Tom Hanks is Headlining the Chicago Humanities Festival
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Tom Hanks is Headlining the Chicago Humanities Festival

Chicago Humanities Festival

Tom Hanks is Headlining the Chicago Humanities Festival

Each year, Chicago hosts a series of programs held by authors, educators, and other folks with smarts to encourage hungry minds to feed their curiosity. This series is called the Chicago Humanities Festival and it’s returning October 27–November 11.

Chicago Humanities Festival is all about bringing great minds together who help shape the world for the better. The festival’s core values are what power the success behind it. Their dedication to Quality is reflected in the talent and knowledge demonstrated by their speakers. A focus on Thoughtfulness allows for stimulating discussions on relevant topics. An encouragement of Diversity creates an open and welcoming dialogue and a commitment to Accessibility breaks down barriers to make the program available to everyone in the community.

Chicago Humanities Festival

Photo Credit: Chicago Humanities Festival Facebook

The festival’s theme this season is ‘Graphic!’, which will be reflected in some way through each program. Although the Chicago Humanities Festival holds events throughout the year, the upcoming fall edition is bringing some exciting new faces. Last year, Chicago attendees were treated to appearances by Gloria Steinem, Trevor Noah, and Melissa Harris-Perry. This year, there will be scheduled talks by Tom Hanks, Abbi Jacobson, Daniel Barenboim, and Alice Walker, among many others.

Aside from holding these events, the Chicago Humanities Festival does ongoing work with the community, offering a variety of educational resources to students and teachers including a library and seminars. To find out how you can support the organization’s cause, visit their membership page.

You don’t have to wait until the festival debuts to get in on the action, though, as a few select programs are held at earlier dates. The kickoff to this year’s festival is the Shortlist on September 25, an event at Lagunitas Brewing Company for young, creative professionals in their 20s and 30s to mingle and engage in contests for grand prizes.

Chicago Humanities Festival

Photo Credit: Chicago Humanities Festival Facebook

Programs will take place at multiple venues throughout the city, so attendees should visit their site to find their desired program’s location. The organization aims to make its programs as affordable as possible, with tickets being available for purchase on September 25. Members, students, and teachers are eligible for ticket discounts and can purchase their tickets on September 18.

There are nearly 100 different programs scheduled for this season’s festival, but here are our highlights:


Program Highlights


Saturday, October 27
Alex Ross & Chip Kidd: Marvelocity @ First United Methodist Church, Sanctuary, 5 pm – 6 pm

Sunday, October 28
Alice Walker @ Cahn Auditorium, 11 am – 12 pm 

Monday, October 29
Phoebe Robinson: Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay. @ Thalia Hall, 7 pm – 8 pm 

Thursday, November 1
Abbi Jacobson: I Might Regret This @ The Vic Theatre, 8 pm – 9 pm

Friday, November 2
Tom Hanks: Uncommon Type @ Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 8 pm – 9 pm

Saturday, November 3
Living Color @ International House, Assembly Hall, 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Sunday, November 4
A Conversation with Daniel Barenboim @ Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Thursday, November 8
MCA ’68: Art & Violence, Then & Now @ MCA, 6 pm – 7 pm

Saturday, November 10
Sustainable Nation @ Venue SIX10, 11am – 12 pm

Sunday, November 11
Chicago Street Art History @ Chicago Athletic Association, Stagg Court, 11 am – 12 pm


Featured Photo Credit: Chicago Humanities Festival Facebook


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After graduating from the U of I with a Bachelor’s in English, Courtney hit the ground running. A lifelong passion for writing (oddly foreshadowed by a tendency to live on streets named after dead British authors) is what drives her professional endeavors. When she’s not at her desk with headphones in, cranking out articles on Chicago’s music, dining, and nightlife scenes, you can usually find her at concerts around the city, watching horror movies, psyching herself into going to the gym, or obsessing over scented candles.

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