Hibernation time is over, my friends. It’s officially summer, if you couldn’t tell by the flocks of bro-tanks and sun dresses that swarm the streets. And luckily for us and everyone who enjoys arcade bars, the city of Chicago has tons of nerdy summer events planned. In that spirit, we’ve put together a brief calendar for the most popular and prominent nerdy summer events in the city, so that you can plan your time accordingly.
Calendar for Chicago’s 2017 Nerdy Summer Events
Though EVO is unquestionably the biggest fighting game tournament of the summer, it’s not held in Chicago so we can’t in good faith include it on this list. Instead, hop on over to Crowne Plaza Lombard Downers Grove and test your skill against the best Super Smash Bros. players the country has to offer. As an added bonus, the lineup will be stacked — ZeRo, arguably the best Super Smash Bros. player in the world will be there. So even if you enter the tournament and lose disgracefully, maybe some of his talent will rub off on you.
The College of DuPage’s Wolfcon is a lesser-known convention, but if you’re a fan of board games like Agricola, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, and Settlers of Catan, you’ll want to make the trek out for this one. Events are held all day where players can jump in and play their favorite board games at dedicated tables, and since it’s a more obscure nerdy summer event, the play area won’t be super packed.
If you missed Anime Central back in May, don’t worry. 60 bucks and a short ride on the blue line will get you entry to Anime Midwest, an up-and-coming convention held at the Hyatt right near O’Hare. Plus, that 60 dollar entry fee guarantees you free Mountain Dew, rice, and ramen all convention long. If you’re into anime at all, you won’t want to miss this event. Oh, did we mention that the legendary voice actor Billy West will be there?
Okay, okay. I know this is a sore subject for those of you that couldn’t get tickets and will be forced to cave to hundred-dollar scalper prices if you want to go, but Pokemon GO Fest in Grant Park is shaping up to be an amazing celebration of everyone’s favorite small magical animals that are kept in pocket-sized balls. The event promises to have rare and otherwise unavailable Pokemon roaming the grounds, as well as mascots, themed events, and challenges. It should be a good time, for those of you who were lucky enough to grab a ticket in the 10-minute window they were available.
Sure, there are plenty of nerdy movies playing as part of Chicago’s Movies in the Parks events (here are some of our picks), but for our money, you can’t beat Space Jam, the best basketball movie ever made, and don’t argue with me, because I will literally tweet a thesis at you. Anyway. This event is free, so grab some popcorn and a blanket, and head over to Brands Park in Avondale to enjoy this awesome 90’s classic.
If you’ve never heard of this before, you’re in for a treat. One of Chicago’s best recurring nerdy summer events sees the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing the score to each one of the Lord of the Rings movies as the movie itself plays on a gigantic screen. Tickets are only $25 per show, so there’s nothing stopping you from going to see all three — except for maybe your job and other responsibilities. But those can wait, right?
In terms of Chicago conventions, C2E2 might be a bit better-known (and more convenient to get to), but Wizard World Chicago is the city’s original nerdy summer event. It’s existed in one form or another since 1972, and this year promises to be the biggest convention yet. Sure, you’ll have to make the trek out to Rosemont, but at least in our opinion, it’s more than worth it — especially after you learn that David Tennant, Alex Kingston, the guys from Psych, the kids from Stranger Things, and many more geek-favorite celebrities will be there. Oh, and they’ll have the Mach 5 there too.
Now, some of you may have noticed that this list seems a bit… incomplete. That’s true! And good eye for noticing. We can’t announce anything specific right now, but we’ll be announcing a lot of very exciting events very, very soon — including a charity event happening in early July, a special event later in July, and watch parties for some of the biggest esports tournaments in the world. So you’re going to want to follow this space (and like us on Facebook!) to make sure you don’t miss any of these announcements. Trust us — you’re going to want to be in the know for these ones.