I admit it. I was slow to catch on to the Neighborhoods of the World celebration happening over the course of eight Sundays at Navy Pier. But, lucky for me and my family, I finally caught on to this wonderful, global-inspired local event, and made it just in time to travel to India last Sunday. Talk about good luck - and good timing.
The Neighborhoods of the World celebration kicked off on Sunday, February 17 and runs each Sunday through April 7. The free, family friendly events take place in Navy Pier's Crystal Gardens from noon to 5 p.m.
A Weekly Journey to the Cultures of Chicago's Many Vibrant Neighborhoods
Each Sunday, at Navy Pier, you're transported to another country with authentic live music, dance performances, cuisine and folk art from the featured community. So far, the Crystal Gardens has been the starting point for visitors' virtual journeys to Italy, China, Mexico, Lithuania and India.
But, more global destinations await us. There are still three Sundays left in the series. The remaining schedule includes the following cultural celebrations:
- Philippine Fest Chicago (Piyesta Pinoy sa Chicago) on March 24
- Africa in Chicago on May 31
- A Greek Journey in the Windy City on April 7
My younger son is excited to "visit" Africa since he's been studying about the country in school. He recently asked if we could spend spring break there. So, I guess we can now - so to speak.
Not to be outdone, my older son is hot to get immersed in Greece. One of his friends at school has been telling him all about the Greek gods. And, it's inspired him to declare that Greece is now one of his favorite countries. Perfect!
If these trips to the Phillippines, Greece and Africa are anything like what we experience last week when we got to enjoy Amazing India, then I can surely say that my sons will love those celebrations too.
Savoring the Sights, Sounds and Tastes of India at Neighborhoods of the World
As soon as we walked into the Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier last Sunday, we knew we were in for an amazing experience. That afternoon, there was performance and performance planned to surprise and delight visitors. And, that it did.
We enjoyed seeing everything from lessons on the proper way to wear an Indian sari to how to dance in the Banghra style.
My family can never resist browsing markets, and that's just what we were able to do during our journey to India. Tables set up around the hall displayed scarves, jewelry, art and books from across India.
My sons were drawn to the book and artwork-laden table from Deccan Footprints. We were beyond excited to see a beautifully illustrated book, "Sita's Ramayana" by Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar. It immediately took us back to the joys of seeing the world musical "Sita Ram" here in Chicago back in December, and reignited my older son's interest in the ancient epic "Ramayana."
While at the event, the sun shone down on us through the glass-enclosed Crystal Gardens roof. As we stood amid the palm trees, the sounds of Indian music surrounded us. I couldn't help but marvel to my husband that I couldn't believe we were in Chicago. It truly felt like we had been swept away to India, and completely caught up in is vibrant culture, music and colors.
Bringing Some of the Essence the City's Great Neighborhoods to Navy Pier
To me, that's truly the beauty of this event series. It's an wonderful, easy way to get to know the dynamic cultures that infuse many neighborhoods of the city - right at Navy Pier. It's like one neatly packaged offering of a culture's people, music, dance, art and food - delivered right to you.
And, that is why I'm busy trying to rearrange our weekend schedules to fit in weekly trips to the Philippines, Africa and Greece. Because now that I'm finally in the know about Neighborhoods of the World, I don't want to miss a thing!
Have you been to Neighborhoods of the World yet? If yes, which one did you go to? Do you plan to visit an upcoming "neighborhood?" Share your feedback in the comments below.