What We’re Looking Forward to in Chicago in 2022
From celebrity chef-run restaurant debuts to a jam-packed festival season.
As we bid adieu to 2021 and all of its ups and downs (e.g. the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and new variants alike), we eagerly press on toward what awaits Chicago in ‘22. And thankfully, it’s looking like a lot, driving us to grab our Sharpies (er—pencils with good erasers, perhaps) and get to work on those crisp new calendars. From show-stopping restaurant debuts and interactive art exhibits to music festivals and street parades, here are our favorite reasons to raise a glass to 2022.
Beginning earlier this week, the City of Chicago put into effect a new vaccine mandate for several types of indoor establishments, including restaurants, bars, gyms, concert venues, and theaters (see the full list here). Heading out to support a prime local restaurant? Be at the ready with your photo ID, proof of two-dose vaccination, and a smile—while the rollout may take some refining, we’re super thankful for it all the same.
Top restaurant openings and exciting collaborations
2021 saw a slew of impressive restaurant openings, and that momentum is carrying over into ‘22 in big ways. Behold Bazaar Meat and Bar Mar, two concepts from Gibsons Restaurant Group, chef José Andrés, and ThinkFoodGroup dedicated to honoring all things land and sea in their new Bank of America Tower digs. When The LaSalle Chicago opens this spring, it’ll bring with it Grill 21, a modern-day American grill that’s a cut above the rest (literally—it’s located on the 21st floor). And over in Lincoln Park, it’s all about the arts. Fine dining newcomer Esmé just released tickets for its first collaboration menu—a partnership with local photographer and videographer Paul Octavious. Titled "Peculiar Contrast, Perfect Light," the 12-course experience is inspired by Octavious' pieces (which will be on display at the restaurant until the collab concludes on April 1).
This May will mark the official opening of Camp Aramoni, an upscale campground with everything you could possibly dream of (and then some) for an idyllic weekend getaway: Nearly a dozen safari-style tents (complete with A/C and heat, hardwood floors, and king-sized beds), a rustic lodge with daily meals, and a 1961 Airstream Overlander RV-turned-coffee bar. The property is located within 90 minutes of Chicago and boasts nearly 100 acres of forest and wildlife terrain (and if that wasn’t enough, Starved Rock State Park and its ample adventures reside right next door).
Hotly anticipated hotels coming to town
The reasons to plan a trip to (or staycation in) Chicago continue to mount in the new year, thanks in part to the arrival of some stellar hotels. Located in the heart of the Financial District, The LaSalle Chicago (part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection) will reside in the top five floors of a historic landmark building from architect Daniel Burnham. Expect classic Art Deco sensibility merged with upmarket aesthetic (spacious marble-clad bathrooms, oversized guestrooms with expansive city views). And for a milestone debut, The St. Regis Chicago will mark the 50th addition to the St. Regis brand when it opens this August in Chicago’s newest downtown skyscraper (the city’s third-tallest building, designed by architect Jeanne Gang).
On June 13, the James Beard Awards will descend once again upon Chicago’s Lyric Opera House, recognizing those doing exceptional work in the culinary world. While several categories will remain the same, the team announced a new Emerging Chef category (awarded to chefs of any age) plus a couple of change-ups: The Outstanding Chef category now requires a chef have worked for three consecutive years instead of five, and the Outstanding Pastry Chef category now applies to any food business, not just brick-and-mortar establishments.
Rally your buddies and raise your rainbows—the Pride Parade is back. After needing to postpone the annual LGBTQ+ bash twice last year, PrideChicago is hopeful for its return on June 26, bringing with it floats, decorated vehicles, live performances, a marching band, and good vibes for days.
All the classical music we’ve been craving
This spring ushers in an exciting lineup from the revered Chicago Philharmonic Society, with the American premiere of Pulitzer Prize and three-time Grammy-winner Jennifer Higdon’s mandolin concerto (among other world premieres as part of Fanfare Chicago) touching down on March 27. And on May 29, you can “rock steady” with Aretha Rising, an Aretha Franklin tribute show featuring Broadway vocalist Capathia Jenkins and the full orchestra behind hits like “Respect,” “Think,” and “Natural Woman.” The Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra will be just as busy this year, with a roster spanning blockbusters like All Brahms on April 30 and Scheherazade on May 14.
Interactive exhibits and awe-inspiring creative experiences
If you thought the interactive museum movement already had its moment, think again—2022 is promising a host of ways to embrace the arts IRL with all sensory cylinders firing. Case in point? Frida: Immersive Dream, an animated ode to the Mexican painter featuring 500,000-cubic-feet of her work, launches this February at Lighthouse Artspace Chicago, while the current Princess Diana Exhibit celebrates another lauded female figure at Oakbrook Center. And while you eagerly await season two of Netflix’s Bridgerton this spring, you can look forward to a real-life encounter in April with The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience (complete with period costumes, acrobatic performances, and a string quartet score). If that wasn’t sweet enough, ready your spoons and Boomerang snaps for a taste of the Museum of Ice Cream, landing in Chicago this summer with 14 installations including that iconic rainbow sprinkle pool.
Loads of live music all year long
We’re grateful to have seen live music return in 2021, and even more jazzed to see those tours rev back up again in ’22. Head to Thalia Hall for some of this year’s most exciting acts, from St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Shovels and Rope (March) to Kishi Bashi and Fruit Bats (April). Things continue to warm up come summer (AKA festival season), with dates already announced for Lollapalooza (July 28 - 31) and Windy City Smokeout (August 4 - 7), the latter of which will feature the likes of superstars Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Sam Hunt, and Willie Nelson & Family.