerdy) version of that high-school prank. Competitors build elaborate catapults, sling shots, and trebuchets to see who can "chuck" an 8- to 10-pound pumpkin the greatest distance. But distance alone isn't enough to win; teams also get point for costumes, the design of the launching-structure, and good sportsmanship. If this crazy contest isn't enough lure you 70 miles north of Chicago, perhaps the Kansas City BBQ–sanctioned "Best of the Midwest" barbecue cook-off will.
10 a.m.–10 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun. | Racine County Fairgrounds, 19805 Durand Ave., Union Grove, WI | website
Laura Baginski is a Chicago-based writer and editor who specializes in travel and parenting. Because of the latter, the former doesn't happen as much as she'd like.