Chicago, IL

Three of the Biggest Chicago Events Still Scheduled for Summer

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

As special events in Chicago are being held again, it’s important to plan ahead and get the vaccine to allow you to attend these crowded venues with decreased risk of catching COVID-19.

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Chicago Air and Water ShowTony/flickr

Summer and fall in Chicago are normally filled with all kinds of festivals and special events that draw crowds from all over. When the pandemic hit, leading to the executive order from Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, which locked down the state, everything began closing and special holiday and seasonal events were canceled. When the state began to be reopened, however, some events couldn’t be budgeted for due to other new budgetary obligations that were necessary because of the pandemic.

Two iconic celebrations in Chicago that weren’t budgeted for were the Taste of Chicago food festival and the Air and Water Show. Special Events Commissioner Mark Kelly informed the cities aldermen during a budget hearing back at the beginning of November, that there were no funds allocated in the 2021 budget for these two popular events. He said that while the events weren’t being officially canceled at the time, that the $9 million needed to hold the two events were not part of the departments spending plan for 2021.

While some special events are being canceled to decrease overcrowded gatherings that could put people’s health at risk, others are being held on a smaller scale, or “reimagined,” as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot prefers to call it. For example, this year’s Taste of Chicago, which normally attracts over 1,400,000 people, was replaced with Taste of Chicago To-Go which took place in July. It featured pop-up food events including a large assortment of food trucks, and entertainment over five days and much smaller crowds.

Here are three other popular Chicago events that will be held during the end of summer and early fall 2021 with information as to what form they will be taking this year.

Three Great Events Still Being Held in Chicago

Chicago Air and Water Show - Date: August 21 & 22, Time: 12:00–1:00pm, Location: On the lakefront between Oak Street and Fullerton Avenue, Cost: Free

The Chicago Air and Water Show is one of the most popular events that occurs in the city over the summer. It is held in August and features formation jet flyers, parachute teams, and daredevil pilots as well as boat-jumping demonstrations and waterskiing stunts.

With its nearness to the Chicago beaches and skyline, the show can be normally be seen from almost anywhere along the Chicago lakefront. The show normally stretches over two full days. Last year the Chicago Air and Water Show was canceled due to the pandemic and this year there was no money budgeted for it to be held. Yet Chicago Mayor Lightfoot wanted there to be some version of the event held, even if it needed to be much smaller.

Lightfoot announced that while the traditional Air and Water Show won’t be held this month, the show will be reimagined in a format which will replace the regular event this year. It will still be held on two days, August 21st and 22nd however, it will only last for an hour each day.

The presentation will include a special solo demonstration by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. If you want to catch more of the flying, there will be a practice on August 20th from 10:00am to 2:00pm. The best places to watch the show from are along the lakefront are between Oak Street and Fullerton Avenue.

Riot Fest Dates: September 17th – September 19th, Location: Douglass Park, 1401 S. Sacramento Drive

RiotFest Chicago is recognized as one of the top festivals for alternative, punk, metal, hip-hop and rock. This three-day music festival promises to make up for lost time with one of the most impressive lineups yet.

Last year there was a great deal of disappointment when it was announced that Riot Fest was canceled until this year. However, this means more effort was put into the festival for 2021. They’ve pulled out all the stops for the 2021 event. Here are some of the acts you can see perform among thousands of other music fans from all over the world.

  • The Smashing Pumpkins
  • Coheed and Cambria
  • Lupe Fiasco
  • NOFX
  • Run the Jewels
  • Faith No More
  • Dropkick Murphys
  • Rancid
  • Nine Inch Nails
  • Pixies
  • Devo
  • New Found Glory

Tickets are available as single-day passes for $124.98 or three-day passes which go for $199.98. Due to the lineup, however, they are expecting tickets to sell out fast. Even if this is the case you can join the waitlist to participate in the fan-to-fan ticket exchange.

COVID-19 precautions include added sanitation procedures and multiple hand washing areas across the grounds. There will also be frequent cleaning and sanitizing services throughout the entire festival. Organizers have stated that they will be fully compliant with local and state regulations.

It is also possible that attendees may be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test, wear masks or practice social distancing so if you are planning to attend, make sure to stay up to date on all health and safety requirements.

Grant Park Music Festival - Dates: July 2nd - August 21st

The Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus has returned to Millennium Park with a collection of favorites. The Grant Park Orchestra draws musicians from the top musical institutions and orchestras across the country. During the summer, the Grant Park Orchestra comes together in Chicago for a ten-week season made up of intensive rehearsals and performances.

Some of the institutions the musicians come from include the Metropolitan Opera, and Symphonies from Colorado, Pittsburgh, Seattle, San Antonio and Utah among others.

The Grant Park Orchestra was nominated for a Grammy award for its recording Robert Kurka: Symphonic Works.

August performances:

Carnival of the Animals August 11, 2021, 6:30pm – 8:00pm, Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Classic Broadway August 13 -14 2021 6:30pm – 8:00pm Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Schubert Mass in G Major August 18, 2021 6:30pm-8:00pm Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 August 20 – 21, 2021 6:30pm – 8:00pm Jay Pritzker Pavilion

There are always many free seats for these performances. The only paid seats are those at the very front of the Seating Bowl which are reserved for members and One Night Pass holders. The rest of the seating in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion consist of comfortable fixed seats close to the stage. You can also bring a chair or blanket to enjoy the concerts on the large Great Lawn.

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