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
Air & Water Show Sunday, August 21, 2016
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

333.wk.BristolRenaissanceFaire40.jpg
Photograph: Zach Weiss
Things to do, Festivals

Bristol Renaissance Faire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billy Corgan
Photograph: Paul Elledge
Music, Rock and indie

Smashing Pumpkins

Billy Corgan has been feeling awful nostalgic as of late, reuniting with original Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin (bassist D'arcy Wretzky was left out, for some reason) on a tour that draws liberally from the band's first five albums. The Shiny and Oh So Bright performances aren't for casual fans of the group—prepare yourself for a three-hour tour of the Pumpkins' catalog, with special attention paid to seminal records Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness and Siamese Dream. If you're the kind of person who went out of their way to visit Corgan's Highland Park tea shop, you'll probably enjoy yourself. 

Sam Smith turned in a set in front of a crowd of thousands at Lolllapalooza on August 1, 2015.
Photograph: Hallie Duesenberg
Music, Pop

Sam Smith

Catapulted into the spotlight by some canny guest appearances—including Disclosure's “Latch” and Naughty Boy's “La La La”—singer-songwriter Smith boasts a wonderfully smooth and delicate voice. Despite making his name with a pair of dance-pop hits, Smith's own albums are melancholy affairs, characterized by mopey piano ballads outfitted lyrics that wallow in the downsides of romance and love. Still, it's difficult to not be captivated by the vocal gymnastics of this capable pop crooner.

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Music, Rock and indie

Jeff Lyne's ELO + Dawes

Touring for the first time in more than three decades, Jeff Lyne revists “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Evi Woman” and “Don't Bring Me Down” at the head of Electric Light Orchestra, his pioneering progressive pop band. Not be confused with the ELO Part II offshoot that toured in the ‘90s, this iteration of the group features a string section, original keyboardist Richard Tandy and a dazzling new light show. Even if you're just a casual fan of ELO, you'll probably find yourself singing along to the group's long list of hits.

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

The Sea and Cake + Moonrise Nation

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

Drake + Migos

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.

Pearl Jam
Photograph: Danny Clinch
Music, Rock and indie

Pearl Jam

The last time that Pearl Jam played Wrigley Field was during the season that ended with the Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years. We don't want to jinx anything, but we're going to interpret the Seattle rockers' return to the Friendly Confines as a good omen. No matter what happens, you're probably going to be subjected to a rendition of Eddie Vedder's schmaltzy Cubs anthem, "All the Way."

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Music, Punk and metal

Bric-a-Brac Scummer Slam

The nostalgic record-slingers at Bric-a-Brac Records host another end of the summer party in the East Room's parking lot, outfitted with a lineup of punk acts from Chicago and beyond. This year's bill includes Detroit punk rocker Nikki Corvette, long-running local DIY outfit the Lemons, Florida punks Gino and the Goons, and Minneapolis noise-makers Royal Brat. Ethers, Color TV, Datenight, Bruised, Nude Model, Skull Cult and Dedpet are also on the lineup, with all donations benefiting the Goethe Elementary School music program.

lollapalooza 2017, joey bada$$
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Music, Music festivals

Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash

Chicago hip-hop blog Lyricial Lemonade takes its annual summer concert outdoors this year, setting up in Douglas Park (the same park where Riot Fest is held). Joey Bada$$, Vic Mensa and Trippie Redd headline the Summer Smash, but the rest of the lineup will probably only look familiar to hardcore fans of Soundcloud rappers, including acts like Ski Mask the Slump God, Queen Key, Yung Bans and Lil Skies.

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Ben Folds
Photograph: Allan Amato
Music, Rock and indie

Cake + Ben Folds

Cake made its mark on the ‘90s alt-rock movement with an earnest cover of the disco anthem "I Will Survive"—a mantra that the California group clearly took to heart. The band co-headlines Ravinia with Ben Folds, a pianist who parlayed his college rock act the Ben Folds Five into a solo career as a singer-songwriter with a knack for goofy yet endearing balladry.

Guided by Voices
Photograph: Sandlin Gaither
Things to do, Festivals

Big Evanston Block Party

Chicago's neighbors to the north throw an end of the summer blow-out at the Big Evanston Block Party, which take place on the city's main drag. The street festival is a two-day affair, headlined by stalwart indie-rock act Guided By Voices (August 25) and alt-country outfit the Old 97s. Admission is free and the Purple Line will drop you off right by the event's entrance, so why not take a weekend trip?

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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

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

Tuesdays on the Terrace

icon-location-pin Streeterville
icon-calendar

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).

Camp a Comedy Show
Photograph: Courtesy Camp
Comedy, Stand-up

Camp: A Comedy Show

icon-location-pin North Center
icon-calendar

Audiences at comedy shows don't get much more supportive than the ones that fill Camp every week in the Village Tap's beer garden. The summer camp-themed showcase gives comedians a place to test out new material and take risks, whether they're developing a new set of jokes or working out the kinks of a wacky character. Hosts Tessa Orzech and Samantha Berkman act as counselors, keeping the evening lively with sketches and unexpected hijinks.

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Hopleaf3.venue.jpg
Photograph: Kelly Peloza
Things to do, Literary events

Tuesday Funk

icon-location-pin Uptown
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This eclectic reading series is where good writing and good beer mix. Every month five local writers and authors put together pieces to read while you order off Hopleaf's extensive beer menu.

GreenMill.venue01.jpg
Photograph: Martha Williams
Comedy

The Paper Machete

icon-location-pin Uptown
icon-calendar

This twice-weekly “live magazine” is a cavalcade of culture, politics and wit featuring journalists, actors, comedians and musicians offering idiosyncratic reports on the news of the day. Head to Uptown’s iconic Green Mill for drinks, hot takes and laughs; the longstanding Saturday afternoon edition tends to run about two and a half hours, while the new “Cocktail Hour” Wednesday show is a tight 90 minutes with no intermission.

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Keith Haring Chicago Mural
Photograph: Marcelino Y. Fahd
Art, Contemporary art

"Keith Haring: The Chicago Mural"

icon-location-pin Loop
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In 1989, acclaimed artist Keith Haring came to Chicago to create a gigantic 488-foot-long mural in collaboration with 500 Chicago Public School students. After remaining on display at Midway Airport for several years, 36 panels of the mural will return to the Loop, going on display alongside a selection of Haring's photographs, correspondence, designs and his now-iconic drawings.

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