Convention Breakdown: Chicago TARDIS

Chicago TARDIS is a long-running Doctor Who-focused convention held in Lombard, IL, over Thanksgiving weekend. The convention will be celebrating its 20th year in 2019!

Location: Chicago TARDIS is held entirely in the Westin Lombard Yorktown hotel, located in Lombard, IL.

Westin Lombard Yorktown Center
70 Yorktown Center
Lombard, IL 60148

Registration: Registration for Chicago TARDIS is open pretty much year-round, with badges for the next year available to purchase at con. There are multiple badge levels with different perks: All Access, Reserved, Priority, and General Admission. The different perks offered are explained on their registration page; the higher-priced badges come with some more privileges and perks.

Hotel: All of the action is at the Westin! The hotel is decently sized with a good number of rooms, plus booking in the convention room block is pretty decently priced, so there’s not much need to book anywhere else. There are a few other hotels in the area, but nothing really within walking distance so you’d need to drive or taxi/rideshare in. Luckily, parking at the Westin is free!

Food: The hotel is home to a Harry Caray’s restaurant, which serves American fare, as well as Holy Mackerel! which serves seafood. Neither is cheap, but they are convenient. For cheaper options, the Yorktown Shopping Center is just across the parking lot with a variety of options in its food court area. There are also several different restaurants in the outer ring around the hotel, including Buca di Beppo, Claim Jumper, McDonald’s, Frankie’s Deli, and more. The hotel staff can also recommend other food options in the area. Additionally, the Westin does have microwaves available, and there are small fridges in each room, so this is a hotel where it is pretty easy to bring in and make your food in the room. There is a Target right next door for groceries and other needs.

Programming: Chicago TARDIS offers a variety of programming options, with a main programming room, two smaller programming rooms, a video room, the children’s area (Camp Time Lord), a tabletop gaming area, and the photo/autograph area running most of the day. In recent years, the dealer’s room has expanded to include a growing artist alley full of great products. At night, various costumed events and the BritRock dance party dominate the evening programming, while many attendees spend time hanging out in the Westin’s large lobby area.

My Review: Chicago TARDIS has long been one of my favorite conventions, even before I joined staff! As a small convention, it’s easy to get to know many of the attendees (especially the regulars who come back year after year). This is definitely not a convention where you feel herded around, but rather one where you can relax and have fun while still getting to do a lot. And there is a lot to do! The panel schedule gets more jam packed with great content each year, full of great ideas submitted by attendees and staff. Main programming has variety – the panels aren’t all just guests answering questions. There have been panels that were live commentary on an episode by the actors, and the popular kids ask the questions panel, featuring campers from Camp Time Lord, the convention’s kids track. If you need a quieter break, there’s the video room showing different episodes of Doctor Who and its spinoff series. Both the dealer’s room and the newer artist alley are full of fun stuff to buy. Plus there’s a group of Daleks wandering around to keep everyone on their toes! Not to mention the photo and auto opportunities – get a nice photo with the convention guests, or stop by for an autograph. The guests who have come to this con have all been super friendly and warm, always taking a moment to thank us for coming and some of them spending time just visiting with people in the lobby. No other convention that I’ve been to has friendlier guests. Overall, the con is just super friendly – from the guests to the staff to the attendees, everyone is nice and welcoming. If you like Doctor Who, this is definitely the con to come to!

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