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Blog Post #2: The Palmer House & The Magic Parlour

When you come to The Magic Parlour you’re not only experiencing the longest running magic show in Chicago, you’re also spending time with a piece of Chicago history.

The Palmer House Hilton is not only a crown jewel of Chicago architecture and a historic building, but it is also full of so many magical stories! Let me share with you just a bit about what I think makes the Palmer House such a magnificent place to spend an evening.

The National Magic Company was located on the mezzanine level of the Palmer House in the 1930’s-40’s – one of the best known and first magic shops in the city of Chicago!

The Palmer House’s Empire Room has hosted legendary entertainers including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald and Liberace. Each time I have the pleasure of performing in that room, I feel the energy of its magical history.

The original Palmer House was built in 1871 and a mere 13 days into its life burned down in the tragic Chicago Fire. Two years later, Bertha and Potter Palmer rebuilt the hotel across the street from its original location and the new Palmer House was a pioneer for its many architectural and engineering feats. Advertised as the world’s first fireproof hotel, the building also had the city’s first elevators — paving way for the many skyscrapers that now make up Chicago’s iconic skyline.

Image of original Palmer House Hilton hotel.
Image of chocolate brownie with nuts.

The famous (and delicious!) Palmer House brownie!

Did you know the brownie was created in the Palmer House kitchen? It’s a true story, folks! Under the instruction of Bertha Palmer, the brownie was made to be served at the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893. She wanted something more unique than cake or pie, but easy to transport. That recipe is still used today and the Palmer House proudly shares the recipe.

The Palmer House is home to multiple spaces for weddings, conventions, and special events, and over my time there I’ve performed in just about all of them! The Magic Parlour began performances in the Cresthill room where I now most commonly perform the VIP Encore experience. Guests will most often experience the show in the Crystal Room but you never know which historic space might be adding to the magic each night!

Dennis Watkins

Dennis in the Palmer House's classic Empire Room.

Treat yourself to a magical staycation, or if you’re visiting from out of town, I hope you might consider joining me to make your historical stay just a bit more magical! Dennis Watkins’ The Magic Parlour performs 5 shows weekly on Fridays and Saturdays at the historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel.

Blog Post #1: Events at The Magic Parlour

You are anything but ordinary so allow me to deliver extraordinary!

Over the past nearly 15 years, we’ve celebrated many special moments at The Magic Parlour from marriage proposals to milestone birthdays. It is my greatest honor to be a part of your most memorable life moments. Here are just a few examples of what we have commemorated with our magnificent guests!

Marriage Proposal: Are you getting ready to pop that very special question? At The Magic Parlour I’ve been a part of 6 perfect proposals! I work closely to help curate the proposal as a part of the main show or Encore room based on what you want and think makes it the most magical. 

Birthdays: The Magic Parlour is engineered as a grown-up night out and my goal is to spark childlike wonder and joy in all of  my guests. It really is the perfect event for the young at heart! Treat your loved one to a special Birthday date night or bring the whole family to celebrate. Consider adding on the VIP experience to enjoy even more fun and I’ll make sure the Birthday person knows just how magical they are.

Dennis holding a drawn wedding ring with the happy couple!

 Here is one of the magical proposals - congratulations Patrick and Valeria!

Bachelorette or Bachelor Parties: Situated in the heart of downtown at the beautiful Palmer House Hotel, The Magic Parlour makes for a fantastic night out for both Bachelorette and Bachelor parties - or a mixed nuptial celebration - when you are looking for something fun, lively, but a bit more upscale. We can work with you to add extra special moments for the brides and grooms, groups receive discounts, plus your ticket includes complimentary wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages.

Company and Team Celebrations: Remind your colleagues that they are what makes your company magical! I love working with organizations of all sizes to offer a unique spin on a team event, recognition party, or full company celebration. At The Magic Parlour I’ve helped law firms thank their interns, companies honor a very special retiree, and businesses enjoy a relaxing evening out as a full group. I can offer group discounts or you can buyout the whole performance just for yourselves.

"One of the most unique and remarkable off-site events we’ve hosted for our team!"


Family Reunion: Looking for a way to liven up your annual family reunion? Why not make this year a little bit more magical – literally! The Magic Parlour is made for guests 12 and up and makes for a great solution when you’re seeking an event that will keep both your teenager and Grandma entertained. Let’s make some memories together!

Dennis Watkins' The Magic Parlour performs 5 shows weekly on Fridays and Saturday at the historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel. For more information on groups and events visit us here.

Dennis doing magic with a guest.