August 2018 events calendar for Chicago

Plan your August in Chicago with our events calendar of the best things to do, including concerts, theater openings and art exhibits
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
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Is it August already? Summertime (and beach weather) is slipping away, so it's time to get serious about planning the remaining weeks. If you still haven't made it out to a music festival this year, join the crowds at Lollapalooza or dance with the hippies at North Coast (plus, Drake and Beyoncé are in town this month). If you demand some visual spectacle, you'll find it at the Air and Water Show or amid the crowds of cosplayers at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. Don't forget to enjoy some warm weather cuisine at the Logan Square Food Truck Festival or the Chicago Hot Dog Fest. You'll find all these event and many more on our August events calendar for Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2018

Featured events in August 2018

Lollapalooza 2017
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Music, Music festivals

Lollapalooza

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Taking over Grant Park for four days each summer, Lollapalooza is Chicago's largest music festival, attracting an estimated 100,000 attendees each day. This year, the Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White and Arctic Monkeys headline the fest, topping a bill that includes acts like St. Vincent, Franz Ferdinand, Tyler, the Creator and more. With more than 180 artists, grub from local eateries and plenty of beer, this is the kind of weekend that Chicago summers were made for.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z
Photograph: Courtesy the artists
Music, Pop

Beyoncé + Jay-Z

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The past few years have been tumultuous (to say the least) for musical power-couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé, but the pair has weathered the rough times and is getting ready to celebrate with—what else?—a co-headlining tour. Dubbed OTR II (a nod to their 2014 On the Run tour), the stadium show will mash up Jay's increasingly conscientious hip-hop with Bey's immaculately choreographed anthems, plus cuts from their new collaboration Everything is Love.

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Chicago Hot Dog Fest
Photograph: Stephen Jensen
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Hot Dog Fest

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The Chicago History Museum organizes this celebration of one of the city's most famous dishes, serving creative franks from the likes of Byron's, Chicago's Dog House, Edzo's and more. While you're chowing down on neon green relish and sport pepper, you can listen to live music or attend a lecture that will teach you about the history of the Chicago-style hot dog.

Bud Billiken Day Parade on Martin Luther King Junior Drive on Saturday, August...
Photograph: Simon Brubaker
Things to do, Festivals

Bud Billiken Parade

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The world's largest and oldest African-American parade enters its 89th year celebrating Chicago's youth. The parade's two-mile route begins in the Bronzeville neighborhood and continues north on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, concluding in Washington Park with a picnic that features vendors and performers.

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Lagunitas Beer Circus
Photograph: Lagunitas Brewing Company
Things to do, Festivals

Lagunitas Beer Circus

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After holding its annual Beer Circus in its the parking lot of its Lawndale brewery for the past few years, Lagunitas is moving the party to nearby Douglas Park this year (the same place where Riot Fest is held). As usual, the event will bring together live music, burlesque, sideshow acts, aerialists and some limited-release beers. Admission includes your first pour of beer and a portion of proceeds will benefit local no-kill dog rescue One Tail at a Time. 

Northalsted Market Days brings LGBT-friendly pop acts like Belinda Carlisle, Karmin, and Neon Trees to Boystown for the Midwest's biggest two-day street festival, August 9 and 10, 2014.
Photograph: Kaitlin Hetterscheidt
Things to do, Festivals

Northalsted Market Days

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Northalsted Market Days is the largest two-day street festival in the Midwest and features lots of booze, phallic junk food (think corn dogs and chocolate-dipped bananas), music acts and terrific street fashion.

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Drake
Photograph: Courtesy REX/Shutterstock
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Drake + Migos

icon-location-pin United Center
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After collaborating on "Walk It Talk It," Canadian R&B superstar Drake joins forces with hip-hop trio Migos on the Aubrey and the Three Migos Tour. While you shouldn't expect Drake to address the “The Story Of Adidon” diss track that Pusha-T released, you'll probably hear plenty of ubiquitous new tracks from his latest album Scorpion. Here's hoping that Drake and Migos play at least part of the show in their Soul Train-themed attire.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, Firebirds Delta Team and more perform aerial stunts at the Chicago Air and Water Show, August 16, 2014.
Photograph: Anthony Soave
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Air and Water Show

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park
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Don't be surprised if you get a neck ache from looking up during this two-day event. Join throngs of people at North Beach and surrounding areas to catch air and watercraft demonstrations, including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights.

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Half Acre Balmoral
Photograph: Nick Murway
Things to do, Festivals

The Big North

icon-location-pin Lincoln Square
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Half Acre Beer Company throws its annual bash at its expansive Balmoral Brewery, welcoming guests into its taproom, production space and patio to enjoy drinks, music and more. This year's festivities will feature samples of newly-developed beers and music from local psych outfit Post Animal, indie rockers Dehd and dream pop act Divino Niño. Tickets include food, a glass, a coozie and first-come, first-served access to a variety of barrel-aged and wyld beers.

French Toast at Jam
Photograph: Ken Carl
Things to do, Conventions

BrunchCon

icon-location-pin Bucktown
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Your favorite meal finally gets the convention it so rightly deserves, as 30 vendors serve up brunch bites, accompanied by open mimosa and Bloody Mary bars. During two separate sessions, guests will be able to explore the "Museum of Brunch," shop for supplies to take home in the BrunchCon market and play mimosa pong with friends. Like a great brunch, you'll wish you could do this every day of the week.

Festivals in August 2018

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Photograph: Zach Weiss
Things to do, Festivals

Bristol Renaissance Faire

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Have a jolly olde time and butcher your favorite European accent as you engage in live-action fantasy play, enjoy interactive riddles, cheer on your favorite jousting knight or revel in period performances from 1574. The festival takes place Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day in July, August and early September.

Lollapalooza 2017
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Music, Music festivals

Lollapalooza

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Taking over Grant Park for four days each summer, Lollapalooza is Chicago's largest music festival, attracting an estimated 100,000 attendees each day. This year, the Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White and Arctic Monkeys headline the fest, topping a bill that includes acts like St. Vincent, Franz Ferdinand, Tyler, the Creator and more. With more than 180 artists, grub from local eateries and plenty of beer, this is the kind of weekend that Chicago summers were made for. RECOMMENDED: Check out photos and reviews from Lollapalooza

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Flashback Weekend
Photograph: Courtesy Flashback Weekend
Things to do, Conventions

Flashback Weekend Chicago Horror Convention

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Let out a few blood-curdling screams during Flashback Weekend, an annual convention that celebrates gory slasher flicks, cinematic monsters and horror films. Confirmed guests at this year's event include Brad Dourif—better known as the voice of Chucky in the Child's Play film series. Of course, you'll also be able to dig through a terrifying amount of classic movie memorabilia or show off your creepiest outfit at a horror-themed costume contest. 

Things to do, Festivals

Jeff Fest Arts and Music Festival

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Grab your djembe and head to Jefferson Park, where a drum circle is just one of the many highlights of this annual community festival. This year's live music lineup is filled with homages to classic rock, including Pink Floyd tribute act Echoes of Pompeii, ZZ Top cover band Eliminator and Led Zeppelin devotees Kashmir. 

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Edge Fest
Photograph by Jeremy Bressman
Things to do, Festivals

Edge Fest

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This is not a celebration of U2's guitarist, instead the "edge" here is Edgewater. This year, the 'hood hosts a long weekend of wholesome family entertainment featuring tons of interactive, kid-friendly activities including karaoke night. Vendors willl serve up the anticipated array of festival foods (corn dogs, funnel cakes, blintzes, donuts), while local artists display handmade goods and crafts.

Things to do, Festivals

Illinois State Fair

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Come for the fried festival fare, stay for the Butter Cow—the fair's unofficial icon and Paula Deen's life-long dream, a life-size cow sculpture made of 500 pounds of butter. The annual State Fair features carnival rides, auto races, livestock competitions and (separately ticketed) concerts from the likes of Ludacris, 311, Foreigner and more. Really, there's no better excuse to make the trip to our state's capital.

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Chicago Hot Dog Fest
Photograph: Stephen Jensen
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Hot Dog Fest

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The Chicago History Museum organizes this celebration of one of the city's most famous dishes, serving creative franks from the likes of Byron's, Chicago's Dog House, Edzo's and more. While you're chowing down on neon green relish and sport pepper, you can listen to live music or attend a lecture that will teach you about the history of the Chicago-style hot dog.

Festival Cubano
Photograph: Courtesy Festival Cubano
Things to do, Festivals

Festival Cubano

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Back in Riis Park, the three-day Festival Cubano brings together musician, dancers and food for a weekend of cultural celebration. Begin by checking out the festival's 30 Cuban vendors, who will be serving dishes such as jibarito sandwhiches, ropa vieja, lechón and tostones. Once you're full, play a game of dominos, shop for a hand-rolled cigar, watch boxing matches or catch a performance from Cuban stars like Willy Chirino and Jerry Rivera.

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Retro on Roscoe
Photograph: Courtesy Retro on Roscoe
Things to do, Festivals

Retro on Roscoe

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Antique vendors and classic cars fill six blocks of Roscoe Village at this throwback street market, where everything old is new again. The music lineup is equally nostalgic, featuring tribute acts like Too White Crew, Trippin Billies, American English and 16 Candles. 

Photograph: G Nagata
Things to do, Festivals

Ginza Holiday Festival

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Celebrate Japanese culture, food and entertainment at the 63rd annual Ginza Holiday. Meet and buy crafts from master craftsmen (called Waza), who will be flown in from Tokyo to share their skills. Live martial arts, cultural songs, classical dances and Japanese food (teriyaki, sushi, Spam musubi, Hawaiian shave ice and more) give Chicago a taste of Japan. 

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Concerts in August 2018

Tycho
Photograph: Tim Navis
Music, Dance and electronic

Tycho + Edamame

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When he's not on tour, Tycho mastermind Scott Hansen works as a graphic designer—no surprise considering that the down-tempo compositions he favors sound like the product of a mind that obsesses over details. Each snare hit and vintage synthesizer tone on the group's 2016 album, Epoch, seems seems deliberately and painstakingly arranged to evoke a very specific mood (sometimes, to a fault). In concert, the trio blends instrumental post-rock structures with the atmosphere of trance and house music—you can dance if you want to.

Lollapalooza 2017
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan
Music

Lollapalooza

If you want to attend the biggest music festival in Chicago, get your tickets to Lollapalooza. Attendees gather in Grant Park from August 2–5 for four whole days of bands, heat and huge crowds near some of Chicago's best attractions. This year, the Weeknd, Jack White, Bruno Mars and Arctic Monkeys headline the main stages, while acts like St. Vincent, Tyler, the Creator and Chvrches take over the rest of the park (and probably a few aftershows at local rock music venues).

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The National
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rock and indie

The National + Alex Lahey

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Armed with a surplus of achingly melancholy songs, two pairs of brothers and the haunting baritone of singer Matt Berninger, Brooklyn-via-Ohio rockers the National are somehow one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Before headlining an evening at Lollapalooza, the group brings the larger-than-life arrangements of its recent Sleep Well Beast LP to Metro for an intimate performance that is sure to sell out quickly—hopefully you've got a friend who managed to snag some tickets.

Brockhampton
Photograph: Courtesy Ashlan Grey
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Brockhampton + Romil

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Formed through a Kanye West fan message board, the members of hip-hop collective Brockhampton moved into a house together, started making music and insisted on being called a "boy band." Led by rapper Kevin Abstract and harnessing an intensely collaborative approach that echoes the work of Odd Future, the 15-member group released no less than three records in 2017, each filled with tracks that bristle with DIY enthusiasm and unfettered charisma. It's no surprise that Brockhampton has quickly found a young and vocal fanbase—the group produces the kind of music that inspires other to go out and make their own.

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2016, Friday
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Music, Pop

Carly Rae Jepsen

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No matter how you feel about mainstream pop music, Carly Rae Jepsen's “Call Me Maybe” is one of those undeinable tracks that gets stuck in your head, whether you want it to or not . Her follow-up, E-MO-TION, never yielded a ubiquitous single (if only she'd included her post-album track “Cut to the Feeling”), but it demonstrated the Canadian singer's ability to craft versatile pop songs, ranging from modern electro-pop bangers to ’80s-inflected synth anthems. Perahps you'll hear her latest earworm at this special Lollapalooza aftershow.

Lizzo
Photograph: Jabari Jacobs
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Lizzo + Davie

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She isn't headlining arenas yet, but spend just a few minute watching Lizzo perform and you'll know that she'd be up to the task. The Minneapolis singer is unrelentingly self-assured and armed with a scathing sense of humor—whether she's celebrating her body or calling out her exes, Lizzo pulls no punches. After signing to a major label and contributing a breakout track ("Good As Hell") to the latest Barbershop movie soundtrack, we're looking forward to the day when Lizzo is headlining Lollapalooza. Here, she tops the bill at a festival aftershow, joined by Los Angeles R&B singer Davie.

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Jack White
Photograph: David James Swanson
Music, Rock and indie

Jack White

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It's been four years since Jack White last passed through Chicago, playing a pair of theater shows (at the Chicago and Auditorium) and attending a Cubs game in Wrigley Field where a broadcast of the game captured the musician looking incredibly miserable. Before he hits the stage on the final night of Lollapalooza, White will headline a special Lollapalooza aftershow at Metro—a venue he hasn't performed at since 2002, when the White Stripes visited Chicago on the duo's White Blood Cells tour.

Bahamas
Photograph: Courtesy High Road Touring
Music, Rock and indie

Bahamas + Bad Bad Hats

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“It wasn't long ago that I wasn't offered a show of any kind,” Afie Jurvanen sings on his ode to supporting bands, “Opening Acts”, summing up the blessing and curse of working in an industry that commodifies creativity. On Earthtones, the latest album released under his Bahamas moniker, Jurvanen shows off his warm baritone throughout a collection of easy-going, R&B-inflected songs. Minnesota indie-rockers Bad Bad Hat open this Millennium Park Summer Music Series concert.

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Beyoncé and Jay-Z
Photograph: Courtesy the artists
Music, Pop

Beyoncé + Jay-Z

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The past few years have been tumultuous (to say the least) for musical power-couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé, but the pair has weathered the rough times and is getting ready to celebrate with—what else?—a co-headlining tour. Dubbed OTR II (a nod to their 2014 On the Run tour), the stadium show will mash up Jay's increasingly conscientious hip-hop with Bey's immaculately choreographed anthems. Plus, we wouldn't be surprised if Blue Ivy makes a cameo.

Whitney
Photograph: Sandy Kim
Music, Rock and indie

Whitney + NE-HI

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When Logan Square roommates Max Kakacek and Julian Ehrlich (former members of the Smith Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, respectively) began making music together, they found inspiration in the lovelorn, soulful folk-rock of the Band and Neil Young. Whitney's 2016 debut, Light Upon the Lake, wears its heart on its tattered plaid sleeve, wistfully reflecting on failed relationships and youthful trysts atop easy-going horn arrangements. Fellow local indie rockers NE-HI get the evening started at this sure-to-be-packed Millennium Park Summer Music Series concert.

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Comedy in August 2018

Comedians You Should Know
Photograph: Melissa Mamroth
Comedy, Stand-up

Comedians You Should Know

icon-location-pin Streeterville
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This weekly night of comedy, curated by a group of funny dudes, puts local stand-ups on your radar.

Free events in August 2018

Millennium Park
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Movies

Millennium Park Summer Film Series

icon-location-pin Millennium Park
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Bring your blanket and your favorite movie snacks and sprawl out on the Millennium Park lawn at this free screening series, which projects blockbusters on the Pritzker Pavilion gigantic LED screen. This month's movies are School of Rock (Aug 7), Coco (Aug 14) and Slumdog Millionaire (Aug 21).

Tuesdays on the Terrace at the MCA
Photograph: Ashlee Benes
Music, Jazz

Tuesdays on the Terrace

icon-location-pin Streeterville
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Each Tuesday, the Museum of Contemporary Art hosts a free concert in its Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden—admission to the museum is also free for Illinois residents. This month's performers include Mwata Bowden (Aug 7) Charles Heath Quartet (Aug 14), Ernest Dawkins (Aug 21) and Ari Brown (Aug 28).

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Water Flicks Navy Pier
Photograph: James Richards IV Photography
Movies

Navy Pier Water Flicks Summer Film Series

icon-location-pin Streeterville
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Head to Polk Bros Park and take in a movie set against Lake Michigan at Navy Pier's Water Flicks summer film series. Presented with the help of the Chicago International Film Festival and Broadway in Chicago, this year's lineup features classic and modern musicals—from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Frozen. Admission is free and so is the popcorn (provided by Navy Pier IMAX at AMC). Frozen (Aug 6), The Wedding Singer (Aug 13) and Grease (Aug 20).

The Sea and Cake
Photograph: Heather Cantrell
Music, Rock and indie

The Sea and Cake + Moonrise Nation

icon-location-pin Millennium Park
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Throughout nearly a quarter century together, Chicago indie-rock stalwarts the Sea and Cake have methodically honed a signature sound that mixes jazzy guitar chords with the breathy vocals of frontman Sam Prekop. The group's latest album, Any Day, is the more of a refinement than an evolution, reducing the group to a trio (following the departure of bassist Eric Claridge) and stripping back some of its usual electronic embellishments. It results in some of the Sea and Cake's warmest (and wordiest) songs to-date, reaffirming the band's singular style. Local indie rockers Moonrise Nation open this Millennium Park Summer Music Series concert.

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The Park at Wrigley
Courtesy Chicago Cubs
Movies

Music Box Theatre Movies at Gallagher Way

icon-location-pin Wrigleyville
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Gallagher Way (the plaza formerly known as the Park at Wrigley) tapped their neighbors at the Music Box to program free outdoor screenings on Wednesday evenings when the Cubs are on the road. The theater selected a series of mostly family-friendly films (all PG-13 or less). This month's film lineup includes Grease (Aug 8) and Space Jam (Aug 22).

ACTIVATE
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Loop Alliance
Things to do, Quirky events

ACTIVATE

icon-location-pin Loop
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Each month, Chicago Loop Alliance throws a party in an unexpected location downtown with the help of local artists and DJs. Guests can RSVP to receive a free drink when they arrive and enjoy an evening of music, art and entertainment. In August, the party moves to Garland Court and Lake Street, where Party Noire curates an evening of entertainment called "A.K.A. Power House." Visitors can check out live graffiti, DJs, a drag performance, an old-school dance floor and more interactive installations.

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Marquis Hill
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Jazz

Navy Pier Water Colors Jazz Series

icon-location-pin Streeterville
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When the weather warms up in Chicago, jazz musicians move outdoors to play tunes in scenic locales across the city. Navy Pier's Water Colors jazz series brings a series of free concerts to Polk Bros Park, where guests can enjoy 90-minute sets from the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Marquis Hill and more set against the waters of Lake Michigan. Victor Goines Quartet (Aug 3), Dee Alexander and Grazyna Auguscik (Aug 10), Marquis Hill’s Blacktet (Aug 17) and Chicago Afrobeat Project (Aug 24).

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, Firebirds Delta Team and more perform aerial stunts at the Chicago Air and Water Show, August 16, 2014.
Photograph: Anthony Soave
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Air and Water Show

icon-location-pin Lincoln Park
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Don't be surprised if you get a neck ache from looking up during this two-day event. Join throngs of people at North Avenue Beach and surrounding areas to catch air and watercraft demonstrations, including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights.

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Angie Stone
Photograph: Courtesy Westside Music Festival
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Chicago Westside Music Festival

icon-location-pin North Lawndale
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The annual Westside Music Festival returns, taking over a section of Douglas Park for a day of throwback R&B. Soul singer Angie Stone, who sang with Lenny Kravitz and was a member of ’70s hip-hop trio the Sequence, headlines this year's festivities, joined by vocal groups Silk and 702, as well as a surprise Chicago artist. The festival is free, so pack a picnic basket, kick back and add some soul to your summer.

Soul Summit
Photograph: Mo Manley
Clubs

Soul Summit

icon-location-pin Logan Square
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While it's been ousted from its longtime home at the Double Door, this killer monthly party lives on at East Room with dusty grooves and rare soul that will keep the dance floor packed until 5am. Resident DJs Scott "Sloppy White" Williams, Dave Mata, Duke Grip and Mo Manley invite crate-digging experts to show off their collections of vintage vinyl. In August, DJ Nu-Mark of Jurassic 5 is the special guest, spinning the funk and soul tunes that inspired his alt-hip-hop beats.

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