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Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

18 things to do in Chicago over Fourth of July weekend

Written by
Grace Perry
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Couldn’t swing a trip out of town over the holiday weekend? Lucky you. With so much happening in Chicago, why would you ever want to leave? You’ll have the whole city to yourself, so take advantage of it. When you’re not cooling your heels at Chicago’s best beaches or treating yourself to your third Italian ice of the day, consider hitting up these great events leading up to Independence Day.

It’s Fourth of July weekend—fireworks are a necessity. Find our complete guide to every show here.

You probably can’t snag tickets to Hamilton this weekend (just being real), but you can celebrate American history by seeing Spamilton, the musical spoof of the Broadway smash hit. (Royal George Theatre, 1641 N Halsted St, Fri 7:30pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 2 and 5pm, Tue 7:30pm. $17–$99)

Trek to Lisle for the Eyes to the Skies Festival. With dozens of giant, colorful hot air balloons, a carnival and live music, it’s worth the drive. (Lisle Community Park, 1825 Short St in Lisle, Fri–Sun, dawn–10:30pm. $8)

Windy City Ribfest is bringing live music and a whole lot of barbecue to Uptown all weekend long. (Lawrence Ave at Broadway, Fri, Sat noon–10pm, Sun noon–9pm. $5 suggested donation)

Stop by the African Caribbean International Festival of Life, which is happening all weekend long in Union Park, for a weekend full of reggae, dancing and delicious Afro-Caribbean food. (Union Park, 1501 W Randolph St, Sat–Tue noon–10pm; $25 per day)

See the Improvised Shakespeare Co. in action all weekend long. For the uninitiated, this show is the perfect introduction to Chicago improv. (iO Chicago, 1501 N Kingsbury St, Fri, Sat, 8 and 10:30pm. $16)

Live on Lincoln is taking over Lakeview this weekend, with synth-pop act POLIÇA headlining Saturday and funk band The Motet headlining Sunday. (Lincoln, Belmont and Ashland Aves, Sat, Sun noon–10pm. $10 suggested donation)

Head down to Jackson Park for the Chosen Few DJs Music Festival, a two-day music fest jam-packed with live DJ performances. (Jackson Park, 6401 S Stony Island Ave, Sat 8am–9pm, Sun 10am–8pm. $25–$50)

Pick your poison: Marching Band music, Salsa and Mambo, the Zydeco Two-Step or all of the above. Whatever your style, dance the night away at Chicago SummerDance in Grant Park this weekend. (Grant Park, Spirit of Music Garden, 601 S Michigan Ave, Fri, Sat 6–9:30pm, Sun 4–7pm. Free)

Catch SoCal rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert at the United Center this weekend. Tickets are still available to see both Friday and Saturday shows. (United Center, 1901 W Madison St, Fri, Sat 8pm. $44 and up)

Catch a Shakespeare comedy in the park with a performance of Much Ado About Nothing in Evanston. (Ingraham Park, 2100 Ridge Ave, Sat, Sun 3pm. Free)

Head to the Art Institute to see Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist, a new retrospective that highlights the French post-impressionist artists’ lesser-known works. (Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S Michigan Ave, Fri–Mon 10:30am–5pm, Tue 10:30am–8pm. Price included in museum admission)

Channel your inner Deadhead and see Dead & Company at Wrigley Field this weekend. The band is made up of Grateful Dead core members and fronted by guitarist John Mayer. (Wrigley Field, 1060 W Addison St, Fri, Sat 6:30pm. $52 and up)

See Chicago-based, semi-autobiographical comedy The Big Sick, written by Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani, in theaters this weekend. Check theater times here.

The Neo-Futurists’ summer show, It Came From...the Neo-Futurarium! is running Saturdays in July, so check it out this weekend. They’ll be performing staged readings of the best worst movies ever. (Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N Ashland Ave, Sat 7:30pm. $15)

Going to weekly dance party Queen! can be an aggressive move on a typical Sunday, but on a holiday weekend, it’s perfect. Hit up this staple of Chicago queer nightlife over the long weekend. (Smart Bar, 3730 N Clark St, Sun 9pm. $10)

The Second City doesn’t take a break over the holidays. You can see their Mainstage show, The Winner...of Our Discontent, all weekend long (and on July 4th, too). (The Second City, 1616 N Wells St, Fri, Sat 8 and 11pm, Sun 7pm, Tue 8pm. $23–$48)

Catch the summer remount of At The Table, where a group of college friends wrestle with identity politics and their own personal identities. (Den Theatre, 1329–1355 N Milwaukee Ave, Fri–Sun 7:30pm. Pay as you wish)

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