Anjelica Huston will be part of the Chicago Humanities Festival — Photo courtesy of Paul Jasmin / Chicago Humanities Festival
Under what circumstances could you hear current It girl Lena Dunham or chat with Hollywood icon Anjelica Huston? Or find out what life is like for Patti Smith post-Just Kids? Or listen in on the conversation Chicago author Lindsay Hunter will be having with fellow author Roxane Gay, most recently known for her books An Untamed State and Bad Feminist?
You could do all of these things during the Chicago Humanities Festival, scheduled this year for Saturday, Oct. 25, through Sunday, Nov. 9.
The Chicago Humanities Festival is a bit of a misnomer. While, yes, the festival itself takes place annually late October through early November – hosting luminaries including Pulitzer Prize winners and Grammy Award-winning opera singers from throughout the world – the organization’s mission is carried out year-round through programs that encourage the study and enjoyment of the humanities.
The fall festival, though, is what brings so many curious, engaged and intelligent people from around the world together to learn from others experiencing the pinnacle of their careers and lives.
Attendees from all over the world convene every fall for this annual festival — Photo courtesy of Chicago Humanities Festival
What started as a one-day affair in late 1990 with eight programs at one venue before an audience of 3,500 people has grown to 140 programs at 20 venues.
Program Director Alison Cuddy calls the engagements afforded at the annual festival high-level water cooler conversations.
“The people who attend our festival are those with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and experiences. They’re not coming just to hear lectures,” says Cuddy. "Our programs are diverse and are meant to celebrate the diversity of human achievement. We’re simply the conveners of really interesting people.”
This year’s festival theme is Journeys, a fitting theme as the festival celebrates its 25th year and admits in its program book that anniversaries are an opportunity to renew its vows.
As the organization turns inward to explore its own mission, it asks its participants to ask themselves "Where will your journey take you?"
To kick off this silver anniversary celebration, David Brooks, political commentator who pens a bi-weekly OpEd column for the New York Times, takes to the stage on the eve of the midterm election.
Over the course of two weeks, members and guests will enjoy more than 100 programs. To help attendees best schedule their time (and budget), this year the program organizers created hubs so it’s easier to go from point A to point B.
“It used to be like the amazing race of the humanities,” Cuddy says, of past years' experiences.
Also new this year is the ability to search for programs based on your humanities interest from "Book Nerd" and "Global Citizen" to "History Buff" and "News Junkie" and several other options in-between.
Tickets to some programs have already sold out due to early member buying access, but there are plenty of programs available. It’s best to secure tickets earlier than later to ensure a spot.
Cuddy stresses that there is something for everyone at this year’s Chicago Humanities Festival. The festival takes places Oct. 25 through Nov. 9 at more than 20 venues throughout the city.