McHenry County

Just northwest of Chicago, visit this original movie location

Illinois Movie Location Celebrates Every February

WOODSTOCK, ILL. — A quarter century ago, something astonishing happened here. A camera crew came to town, moved tons of equipment into the historic town square and an “oompah” band began playing the “Pennsylvania Polka” over and over and over again. They had come to film a movie that would become a cult favorite among young and old alike, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell.

Today, every day is Groundhog Day in Woodstock, and if you’re among the millions of fans who view the classic film over and over again, this McHenry County town 50 miles northwest of Chicago throws a mid-winter party you’ll not want to miss. In the movie, Murray woke up here morning after morning after morning, and you can, too, during Woodstock’s “Groundhog Days” festival, February 1-5.

Groundhog Days celebrates the making of the movie, when the town stood in for Punxsutawney, Pa., home of the legendary forecasting rodent. Things get off to a sparkling start at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 1, with the Awakening of the Groundhog Ceremony at the Woodstock Opera House on the square. Festivities wrap up on Sunday, Feb. 5, with the Lion’s Club Pancake Breakfast, Willie’s Family Fun Day, Groundhog Day movie showings, walking tours of filming sites and a Woodstock Community Choir concert.

In between, events include: Groundhog Trivia, Woodstock Willie’s Beer Party, chili cookoff, bowling, tournament, dinner dance, Rotary bag toss tournament, “Groundhog Tales” by Storyteller Jim May, “Filming Tales” by Columbia Pictures’ Location Manager Bob Hudgins, additional walking tours of filming sites, and Groundhog Willie’s official Groundhog Day prognostication. Will there be six more weeks of winter?

During events in Woodstock Square and on the walking tour, step on a plaque that reads “Bill Murray Stepped Here,” set into the curb where the actor plunged into a huge slush puddle in the movie. The walking tour includes 14 sites where memorable movie scenes such as that were shot. A favorite is the exquisitely restored Royal Victorian Manor Bed & Breakfast, portrayed in the movie as the Cherry Street Inn, the boarding house where Murray woke up over and over and over again. You, too, can wake up over and over again in the 1894 “painted lady”. >MORE

If you can’t make it to Groundhog Days this winter, you can download a self-guided walking tour of the filming sites and visit them over and over again on your own, any day of the year. You’ll find the walking tour, plus a detailed list of all the Groundhog Days events, > HERE

Plan an Overnight in Woodstock & McHenry County

Woodstock is located an easy driving distance from Chicago, Rockford, and Milwaukee.  Woodstock Square is located 1 mile west of the intersection of Lake St. and Ill. Rte. 47, just 12 miles north of I-90. For an even more enjoyable experience, take Metra for relaxing travel to Woodstock!  The Woodstock Station is in the heart of downtown, within walking distance of all Groundhog Days events.

McHenry County is just an hour’s drive northwest of Chicago, bordered on the north by Wisconsin, and on the south by I-90. The Fox River winds down from the Chain of Lakes through the towns on the eastern side of the county, while country roads meander the western side. For visitor information, >CLICK HERE

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