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Everything you need to know about the Riverwalk Summer Kick-Off Celebration

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

If this week's warm weather didn't tip you off, summer is almost here and nearly everyone in the city is looking for an excuse to spend more time outdoors. On Saturday, May 20, the Chicago Riverwalk will mark the beginning of the season with a Summer Kick-Off Celebration, taking place from 9am to 8pm.

Of course, you'll be able to stretch your legs on the Riverwalk on Saturday, visiting the businesses like City Winery and the Island Party Hut Tiki Bar and Grill. But there's also plenty of programming and events that will be happening along the Chicago River throughout the day. Check out the full schedule or take a look at some of the highlights below.

Dance of the Bridges and Boats
A parade of boats will sail along the Chicago River, spurring the annual lifting of each bridge along the waterway. It might not sound exciting, but seeing a bridge lift is a pretty majestic experience. (Between Lake St and Lake Shore Dr, 11am–1pm.)

Riverwalk Paddle
If you've never navigated the river by kayak, now's your chance to give it a try. Don't worry if you're an inexperienced rower—all skill levels are welcome. (Urban Kayaks, between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive Bridges; 10am–3pm. Free)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
A chamber ensemble comprised of members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will bring some classical compositions to the Riverwalk opening celebration. (Between Franklin and Wells Sts, 1pm. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, 2pm.)

March of the Fish
Giant fish puppets and a marching band are the centerpiece of this celebratory procession, which will make its way along the Riverwalk twice throughout the day. (Columbus Dr traveling west to Lake St, noon. Lake St traveling east to Columbus Dr, 2pm.)

Dragon Boat Exhibition Race
Root for your favorite boat as the Greater Chicago Dragon Boat Club and Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce bring this Chinese tradition to the Riverwalk. (Between Wells and Dearborn Sts, 5pm.)

Pyrotechnic Waterfall Display
Cap off the evening with a one-minute display of "pyrotechnic waterfalls"... we think this means water and fireworks. (River Theater, between Clark and LaSalle Sts; 8pm.)

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