Summer's winding down, but that doesn't mean this city is. There's even more to do in Chicago this September with endless beer fests, art and theater openings and still more music festivals and concerts to pack into your planners. Kick the month off with the perfect Labor Day weekend then discover the insane amount of things to do in the fall in Chicago. There might be a chill in the air, but our ultimate guide to the best September events and openings will keep you out and about and wondering if summer really is your favorite Chicago season after all.
THINGS TO DO
Sept 1: Support LGBTQ storytellers as they take the mic at OUTspoken!
Sept 5 & 6, 12 & 13, 19 & 20, 26 & 27: Step right up to the big top in Chicago’s parks! Midnight Circus in the Parks returns this fall with affordable circus shows each weekend.
Sept 17: Get in some exercise before all the brats and brews with the Oktoberfest 5k Run.
Sept 17: Adults get in on the out-of-this-world fun at the planetarium's Adler After Dark: Game On.
Sept 17: Grab a partner and get grinding at Slo ‘Mo, the LGBT and friends slow jam dance party at the Whistler.
Sept 18: This month ACTIVATE takes over a new alley with a free fashion-themed event taking style to the streets. Literally.
Sept 19 & 20: Take your Etsy addiction offline at the Renegade Craft Fair where crafts-craving consumers can shop IRL.
Sept 19: Sample liquor with the lions at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Wild Spirits event. A ticket gets you 12 liquor tastings, so go ape!
Sept 19: Lil Bub (beloved Internet kitty) returns to host the Internet Cat Video Festival.
Sept 20: Get your garage-sale fix at the Vintage Garage, featuring more than 100 vendors to satisfy thrifters and rummage sale junkies.
Sept 22: See popular podcast Slate Culture Gabfest in the flesh at the Music Box.
Sept 25: Witness German breakdancing set to electronic Bach compositions in Red Bull Flying Bach. This is a dance performance you really won’t want to miss.
Sept 25: Hop on a boat and celebrate your German heritage on this Oktoberfest cruise complete with traditional food, drink and dancing.
Sept 25–Nov 1: Going to the suburbs gets even scarier at Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare.
Sept 26 & 27: Celebrate young artists at the Edgewater Fall Art Fair, where kids showcase their creativity and make music and their own masterpieces.
Sept 26 & 27: Go retro at the Randolph Street Market Festival and shop everything vintage, swap vinyl and even get antiques appraised.
Sept 2–5: Swing by the Chicago Turkish Festival to down a delicious doner and sip a strong Turkish kahve.
Sept 4–7: The pierogi won’t be the only thing stuffed at the Taste of Polonia.
Sept 4–13: Take a chance on the Chicago Fringe Festival, where the lineup is determined by a lottery selection process.
Sept 5: Get fired up for Chicago’s Best Summer WingFest.
Sept 5 & 6: Enjoy tastings from Vice District, Motor Row and Baderbräu at the Motor Row Craft Beer & Wine Festival.
Sept 11 & 12: You know what they say about oysters. Get in the mood at the Roscoe Village Oyster Fest.
Sept 11 & 12: Sure, craft beer is on the up-and-up these days, but at the Windy City Wine Festival, wine is the focus with more than 300 wines to tantalize your palate.
Sept 12: Support the Moraine County Food Pantry at the Highwood Craft Beer Festival. Admission gets you 20 samples.
Sept 11–13: Grab a beer stein and watch the Von Steuben Parade, hand in hand at the German-American Fest. Prost!
Sept 11–13: Celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain at Festival de la Villita in Little Village with carnival rides, food and the Mexican Independence Day Parade.
Sept 12: Sample more than 50 brews at the Logan Square Beer Fest.
Sept 12 & 13: The Ukraine is strong at the Ukrainian Village Festival, celebrating the historic Chicago neighborhood.
Sept 16–18: Partake in Chicago’s favorite beer and brat filled fest at Berghoff Oktoberfest.
Sept 18: Raise a glass while raising funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at Festiv-Ale, serving up libations from Arcade Brewery, DryHop and other local breweries.
Sept 19: Chug a chilly Fat Tire and sip a Stickee Monkee at the Independence Park Beer Fest, offering beer from New Belgium, Firestone Walker and more.
Sept 19 & 20: At Lakeview Taco Fest you can select one of the beer and taco pairings then grab a ringside seat for some Lucha Libre wrestling.
Sept 25–27: Prep your palate for Chicago Gourmet, the must-splurge-on event of fall for any Chicago foodie.
Sept 26: Last year was more smoke than fire. See if The Great Chicago Fire Festival brings the heat.
Sept 26 & 27: Shop contemporary and sustainable design objects, furniture and garden accessories at the Grand Art and Design Festival.
Sept 15: Lowcountry, a casual dining concept centered on seafood boils and craft cocktails, opens in Lakeview.
Sept TBD: The DryHop Brewery group opens Corridor Brewery & Provisions, a brewpub with a farmhouse feel, on Southport Corridor.
Sept TBD: The team behind New York’s awesome cocktail bar Dead Rabbit opens GreenRiver, a cocktail bar in Streeterville, with drinks from Julia Momose (the Office).
Late Sept: Farm Bar, a cider-focused spot from the Farmhouse team, opens in Lakeview.
Note: Restaurant openings are subject to change and can be delayed; call ahead before setting out.
Sept 6–Dec 13: Explore the complex connection between sight and touch at the Hyde Park Center’s “Warm Kitty, Soft Kitty.”
Sept 10–Dec 10: Re-evaluate the works of Warhol juxtaposed against the artists he influenced at DePaul’s collection, “The Andy Archetype.”
Sept 18–20: It’s galleries galore at EXPO Chicago with more than 100 international and local galleries making Navy Pier the place to be.
Sept 12–Nov 29: Explore the underlying forces regulating human society at “Geof Oppenheimer: Big Boss and the Ecstasy of Pressure,” featuring the works of the Chicago-based artist.
Sept 13–Jan 3: View beautiful, detailed paintings and learn about India’s temple town of Nathdwara at the Art Institute's “Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings.”
Sept 19–Jan 3: Rethink the conventional at “Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye,” showcasing the designs by the man behind international works like the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo.
Sept 19–Mar 6: Puerto Rican–born artist Rafael Ferrer’s colorful and willfully naive works are the focus at “MCA DNA: Rafael Ferrer.”
Sept 8: Tobey Maguire stars as troubled chess master in the Bobby Fischer Cold War biopic Pawn Sacrifice.
Sept 17–24: See new films and docs already making a buzz like Stonewall or an old favorite like Brokeback Mountain at Reeling, the second longest running LGBTQ+ International Film festival.
Sept 18: In Black Mass, Johnny Depp brings his intensity to the role of real-life Boston crime kingpin Whitey Bulger.
Sept 25: Director Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated) is back with The Intern, a gentle comedy about an e-store that takes on a senior intern played by Robert De Niro.
Sept 3–6: The Chicago Jazz Festival brings Dee Dee Bridgewater, Muhal Richard Abrams and more swingin’ performers to free shows across the city.
Sept 4–6: D’Angelo and the Chemical Brothers headline a Labor Day weekend bash in Union Park at North Coast Music Festival.
Sept 9: Acclaimed saxophonist (and Kendrick Lamar collaborator) Kamasi Washington plays selections from his three-hour record at Bottom Lounge.
Sept 11–13: Taking up residence in Douglas Park, this year’s edition of Riot Fest mixes punk rock with headliners like No Doubt and Modest Mouse.
Sept 11–22: Experience (free) sets by Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista and desert rockers Terakaft at the annual World Music Festival.
Sept 15: Wanna see Angus Young trot around the Friendly Confines in a pair of shorts? You better catch AC/DC at Wrigley Field.
Sept 19: Minnesota outfit Low brings its minimalistic melodies and huge harmonies to Thalia Hall.
Sept 26: Pack some earplugs and get lost in a wave of distortion when reunited UK shoegazers Ride hit the Riv.
Sept 26 & 27: Composer Henry Threadgill and guitarist Jeff Parker join the neighborhood celebration at Hyde Park Jazz Festival.
Sept 28: Madonna’s Rebel Heart tour touches down at the United Center for an evening of backup dancers and chart-topping pop tunes.
Sept 8-Oct 18: Attend the Chicago premiere of Dogfight, the 2012 musical by the fast-rising writing team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
Sept 8–Nov 8: A storms-a-brewin’ at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre staging The Tempest this fall.
Sept 17–Nov 15: In East of Eden Frank Galati returns to the author’s work with a new adaptation of Steinbeck’s sprawling tale.
Sept 19–Nov 1:For The Black White Love Play, Chaz Ebert, the widow of film critic Roger Ebert, collaborated with Black Ensemble Theater’s feisty founder, Jackie Taylor, to create this new play with music about the couple’s marriage.
Sept 29–Oct 11: Catch the 2014 Tony-winning A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, making its first major stop in our city on its national tour.
Sept 4–Oct 23: Catch the edgy sketch duo of Paul Thomas and Seth Thomas (no relation) in their two-man show, The Defiant Thomas Brothers.
Sept 10–12: At Up Comedy Club, comedian Jen Kirkman (Chelsea Lately, Drunk History) makes her three-night stand.
Sept 11 & 12: Writer and storyteller Brooke Allen puts on a laugh-inducing show that is definitely Not Boring!
Sept 17–19: Get silly with MADtv’s Matt Braunger at Up Comedy Club.
Sept 24: Internet judge, humorist and Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman performs his new show Vacationland at Thalia Hall.