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lollapalooza 2016, Saturday
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

July 2023 events calendar for Chicago

Plan your July in Chicago with our calendar of events and things to do, including theater, music and movie screenings.

Emma Krupp
Written by
Emma Krupp
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Summer in Chicago hits its peak during July, when some of the city's biggest festivals and events return to town with enough live music, incredible food and general outdoor merry-making to fill every weekend (and probably a good amount of weekdays, too). Kick off the month with a long weekend of 4th of July celebrations, including a special Grant Park Music Festival performance and sparkling fireworks shows across the city and suburbs. From there, take a deep dive into the heart of summer festival season at events like Wicker Park Fest, Fiesta del Sol, the Silver Room Sound System Block Party and Chinatown Summer Fair, or explore some of the city's free summer music festivals. And speaking of summer music festivals, need we remind you that Lollapalooza and Pitchfork Music Festival are returning this month? For even more ways to keep busy on long summer days and nights, check out our guide to the best things to do in Chicago this July.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2022

Featured events in July 2022

  • Music
  • Classical and opera
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  • Millennium Park

For classical music lovers who enjoy taking in a show set beneath Chicago's skyline, the annual Grant Park Music Festival is perennial favorite summer event. This year's series of classical concerts runs from June 15–August 20 with performances ranging from world premiere works and performances of symphonies by Mozart, Haydn and Shostakovich to an evening of classic Broadway arrangements and the annual Independence Day salute. Take a look at the complete schedule of events below and find more information on the Grant Park Music Festival website: June 15: Mozart Symphony No. 35June 17, 18: Mendelssohn Reformation SymphonyJune 22: Schubert Unfinished SymphonyJune 24, 25: Shostakovich Symphony No. 11June 29, July 1: Britten Spring SymphonyJuly 2: Independence Day SaluteJuly 6: Cirque Goes to HollywoodJuly 8, 9: Lights on BroadwayJuly 13: Haydn Drum Roll SymphonyJuly 15, 16: Beethoven Eroica SymphonyJuly 20: Dvorak Symphony No. 8July 22, 23: Rachmaniov Piano Concerto No. 2July 27: A Gospel JubileeJuly 29, 30: Mahler Symphony No. 9 Aug 3: A Mariachi FiestaAug 4: 60th Anniversary Choral Spectacular Aug 5, 6: Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique Aug 10: Franck Symphony in D MinorAug 12, 13: Tetzlaff Plays ShostakovichAug 17: Tchaikovsky Sleeping Beauty Aug 19: Haydn Creation

  • Things to do
  • Fireworks
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  • Streeterville

During the summer, one of the best aerial displays you'll find in Chicago originates from Navy Pier. The Chicago attraction hosts twice-weekly fireworks shows (on Wednesdays and Saturdays) from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, with stunning views available from across the pier's public spaces. Of course, you can also take in the show from nearby beaches or while cruising along the Lakefront Trail.

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  • Movies
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From June through September this year, dozens of movies will screen in parks all over Chicago as part of the city's annual Movies in the Parks program. From recent blockbusters like Encanto and Sing 2 to classics like The Princess Bride and Space Jam, you're sure to find good something to watch (for free!) beneath the stars this summer. Screenings typically begin at 8:30pm each evening. Take a look at the full list of movies and participating parks.

  • Music
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  • Millennium Park

Head to Pritzker Pavilion every Monday and Thursday from June 20–August 18 for the 10-part Millennium Park Summer Music Series, which showcases a wide range of music from both emerging and well-established performers. The series kicks off on June 20 with performances from Afrobeat saxophonist Femi Kuti (son of iconic Nigerian musician Fela Kuti) and Moroccan-born electronic artist HAT; throughout the rest of the summer, catch acts like Ukrainian folk-fusion quartet DakhaBrakha (July 18), Afro-Cuban artist Cimafunk (August 11) and none other than Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy (July 21), who will perform along with students from The People's Music School as opening act. 

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  • Music
  • Jazz
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  • Museum Campus

The Shedd Aquarium's weekly summer concert series presents a rotating lineup of jazz bands on its scenic lakeside terrace, where attendees can dance, have a drink and get a great view of the Navy Pier fireworks. Guests also get access to the Shedd's exhibitions, meaning that you can gaze at the creatures that inhabit the Caribbean Reef, snap a picture of a cute sea otter or touch a sea star.

  • Art
  • Film and video
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Projecting a 25-story-tall video installation on the side of the Merchandise Mart, Art on theMart's summer program includes Ba Boom Boom Pa Pop Pop—an original video work by hometown artist Nick Cave featuring his iconic Soundsuits—as well as Billiken, which celebrates Chicago's annual Bud Billiken Parade depicting video and animated footage of the parade's youth dance groups and marching bands.  Art on theMART's array of 34 digital projectors display the programs at 9pm every evening. The show is best viewed from the section of the Chicago Riverwalk between Wells Street and Franklin Street.

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  • Comedy
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  • Uptown

This 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.

  • Things to do
  • Loop

Last summer's inaugural Sundays on State program—which shuts down a strip of State Street spanning from Madison to Lake Streets for activations, performances, food and shopping—brought thousands of visitors downtown to check out everything from outdoor dining and browsing opportunities to pop-up karaoke and barre fitness classes. The event returns on select Sundays this year by popular demand, expanding its footprint to cover State from Lake to Monroe. For a full schedule of vendors and events, check out Chicago Loop Alliance's website.  

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  • Comedy
  • Sketch shows
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  • Lake View

Bye Bye Liver combines two robust Chicago traditions: comedy and heavy drinking. The show opened a decade ago for a three-week run, then kept getting extended. A cast of four to six performers portray characters at the fictional "Franks Bar," telling stories that explore the city's robust drinking culture. Each show incorporates interactive audience drinking games, allowing you to sip a cocktail or beer while taking cues from the cast. And if you're up for a nightcap after the performance, you can stick around for the official after party and mingle with the cast.

  • Art
  • Sculpture
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  • Hyde Park

Want to see recreations of Van Gogh's “Starry Night,” Da Vinci's “Mona Lisa” and Michaelangelo's “David”  constructed with Lego bricks? The Museum of Science and Industry's latest exhibition collects the work of Nathan Sawaya, a former lawyer who turned his passion for tiny plastic bricks into contemporary art. “The Art of the Brick” include more than 100 of his creations, include a 20-foot-long T.rex skeleton and a life-sized sculpture of a man pulling his chest apart. The traveling show is the first major museum exhibition to use Lego bricks as its sole medium—and a testiment to the creativity that can be achieved with hundreds of thousands of tiny pieces of plastic. This Museum of Science and Industry exhibit rquires a seperate ticket for entry, in addition to regular museum admission.

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