Chicago Summer Guide: Memorial Day weekend events

Warmer temperatures have to be on the way. For many Chicagoans, it is what we start telling ourselves around this time of year; it’s the mantra that helps most of us get through the sometimes brutal and snowy winters. Thoughts of walking or biking on the lakefront, BBQs in the park—any park–, outdoor pools opening and the last days of school. Summer can be filled with hopes of fun and safety; favorite activities done under the sun and in warmth. So we’ve scanned the city to find out what are some of the most anticipated programs and offerings in our great city—as well as some new ideas to help you enjoy the few, short months of the season. Check out our guide—with programs for children, families and adults.
Festivals and Annual Events
Chicago House Music Festival
Saturday, May 26
1-9 p.m.
Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Bike the Drive
May 27
Kick-off summer with almost 5 hours of carefree riding on Lake Shore Drive
Register at:
5:30 a.m.-11 a.m.
Chicago Gospel Music Festival
June 1-2
Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park
Friday: noon-9:30 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
A few highlights: Chicago choirs celebrate the music of Edwin Hawkins; The Walls Group, Tri-City Singers Reunion; Israel and New Breed
For full schedule, visit:
Chicago’s 57th Street Art Fair
June 2-3
Saturday: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Hyde Park
Hyde Park Brew Fest
June 2-3
Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m.- 9 p.m.
53rd and Harper/Harper Court
June 8, 9 and 10
Lincoln/Damen/Irvin Park
Friday: 5-10 p.m.
Saturday: Noon-10 p.m.
Sunday Noon-10 p.m.
Donations at gate
Chicago Blues Festival
June 8-10
Millennium Park
11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Chicago Food Truck (Summer Festival)
June 23-24
11 a.m.-7 p.m.
1600 S. Wabash Ave
For more information, visit:
Gay Pride Chicago
June 24
12 p.m.-11 p.m.
Parade culminates activities
Chicago Summer Dance
Thursdays-Sundays June 28-August 25
Grant Park, Spirit of the Music Garden and other Chicago Park District locations
House, Steppin’ and/or Motown nights: July 11, July 13, July 20, July 25, August 10, August 15
Complete schedule at:
26th African/Caribbean International Festival of Life
July 6-8
Union Park
1501 W. Randolph St (Lake and Ashland)
Noon-10 p.m.
Chosen Few Picnic and Festival
July 7
Jackson Park
8 a.m. Purchase tickets at:
The Vegan Style Festival
July 11
7 a.m.-10 p.m.
Navy Pier
For tickets or information, visit:
Taste of Chicago
July 11-15
Grant Park
Wed-Fri 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat-Sun 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Windy City Smokeout
July 13-15
560 W. Grand Ave
Starts at 1 p.m. on Friday
Starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday For tickets:
Taste of Gospel
July 21
Washington Park
5100 S. Cottage Grove
10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
August 2-5
Grant Park
For tickets and schedule, visit:
Special interests: Bruno Mars, Khalid, Taylor Bennet
89th Annual Bud Billiken Parade
August 11
10 a.m.
Ends of parade activities in Washington Park
Chicago Air and Water Show
August 18-19
10 a.m.-3 p.m. both days
North Ave. Beach
29th Annual African Festival of the Arts
August 31-September 3
Washington Park
5100 S. Cottage Grove
For more information, visit:
Chicago Jazz Festival
August 30-September 2
Chicago Cultural Center/Millennium Park
For schedule, visit:
Movies in the Park
No matter what side of town you live on, you can always find a good movie at dusk in some park. DuSable always has a great line-up of movies featuring African Americans and this year is no different.
So far the line-up includes:
Saturday, June 16: “Marshall”
Saturday, July 21: “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”
Saturday, August 18: “Black Panther”
Screenings start at 7:30 in the Sunken Garden
740 East 56th Place
Chicago Park Districts sponsors Night Out in the Parks, which features movies and other free activities. To check out what’s near you, visit:
Outdoor Concerts
Jazz Series at DuSable Museum
What better way to spend a summer evening than sitting outside in your lawn chair listening to Jazz?
DuSable hosts free outdoor concerts
Wednesday, June 20: Zemrah tribute to Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Rachelle Ferrell and Dianne Reeves
Wednesday, July 18: Sax in the City eaturing Ray Silkman, Audley Reid and Isaiah Collier in tribute to: Grover Washington, Art Porter, Stanley Turrentine, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley
Wednesday, August 15 Ladies of Jazz and Blues Lynne Jordan, Bobbi Wilsyn, Yvonne Gage, Joan Collaso, Tracye Eileen and Chicago’s Rising Star Divas in tribute to: Ruth Brown, Etta james, Betty Carter, Bessie Smith, Dionner Warwick, Koko Taylor, Roberta Flack, Nancy Wilson, Billie Holiday, Sade and more
For more information on the summer concert series, call (773) 947-0600.
All concerts at 740 East 56th Place
Chicago West Community Center Concert Series
May 18
Wilbert Crosby “The Art of the Guitar”*
Tribute to Wes Montgomery, B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, George Benson and Carlos Santana.
Columbus Park Refectory
5701 W. Jackson Blvd.
7 p.m.
*Part of a series of concerts by professional musician and high school students
June 21
The Elements of the Universe*
Carl King
Tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire
Columbus Park Refectory
5701 W. Jackson Blvd.
7 p.m.
July 27
The Mothers of Rock & Roll with Dorothy Roberson*
Tribute to the women who helped lay the foundation for Rock&Roll
Malcolm X College Atrium
1900 W. Jackson Blvd
7 p.m.
August 1
East Meets West*
Pudong Youth and Children’s Activity Center from Shanghai, Chia
Concert of Traditional Chinese Music
Garfield Park Conservatory
July 18
“The Soul of Chicago”**
Bradley Park
9729 S. Yates
1 p.m.
**Soul of Chicago is a student concert series by Chicago West Community Music Center; children ages 4 and older learn classical music and perform at each concert
July 23
“The Soul of Chicago”**
Amundsen Park
6200 W. Bloomingdale Ave.
1 p.m.
July 30
“The Soul of Chicago”**
Anderson Park
3728 S. Prairie Ave
1 p.m.
August 10
“Soul of Chicago”**
Malcolm X College Terrace
1900 W. Jackson Blvd
6 p.m.
Straight Ahead Jazz Camp
July 16-20 9 a.m.
Who says camp is just for kids. If you are an adult music lover, educator, or musician (aged 18 or older), you too can go to camp. Held at Columbia College Chicago, each ay of the camp features a special guest artist along with hands-on workshops, clinics, lectures and jam sessions by noted musicians and experts from Chicago and beyond.
For a lineup of this year’s guest artists, more information or to register, visit:
What a great way to spend a vacation week in the summer (or you could opt for a one-day pass)!
For Kids and Youth
June 10
A new family friendly festival BOING (Big Outdoor Indoor Neighborhood Gathering
Chicago Children’s Theatre (CCT), The Station
100 S. Racine Ave.
(Outside CCT’s parking lot and inside on both floors)
Noon-4 p.m.
Kids can morph into heroes by creating adventure costumes, rolling oversized dice, and setting out on an epic quest inside and outside The Station complete with mysterious clues, discoveries and a surprise finale.
Includes live performances, food and more.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at or by calling (312) 374-8835.
From June 18-August 3
Camp Star (name stands for Summer Treatment for ADHD and Related Issues) is a partnership of UIC and the Jewish Council for Youth Services; it is the only program of its kind in Illinois.
9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Highland Park, Ill To register or for more information, contact: or call (847) 433-6001
July 9-August 17
BOP Biz Center
644 E. 79th St
9 a.m.- 2 p.m.
For ages 8-13
Includes: storytelling, outdoor games, life skills, public speaking, reading and writing and more. For more information or to register, call: (773) 301-9371
Early registration: $270 (until May 31) Lunch included
Transportation provided at extra cost.
After School Matters® is a popular program for teens—and the application process is open now for sessions that begin June 25. After School Matters® has more than 700 programs in the arts, communications and leadership, sports and STEM at various Chicago public high schools, as well as the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Public Library and community organization locations throughout the city. This is the largest amount of summer programs After School Matters has ever offered.
In total, nearly 13,000 paid apprenticeship and internship opportunities will be available to Chicago high school teens this summer through After School Matters. Participating teen
apprentices will be eligible to earn a stipend of up to $725 depending on the program level; interns can earn up to $10.50 per hour.
A few of the exciting programs offered throughout the city this summer include:
AeroStars Aviation Exploration – STEM
Location: Young Women’s Leadership Charter School/Douglas
In this program, teens discover the rich history of aviation and participate in experiments, modeling, airport design and flight simulation. Participants get hands-on experience in the aerospace industry through field trips to local airports, aerospace businesses, aerospace museum exhibits, and the Chicago Air and Water Show.
Chicago Lights Urban Farm – STEM
Location: Chicago Lights Urban Farm/Near North Side
At the Chicago Lights Urban Farm, teens learn about agricultural tools and develop skills in urban farming. As they grow, harvest and sell fresh produce on an urban farm, they also serve the neighborhood by preparing delicious meals with nutritious food and sharing healthy eating habits.
Chicagoland Mosaic Mural: Bead Town – Arts
Location: Millennium Park/The Loop
Teens in this program will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for “Largest Bead Mosaic.’” They will learn how to solve design problems, while using real beads repurposed from the one of the most famous parties on earth – Mardi Gras!
Girls in the Game Summer Camp – Sports
Location: Douglas Park/North Lawndale
Teens in this program will come together to play sports and learn about healthy lifestyle choices from positive adult role models. Camp counselors and adult staff will lead clinics on more than 30 different sports and fitness activities, as well as interactive workshops on health and leadership topics.
Hidden Treasures – Sports
Location: 6th District Police Office/Auburn Gresham
In this program, teens work alongside Chicago police officers to learn from one another and explore skills in dance and performing arts. This partnership supports positive relationship building between CPD and Chicago youth.
#IncreaseThePeace – Communications and Leadership
Location: Back of the Yards
#IncreaseThePeace is an apprenticeship program run by The Resurrection Project that will teach teens the basics in community organizing. By the end of the program, teens will have conducted 3 campaigns either on community safety, a beautification project and hosting an information session on community issues. The young leaders will also have a meeting with Back of the Yards Alderman and have an ask of the alderman. The ask will depend on what issues are most important to the students.
Peacemakers – Communications and Leadership
Location: Lutz Center/Belmont Cragin
Through the Peacemakers program, teens work to stop the violence and make a positive contribution in their communities. Teens will learn about the peace-building process, reflect on their communities, recognize their roles as peacemakers, and design a project to spread the message of peace. This program is one of 50 After School Matters Peacemaker programs throughout the city. The project will conclude with an opportunity for teens to showcase their accomplishments along with youth from around the City of Chicago.
Underwater Robotics – STEM
Location: Northeastern Illinois University/North Park
This program will focus on developing teens basic understanding of engineering, design and manufacturing using 3D printers. Teens will develop inquiry-based approaches to the creation of robots through sketching and building, as well as develop computer-aided design skills to build attachments for competition needs.
West African Djembe Drumming – Arts
Location: Church on the Block/Austin
In this program, teens will explore the rich tradition of the West African Djembe drum, including its music, geographic/ethnic origins and cultural significance. They will develop skills in basic hand techniques for djembe drumming and stick techniques for dunun drumming, culminating in a final showcase performance.
Teens can search and apply for summer 2018 programs at All After School Matters programs are free and open to Chicago high school students who are at least 14 years of age (16 years of age for internships). As part of the application process, teens interview with program instructors to discuss their interests. Teens are encouraged to apply early, as program opportunities fill up quickly.
For questions about programs and applications, call 312-742-4182 or email


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