Chicago's Top 100 Events 2016

The list of the meetings, parties, and industry gatherings that make the most impact in Chicago year after year.

By Jenny Berg October 25, 2016, 3:00 AM EDT

It was a year of anniversary celebrations in Chicago. Take Lollapalooza—the city's world-famous, multi-stage music festival—which turned 25 this year. To mark its big birthday, the festival expanded to offer an additional day of big bands and programming. Other events to mark milestone years included the Ravinia Gala, which turned 50 this year, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation's Wish Ball, which took in more than $2 million on its 30th birthday. And next month, the city will kick off its season of holiday cheer with the 25th annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.

But even events that weren't marking special anniversaries had much to celebrate in 2016. Solidifying its place as one of the most buzzed-about food events in a food-obsessed town, Chicago Gourmet made a few exciting changes to its format—and wrangled the famous Rick Bayless to be its first-ever host chef. Though the citywide Fashion Focus event didn't return this year, the city's fashionable runway shows continued to rake in big dollars for charity, and showcase the city's appetite for style. McCormick Place continued to draw legions of professionals and consumers alike, with highly attended happenings ranging from the Chicago Auto Show to the treats-filled Sweets & Snacks Expo.

Here's a look at these events, and others that put Chicago on the map.

As with all lists, this one is subjective. To choose and rank the annual events on this list, we look at several factors, including economic impact, buzz, innovation, and an event's prominence within the communities it intends to serve.

Theater, Dance & Music Events

Art & Architecture Events



Trade Shows & Conventions

Sports Events

Fashion & Retail Events

Parades & Holiday Events

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