Chicago’s leading cultural institutions are gearing up for a fall calendar full of endless entertainment celebrating the city’s cuisine, music, art, theatre and film.

Returning favourites, including the Chicago Jazz Festival and EXPO Chicago, are going to be joined by several new events that are sure to delight residents and visitors.

The fall season will impress as The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago will bethe only US venue to host David Bowie Is (September 23, 2014 – January 4, 2015) – the first retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie featuring more than 400 objects from the past five decades.

Also new this year is the Great Chicago Fire Festival (October 4, 2014), which will celebrate the city’s resurgence after the devastating fire of 1871 through fire sculptures and epic displays along the Chicago River. The festival will follow a series of 15 summer neighbourhood events honouring Chicago’s spirit of resilience.

Here are just some of the cultural highlights in Chicago this fall…

36th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival, August 28 – 31, Millennium Park and Chicago Cultural Center

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This is a favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition celebrating both the mainstream of the national jazz scene, as well as Chicago's unique contributions to the art form.

This year’s headliners include trumpeter and noted film music composer Terence Blanchard, Miles Davis alumnus bassist Dave Holland and his all-star fusion band Prism; the most celebrated new straight-ahead singer in years, Cecile McLorin Salvant; Chicago-affiliated bassist Rufus Reid; and trumpeter Tom Harrell.

The free festival will open with a tribute to Nelson Mandela by Chicago composer Ernest Dawkins.

King Lear, September 9 – November 9, 2014, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

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A wrenching story of love, loss, endurance and reconciliation, King Lear has fascinated audiences for more than 400 years, and stands as Shakespeare's most towering achievement.

An aging monarch obscured by the shadows of dementia resolves to retire and divides his kingdom among his three daughters. The unexpected consequence of losing everything that defines him is shattering – a reminder that even the most powerful among us can be undone. The brilliantly versatile actor Larry Yando takes on the monumental title role, marking his twenty-third production with Chicago Shakespeare.

16th Annual World Music Festival, September 11 – 21, 2014

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The 11-day, 20-venue festival features 62 artists and groups representing 33 countries from around the world.

A number of venues throughout the city will play host to World Music Festival artists and all performances are free. They include: Beverly Arts Center, Chicago Cultural Center, Chop Shop, Constellation Chicago, City Winery, DePaul University Concert Hall, Humboldt Park Boathouse, Indian Boundary Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion-Millennium Park, Martyrs’, Mayne Stage, National Museum of Mexican Art, Northeastern Illinois University, Old Town School of Folk Music, Reva and Logan Arts Center at University of Chicago, Schubas, Chicago SummerDance - Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, Thalia Hall, The Hideout and Willye White Park.

EXPO CHICAGO, September 18-21, 2014, Navy Pier

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EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art welcomes the return of the world’s leading galleries, including 138 leading galleries representing 17 countries and 42 cities from around the world.

EXPO CHICAGO will once again present a dynamic array of programming at the exposition, including dialogues, presented in partnership with The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a series of symposia, panel discussions and provocative artistic discourse highlighting the field's leading artists, architects, curators, designers and arts professionals.

David Bowie Is, September 23, 2014 - January 4, 2015, Museum of Contemporary Art

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This September, the MCA will be the only US venue of the highly acclaimed world tour of the David Bowie exhibition, expected to be the most attended show in the MCA’s history.  

This exhibition presents the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie – one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. More than 300 objects, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades are brought together from the David Bowie Archive for the first time.

The exhibition demonstrates how Bowie’s work has both influenced and been inspired by wider movements in art, design, theatre and contemporary culture. The exhibition’s multimedia design introduces advanced sound technology by Sennheiser, original animations and video installations to create an immersive journey through Bowie’s artistic life.

David Bowie is a fascinating avatar who is always ahead of the curve. He complicated any easy formulation of identity and gender starting in 1970 when he wore a dress on the cover of his album The Man Who Sold the World, and that was before he invented Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane or the Thin White Duke.

Chicago Gourmet, September 26 – 28, 2014, Millennium Park

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The 7th Annual Chicago Gourmet is a celebration of food and wine showcasing more than 150 of Chicago’s finest restaurants and chefs, as well as hundreds of renowned vintners, spirit makers and premium breweries.

Attendees enjoy live cooking demos, expert seminars, gourmet tastings and book signings by internationally renowned chefs, master sommeliers, and winemakers.

Chicago Gourmet will welcome more talent than ever in 2014, including over 40 fresh faces and restaurants. Guests will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s most celebrated chefs, including new and returning names such as Rick Bayless, Carlos Gaytan, Stephanie Izard, Tony Mantuano, Masaharu Morimoto, Mindy Segal, Andrew Zimmerman, and Jeff Mauro (the Food Network’s “Sandwich King”).

Other highlights include a brand new BBQ pavilion packed with signature barbecue restaurants from across the state, pit masters, artisan sauce makers, expert ribbers, and craft bee-makers, a Global Street Food Market complete with vendors and performers, and a special Centennial pavilion featuring throwback Chicago fare to celebrate the Illinois Restaurant Association’s 100th anniversary.

Great Chicago Fire Festival, October 4, 2014, Chicago River

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In fall of 2014, Redmoon ignites its most ambitious event to date: The Great Chicago Fire Festival, a celebration of the city’s epic resurgence after the devastating Great Fire of 1871. 

A summer-long celebration in 15 neighborhoods will culminate in a new and totally free urban fire and pyrotechnics ritual on October 4, staged in the heart of Chicago on the main branch of the Chicago River.

Chicago International Film Festival, October 9 – 23, 2014

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The stars are shining bright as the Chicago International Film Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary this October.

When the Chicago International Film Festival was founded more than 49 years ago, they had one simple goal: to introduce Chicago and the world to new filmmakers, new stories and new perspectives. Five decades later, the Chicago International Film Festival has grown to a world-renowned annual event, showcasing 175 films from over 50 countries.

The Chicago International Film Festival has a rich history of discovering ground-breaking directors. Martin Scorsese, John Carpenter, Wim Wenders, Peter Weir, Mike Leigh and Chicago’s own Joe Swanberg are but of a few of the hundreds of world-renowned filmmakers who have had their start at the Festival. 

Open House Chicago, October 18 – 19, 2014

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The Chicago Architecture Foundation is proud to present the 4th annual Open House Chicago – a free, city-wide, behind-the-scenes look at many of the city’s great places and spaces.

Open House Chicago gives visitors access to buildings that tell the stories of Chicago’s communities and cultures, and the chance to venture into diverse neighbourhoods for self-guided exploration.

Open House Chicago is part of the Open House Worldwide network of events now spanning 23 cities on four continents.

Swan Lake, October 15 – 26, 2014, The Joffrey Ballet

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For the first time in the company’s history, The Joffrey Ballet will perform Swan Lake this October at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. The Joffrey Ballet brings a newly re-imagined Swan Lake to Chicago, choreographed by one of ballet’s most acclaimed choreographers, Christopher Wheeldon.

Combining classical elements with a modern vision, Wheeldon has created a striking retelling of one of the most famous ballets of all time. The production features lavish costumes by Jean-Marc Puissant and scenic design by Adrianne Lobel.

Chicago Humanities Festival, October 25 – November 9, 2014

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Under the theme of Journeys, this year’s festival will present more than 80 programs, taking place at 20 different venues in and around Chicago. Hundreds of scholars, performers, politicians, writers, chefs and artists will take part in the annual arts and ideas festival.

This year’s presenters include: New York Times Op-Ed Columnist David Brooks, jazz composer-pianist Vijay Iyer, Canadian screen-writer and film director Guy Maddin, jazz vocalist René Marie, comedian and Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me contributor Paula Poundstone, Top Chef Masters winner Marcus Samuelsson, graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi, former Brown University president Ruth Simmons, TV/film actress Victoria Tennant and author/playwright Colm Tóibín.

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