Fall Bulb Festival (Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden.)

This weekend, shop ’til you drop in Evanston, enjoy fall fun at Chicago Botanic Garden and the Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival, learn from top chefs in Chicago, and give back at an Oktoberfest event.

Retail Therapy Fall 2017

5 Things to Do: Central Street Evanston's Retail Therapy
Oct. 6

Participating Central Street businesses in Evanston will offer special discounts during this Friday night shopping event. In addition to finding great deals, shoppers will have the chance to enter raffles, enjoy refreshments, and win giveaways.

Fall Bulb Festival

5 Things to Do: Chicago Botanic Garden's Fall Bulb Festival

Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden.

Oct. 6-8

Explore Chicago Botanic Garden at this festival featuring live music, a harvest market, a gourd mountain and straw-bale maze, the Bulb Sale, and more.

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival

5 Things to Do: The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival

Photo courtesy of The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival.

Oct. 6-8

This event is back to break the Guinness World Record for the largest display of lit jack-o’-lanterns (currently at 30,851). Even better, the event will raise funds for Make-A-Wish Illinois. So don’t miss this chance to fill your weekend with carnival rides, live music, a petting zoo, crafts, food, and more.

Taste Talks

5 Things to Do: Taste Talks Chicago

Photo courtesy of Taste Talks.

Oct. 6-8

If you consider yourself a foodie, don’t miss this food symposium headlined by the Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern and celebrity chef Fabio Viviani. Guests will have the chance to enjoy panel discussions, tastings, and underground dinners and parties. Find the complete schedule on Taste Talks’ website.


5 Things to Do Smoketoberfest
Oct. 7
Arlington Heights

Rack House Kitchen & Tavern is hosting its first Smoketoberfest in the restaurant’s Beer Garden with food, $5 Oktoberfest brews, a Sam Adams National Stein Hoisting Competition, a bounce house and tattoos for kids, raffles and prizes, and more. Plus, a portion of proceeds will benefit 100 Club of Chicago, an organization that “provides for the families of first responders who have lost their lives in the line of duty.”


  • Lake County Cares will host Leading for Good, a networking event for professionals interested in having a leadership position at a nonprofit, on Oct. 5 in Libertyville. Learn more and register for the free event online.


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Anna Carlson writes the weekly 5 Things to Do column and monthly Recommended Events. A graduate of Glenbrook South High School and the University of Missouri, her work has been published in Chicago Parent, Inside Columbia Magazine and Central California Parent Magazine. She is a proud supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital