Dance, Theater, and Music

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Colorful productions of the classics in a purpose-built courtyard theater. “It’s beautiful theater out on Navy Pier; reliably good Shakespeare and fine musicals.”—Hedy Weiss, theater critic, Chicago Sun-Times. Tickets from $44. 800 E. Grand Avenue; tel. +1 312 595 5600. www.chicagoshakes.com

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

World famous orchestra also programs jazz, cabaret, and world music concerts at downtown’s Symphony Center. In summer the orchestra performs at the Ravinia Festival in suburban Highland Park. Tickets from $16. 220 S. Michigan Avenue; tel. +1 312 294 3000. www.cso.org

Goodman Theatre

Tony-boasting company in the Loop; reputation for alliances with playwrights like Arthur Miller and August Wilson. “Historically one of the standard bearers; artistic director Robert Falls directs often in New York.”—Hedy Weiss. Tickets from $16. 170 N. Dearborn Street; tel. +1 312 443 3800. www.goodmantheatre.org

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Leading contemporary dance company performs at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park, among other places. “Brings in choreographers from around the world; international, experimental, and constantly evolving.”—Lucia Mauro, dance critic, “848” radio show. Tickets from $18. 1147 W. Jackson Blvd.; tel. + 1 312 850 9744. www.hubbardstreetdance.com

Joffrey Ballet

Resident ballet company performs at the Auditorium Theatre downtown. “Known for classical-contemporary dances; making a push with more full-length classical choreography.”—Lucia Mauro. Tickets from $25. 50 E. Congress Parkway; tel. +1 312 739 0120. www.joffrey.com

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Leading opera company performs October through March at the elegant Civic Opera House. “World class; the best singers internationally perform here.”—Hedy Weiss. Tickets from $31. 20 N. Wacker Dr.; tel. +1 312 332 2244. www.lyricopera.org

Steppenwolf Theatre

Lincoln Park theater company boasting marquee actors John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, and Joan Allen as members; edgy productions. “Sometimes you can see Broadway-bound plays here first.”—Hedy Weiss. Tickets from $28. 1650 N. Halsted Street; tel. +1 312 335 1650. www.steppenwolf.org

Nightlife

Buddy Guy’s Legends

South Loop blues club owned by famed guitarist Buddy Guy; patronized by touring acts like the Rolling Stones when in town. “Buddy’s got damn good taste in music; if he’s there, he’ll sit in.”—Bob Koester, founder, Delmark Records. Admission from $10. 754 S. Wabash Street; tel. +1 312 427 0333. www.buddyguys.com

Green Mill

Prohibition-era jazz club with vintage décor and sweeping bar; patrons shush you for talking. Don’t miss Deep Blue Organ Trio, every Tuesday. “Serious about jazz; legendary Sunday night Poetry Slam.”—Matt McGuire, editor, MetroMix.com. 4802 N. Broadway Street; tel. + 1 773 878 5552. www.greenmilljazz.com

Hopleaf

North Side Andersonville tavern for beer aficionados in a suds-loving town; renowned for rare, imported, and obscure brews. “No better bar in the country for Belgian selections.”—Matt McGuire. 5148 N. Clark Street; tel. +1 773 334 9851. www.hopleaf.com

The Second City

Cabaret-style setting for famed improv sketch comedy that launched John Belushi and Bill Murray. “A lot of talent you’ll see later on TV is here.”—Hedy Weiss, theater critic, Chicago Sun-Times. Mainstage tickets from $14. 1616 N. Wells Street; tel. +1 312 337 3992. www.secondcity.com

“Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”

Radio news quiz show with comic guests and NPR newscaster Carl Kasell; tapes most Thursday night at Chase Auditorium. “Go because it’s really hard to get ‘Oprah’ tickets.”—Peter Sagal, host, “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” Tickets $20. 10 S. Dearborn Street. www.npr.org/programs/waitwait

Festivals

Chicago Folk & Roots Festival

Mid-July. Chicago’s influential Old Town School of Folk Music programs world music at this two-day event in Welles Park in Lincoln Square. Despite its name, the music is eclectic. “High-caliber music in a neighborhood park.”—Margaret Littman, author, The Little Black Book of Chicago. www.oldtownschool.org/festival

Chicago Jazz Festival

Labor Day weekend. Annual four-day music fest devoted to jazz artists local and international. Held in Grant Park. “It’s free and the talent is good.”—Bob Koester, owner, Jazz Record Mart. www.chicagojazzfestival.org

Grant Park Music Festival

June-August. Eclectic musical programming at the Frank Gehry-designed bandshell in Millennium Park; Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings; free. “Music, architecture and the city all around you; it’s great.”—Hedy Weiss, theater critic, Chicago Sun-Times. www.grantparkmusicfestival.com

Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

Saturday before or on March 17. Drums, bagpipes, cops, and politicians in this celebration of all things Irish. Prelude events include the traditional dyeing of the Chicago River green by the plumber’s union. www.chicagostpatsparade.com

Taste of Chicago

Late June, early July. Annual two-week festival of food in Grant Park, one of the largest food fests in the world. Local restaurants serve specialties; more popular with tourists than locals. Strong musical line-up usually includes national pop acts. http://www.chicagofestivals.net/2012-taste-of-chicago

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