The village of Skokie has a rich cultural heritage and is home to many different festivals and organizations that promote artistic endeavors throughout the year. From the performing and fine arts to museums and historical sites, there are many ways to experience local arts and culture.
Skokie is well known for its modern, award-winning North Shore Center for the Performing Arts – a 68,000-square-foot venue that welcomes a wide variety of performing artists year-round. The North Shore Center is the proud home of one of the largest nonprofit theatre troupes in the Chicago metro area, Northlight Theatre, as well as two outstanding orchestras: the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra, one of the most respected community orchestras in the region, and Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra, a unique orchestra featuring musicians from the famed Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
The Skokie Theater, a circa 1912, art deco-style structute, serves as an important performance facility in the area. The theater had witnessed years of neglect, and underwent a 1.5 million dollar restoration in 2005 to reinstate this historically significant building to its original grandeur. The 140-seat Skokie Theater is owned by the Gorilla Tango Group and offers the community a wide diversity of cultural programming and entertainment-orientated performances, including comedy, drama, burlesque and musical reviews. The Skokie Theater is Skokie’s destination spot for an evening out of the norm!
The Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park has been an artistic gem in the area since 1988. The sculpture park – an amazing outdoor display stretching over two miles in length – highlights more than 60 works of art from local, national and international artists. Take in the sights and wander the grounds 365 days a year – and there is no cost to enter.
One of the more distinctive cultural and historical features in the Skokie community is the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. Opened in April 2009, this world-class museum is a testament to tolerance and acceptance, showing the past and shaping the future. It houses several permanent and special exhibitions illustrating the Holocaust experience and honoring those affected during this dark time. The museum also houses the Pritzker Hall of Reflection, the Legacy of Absence Gallery focusing on artistic responses to genocides and other atrocities in countries across the globe, as well as a resource center, auditorium and classroom and meeting spaces.
The Skokie Park District presents a year-round calendar of cultural activities and such fantastic facilities as the award-winning Devonshire Cultural Center (home to numerous programs, the Skokie Art Guild and the Devonshire Community Playhouse), the interactive Exploritorium at Oakton Community Center, as well as the Skokie Heritage Museum and the 1847 Log Cabin.
In addition to these great sites, the Skokie community hosts several culturally rich events and festivals throughout the year. Held in mid-May, the Skokie Festival of Cultures has become a major event in the area, drawing more than 380,000 visitors and dozens of diverse cultures. The much-anticipated North Shore Festival of Art at Westfield Old Orchard also brings in a large crowd each July, as juried artists come from all over the country to showcase their work. Other exciting events not to be missed include the Taste of Skokie Valley in June and the Backlot Bash in August.
Skokie places a high value on art and culture. Between the annual festivals, museums and first-class performance venues, there is always something interesting to see in the village.