Here are the five coolest things to do in and around Chicago this week. We publish a new list every Wednesday, covering Thursday through Wednesday. Stay tuned for insider updates on restaurant openings, festivals, exhibitions, shows, weekend escapes, and more. Planning a trip? Check out the AFAR guide to Chicago.
September 17 | Restaurant & bar opening
Chicago needs another Irish bar like it needs another corrupt politician, but this new Celtic tavern in Streeterville is different. For one, the owners are the guys behind New York cocktail bar The Dead Rabbit, which won “World’s Best Bar” at the cocktail world’s version of the Oscars. And you won’t find one “Chi-rish” sign here—GreenRiver Chicago is a sophisticated place, with an 18th-floor terrace lounge, floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room, and a former Celeste and Acadia chef in the kitchen.
259 E. Erie St., Chicago | (312) 337-0101 | website
September 18–20 | Art
The city’s biggest art fair brings together 140 galleries from around the world in Navy Pier‘s Festival Hall. The main floor, designed by Chicago architect extraordinaire Jeanne Gang, will be pulsating with color as it hosts contemporary art from some of the world’s most exciting artists. The expo is like a sprawling museum, except everything you see is for sale. Not exactly a wealthy art collector? Head for Exposure, an area of the fair dedicated to less established galleries and artists, showing more entry-level works.
11 a.m.–7 p.m. (till 6 p.m. Sun) | Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago | (312) 595-7437 | From $20 | website
September 19–20 | Festival
Renegade Craft Fair
For many Chicagoans, summer isn’t truly over until after Renegade Craft Fair—a shopping, eating, and drinking extravaganza that spans six blocks of Division Street in Wicker Park. Shop for handmade goods and vintage finds while bouncing along to tunes from Chirp Radio and Reckless Records DJs. Stay fueled with food from the likes of Chicago’s Doghouse, Dia de los Tamales, Taco in a Bag, Black Dog Gelato, and Justice of the Pies, and stay loose by sampling the goods at Tito’s Vodka, Protea Wines, and Revolution Brewing. This is one of the last outdoor parties of the year, so enjoy it.
11 a.m.–6 p.m. | Division St. between Damen Ave. and Paulina St., Chicago | Free | website
September 21 | Music
One of the biggest music acts in Europe right now, Belgian singer/songwriter Stromae crafts sunny, hip-hop–inflected dance music that demands you shake it—never mind that the French lyrics span such heavy topics as the Rwandan genocide and the ravages of cancer and AIDS. Wearing loud, pastel-colored patterns that only a European who looks like a model could pull off, Stromae (a.k.a. Paul Van Haver) has a commanding stage presence—which you’ll notice on the rare occasions you wake from your dance trance.
7 p.m. | Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Ave., Chicago | (773) 275-6800 | $40 | website
Weekend escape | Harvest festival
Wine & Harvest Festival
The entire town of Cedarburg, WI will get in on the fun at their 43rd annual Wine & Harvest Festival. Just 20 minutes north of Milwaukee, the historic town’s Victorian homes and inns are worth seeing, but when you add in pumpkin weighing and grape stomping contests, live music on stages all around town, a juried art fair, and a pumpkin regatta in which contestants paddle giant, hollowed-out gourds across Cedar Creek, Cedarburg becomes a must-visit this weekend.
10 a.m.–6 p.m. (till 5 p.m. Sun) | Washington Ave and Columbia Rd., Cedarburg, WI | (262) 377-3891 | Free | 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.