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September 2015 events calendar for Chicago

Plan your September in Chicago with our events calendar of the best things to do, including concerts, theater openings and art exhibits

Photograph: Jason Little
Chicago Gourmet, September 29, 2012

Do you have a case of the summertime blues? Cheer up, because fall in Chicago is looking like it's going to be pretty exciting. Grab a beer stein and get into the festive spirit of the season at Berghoff Oktoberfest or Oktoberfest Chicago. Sample dishes made by chefs from the best Chicago restaurants while gazing at the skyline during Chicago Gourmet. If you're not tired to seeing bands outdoors, you can hang out with the punks at Riot Fest or stand around in a parking lot at the Hideout Block Party. Prepare for autumn with our September events calendar for Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2015

Featured events in September 2015

Midnight Circus in the Parks

Critics' pick

Get under the big top at parks all over the city, as an eclectic ensemble of acrobats, aerialists and eccentrics perform in an intimate setting. Proceeds from these family-friendly events benefit the Chicago Park District.

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Grand Crossing Park, Southwest Side Until Sunday October 18 2015

Casting Dark Shadows: Film Noir Revisited

Critics' pick

Enjoy special screenings this August and early September in a tribute to the moody crime movies that arose from the anxieties of post-World War II America. Catch an old favorite like The Third Man or discover a new one.

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Gene Siskel Film Center, Loop Monday August 31 2015 - Wednesday September 2 2015

Chicago Fringe Festival

The annual Chicago Fringe Festival returns in September, bringing 50 shows to venues throughout Jefferson Park over 11 days. While some of the performances have participated in more prominent fringe festivals, the fest’s lottery-based selection process means you could see something daring, unique and memorable or something that evokes a different set of adjectives. That’s both the fun and the risk. For the first year, the festival will include KIDS FRINGE for kids 12 and younger. Fischman's Liquors serves as "Fringe Central," a.k.a. the main box office and hangout space for performers and audience members alike. Multi-show passes are available for the full fringe experience or roll the die with a single ticket purchase for $10.

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Jefferson Park, Jefferson Park Friday September 4 2015 - Sunday September 13 2015

German-American Fest

Critics' pick

Relive the famous Ferris Bueller scene at this parade celebrating Deutschland heritage. The street party features German food, music and dancing and the Von Steuben Parade kicks off on Saturday at 2pm.

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Western and Leland Aves, Lincoln Square Friday September 11 2015 - Sunday September 13 2015

Reeling Film Festival

Critics' pick

The festival will screen nearly 40 features and over 60 short films from home and abroad and is proud to include many Chicago premieres. Audience favorites Brokeback Mountain and I am Love, the highly anticipated drama Freeheld (Julianne Moore, Ellen Page) and documentary centerpiece Tchindas are only a handful of hot tickets. Stonewall's already provoked backlash and well founded criticisms, but it's presence in the festival means we don't have to judge a film on its trailer. The festival kicks off at the Music Box hosting an opening night screening of heart-filled bro comedy Fourth Man Out.  Screenings will be held at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N Southport Ave), Landmark Century Centre Cinema (2828 N Clark St) and Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N Clark St). Tickets available Aug 27. Check back for full schedule soon!

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Various venues, Chicago Thursday September 17 2015 - Thursday September 24 2015

Renegade Craft Fair

Critics' pick

The 12th annual fair is an opportunity for serious crafters from around the country to sell their handmade arts and wares. And for serious shoppers to buy them. Workshops, local food vendors and live music invade Division Street.

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Division St between Damen Ave and Wood St, Ukrainian Village Saturday September 19 2015 - Sunday September 20 2015

Berghoff Oktoberfest

Critics' pick

For three days Federal Plaza plays the role of Munich, Germany in Berghoff's version of the world's largest fair. Take in live music, German beer and Bavarian food. Prost!

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Federal Plaza, Loop Wednesday September 16 2015 - Friday September 18 2015

Riot Fest

Critics' pick

In a sprawling park on the city's west side, replete with circus attractions, Riot Fest prides itself on being punk. It's bookings are as diverse as "punk" is difficult to define. There's mall-punk, hardcore, emo, goth, metal, thrash, new-wave, rap, gray-haired indie and Weezer. The Cure, the Flaming Lips, Jane's Addiction, the Offspring, Slayer all top the bill in 2014. The bill, as per usual, reads like the CDs that were piled on the floor of your used Buick in high school. Does this mean you have to learn how to skate all over again? Couldn't hurt. On second thought, it totally could.

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Douglas Park Friday September 11 2015 - Sunday September 13 2015

Expo Chicago

Critics' pick

Expo Chicago brings more than 100 galleries representing 17 countries to Navy Pier for a gigantic international art fair. Visitors will be able to take in a breathtaking selection of contemporary art, all in a space specially designed by Chicago architect Jeanne Gang.

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Navy Pier, Festival Hall, Chicago Friday September 18 2015 - Sunday September 20 2015

Chicago Gourmet

Critics' pick

The annual three-day fest kicks off Friday with its Hamburger Hop throwdown. Walk in and waddle out once you've stuffed your face at cooking demos, tasting pavilions and a wine sampling.

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Millennium Park, Loop Friday September 25 2015 - Sunday September 27 2015

Festivals in September 2015

Chicago Turkish Festival

If all you know is that it's Istanbul and not Constantinople, head on over to this eventon Daley Plaza to sip Turkish coffee, eat baklava and orchid ice cream, and learn about Turkish culture. See the whirling dervishes and browse grocery stands, handmade ceramics and jewelry.

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Daley Plaza, Loop Wednesday September 2 2015 - Saturday September 5 2015

Chicago Jazz Festival

In its 37th year, Jazz Fest returns to Millennium Park (and the Cultural Center) with a solid lineup of fusion, traditional bop and cosmic shizz. Confirmed performers include Muhal Richard Abrams, José James, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Henry Butler.

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Millennium Park, Loop Thursday September 3 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015

North Coast Music Festival

Critics' pick

The other big festival in Union Park (the one that doesn't rhyme with Itchpork) leans heavy on EDM, jam and rap. In 2015, the Chemical Brothers, D'Angelo, the Roots, Porter Robinson, Chromeo, Portugal. The Man, Tycho, Steve Aoki and so many more are booked to play "summer's last stand."

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Union Park, Near West Side Friday September 4 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015

Taste of Polonia

Feast on potato pancakes, kielbasa, pierogi and more at this Polish celebration during Labor Day weekend. After you've stuffed yourself, dance to some polka music, watch a cover band or play a few rounds of bingo.

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Copernicus Center Friday September 4 2015 - Monday September 7 2015

Chicago's Best Summer WingFest

Each February for the past 16 years, cooks from restaurants all over the city gather to fry up astronomical amounts of chicken wings and slather them in sauces at Chicago's Best WingFest. Chicago's hottest festival turns up the heat for its inaugural summer Wingfest. Each pass includes all you can handle wings from over 40 Chicago establishments, live music, outdoor games, and craft beer. The festivities also include a wing eating contest, in which competitors try to inhale as many spicy chicken morsels as possible. All proceeds from the event benefit a variety of local charities.

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Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Hall, West Town Saturday September 5 2015

Motor Row Craft Beer & Wine Festival

With the opening of Vice District, Motor Row and Baderbräu, the South Loop is quickly becoming a popular destination for craft beer lovers. The first Motor Row Craft Beer & Wine Festival seeks to capitalize on this trend, sampling beverages from a selection of Midwest breweries and wineries in the historic South Side district. Admission is free, but a tasting session each day offers 15 samples for $35.

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Wabash Ave and 16th St Saturday September 5 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015

Roscoe Village Oyster Fest

Critics' pick

Oyster shuckers and beer drinkers unite at this annual Roscoe Village get-together, featuring hundreds of pounds of fresh seafood and an eclectic live music lineup.

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Roscoe Village Pub, Roscoe Village Friday September 11 2015 - Saturday September 12 2015

Windy City Wine Festival

Sample more than 300 wines from around the world at this annual sommelier extravaganza at Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Area restaurants and caterers will be serving up their signature dishes while bands provide musical accompaniment to your wine tasting journey.

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Buckingham Fountain, Loop Friday September 11 2015 - Saturday September 12 2015

Festival de la Villita

Celebrate Mexico's independence from Spain with Mexican food, music and dancing in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood. Vendors and carnival rides fill the streets on all three days and on Sunday, the 26th Street Mexican Independence Day Parade ends here.

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2600 S Kostner Ave, Chicago Friday September 11 2015 - Sunday September 13 2015

Riot Fest

Critics' pick

In a sprawling park on the city's west side, replete with circus attractions, Riot Fest prides itself on being punk. It's bookings are as diverse as "punk" is difficult to define. There's mall-punk, hardcore, emo, goth, metal, thrash, new-wave, rap, gray-haired indie and sometimes Blondie. The Replacements and Elvis Costello have headlined in the past. The bill typically reads like the CDs that were piled on the floor of your used Buick in high school. Does this mean you have to learn how to skate all over again? Couldn't hurt. On second thought, it totally could. Check out our complete coverage of Riot Fest.

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Douglas Park Friday September 11 2015 - Sunday September 13 2015
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Art in September 2015

"MCA DNA: Rafael Ferrer"

Critics' pick

Puerto Rican–born artist Rafael Ferrer has worked in a broad range of forms since first emerging as a national and international figure in the late 1960s. During the heyday of avant-garde explorations in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ferrer was one of the prime instigators of a movement now called process art. MCA’s Ferrer collection reflects the museum’s long association with the artist and exhibits his colorful, willfully naïve and immediate style of painting.

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Museum of Contemporary Art, Gold Coast Saturday September 19 2015 - Sunday March 6 2016

"Matt Siber: Idol Structures"

Photos and sculptures from Chicago-based artist Matt Siber fill DePaul Art Museum's “Idol Structure,” showcasing his works related to physical infrastructure and how visual messages are communicated. His work consistently examines corporate mass media and urban landscapes. This exhibit uses these themes but focuses more on what isn’t said or meant to be seen and the power of the unintended message.

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DePaul Art Museum, Lincoln Park Thursday September 10 2015 - Sunday December 20 2015

"The Andy Archetype: Works from the Permanent Collection"

Critics' pick

This collection features prints and photographs by the iconic Warhol presented alongside works of those he influenced. Famous for his use of bold colors and mass-produced prints, Warhol’s work introduced a new dialogue and style to American art as his work commented on the commodification of celebrity and elevated the mundane. This collection exhibits the impact of his work on other artists and explores how comparison finds nuance and diverse meaning.

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DePaul Art Museum, Lincoln Park Thursday September 10 2015 - Thursday December 10 2015

"Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye"

Contemporary architect David Adjaye has built more than 50 projects all across the world, including the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo and the soon-to-be-completed Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. Comprising furniture, housing, public buildings and master plans, the Art Institute's extensive exhibition examines Adjaye tendency to blend architectural styles and rethink conventions.

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Art Institute of Chicago, Loop Saturday September 19 2015 - Sunday January 3 2016

"Chicago Works: Ania Jaworska"

For the latest installment of the Museum of Contemporary Art's Chicago Works series, Ania Jaworska exhibits her architecturally-inspired work in conjunction with the city’s first Architecture Biennial. The exhibit's centerpiece is an installation of black sculptures that is both a work of art and a proposal for a larger project. Visitor's will also be able to view a series of Jaworska's drawings, which explore the meaning behind various architectural elements.

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Museum of Contemporary Art, Gold Coast Until Sunday January 31 2016

"Kesa: Japanese Buddhist Monks’ Vestments"

The Art Institute's Department of Textiles presents an exhibition of kesa, the intricately woven garments traditionally worn by Japanese Buddhist monks and priests. The display includes a selection of 23 garments, some which date back to as early as 1615.

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Art Institute of Chicago, Loop Until Friday January 22 2016

Concerts in September 2015

Modest Mouse

For a group that started out playing tiny clubs, bingo halls and dive bars, Modest Mouse fills larger spaces remarkably well, offering up a slightly frenetic live show anchored by Isaac Brock’s distinctive yelp-and-shout singing. Here, the Pacific Northwest indie-rock heavies gig behind their latest LP (and first in eight years), Strangers to Ourselves.

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Concord Music Hall, Logan Square Thursday September 3 2015

North Coast Music Festival

Critics' pick

The other big festival in Union Park (the one that doesn't rhyme with Itchpork) leans heavy on EDM, jam and rap. In 2015, the Chemical Brothers, D'Angelo, the Roots, Porter Robinson, Chromeo, Portugal. The Man, Tycho, Steve Aoki and so many more are booked to play "summer's last stand."

Read more
Union Park, Near West Side Friday September 4 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015

Of Montreal

Critics' pick

Of Montreal, the inside-out glam id of Kevin Barnes, has been cranking out albums steadily for ages. His latest psychosexual couch session with guitars is Aureate Gloom, Of Montreal's 13th studio album whose prog psych vibe weaves through Barnes's often wry, personal lyrics.

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Lincoln Hall, Lincoln Park Thursday September 10 2015

Riot Fest

Critics' pick

Relocated to the sprawling Douglas Park on the city's South Side, replete with circus attractions, Riot Fest prides itself on being punk. It's bookings are as diverse as "punk" is difficult to define. There's mall-punk, hardcore, emo, goth, metal, thrash, new-wave, rap, gray-haired indie and sometimes Blondie. This year, No Doubt reunites to top the bill, joined by Modest Mouse, Faith No More, Iggy Pop and... Snoop Dog? Sure, whatever. There's something for every former '90s mallrat. Check out our complete coverage of Riot Fest.

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Douglas Park Friday September 11 2015 - Sunday September 13 2015

AC/DC

Critics' pick

The drummer was brought up on murder and drug charges, and longtime rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young sadly stepped away due to dementia, but, hell, frontman Bon Scott died and AC/DC hardly missed a step. This is a battleship of a band, a tortoise with a thick shell. Their new one, Rock or Bust, sounds like all the rest, with stiff blues riffs and blue balls. AC/DC albums are as good as their juvenile puns, and "Emission Control" is one of the more clever ones.

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Wrigley Field, Wrigleyville Tuesday September 15 2015

Best Coast

Critics' pick

LA-based surf-pop trio Best Coast deliver a live set full of groovy, preloved licks and lo-fi, sweetly melodic fuzz. Fiery frontwoman Bethany Cosentino’s best songs are full of yearning and heartache that her sweet-with-an-edge voice pulls off perfectly, and sounds just as great live as recorded. The band's latest, California Nights, was released this year, showcasing a more grown up sound from Cosentino, still playful, yet perhaps more consicously moody.

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Metro Chicago, Wrigleyville Friday September 18 2015

Stromae

Critics' pick

If you've never heard of Stromae, that's likely going to change very soon. The electro-songsmith—real name: Paul Van Haver—specializes in soulful bangers that sound at once sophisticated and bombastic, and he's a huge star in his native Belgium. 

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Riviera Theatre, Uptown Monday September 21 2015

Madonna

Critics' pick

Rebel Heart, the unlucky 13th album from Madonna, is being heralded as her best in a decade, which isn't saying too much, as that means it merely trumps Hard Candy and MDNA. But a pirated leak of the record and a tumble down some award show steps can't slow down the 56-year-old Queen of Pop. Somewhere amidst Rebel's 19 sprawling tracks, which jump from disco to dancehall to Avicii's hoedown house, is a smashing comeback, if you can sort through the desperate attempts to stay relevent with teens. "Living for Love" alone is great enough to fall back into Madonna's muscular arms. Who is going to put on a bigger show?

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United Center, Near West Side Monday September 28 2015

The Growlers

Critics' pick

The Growlers are one of the growing number of California bands that play modern psychedelic music informed by their locale, but without a whiff of L.A. cheese, favoring instead the West Coast’s hippie-dippy looseness. At its best, the group invokes a smoking late-’60s beach party. Just like summer never ended!

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Metro Chicago, Wrigleyville Wednesday September 30 2015

Lætitia Sadier + Deradoorian

Critics' pick

Stereolab went on indefinite hiatus in 2009, but lead vocalist Lætitia Sadier has maintained a prolific solo career in the ensuing years. Her latest, Something Shines, is a shimmering collection of understated pop songs, overseen by the French musician's unmistakable voice. Former Dirty Projectors collaborator Angel Deeradoorian opens the show, sharing tunes from her debut solo LP The Expanding Flower Planet.

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Schubas, Lakeview Wednesday September 30 2015

Free events in September 2015

Hideout Riverwalk concert series

Critics' pick

The Hideout's Riverwalk pop-up venue hosts a free, all-ages concert series almost everyday through November 1. Guests can enjoy beer, cocktails and snacks from Bridgeport Pasty while watching acts like the Wandering Boys and Devil in a Woodpile on a small, riverfront stage. Check out the Hideout's website for a full schedule of upcoming concerts.

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Hideout Riverwalk Until Sunday November 1 2015

OUTspoken!

This monthly storytelling show focuses on LGBTQ-identified performers, though their stories aren't necessarily gay-themed. The evening is hosted by Sidetrack co-owner and Equality Illinois co-founder Art Johnston and Kim Hunt of Affinity Community Services.

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Sidetrack, Boystown Tuesday September 1 2015 - Tuesday December 1 2015

Tuesdays on the Terrace

Critics' pick

Each Tuesday, the Museum of Contemporary Art hosts a free concert in its Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden. The lineup features performers from the Chicago jazz community, including Fred Anderson and Joshua Abrams. Attendees can order food à la carte from the outdoor grill or pig out at the buffet (it's $26). If it's raining outside, the event moves indoors to the MCA Café.

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Museum of Contemporary Art, Gold Coast Tuesday September 1 2015 - Tuesday September 29 2015

ACTIVATE

Critics' pick

Each month, Chicago Loop Alliance throws a party in a nondescript downtown alley with the help of local artists and DJs. Every month the roving exhibition takes over a different alley and theme. This month come to the Haddock Place Alley to take a "Steampunk Journey through Time and Space." The event is completely free plus you can RSVP for a drink on the house. Locations are updated in the weeks leading up to each event. Must be 21.

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Various locations throughout Chicago. Friday September 18 2015

Slo 'Mo

At this polysexual Logan Square dance-off, party purveyor Kristen Kaza and DJ Tess drop the needle on love-drenched classics by Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Prince and the queen of lovers' rock, Sade.

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The Whistler, Logan Square Thursday September 17 2015 - Thursday August 18 2016

Renegade Craft Fair

Critics' pick

The annual Wicker Park fair is an opportunity for serious crafters from around the country to sell their handmade arts and wares. And for serious shoppers to buy them. Workshops, local food vendors and live music invade Division Street.

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Division St between Damen Ave and Wood St, Ukrainian Village Saturday September 19 2015 - Sunday September 20 2015

PBR Movie Night

Critics' pick

Spend the last Sunday of every month at the Boiler Room's patio to screenings of some of your favorite films like Gran Torino and Old School. Enter the mind of David Lynch this August from the safety of the lively patio. Chow down on Boiler’s famous PB&J dinner deal–that’s a slice of pizza, a 16-ounce PBR and a shot of Jameson for $8.50. RSVP for a beer and PBR koozie.

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Boiler Room, Logan Square Until Sunday December 27 2015

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