September 2018 events calendar for Chicago

Plan your September in Chicago with our events calendar of the best things to do, including concerts, theater openings and art exhibits

Photograph: Jason LittleChicago Gourmet, September 29, 2012

Summer is wrapping up, which means only a few more precious days to enjoy the best rooftop bars in Chicago. But don't worry, fall is pretty exciting too—from celebrating Oktoberfest in the best Chicago beer gardens to wandering through Christkindlmarket. You'll completely forget about summer while you're cozied up at bars with fireplaces and fire pits. Be fully prepared for all the best events with our September calendar for Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2018

Featured events in September

North Coast Music Festival

Curated and run by local club promoters React Presents, North Coast arguably delivers the most diverse bill of any Chicago music festival. This year, EDM acts such as Bassnectar, Odesza and Zedd top the bill, which also includes artists like Action Bronson and Sleigh Bells. Later, the party spills over into several afterparties at local dance clubs.

By: Zach Long

Riot Fest music festival

North Coast Music Festival bills itself as "Summer's Last Stand," but that is not technically true. The Riot Fest music festival heads outside for its annual celebration on September 16–18, 2016. This year, the festival returns to Douglas Park (conveniently located near one of the city's best breweries) after a successful first year in the new location. Headliners include a reunited lineup of the Misfits, Morrissey, Ween, Death Cab For Cutie and Rob Zombie. Whether you prefer punk rock, indie bands or hip-hop, you'll probably find something worth checking out.

By: Zach Long
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Festivals in September

Chicago Jazz Festival

Recommended

Chicago may be best known for its blues musicians, but these days it's more of a jazz city. The annual Chicago Jazz Festival celebrates contemporary improvisers and legendary players with four days of free concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park. The festivities typically include tributes to notable jazz figureheads, an influx of international acts and visits from musicians who got their start in Chicago's jazz scene.

Millennium Park | Chicago, IL , Millennium Park Thursday August 30 2018 - Sunday September 2 2018

Taste of Polonia

Feast on potato pancakes, kielbasa, pierogi and more at this Polish celebration during Labor Day weekend. After you've stuffed yourself, dance to some polka music, watch a cover band or play a few rounds of bingo.

Copernicus Center , Jefferson Park Friday August 31 2018 - Monday September 3 2018
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North Coast Music Festival

Recommended

The other big festival in Union Park (the one that doesn't rhyme with Itchpork) leans heavy on EDM, jam and rap. Booked by some of the same folks behind Spring Awakening and Mamby on the Beach, North Coast offers up a mix of hip-hop and EDM acts.

Union Park , West Loop Friday August 31 2018 - Sunday September 2 2018

Windy City Wine Festival

Sample more than 300 wines from around the world at this annual sommelier extravaganza at Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Area restaurants and caterers will be serving up their signature dishes while bands provide musical accompaniment to your wine tasting journey.

Buckingham Fountain , Grant Park Friday September 7 2018 - Saturday September 8 2018
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Riot Fest

Recommended

It's the social event of the season for anyone with a denim jacket covered in patches hanging in their closet. Riot Fest brings punk, metal, indie acts to Douglas Park, setting up stages amid circus attractions, games and a sideshow. The 2018 lineup has not yet been announced.

Douglas Park , North Lawndale Friday September 14 2018 - Sunday September 16 2018

German-American Fest

Recommended

Grab a plastic stein and munch on a pretzel at this annual Lincoln Square celebration of Deutschland heritage. The street party features plenty of German food, music and dancing as well as the Von Steuben Parade on Saturday at 2pm.

Lincoln Square , Lincoln Square Friday September 7 2018 - Sunday September 9 2018
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Edgewater Fall Art Fair

Children's art and creativity come with a hyperlocal focus at the 3rd Annual Edgewater Fall Art Fair. Local schools showcase student artwork programs through gallery exhibitions, while smaller-size budding Rembrandts can face- and finger-paint at the Children’s Activity Corner. This family friendly fest includes a children's music talent showcase, costume contest, pet parade. Adults can enjoy the beer garden as well.  

Granville El , Edgewater Saturday September 22 2018 - Sunday September 23 2018

Chicago Gourmet

Recommended

The annual three-day fest kicks off Friday with its Hamburger Hop throwdown. Walk in to Millennium Park and waddle out once you've stuffed your face at cooking demos, tasting pavilions and a wine sampling. The 2018 vendor lineup has not yet been announced.

Millennium Park | Chicago, IL , Millennium Park Friday September 28 2018 - Sunday September 30 2018
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Concerts in September

Chicago Jazz Festival

Chicago may be best known for its blues musicians, but these days it's more of a jazz city. The annual Chicago Jazz Festival celebrates contemporary improvisers and legendary players with free concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park. This year, the festivities expand to local music venues, where performers will play free shows from August 24 through 29. Headliners include composer, pianist and radio personality Ramsey Lewis; noted jazz vocalists Kurt Elling and Dianne Reeves; and funk legend Maceo Parker.

Millennium Park | Chicago, IL , Millennium Park Thursday August 30 2018 - Sunday September 2 2018

North Coast Music Festival

Celebrate Labor Day weekend in Union Park at North Coast Music Festival, where EDM once again dominates the lineup. Headlining acts include Swedish DJ duo Axwell Λ Ingrosso, French producer DJ Snake, electro-funk act Jamiroquai and sultry R&B singer-songwriter Miguel. You'll also be treated to DJ sets from local musicians (such as the Cool Kids and Sen Morimoto) and get to take in all of the attendees wearing rave-ready costumes.

Union Park , West Loop Friday August 31 2018 - Sunday September 2 2018
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Luke Bryan + Sam Hunt + Jon Pardi

Bro-country poster boy Luke Bryan may object to the label being applied to his music, but there's really no easier way to describe twangy songs with titles like "She's a Hot One" and "Drinking Again." On the heels of his new gig as an American Idol judge, Bryan brings his What Makes You Country Tour to Wrigley Field, with fellow Nashville singers Sam Hunt, Jon Pardi and Carly Pearce in tow.

Wrigley Field | Chicago, IL , Wrigleyville Saturday September 1 2018

Billy Joel

Can we start calling this an annual residency yet? For the fifth summer in a row, the "Piano Man" returns to Wrigley Field. The 68-year-old singer-songwriter hasn't released a new album in more than a decade, but he's still playing the hits on a monthly basis at his always sold out Madison Square Garden residency. As long as there are people who want to sing along to "Uptown Girl," we expect Joel will continue packing the ballpark every summer.

Wrigley Field | Chicago, IL , Wrigleyville Friday September 7 2018
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Fall Out Boy + Machine Gun Kelly + Rise Against

While there’s always been a theatrical flair to Fall Out Boy’s music, the band’s latest record, MANIA, takes those overwrought inclinations to their logical conclusion. There’s nothing subtle about the bells and choir that grace a track called “Church” or highlight-reel worthy lyricism of “Champion.” A hometown show in Wrigley Field seems like the perfect opportunity for Patrick Stump and company to dig into their catalog, in front of a crowd of older fans that should know all the words to “Dead on Arrival.”

Wrigley Field | Chicago, IL , Wrigleyville Saturday September 8 2018

Childish Gambino + Rae Sremmurd

There was a time when Donald Glover was just a sitcom star who released clever, embarrassingly confessional rap tracks under a moniker devised by a Wu-Tang Clan name generator. These days, he's the creator of genre-defying FX show Atlanta, a part of the Star Wars universe (as young Lando Calrissian) and the creative voice behind the striking music video for his latest track, “This is America.” On tour behind his not-yet-titled “final” album, Glover will be joined by Mississippi hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd.

United Center | Chicago, IL , United Center Saturday September 8 2018
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Riot Fest

It's the social event of the season for anyone with a denim jacket covered in patches hanging in their closet. Riot Fest brings acts like Beck, Blink-182, Alkaline Trio, Blondie, Elvis Costello and rock 'n' roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis to Douglas Park for a three-day carnival of music (there's even a Ferris wheel). You'll find punks, metalheads, indie fans and hip-hop aficionados eating corn dogs and crowding the fields at this eclectic end-of-the-summer fest. 

Douglas Park , North Lawndale Friday September 14 2018 - Sunday September 16 2018

Theater in September

Chicago International Latino Theater Festival: Destinos

The new Chicago International Latino Theater Festival makes its debut this fall. The inaugural edition, dubbed Destinos, takes place from September 29 to October 29, and features visiting companies from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Colombia, alongside productions from Chicago companies like Teatro Vista, Aguijón Theater and UrbanTheater Company.

By: Kris Vire

Free events in September

FKA

Recommended

We don't know if they're painting smiles on people's faces at the door or if they're mixing something into the booze, but everyone seems to be in a good mood at this energetic and inclusive queer party that's been going strong since 2008. It's worth getting there early, or else risk getting stuck in a line running down the block.

Big Chicks , Uptown Friday August 10 2018

Tuesday Funk

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.

Hopleaf , Uptown Tuesday August 7 2018 - Tuesday December 4 2018
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