An Arts & Cultural Events Guide

A handy resource for some of the top-notch venues, performance groups and visual arts centers in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

Rockford Dance Company presents Tchaikovsky’s“The Nutcracker” ballet every year as Christmas approaches. The pre-professional dance company and school draws together talented young performers from around the greater Rockford area.

Quality Venues

BMO Harris Bank Center
Rockford’s downtown arena delivers a star-studded lineup of touring artists, programs like WWE Wrestlemania and a monster truck rally, and sports including IceHogs hockey. 300 Elm St., Rockford,
Coronado Performing Arts Center
This ornate former movie palace welcomes a variety of touring entertainers, Broadway shows and performances by the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, among others. 314 N. Main St., Rockford,
Davis Park
Located on the riverfront, this downtown park attracts numerous outdoor festivals and concerts, including Friday Night Flix movies in the summer. 320 S. Wyman St., Rockford,
Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center Campus
Since 1894, Mendelssohn has delivered fine music to downtown Rockford. Its campus now occupies three intimate venues facilitating music education and live performances. 406 N. Main St., Rockford,
Monroe Arts Center
With a mission to nurture an appreciation for art, this venue welcomes numerous live performances and art gallery exhibits. 1315 11th St., Monroe, Wis.,
Nordlof Center
This cultural and community center houses meeting rooms and the recently renovated J.R. Sullivan Theater, which welcomes musical, theatrical and other live shows. 118 N. Main St., Rockford,
Starlight Theatre
Rock Valley College’s outdoor auditorium hosts four community shows every summer. This year’s lineup: “Beauty and the Beast,” “Peter and the Starcatcher,” “Sister Act” and “Godspell.” 3301 N. Mulford Road, Rockford,

The Visual Arts

This biannual display of artwork brings regional artists to unique display spaces located around Rockford, mostly in the downtown neighborhood. Look for it this April 21-22 and October 6-7. Info:,
Freeport Art Museum
The museum’s collection of mostly regional artwork complements a busy calendar of traveling shows, regional exhibitions and educational programming. 121 N. Harlem Ave., Freeport,
Rockford Art Museum
This museum’s diverse collection largely represents modern and contemporary art from the 19th and 20th centuries, with styles ranging from impressionist to outsider art, always with a focus on regional works. 711 N. Main St., Rockford,
The Next Picture Show
This nonprofit fine arts center in downtown Dixon, Ill., hosts regular shows and exhibitions, workshops and special events. 113 W. First St., Dixon, Ill.,
Wright Museum of Art
Located at Beloit College, this teaching museum promotes the arts through exhibitions, a collection and educational programming. Its collection ranges from the ancient world to modern times. 700 College St., Beloit,

Performing Arts Presenters

Artists’ Ensemble
Rockford’s Equity professional theater company takes on relatively unfamiliar plays from the stage of Cheek Theatre at Rockford University. 5050 E. State St.,
Rockford Coronado Concert Association
This group presents five concerts each year at Rockford’s Coronado Performing Arts Center. Shows revolve around high-quality classical or semi-classical music and dance. Info:
Rockford Symphony Orchestra
Led by Stephen Larsen, the 2016 Illinois Conductor of the Year, these professional musicians deliver high-quality orchestra performances, often at the Coronado, and encourage the next generation of musicians with educational programming. Info:
Beloit Janesville Symphony
Led by director Robert Tomaro, this professional orchestra presents a series of classical, family pops and exploring concerts each year. Most performances held at Janesville Performing Arts Center or Beloit College campus. Info:
Rockford Dance Company
This nonprofit group celebrates dance through a pre-professional company, a school and many outreach activities. Its best-known show is the annual “The Nutcracker” ballet. 711 N. Main St., Rockford,