With convention tie-in mixology classes and a “Game of Thrones”-themed pop-up bar, Chicago’s venues are letting their fantasy fandom run wild, inspired in part by this spring’s pop culture events.

The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) kicks into action on March 22 at McCormick Place, where the annual event debuted a decade ago. Yes, the largest pop culture gathering in the Midwest is housed at the largest convention center in North America. How else could fans of comic books, cosplay, video games, anime, TV, movies and more fit under one roof?

This year’s C2E2 features a “Clueless” reunion with Alicia (“Batman & Robin”) Silverstone, Paul (“Ant-Man”) Rudd and Donald (“Star Wars Resistance”) Faison, as well as reunion panels for “Freaks and Geeks” and “Animaniacs,” photo opps with “Doctor Who” stars, meetups, literary guests, workshops, escape rooms, and its Artist Alley, all through March 24.

On April 4, Staytion Market & Bar hosts a mixology class where mixologist Kevin Fahey will show nerds-turned-bartenders how to make C2E2-inspired drinks. The class is $14 (the price of a cocktail).

Staytion Market & Bar

A week later, on April 11, the bar offers another mixology session that correlates to Chicago’s Star Wars Celebration (April 11-15 at McCormick Place), and participants will get instructions on how to create out-of-this-world concoctions.

As the country turns to HBO for the final season of “Game of Thrones” on April 14, Chicagoans can turn to Replay Lincoln Park because, according to artist Tom Molloy, “We’ve transformed the entire bar into a Westeros Adventure.”

It’s all part of a pop-up the arcade bar regularly sponsors that’s been extended until April 15. “Our ultimate goal for the pop-ups is to create and curate immersive installation experiences for the local Chicago community,” explains pop-up squad member and artist Raquel Hung.

“Every area of the bar is different,” continues Molloy, who also belongs to the pop-up squad. “You can visit a Dothraki camp, Meereen, High Garden, Braavos, Kings Landing, Winter Fell, and even the Wall at Castle Black!”

To accompany the pop-up bar’s look, special events such as Cosplay Karaoke (March 20), Crimson Wedding Feast (March 31), “Game of Thrones” Bingo (April 3), A Thong of Ice and Fire Remount burlesque show (April 11), and a Finale Preshow Party (April 14) are planned.

“We love the idea that a space can attract so many different people to come together and collectively enjoy and connect with the environment that we’ve created,” adds Hung. “With this pop-up in particular, we were really trying to transform the space so people will feel like they’ve stumbled upon a fantastical world where they can escape the cold, hang out with a life size dragon, and grab a couple drinks.”

Admission is free, but guests may fully immerse themselves by purchasing a VIP Bucketlist Experience for $30. The fee includes a glass of Ommegang Witte, Ommegang King in the North or Queen of the Seven Kingdoms (or $10 towards another beverage), a commemorative print and T-shirt, and express entry to the bar.


Top Image: Patrons pose at Replay Lincoln Park’s “Game of Thrones” pop-up bar. Credit: Rogelio Gamez. Center Image: Courtesy of Staytion Market & Bar

Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.