When director John Hughes was deciding where to film the 1986 movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” selecting Chicago was a no-brainer.
“Chicago is what I am,” the late Hughes was quoted as saying. “A lot of ‘Ferris’ is sort of my love letter to the city.”
That love letter, which follows the adventures of high school student Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) on a self-imposed day off from school, became one of Hughes’ best-known films, famously reminding movie fans around the world that “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
In honor of the film’s 30th anniversary this year, fans have organized Ferris Fest, a Chicago-based weekend May 20-22 that will include a 1986-themed spring dance, a screening of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and a Q&A with stars of the film, a live re-creation of the film’s “Twist and Shout” parade sequence, and a two-day, two-part bus tour of movie filming locations. Event organizer David Blanchard said that when he realized this year marked 30 years, it just seemed right to plan something.
“(What resonates with people from the movie) is the concept of being able to break free, just going out and experiencing all of the really wonderful things that life has to offer,” Blanchard said. “It’s about going out and breaking the rules, not in a bad way, but doing what you want to do in a positive way. Creating your own adventure, even if it’s just for a day.”
In January when organizers announced plans for the festival, it quickly made national and international news and has since attracted attendees from as far away as Brazil and Australia. Blanchard said that in addition to paying tribute to the beloved film, the festival will shine a bright spotlight on Chicago.
“The movie really is a postcard to Chicago,” he said. “That’s something very important. It is about ‘Ferris Bueller’ and the 30th anniversary of this wonderful movie, but it’s also about Chicago, because it is character in the film. All the places that Ferris and Sloane and Cameron go to are highlights of the city.”
Want to go to the festival? Visit ferrisfest.com for more information. Can’t make it? Never fear. Here are four Chicago locations where you can channel your inner Ferris throughout the year.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Anyone familiar with Chicago knows that you can’t miss the opportunity to visit this museum when you’re in town. But fans of the movie in particular will appreciate the chance to stroll through its many masterpieces. Whether you link hands with your pals as you pass by Gustave Caillebotte’s “Paris Street; Rainy Day,” share a smooch in front of Marc Chagall’s “America Windows” or ponder the meaning of life at Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” it’s easy to create your own “Ferris Bueller” moment within these sprawling halls. Tip: If you go by May 10, you’ll also get to take in “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms,” which features 36 works by Van Gogh including three versions of his “The Bedroom” painting.
Info: 111 S. Michigan Ave. 312-443-3600, artic.edu.
Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower
As Ferris and friends peer down at the city from Sears Tower — which has since been renamed Willis Tower — in the movie, Ferris’ girlfriend, Sloane, proclaims, “The city looks so peaceful from up here.” Ferris’ reply? “Anything looks peaceful from 1,353 feet.” Rather than pressing your head against the glass as they did, however, these days you can take it all in from the Ledge, one of several glass boxes that extend out 4.3 feet from the skyscraper’s Skydeck on the 103rd floor, providing incredible, and intense, views of the city. Lines can get long, especially on weekends, so purchase your tickets online before you go. Tip: Stop in the Skydeck Gift Store to pick up a souvenir T-shirt that offers a nod to Abe Froman, the fictional “sausage king of Chicago” from the movie.
Info: 233 S. Wacker Drive. theskydeck.com.
Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field
There’s no guarantee you’ll catch a foul ball, but even if you’re not as lucky as Ferris, don’t miss the chance to take in a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. The field, which was built in 1914, is the second-oldest ballpark in the majors behind Boston’s Fenway Park, and this year celebrates its 100th year as home to the Cubs. Tip: Want to know even more Wrigley Field history? Take one of the daily tours, where you’ll be able to see everything from the field to the bleachers to the seating bowl. On non-game days, visitors may also access the press box and Cubs’ dugout.
Info: 1060 W. Addison St. 866-800-1275, chicago.cubs.mlb.com.
Drive a Ferrari with Xtreme Xperience
Ever wanted to make like Ferris and spend an afternoon driving a Ferrari? On select dates in Chicago, you can do that behind the wheel of a Ferrari F430. Sure, it may not be Cameron’s dad’s beloved 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder, but you won’t have to drive home backwards to try to get the mileage off, either. The driving events, hosted by Xtreme Xperience, are held at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, about 45 minutes from downtown Chicago. The next dates will be Aug. 19-20 and Oct. 21-23.
Info: 866-273-7727, thextremexperience.com.
IF YOU GO
Ferris Fest is May 20-22 at various locations in and around Chicago. The weekend will include a screening of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and a Q&A with film stars including Cindy Pickett (Katie Bueller) and Edie McClurg (Grace) and moderated by Chicago film critic Richard Roeper; a live re-creation of the film’s “Twist and Shout” parade sequence; a two-day, two-part bus tour of movie filming locations; and a re-creation of Ferris Bueller’s room on view at the Virgin Hotel. Visit ferrisfest.com for more information.