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NHL Winter Classic fan festival coming to Millennium Park in late December

Chicagoans hit the ice during the first day of skating at Millennium Park. | David Matthews/For the Sun-Times

While the 2019 Winter Classic between the Blackhawks and Bruins will be played in South Bend, the NHL is using Chicago as its home base to kick off the festivities for the outdoor showdown. A free festival for fans will be held at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park from Dec. 29-31 featuring all sorts of live music, activities and giveaways.

The game itself will be played on New Year’s Day at Notre Dame Stadium.

The league unveiled details for the festival, which it’s calling the NHL Winter Classic Park, on Thursday. It will be available to the public for free from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and “offer fans of all ages fun opportunities to test their hockey skills, lasting and memorable experiences and free giveaways.”

There will also be several local bands – Red Carpet Riot, Stache! and 97Nine – set to give free performances inside the pavilion.

“The heart of American hockey beats in Chicago, making this the ideal city to host the NHL Winter Classic Park,” mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “This three-day fan festival will not only add to the world-class programming in Millennium Park, it will help inspire future generations of hockey stars who are playing on rinks in neighborhoods throughout the city of Chicago.”

The NHL recommends that fans download the NHL Fan Access app in order to potentially win special prizes and offers. Among the giveaways will be tickets to the 2019 Winter Classic, NHL shop gift cards and autographed jerseys.