Millennium Park is a lively gathering spot at the heart of Chicago, Illinois that is popular for visitors and locals alike. Visitors can see spectacular architecture, art, concerts, and lots of family activities in this public urban park.
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Millennium Park was conceived in 1997 by Mayor Richard M. Daley who wanted to turn the area near Grant Park that was covered in old railroad ties and parking lots into a public space for Chicagoans. The first plans called for a 16-acre outdoor area with a concert venue modeled after the Beaux Arts style you can see in Grant Park.
The plan eventually evolved into what is now the 24.5-acre park with collections from various artists, beautifully landscaped property and state of the art designs. There are four nearby parking garages and bicycle parking available on the northeast corner of Millennium Park. The park was designed to be 100% accessible to all people and special accommodations can be made for those patrons who need assistance by calling 72 hours in advance.
Smoking and animals, except for service animals, are prohibited in Millennium Park. Visitors should visit the parks website for a complete list of other rules and regulations.
Visitors are welcome to take self-guided tours of Millennium Park. Greeter tours are available from late May to the first week in October and last for 45 minutes. The volunteer leaders will educate visitors on the art and architecture in the park. Tours are limited to 10 people per tour and are on a first come first served basis.
Free tours are also available of Lurie Gardens located inside millennium Park. This 20-minute walking tour has select dates and times listed online. No advance registration is required.
Attractions in Millennium Park
Millennium Park is a 24.5 acres public park that is often used for concerts, outdoor festivals, and is home to some of the most impressive sculpture and landscape design in Chicago.
Lurie Gardens- This 3.5-acre garden embraces the city motto of “City in a garden” which describes Chicago’s transformation into one of the most recognizable cities in the country. Lurie Garden showcases a 15-foot-high hedge that glows with dramatic lighting, a perennial garden, footbridge overlooking a waterway that separates the dark and light gardens, and is free to the public. Many unique educational programs are also offered to inspire curiosity about the natural world and horticulture. Visitors can feel free to stroll through Lurie Gardens year-round from 6am to 11pm daily.
Jay Pritzker Pavilion- This is the main concert and festival venue for Millennium Park. All programs brought to the park by the Chicago Parks District and City of Chicago are free of charge and do not require ticketed admission. There are also contracted performances that do require advance ticketing that are staged in Millennium Park at the Pavilion as well. A detailed events schedule is available through the Millennium Park website.
Exhibitions- There are many artistic exhibitions and installations that are showcased in Millennium Park. Most of the exhibits are temporary, but are installed for a year or more in many cases. As of the summer of 2017, the featured exhibit was by Chakaia Booker. Past exhibitions have included installations by architecture students, Jaume Plensa’s: 1004 Portraits, an installation commemorating the American’s with Disabilities Act 25-year anniversary, The Sculptures of Yvonne Domenge, and other photographic exhibitions.
Cloud Gate- Often referred to as the Chicago Bean, Cloud Gate is a 110-ton elliptical sculpture that is 66 feet long and 33 feet tall. Anish Kapoor designed Cloud Gate out of stainless steel plates and a 12-foot-high arch that allows visitors to travel under the exhibit and see their reflections from several perspectives all against the clouds and Chicago cityscape. Cloud Gate is located on the AT&T Plaza and was inspired by liquid mercury.
Crown Fountain- The fountain was designed by Jaume Plensa and is one of the newer additions to the public art collections in Millennium Park. There are two towers measuring 50 feet tall and made from glass at either end of a reflecting pool that project images of the people of Chicago onto LED screens and flowing water. The water runs through the fountains in the Spring, summer and early fall months.
Wrigley Square and Millennium Monument- A square lawn space located off Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street anchored by the Millennium Monument (peristyle) which is a replica of the original peristyle that was in the park from 1917-1953. The monument stands 40 feet tall and is adorned by Doric style columns with the Millennium Park founder’s names etched into the base.
Boeing Galleries- This is the official home for modern and contemporary art at Millennium Park. The artists featured in the galleries are living currently and the art featured showcases a historical, social, or cultural element of modern life through art and architecture.
BP Bridge- located near the J.P. Pavilion, the stainless steel paneled bridge creates a noise buffer between the concert venue and traffic below. The bridge also connects Millennium Park to the Daley Bicentennial Plaza and is over 900 feet long. Designed by Frank Gehry, the bridge also provides panoramic views of Lake Michigan and Grant Park.
McDonald’s Cycle Center- The Cycle Center offers bike rental and repair services, touring options, lockers and shower room, and several other amenities that encourage patrons to bike rather than drive to the park and around Downtown Chicago. There are more than 300 secure bicycle parking spots and IGO Car sharing is also available at the center.
Harris Theater- This not for profit theater brings music and dance performances to the public through partnering with Chicago’s many cultural institutions, and performing arts centers. The Harris Theater is home to the Chicago Opera Theater and Hubbard Street Dance Studio. Many international recognized dance companies including the New York City Ballet have also performed at the theater.
Exelon Pavilions- The four pavilions complement Harris Theater in design use state of the art technology to produce solar power in accordance with Chicago’s mission to be the most environmentally friendly city in America. The pavilions produce enough electricity to power 14 homes.
Chase Promenade- This walkway is 3 blocks long and lined with two hundred trees down the center of Millennium Park. Taking up 8 acres of the park, festivals, special exhibitions and other public events are often hosted at Chase Promenade.
Nichols Bridgeway- The pedestrian bridge links Millennium Park to the Art Institute of Chicago and is 625 feet long. Access points are found at the JP Pavilion and Great Lawn. The bridge was opened in 2009 and was designed by Renzo Piano.
Millennium Park has concessions operated by the Chicago Park District, picnic areas, and restaurants for visitors to enjoy.
Park Grill- This restaurant is open all year with a seasonal outdoor patio with views of the Chicago cityscape. Reservations can be made.
Concessions- During concerts, concession tents are located around the pavilion with refreshments available for purchase and alcohol sales are available until ½ hour before the end of a concert at the Goose Island Beer Garden. There are also concession carts located along Chase Promenade.
Picnics- Visitors are welcome to bring their own refreshments into Millennium Park and host picnics at the Great Lawn or Running Table, a 100-foot-long picnic table designed from reclaimed materials.
There are hundreds of special events held in Millennium Park annually. From concerts at the JP Pavilion to music festivals, exercise programs, after school programs, summer camps, and other cultural events. Some of the highlights and Annual Events in Millennium Park include:
· Chicago Gospel Music Festival
· Chicago Blues Festival
· Millennium Park Summer Music Series and Film Series
· Grant Park Music Festival
· Family Fun Festival
· Chicago Mariachi Festival
· The Fifth Star Honors Award Show
· Chicago Jazz Festival
· Opera performances
· World Music Festival
· Summer Workout Series
A daily events schedule can be found on the Millennium Park website. Most events are free to the public unless contracted for ticket sales such as some concert performances. Private events can also be hosted in Millennium Park from weddings to corporate functions and fundraising events. There are frequently private and special events happening at Millennium Park. The park has access to plenty of public transportation and visitors can easily find hotels, restaurants, and other major attractions surrounding and within the park. Events can be held in the JP Pavilion, Chase Promenade, Rooftop Terrace, and Wrigley Square. Weddings with up to 1,000 guests can be accommodated with seating at many of these locations throughout the park. The Rooftop Terrace is available from April to October and provides a white luxury tent with large arched windows to give your outdoor celebration and indoor element. A brochure and PDF file with pricing and more detailed information for private events is available on the Millennium Park website. Preferred caterers are also contracted through the park.
201 E. Randolph St., Michigan Ave. & Columbus Ave., Chicago, IL 60601, Phone: 312-742-1168
Back to: Chicago, Illinois