It’s that time of year again. Soon, Chicago’s most important civic and cultural organizations will roll out the red carpet and we’ll open up our wallets – all for a night of entertainment and a good cause. The lineup of events this fall is pretty spectacular, and there is something for everyone. I encourage you to learn more about some of my favorite charities highlighted below. This list is by no means exhaustive, and I welcome you to comment with information about others.

Saturday, September 20th – Botanical Ball

Chicago Botanic Garden

The Guild of the Chicago Botanic Garden is hosting the 10th Annual Harvest Ball with cocktails starting at 5:30 p.m. and dinner and dancing at 7:30. One of Chicago’s most elegant charity events, this black tie gala is held in the romantic gardens of the Chicago Botanic Garden. There will be live and silent auctions. Projects funded by the Guild include the development of an outdoor learning campus including a children’s growing garden and activities designed to promote interest in the natural world. Tickets start at $400 each. For additional information, call (847) 835-6944.

Thursday, October 2nd – Antiques for the Animals

Zoo benefit

More than 100 of the world’s best dealers of antiques and fine art will be assembled for an exclusive Preview Night of the International Antiques Fair to benefit the Lincoln Park Zoo. Held on the 12th floor of The Merchandise Mart from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., enjoy drinks, music and first dibs at the country’s premier antiques event. Tickets are $50 each, and can be purchased at (If you cannot attend the preview night, the fair is open October 3rd through 6th for a $15 general admission ticket.)

Friday, October 3rd – Girls for Literacy

Water Tower Place

Sneak a peek at Michigan Avenue’s newest venue and join us for the open night celebration of American Girl Place to benefit the Chicago Public Library Foundation. Enjoy a night of private shopping, activities for girls, hors d’oeuvres, desserts and a silent auction. The festivities are from 5:00 until 9:00 p.m. in the brand new American Girl Store located in Chicago’s Water Tower Place. Tickets start at $150 per adult and $50 per child. To RSVP, call 1-877-AG PLACE. Reservations must be made by September 22.

Friday, October 3rd – Once in a Lifetime

Chicago Humanity Festival

Enjoy three of the most beloved performers: Frederica Von Stade, Barbara Cook, and Dianne Reeves together in concert at the Chicago Humanities Festival’s Benefit Evening. The event will be held at Chicago’s Symphony Center and begins at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails followed by dinner at 6:30 and the performance at 8:30. The evening benefits the Chicago Humanities Festival, which promotes the study and enjoyment of the humanities through yearly events and programs. Tickets start at $500 and can be purchased at or by calling (312) 661-1028, ext. 16.

Saturday, October 4th – Spectacular Science

2008 Annual Columbian Ball

The Museum of Science and Industry is celebrating 75 years of inspiration with their 2008 Annual Columbian Ball, a black tie gala entitled “Unbelievable!” Held at the museum, the evening starts with cocktails in the Rotunda at 6:00 p.m., followed by dinner and a live auction at 7:30, and dancing with the Stu Hirsch Orchestra at 9:30. Tickets start at $500 per person. For more information, call (773) 947-3730 or email

Monday, October 6th – The Greatest Show on Earth


CircEsteem is a really neat organization. Their mission is to help children build their self-esteem through the practice of circus arts, and they have helped many children including disadvantaged kids to get off the street. Their 5th Annual Benefit will be held on October 6th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center at 78 E. Washington. This special night will include a performance by their Chicago Youth Circus, as well as a live auction and an opportunity to try to your shot at circus training. Tickets start at $100 per person.

Wednesday, October 22nd – Movies for Kids

Childrens Film Festival

The 2008 Screen Gems Gala is in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. Mayor Daley and Chaz and Roger Ebert are honorary Chairs. The gala will be held at The Arts Club. For additional information, email Megan Rafferty at

Saturday, November 8th – A Milestone Gala in the City’s Newest Addition

The Art Institute

In celebration of 35 years of service to The Art Institute of Chicago, The Auxiliary Board is hosting a “Studio Party” in the incredible new Modern Wing. Only a limited number of tickets are available for this sneak preview of the most intriguing new building in the Chicago cultural scene. Tickets start at $500 per person. For more information, call (312) 443-3674 or email

Saturday, November 15th – Diamond Ball

Bearcat Ball

The Associate Board of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago is hosting their 10th Annual Bearcat Ball. Proceeds benefit the RIC’s Pediatric Care Program, which provides rehabilitation treatment and equipment to children with disabilities. The event will take place at the Merchandise Mart and feature music by Super Diamond, the acclaimed Neil Diamond cover band. Doors open at 8:00 pm. Tickets start at $140 each and can be purchased at

Saturday, December 13th – Celebrity Performance for Diabetes Research

Chance of a Lifetime

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) will host their annual “Chance of a Lifetime” gala this year with a special performance by Steve Winwood. The inspirational evening will be held at McCormick Place Lakeside Center and Arie Crown Theater on December 13th from 5:30 to 11:00 pm. This important event raises an extraordinary amount with the goal to help find a cure for this tragic disease. For more information, call (312) 670-0313 or visit

Friday, May 9, 2009 – The Modern Wing – Wow!

Modern Wing

Save the Date! The Women’s Board of The Art Institute of Chicago will host the official opening of the new Renzo Piano masterpiece, the Modern Wing. Details will follow but you won’t want to miss this important Chicago celebration.

It is thanks to organizations like these that Chicago is a great place to “live and play.” Enjoy!

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  • this could be a nice workshop