CHICAGO – As we kick off a new decade, the Illinois Office of Tourism is excited to highlight new experiences, exhibits, attractions and events coming to Illinois in 2020.
“As we celebrate a new decade, cities and towns across Illinois will welcome visitors with an array of new events and attractions to discover our great state and support our state’s economy,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “In 2018, Illinois Office of Tourism welcomed a record 117 million visitors from around the world, resulting in nearly $42 billion in visitor spending and generating $3.3 billion in state and local tax revenue – and as governor, I’m committed to telling our story and giving tourists even more reason to visit Illinois this year.”
“From a year-long celebration of music in Chicago and major new music festival, to immersive art exhibits and the world’s tallest water coaster, Illinois continues to add exciting experiences to give visitors more reasons to plan a trip in 2020,” said Jan Kemmerling, Acting Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism.
Coming to Illinois in 2020
Year of Chicago Music (2020)
The Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events has named 2020 as the ‘Year of Chicago Music.’ This citywide, year-long focus on Chicago music is one of the first of its kind in the United States. Its mission is to place a spotlight on Chicago’s influential and dynamic music landscape. Programming highlights include a 17-day cross-genre music festival starting Memorial Day weekend and special performances at the 40th Annual Taste of Chicago.
80th Anniversary Celebration of the Shawnee National Forest (Jan. 17-Feb. 21)
September marked the 80th anniversary of Shawnee National Forest. To celebrate, the Forest and the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Museum in Carbondale will host a five week photo exhibit featuring historic photos taken in the 1930s and 1940s during the Shawnee National Forest Ozark Tours.
NBA All-Star Game in Chicago (Feb. 14-16, 2020)
Chicago’s United Center, home to the Chicago Bulls, will host the 69th annual NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 16. This marks the third time Chicago has hosted the All-Star Game but the first time in over three decades. In addition to the All-Star Game, events such as the Celebrity Game and All-Star Practice will take place at Wintrust Arena as well as NBA All-Star Weekend at Navy Pier.
Radius concert venue (Feb. 2020)
Occupying the site of an old steel factory in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, Radius is a new 55,000-square-foot music venue with the capacity to hold 3,600 for live concerts.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie (Feb. 9, 2020 – Aug. 16, 2020) “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” is a comprehensive exploration of Justice Ginsburg’s numerous roles as a student, wife, mother, lawyer, judge, women’s rights pioneer and Internet phenomenon. The exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center tells Ginsburg’s story using a wide array of interactives, listening stations, archival photographs and documents, historical artifacts and contemporary art. Based on the book and Tumblr page of the same name, “Notorious RBG” is the first-ever museum exhibition focused solely on the judicial icon.
Catalog Food Hall in Chicago (Spring 2020)
Catalog is the new retail, food and entertainment annex wrapping the base of the Willis Tower. The 300,000-square-foot, five-story space will feature locally loved restaurants including Brown Bag Seafood Co., Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken, Shake Shack, Sweetgreen, Rick Bayless’ Tortazo and a food hall by Urban Space.
15th Anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield (April 2020)
In celebration of its 15th anniversary, the ALPLM will host a critically acclaimed, national touring exhibit from the International Spy Museum called, “Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America.” The exhibit will highlight the evolution of U.S. counterintelligence and homeland security efforts as well as examine the challenge of securing our nation without compromising the civil liberties upon which it was founded.
Lincoln Floral Sculpture in Macomb (April 2020) Macomb (western Illinois) will erect a unique 15-foot sculpture honoring Abraham Lincoln’s connection to the community in April. The sculpture will include a one-of-a-kind topiary feature: the 16th president’s beard made of flowers and greenery. It will be the only sculpture of its kind in the world.
Legends of Route 66 Experience in Springfield (April 2020) The new Legends of Route 66 program will highlight must-see attractions and businesses along the Mother Road in Springfield and will include a passport trail with authentic experiences for visitors to enjoy at each living legend destination.
Six Flags Tsunami Surge in Gurnee (Opening summer 2020) Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park will open the world’s tallest water coaster towering 86 feet high. The new coaster will propel riders through 950 feet of slides and tunnels at 42 feet-per-second for the ultimate adrenaline rush.
Frida Kahlo Exhibit at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn (June- Aug. 2020)
The largest private collection of Frida Kahlo artwork will be on display beginning this June for three months at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. The 26-piece collection will be on loan from the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Mexico City and showcase various sketches and paintings spanning Kahlo’s career. Tickets are on sale now.
Old Joliet Prison Celebrates 40th Anniversary of “The Blues Brothers” (Summer 2020)
Located along Route 66, the Old Joliet Prison has been a filming location for several movies and TV shows, most notably, “The Blues Brothers,” released in 1980. Old Joliet Prison plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary this summer.
Big Things in a Small Town in Casey(Ongoing)
Known for its larger-than-life objects created by local artist Jim Bolin, Casey recently added six big things newly certified as the world’s largest by the Guinness Book of World Records. These items include the World’s Largest Teeter-Totter, Wooden Gavel (in Marshall), Twizzle Spoon, Barbershop Pole, Key and Golf Driver.
Dark Sky Park in Champaign (Ongoing) The International Dark-Sky Association announced that Middle Fork River Forest Park in Champaign is officially designated as Illinois’ first International Dark Sky Park. Located adjacent to the Champaign-Urbana metro area and only two hours from Chicago, the park’s dark-skies allow urban and rural residents alike to experience the wonders of the cosmos in Illinois.
New Chicago Hotels
21c Museum Hotel in Chicago (early 2020)
The new 21c Museum Hotel combines a 297-room boutique hotel, a multi-venue contemporary art museum welcoming visitors and locals free of charge and an independently branded, chef-driven restaurant in downtown Chicago. Building on the founders’ mission to bring contemporary art to the public, the hotel will have innovative exhibitions and programming that integrates art into daily life.
Nobu Hotel Chicago (Spring 2020)
Offering 115 stylish guest rooms and suites, Nobu Hotel Chicago is located in Chicago’s West Loop on the corner of West Randolph and North Peoria, one of Chicago’s fastest growing neighborhoods and home to the famed “Restaurant Row.”
Curio Collection by Hilton at Navy Pier (Summer 2020) The highly anticipated property, scheduled to open this summer is located on Chicago’s iconic lakefront destination and will be Navy Pier’s first hotel. The 222-room Hilton property, features guest rooms with floor to ceiling windows designed to showcase breathtaking views of Chicago’s famed skyline, Lake Michigan and Navy Pier
O’Brien’s Hotel in Chicago (Fall 2020) This new addition to Chicago’s historic Old Town neighborhood will reside on the former site of Old Town’s beloved O’Brien’s Restaurant and Bar on Wells Street. The hotel will feature 13 stories, with plans for a new O’Brien’s Restaurant anchoring the site, a high-end restaurant on the second floor, and an open-air rooftop bar.
Reserve Hotel in Chicago (late 2020) The Reserve Hotel, a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, will be a 234-room luxury hotel occupying the top five floors of the former Continental Bank building, in the heart of Chicago’s financial district. The building currently houses the JW Marriott Chicago on the first 12 floors.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront & Conference Center in Rockford (April 2020) Located in downtown Rockford, this new hotel will define uniqueness, along with an industrial chic’ look and feel. It is Rockford’s largest and only full-service hotel in the downtown area, boasting 160 spacious two room suites, two restaurants, a spa, fitness center, onsite parking and more than 13,000 square feet of conference meeting space.
O’Hare International Airport will add a number of new international routes including:
- Daily United Airlines service to Zurich will begin in March 2020
- Daily United Airlines service to Tokyo-Haneda will begin in March 2020
- Four weekly Quantas Airlines flights to Brisbane will begin in April 2020
In 2018, Illinois Office of Tourism welcomed a record 117 million visitors from around the world, resulting in nearly $42 billion in visitor spending and generating $3.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. The Illinois travel and tourism industry supported 342,500 jobs in 2018, an increase of 5,200 jobs from 2017.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism manages industry efforts that result in sustainable and significant economic and quality-of-life benefits for Illinois residents.