Red Bull Illume 2016

Leave it to the fine folks at Red Bull to transform the elegant Chicago Art Institute into a swanky urban lounge.

Last Wednesday evening, adventure junkies from across the globe convened inside the museum’s Modern Wing for the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016, a photography competition celebrating the best of actions sports and adventure photography. Jaws always drop over the athletes who pull off these death-defying stunts, but this event, now in its 10th year, celebrates the dedicated individuals who capture these epic feats on camera, for all of us to enjoy.

Over 34,000 photos were submitted to the contest from photographers spanning 120 different countries. A global coalition of judges somehow managed to select 55 finalist images that competed in 11 different categories, such as Close-Up, Spirit, Lifestyle and Wings. A first-timer to this year’s competition was the Mobile category whose pictures were taken on phones or tablets. Hosted by Olympic snowboarder Louie Vito and TV personality Tina Dixon, a former professional snowboarder in her own right, the winners of each of the 11 categories were called up to the stage where they offered the exclusive back story behind their breathtaking photos.

Following the awards ceremony, the party moved across the street to Millennium Park’s Wrigley Square where the 55 finalists images are on display in large illuminating boxes. The photographs will remain here only until Sunday, October 9th. After their stint in Chicago, the pictures will embark on a two year world tour, with upcoming stops in Toronto and San Francisco.

My advice: Swing by the exhibit in the evening when the boxes glow against the dark night sky.