Midwest travel: LOL! Chicago Sketch Comedy Fest turns 15

  • Sketch performers from all over the world perform at the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival Jan. 7-17.

    Sketch performers from all over the world perform at the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival Jan. 7-17.

  • Snooze in a room like this at the Silversmith Hotel Chicago on New Year's Eve.

    Snooze in a room like this at the Silversmith Hotel Chicago on New Year's Eve.

  • FirstBite, the official kickoff event for the ninth annual Chicago Restaurant Week, will be held at Union Station Thursday, Jan. 21.

    FirstBite, the official kickoff event for the ninth annual Chicago Restaurant Week, will be held at Union Station Thursday, Jan. 21.

  • FirstBite, the official kickoff event for the ninth annual Chicago Restaurant Week, will be held at Union Station Thursday, Jan. 21.

    FirstBite, the official kickoff event for the ninth annual Chicago Restaurant Week, will be held at Union Station Thursday, Jan. 21.

  • Lake of the Ozarks Eagle Days in Missouri lets you see the birds in an up-close, natural setting.

    Lake of the Ozarks Eagle Days in Missouri lets you see the birds in an up-close, natural setting. courtesy of FunLake.com

  • Janesville, Wisconsin, is holding a stay and play promotion until Jan. 31.

    Janesville, Wisconsin, is holding a stay and play promotion until Jan. 31. courtesy of Janesville Jets Hockey

 
 
Posted12/26/2015 7:00 AM

Chicago

Comedy central

 

Stage 773 presents the 15th anniversary Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, the largest of its kind in the nation, bringing 165 groups performing 186 shows in eight days. Expect an exclusive lineup of headliners including Siblings of Doctors featuring Danny Pudi from NBC's "Community"; Heavy Weight featuring TJ Miller and Nick Vatterott; Pop Roulette featuring new "Saturday Night Live" writer Sudi Green; and award-winning ensembles from national and international festivals. There will be reunion performances by all-star groups from the festival's history; local favorites; and groups who celebrate diverse voices based on cultural or ethnic heritage, sexual orientation or identity, or uniquely abled members. Jan. 7-17 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago. Tickets cost $15. All-festival passes, regularly priced at $165, will be available for $115 if purchased before Dec. 31. Thursday, Friday and Sunday day passes are available for $37, $47, and $57 respectively. Stage773.com or (773) 327-5252.

NYE at 360 CHICAGO

Enjoy one of the best views of Chicago's New Year's Eve fireworks from 1,000 feet up at 360 CHICAGO, the 94th floor observation deck in the John Hancock Center. Adding to the revelry will be live music by a DJ and a champagne toast. Thrill-seekers can even take a ride on TILT, the world's highest moving attraction. Tickets to the New Year's Eve celebration are complimentary with general admission to 360 CHICAGO. 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 31, at 360 CHICAGO, 875 N. Michigan Ave. 94th floor, Chicago. Tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day of the event at 360CHICAGO.com. A special event package includes admission, a ride on TILT and a glass of champagne for $35, available for purchase on-site only, either in advance or on the day of the event.

Silver bells

Enjoy the classical architecture of Silversmith Hotel on New Year's Eve. The Chicago hotel's New Year's Eve package features plush accommodations in a design-led bedroom or suite and a complimentary bottle of champagne in-room upon arrival. Take advantage of a late check-out along with a sumptuous breakfast for two to revive from the night before. Complimentary valet parking is also included. The hotel is located less than a mile from where the first Chi-Town Rising will take place. The package is valid for Thursday, Dec. 31, only with rates starting at $354 at Silversmith Hotel, 10 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago. http://tinyurl.com/oepars5 or (312) 372-7696.

The chew

Ticket sales are now open for First Bites Bash, the official kickoff event for the ninth annual Chicago Restaurant Week. Tony Priolo, executive chef/partner of Piccolo Sogno and Piccolo Sogno Due, hosts the annual event. More than 60 restaurants participating in Chicago Restaurant Week will be on-site to preview tasting portions from their respective Restaurant Week menus. Expect tastings from Goose Island Beer Company, Terlato Wines International, as well as spirit/cocktail pairings from various spirit partners. A portion of the ticket sale proceeds will benefit the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. Restaurant Week runs from Jan. 22 to Feb. 4. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, in the Great Hall at Union Station, 500 W. Jackson St., Chicago. Tickets cost $125 per person. firstbitesbash.com.

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Midwest

Chill baby

Creative snow sculptures and snowboarding thrills are coming to The Big Chill Ice and Snow Festival in downtown Racine, Wisconsin. The 26th Annual Wisconsin State and Midwest Regional Snow Sculpting Championships involve skilled three-person artist teams transforming nearly 30,000 cubic feet of snow into incredible works of art on Monument Square. Watch the artists at work, enjoy food and beverages and cast a vote for the People's Choice Award. Then see the Downtown Rail Jam, a 2-story mobile ramp set up for snowboarders and skiers to compete for prizes. Friday through Sunday, Jan. 8-10, in Monument Square in downtown Racine, Wisconsin. realracine.com.

Regal eagles

Bluffs and wooded areas surrounding the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri make it a popular stop for eagles traveling from the frigid north. Lake of the Ozarks Eagle Days schedules activities so you can see the birds in a natural setting, perched in the trees or in flight, as well as opportunities for up-close viewing at programs offered by the World Bird Sanctuary from St. Louis. There will be photo contests, coloring contests and other activities for kids, as well as nature-related exhibitors. Eagle Days activities are free and take place in Lake of the Ozarks, all within a short drive of one another. 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10, in the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Get details at LakeoftheOzarksEagleDays.com. For off-season lodging rates, see FunLake.com or call (800) FUN-LAKE.

Sweet Jane(sville)

Visit Janesville, Wisconsin, now through Jan. 31, stay overnight at any of its hotels and visit any three of the participating events/attractions, then submit your punch card to be entered in a drawing for $200. The first 30 participants to submit their completed stamp cards to the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau will also receive a $25 gas card. Pick up your punch card at participating locations: Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Janesville hotels, Janesville Ice Arena, Janesville Mall Office, Janesville Performing Arts Center, Raven's Wish Gallery, Rock County Historical Society or Rotary Botanical Gardens. Stay and play now through Jan. 31 in Janesville, Wisconsin. The drawing will be on Feb. 3. janesvillecvb.com or (800) 487-2757.

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