Offering an endless, internationally famous array of attractions and events, Chicago’s two most popular parks are both less than a mile from the Hotel Essex. Grant Park is known by many as Chicago’s front yard, 300 acres of glorious green space featuring busy baseball fields, lovely gardens, public artworks, and top attractions. Millennium Park ranks as the second biggest tourist attraction in all of Illinois, offering impressive public art, a gorgeous bandshell auditorium, a manicured garden, a playful fountain, and much more.
Grant Park Music Festival
For over 80 years, since their start in the 1930’s, symphonic concerts were a staple of Grant Park’s cultural scene. In 1944, the Grant Park Orchestra was formed, followed in 1962 by the Grant Park Chorus. While originally held in Grant Park itself, the festival moved to the acoustically and architecturally impressive Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in 2004, where it continues to present an incredible ten-week season of concerts, artistic events, and radio broadcasts.
Art & Architecture at Millennium Park
Millennium Park offers one of the most impressive public collections of art in the world. Start at the iconic Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean.” This imposing reflective oval of polished stainless steel provides a quirky mirror image of the city’s skyline and the park’s visitors as they walk by and through this awesome artifact. Nearby, the Crown Fountain features two fifty-foot towers of glass block at the ends of a shallow reflecting pool, each projecting video images collected from a spectrum of 1000 of Chicago’s citizens. Stroll through the Boeing Galleries displaying modern and contemporary artwork of living artists at both the north and south sides of the Park. Another impressive work is the Millennium Monument, an almost full-sized replica of the peristyle that stood in the park from 1917 to 1953. Finally, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and BP Bridge, both designed by Frank Gehry, are truly jaw-dropping displays of deconstructivist architecture that offer incredible acoustic design.
Once a swampy marsh, Chicago is now known for its impressive gardens – and Lurie Garden in Millennium Park is one of its finest. This five-acre award-winning stretch of breathtaking botanical landscaping offers more than 250 varieties of spring perennials and bulbs, a dramatic summer hedge that lights up at night, and lovely ornamental grasses that capture winter snow and ice, turning them into natural works of art. The garden is also home to over 60 different species of birds over the various seasons.
A popular attraction year-round, this fantastic fountain features four art deco seahorses of beautiful Georgia pink marble. Starting in May and running through Labor Day, 20-minute shows each hour feature 14,000 gallons of water that spout from 133 separate jets. On summer nights, colored light shows end with the center jet shooting water 150 feet up in the air. Winter brings a holiday light and music show that is no less fabulous, even without the water.
Discover the chic, all new Hotel Essex Chicago. Our innovative contemporary hotel offers the ideal accommodations in downtown within easy reach of the many Grant Park and Millennium Park must-dos – all year long. We look forward to welcoming you to the Windy City!