Why go, who you’ll see, what to wear & more on the season’s hottest events.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s 12th annual Gala of the Arts
Why go: The bash benefits the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, which provides individuals and families in crisis with food, clothing and financial assistance.
Who you’ll see: NBC-5’s Allison Rosati emcees, and more than 15 artists, including Rosemary Fanti and James Wilbat, will be on-hand for a pre-meal art show and sale.
What to wear: Black tie admired, not required.
Who’s on stage: After dinner, ‘60s pop band The Buckinghams will keep the party going.
Pro tip: Enter the raffle — prizes include a week at a resort in Acapulco, Mexico, and a weekend at the Four Seasons in Washington D.C.
When: Sept. 6, 6 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. dinner
Where: Navy Pier Ballroom, 600 E. Grand
Adler Planetarium’s Celestial Ball
Why go: To support the Women’s Board of the Adler Planetarium, which creates programs and exhibitions that inspire young people to pursue STEM careers.
Who you’ll see: Honorary chair Captain James A. Lovell, Jr., as well as chair Elisa Primavera-Bailey, co-chairs Linda Gerstman and Donna Beering, decor chair Rebecca Childers Caleel and more than 600 civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders.
Who’s on stage: Get down to Motown, soul, disco, Top 40 and Big Band hits from local band SWAY Chicago.
What to wear: Dress to the nines for this black-tie gala.
Pro tip: Show up early and snap social-media-worthy photos on the Planetarium’s outdoor terrace, which offers sweeping views of the skyline.
When: Sept. 7, 6 p.m. reception, 8 p.m. dinner and dancing
Where: Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore
The Women’s Board of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s Medicine Ball
Why go: Proceeds benefit the Women’s Board’s mission to help provide top-tier patient care, research and education.
Who you’ll see: More than 450 of Chicago’s civic and business leaders, as well as chairs Paula Smith and Miller Shivers Vance.
What to wear: Black tie.
Who’s on stage: The James Sanders Trio will take the stage during dinner, and later, a live auction will feature items such as diamond earrings from renowned jeweler Harry Winston.
Pro tip: Be sure to stick around for the afterparty, which starts at 10. DJ Chris Carter will provide the soundtrack, and if the weather is nice, the Board will set up a dance club on the hotel’s hip Shanghai Terrace.
When: Sept. 7, 6:30 p.m.
Where: The Peninsula Chicago, 100 E. Superior
Cost: $600. For tickets, visit Ric.org.
Working in the Schools’ Back-to-School Luncheon
Why go: The luncheon celebrates the many volunteers, teachers, school administrators and partners who serve Chicago Public School students.
Who you’ll see: Honorary chair Mayor Rahm Emanuel will join co-chairs Christopher M. Crane, president and CEO at Exelon Corp., Mark F. Furlong, president and CEO of BMO Harris Bank, and Edward Tilly, CEO of CBOE Holdings Inc.
What to wear: Dress code is business, so feel free to come straight from work.
What you’ll eat: Get ready for a blast from the past — the meal is school-lunch themed, so you’ll be dining cafeteria-style.
Pro tip: Look for a special video message from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan near the end of the program.
When: Sept. 19, 11:30 a.m. reception, noon luncheon
Where: Palmer House Hilton Grand Ballroom, 17 E. Monroe
Center for Changing Lives’ Strong Roots, New Branches Gala
Why go: Help bolster the Center for Changing Lives, which provides the Logan Square and Humboldt Park communities with such services as counseling and interim housing.
Who you’ll see: The host committee includes Cook County Commissioner Edwin Reyes, 1st Ward Alderman Proco Moreno and the Rev. Dr. Zaki Zaki.
What you’ll eat: Dig into food from authentic Mexican restaurant La Encantada, a neighborhood favorite.
Who’s on stage: All-female ensemble Las BomPleneras pay homage to Puerto Rico with their blend of bomba and plena music.
What to wear: Anything from business casual to semi-formal attire is acceptable.
Pro tip: Be sure to visit the bar — drinks are provided by local spots Revolution Brewing, Quintessential Wines and Provenance Food & Wine.
When: Sept. 20, 6 p.m.
Where: Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, 3015 W. Division
Botanic Gardens’ Harvest Ball
Why go: Proceeds from ticket sales and live and silent auctions support the development of a new family-friendly educational display garden.
Who you’ll see: Emily DeGroot, Megan Hoffman and Julie Saunders (not pictured) co-chair the event, hosted by the Guild of the Chicago Botanic Garden.
What to wear: Sleek dresses and colorful gowns abound at this elegant garden party.
Pro tip: Show up early to peruse the garden’s gorgeous grounds — the space boasts 385 acres of public gardens, 24 specialty gardens, four natural areas and 80 acres of water.
When: Sept. 21, 6 p.m. reception, 8 p.m. dinner
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook, Glencoe
Goodman Theatre Season Opening Night Celebration
Why go: The gala benefits the Goodman Theatre’s education and community engagement programs.
Who you’ll see: Executive Director Roche Schulfer, who is celebrating 40 years at the Goodman, and resident director Chuck Smith, who is celebrating 20 years, alongside season opening chairs Les Coney and Elaine Leavenworth.
Who’s on stage: The theater kicks off its 20013/2014 season with a performance of “Pullman Porter Blues” by Cheryl L. West, directed by Chuck Smith.
What to wear: Cocktail attire.
Pro tip: Brush up on your blues history — you’ll be hearing classic tunes at the party and during the play.
When: Sept. 24, 5 p.m. cocktails, 8 p.m. performance
Where: Cocktails and dinner at The Standard Club, 320 S. Plymouth; performance at Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn.
Cost: Starts at $500. For tickets, call (312) 443-3811, ext. 586 or email Katiefrient@Goodmantheatre.org.
Chicago LightHouse’s FLAIR: Fun. Fashion.PhilaNthropy VIP Cocktail Reception
Why go: Proceeds from the VIP reception and the three-day sale at the 900 North Michigan Shops will support the Chicago Lighthouse’s 28 programs, which assist the blind and visually impaired.
Who you’ll see: The event is co-chaired by Sherrill Bodine, Daphne Boykin, Lynn Cooper and Iris Armstrong.
What to wear: The dress code is business casual.
Who’s on stage: The VIP reception features a fashion show spotlighting items available at the 900 North Michigan Shops.
Pro tip: Don’t miss the silent auction, where you can snag high-fashion items like a Burberry Prorsum leather jacket from the brand’s 2012 runway collection.
When: Sept. 25, 6 p.m.
Where: 900 N. Michigan
Snow City Arts’ Crystal Ball
Why go: The organization provides arts education, such as music, theater, creative writing, filmmaking and visual arts classes, to hospitalized children, keeping them invested in their educations as they heal.
Who you’ll see: Amy Bossov of Yes Promotions and community leaders Ginger Hecht and Bela Lopes are co-chairs.
What to wear: Anything from business casual to black tie is acceptable.
Who’s on stage: Studio-quality artwork and productions from Snow City Arts’ students will be on display throughout the event, backed by music from Chirp Radio.
What you’ll eat: Celebrity chef Jose Garces of the Blackstone Hotel’s Mercat a la Planxa is crafting an authentic Spanish menu.
Pro tip: Attend the cocktail hour (or bid online at Myab.co/events/72/i/silent) to participate in a silent auction — items include a five-night stay in a luxury condo on South Beach and tickets to one of the final Chicago performances of “The Book of Mormon.”
When: Sept. 27, 5:30 p.m.
Where: The Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan
Bright Pink’s Fab Fest
Why go: Support Bright Pink, the only national nonprofit organization focusing on prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women. Proceeds help continue education and support for women across the country.
Who you’ll see: Event host and breast cancer survivor Giuliana Rancic will participate in activities and speak alongside Bright Pink founder Lindsay Avner. Fitness guru and Flywheel instructor Antonia De Santis keeps the energy high with fun workouts.
What to wear: Sweats — because you’ll break one.
Pro tip: Peruse two floors full of fitness, beauty, health and wellness stations for a new workout or hairdo. Teams can make matching T-shirts for the day, and of course, pink is always a popular color.
When: Sept. 29, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: The Westin Chicago River North Hotel, 320 N. Dearborn
After School Matters’ Annual Gala
Why go: Proceeds from the gala help provide hundreds of after-school program opportunities, from dance to visual arts to writing, for high school students.
Who you’ll see: Chicago powerhouse and ASM board chair Mellody Hobson co-chairs along with husband and ASM committee member George Lucas.
What to wear: Cocktail attire — think LBD and a chic clutch.
Who’s on stage: During the program, After School Matters students offer a variety of performances, from opera to hip-hop to ballet.
Pro tip: Don’t miss the reception, where you can peruse artwork by ASM students.
When: Sept. 30, 5:30 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. dinner
Where: Lakeview Terrace and Navy Pier Grand Ballroom, 600 E. Grand
MS Society’s Dinner of Champions
Why go: Learn about the latest developments in the fight against multiple sclerosis, and help support further research, at this dinner, one of dozens taking place in cities across the country.
Who you’ll see: Event honoree John Canning, chairman of Madison Dearborn Partners, as well as doctors and researchers leading the charge in a cure for MS.
What to wear: Cocktail or business attire.
What you’ll eat: Light appetizers and cocktails to start, followed by a seated dinner.
Pro tip: Scoop up items for sports fans at the raffle, which includes a signed Matt Forte Chicago Bears helmet, plus autographed memorabilia from the White Sox and Bulls.
When: Oct. 3, 6 p.m. cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, 7 p.m. dinner and program.
Where: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, 120 E. Delaware
Cost: $500-$5,000. For tickets, visit Mschampions.org.
Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation’s annual Fall Benefit Luncheon
Why go: Proceeds support breast cancer research, education and fellowships at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.
Who you’ll see: Co-chairs Julie Barrish and Nancy Resnick and Academy Award-winning actress Diane Keaton will address the crowd during the program.
What to wear: Sport your classiest work wear, as it’s business casual.
Pro tip: Get there before lunch to bid in the Purse-sue the Cure silent auction, which features designer and collectible purses.
When: Oct. 3, 11 a.m.
Where: Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan
Joffrey Ballet’s Couture and Cocktails
Why go: The funds raised help support the Joffrey Ballet’s mission of artistic excellence and accessible dance education for children in Chicago.
Who you’ll see: Co-chairs Sonya Jackson and Kathleen Henson and event founders Candace Jordan and Helen Hall Melchior.
Who’s on stage: The Ballet will pull looks from its costume archives for a runway show, also including fashion from Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue.
What to wear: The attire is cocktail, so dress to impress — and don’t be afraid to take a fashion risk.
Pro tip: Bring your dancing shoes. After the runway show, Joffrey dancers will bust a move alongside guests.
When: Oct. 4, 7 p.m.
Where: Park West, 322 W. Armitage
Cost: Start at $300. For tickets, visit Joffreyballet.com.
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Opening Night Gala and Ball
Why go: Take in Giuseppe Verdi’s “Otello,” the premiere show in the Lyric’s 59th season, then celebrate at the ball immediately afterward. Proceeds support the Lyric Opera’s programs.
Who you’ll see: After watching the stars of “Otello” — like Johan Botha and Ana María Martínez — show off their vocal acrobatics, you’ll rub shoulders with them at the ball.
Who’s on stage: The Stu Hirsh Orchestra will strike up a tune.
Pro tip: Show up at 4 p.m. for the preshow reception to grab a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres. And don’t fret about coordinating cabs — there’s complimentary transportation from the Opera House to the Hilton.
When: Oct. 5, 5 p.m. performance, 8 p.m. dinner
Where: Performance at the Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker; dinner and dancing at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan
Chicago Foundation for Women’s 28th Annual Luncheon: Here and Now
Why go: Proceeds from the luncheon fund organizations that support women and girls throughout Chicago.
Who you’ll see: Co-chairs Adela Cepeda and Julie Smolyansky and political and philanthropic leaders such as Toni Preckwinkle.
What to wear: Business-casual attire is requested.
Who’s on stage: Co-authors of “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” and husband-and-wife duo Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof will address the crowd.
Pro tip: Attend the reception — it’s a who’s who of networking opportunities.
When: Oct. 8, 11 a.m.
Where: Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan
Chicago Children’s Choir’s Red Jacket Optional Fall Benefit
Why go: The choir serves nearly 3,500 children ages 8-18 through choirs in 65 Chicago schools and after-school programs in nine local neighborhoods.
Who you’ll see: Honorees Christina and John Hatherly, chair Michael Nemeroff and emcee Micah Materre will be on hand along with hundreds of Chicago philanthropists.
Who’s on stage: Performers include the Voice of Chicago, the top level of the Chicago Children’s Choir and the Englewood Neighborhood Choir.
What to wear: Attire is cocktail, and red-tie is encouraged.
Pro tip: Stick around for the afterparty. Joe Shanahan (owner of the Metro and SmartBar) will spin a set, as will DJ Matt Roan, and Champagne and sweets will be served.
When: Oct. 18, 6 p.m. cocktails, 7 p.m. dinner
Where: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N. Columbus
Cost: $500. For tickets, call (312) 849-8300, ext. 23.
The Museum of Science and Industry’s 33rd Annual Columbian Ball: Science Works for the Future
Why go: Proceeds benefit the Museum’s annual fund, which supports educational programs, exhibits and experiences.
Who you’ll see: Co-chairs Amy and Chris Crane and Anna and Bob Livingston.
What to wear: Don your best black-tie garb.
Pro tip: Check out the museum’s newest permanent exhibition, Future Energy Chicago, and meet up-and-coming scientists who are participating in the Center for the Advancement of Science Education’s programs.
When: Oct. 19, 6 p.m. cocktails,
7 p.m. dinner
Where: Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore
Cost: $600. For tickets, visit Msichicago.org.
Mercy Home for Boys & Girls’ Ringside for Mercy’s Sake
Why go: This boxing match and black-tie gala benefits Mercy Home’s Legacy for Learning campaign, which helps guarantee educational opportunities for all of the kids involved with the organization.
Who you’ll see: Every year the event — co-chaired by Richard M. Daley and Executive Vice Chairman of NYSE Euronext, Paul Adcock — brings in a big name boxer, and previous years have featured champs like Joe Frazier and Sugar Ray Leonard.
What to wear: Black tie with an optional boxing twist (guests have been known to don snazzy boxing gloves as accessories).
Who’s on stage: Heavyweights from the city’s financial firms will duke it out in the ring in the name of charity, followed by dinner and dancing with music provided by the City Lights Orchestra.
Pro tip: There’s a live auction emceed by a celeb that’s not to be missed — past hosts have included friends-of-Splash Bill and Giuliana Rancic.
When: Oct. 19, 6 p.m.
Where: Chicago Marriott Grand Ballroom, 540 N. Michigan
The Sun-Times Foundation’s Inaugural Halloween Ball
Why go: Funds raised benefit the Sun-Times Foundation, which supports a docket of charitable causes across the city.
Who you’ll see: Co-chaired by Jacky Ferro (wife of Sun-Times parent company Wrapports Chairman Michael Ferro) and Rita Canning, the evening will be a who’s who of VIPs and celebs including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Splash columnist Jenny McCarthy.
What you’ll eat: Sweet treats from Vosges Haut Chocolate, Candyality and Magnolia Bakery.
What to wear: Embrace the Halloween spirit and don your best costumed black tie.
Who’s on stage: Fortune tellers, magicians and other surprise performers provide the spooky entertainment.
Pro tip: Don’t miss the dessert hour, chock full of trick-or-treat gifts from Bloomingdale’s, Pomellato and more.
When: Oct. 25, 6 p.m.
Place: Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington
Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner
Why go: Help celebrate the written word at this dinner and intimate discussion, which helps support the Chicago Public Library’s programming, collections and information resources.
Who you’ll see: This year’s Carl Sandburg award winners Michael Lewis (“Moneyball,” “The Blind Side”) and Isabel Allende (“The House of Spirits”), plus local writer Christine Sneed (“Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry”), who will be honored with the 21st Century award.
What to wear: Dress up your best business attire at this straight-from-work event.
Pro tip: There’s a notable local writer seated at each table, so come armed with questions.
When: Oct. 23, 6 p.m.
Where: The Forum at the University of Illinois Chicago, 725 W. Roosevelt
Cost: $1,000. For tickets, visit Cplfoundation.org.
Field Museum’s A Fair to Remember Gala
Why go: This year’s event celebrates the Field’s new exhibition, Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair. In addition to getting a first glance at the exhibit, funds raised will help advance the museum’s scientific and educational mission.
Who you’ll see: Co-chairs Leslie McLamore and Julie Hughes O’Connor will join fellow guests on this trip back in time.
What to wear: The sprawling, elegant setting of the Field Museum calls for your best black-tie garb.
What you’ll eat: Blue Plate Catering’s menu incorporates foods that first debuted at the 1893 event, including Cream of Wheat, Aunt Jemima’s maple syrup and Dr. Pepper. Dishes are also inspired by recipes from that year’s “Favorite Dishes” cookbook, compiled by the members of the Board of Lady Managers of the Columbian Exposition.
Who’s on stage: Cut a rug to the sounds of Lynne Jordan and the Shivers.
Pro tip: Prepare to be enchanted — the museum, with the help of HMR Designs, will be transported into fairgrounds, complete with ferris wheels, a Midway plaisance and ragtime and burlesque performances.
When: Oct. 26, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore
The Service Club of Chicago’s Studio 123 Gala
Why go: The Service Club is Chicago’s oldest charitable organization, sponsoring charities around the city for the past 123 years. Funds from the event will benefit a range of causes.
Who you’ll see: Co-chairs Nina Mariano, Darby Hills and Heather Farley Ingram have brought in morning news anchors Daniella Guzman, Stefan Holt and Kye Martin to emcee the evening.
What to wear: The dress code is Studio 54-inspired black tie, so don something disco-fabulous.
Who’s on stage: The Al Sofia Orchestra will provide the party tunes for the night, but expect a special dance number from a surprise guest. Pros from the Chicago Dance Studio will also be on the floor to help take your moves to the next level.
Pro tip: The live auction is stacked with experiential items, like lunch in New York with famed shoe designer Brian Atwood and Splash columnist Jenny McCarthy, a golf trip to the Riviera Country Club in California and a dinner party on a luxe yacht in Naples.
When: Nov. 1, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, 120 E. Delaware
Chicago Children’s Museum’s A Mission to Save Play Gala
Why go: Get in touch with your inner child and support the city’s children’s museum and its education programs.
Who you’ll see: The event is co-chaired by Theresa Poggenpohl and Darrell Hackett.
What to wear: Black tie with “superhero flair.”
Who’s on stage: The Chicago Catz band will be rocking the house well after bedtime. There will also be a “surprise heroic spectacle” to keep partygoers entertained.
When: Nov. 2, 6 p.m.
Where: Navy Pier Grand Ballroom, 600 E. Grand
Columbia College’s Open Doors Gala
Why go: The gala benefits the Open Doors Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support to Chicago Public Schools grads attending Columbia College.
Who you’ll see: Columbia board members, faculty and arts and education-loving Chicagoans.
What to wear: Gowns, tuxes and other black-tie attire.
Who’s on stage: The spotlight’s on Columbia’s students: Visual art is on display during cocktail hour, while the dinner hour serves up music from a gospel choir, dance and theater performances, and a fashion runway show.
Pro tip: Don’t ditch early — the evening culminates with a grand finale performance that incorporates all of the night’s featured student artwork, with the gospel choir offering an awe-inspiring soundtrack.
When: Nov. 9, 6 p.m.
Where: Columbia College Media Production Center, 16th and State
Heart of Mercy
Why go: The annual ball will benefit Misericordia’s mission to support more than 600 children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Who you’ll see: Along with more than 700 guests, the evening — chaired by Patsy Sheridan Caruso and co-chaired by Beth Merlo — will honor Gerald and Maureen Corcoran with the Heart of Mercy Award for outstanding service to Misericordia and Bill Choslovsky and Scott Mendel with the Sister Rosemary Service Medallion.
What to wear: Black tie optional.
Who’s on stage: Guests will dance the night away to the sound of the Don Cagan Orchestra.
Pro tip: Fans of world travel, check out the live and silent auction that features items like a one-week vacation to a Hawaiian villa and a stay at London’s prestigious Stafford Hotel.
When: Nov. 15, 6 p.m. cocktails, 7:30 p.m. dinner and awards
Where: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago, 221 N. Columbus
Cost: $350 per individual ticket, visit Heartofmercyball.org.
March of Dimes’ Signature Chefs Auction of Chicago
Why go: Not only will you sample food and libations from some of the city’s best restaurants, but you’ll help fund the March of Dimes’ mission to prevent birth defects, premature births and infant mortality.
Who you’ll see: Along with Quaker Foods North America CFO Chris Hall and his wife Renee, the event co-hosts, you’ll dine alongside more than 400 local executives and civic leaders.
What you’ll eat: Lead chef David Blonsky of Siena Tavern has rounded up more than 20 restaurants to set up stations around the room. For the first time, mixology stations (in addition to an open bar) will serve craft cocktails from Femme de Coupe and Tippling Brothers.
What to wear: Don your best cocktail attire.
Pro tip: Accessorize with a competitive edge — the live auction features big-ticket items such as culinary-themed packages created by participating chefs and a hockey stick autographed by the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks.
When: Nov. 15, 6 p.m.
Where: Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, 301 E. North Water
Cost: $250. For tickets, visit Marchofdimes.com.
Story by Katerina Bizios, Molly Each, Rachel Handler and Zak Stemer | Photos by Ramzi Dreessen