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Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

54 exciting openings in Chicago in May

Zach Long

The weather is heating up, summer is just around the corner and there are plenty of days on the beach in your immediate future. May in Chicago marks the time of the year when everyone gets outside again, showing up for parades, street festivals, craft fairs and more. You won't have any trouble finding something to do this month, whether you're enjoying beer at Chicago's best breweries, checking out the latest art exhibitions or catching a flick at your neighborhood theater. Pack your calendar with the coolest events and happenings with the help of our list of the most exciting Chicago openings in May.


May 4–10: The Chicago Critics Film Festival screens films selected by Chicago-area critics (including Jurassic Park and a satire produced by Eminem) at the Music Box Theatre.

May 5: Fly high at the Kids and Kites Festival, where little ones and adults can test their skills with free paper kites.

May 5: Local brewers crowd into Soldier Field to pour samples of their latest IPAs, lagers, stouts and more at the annual Chicago Beer Classic.

May 6: Little Village commemorates the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla during the festive Cinco de Mayo Parade.

May 13: Give mom the day she deserves with the help of our guide to Mother's Day gifts, deals and more.

May 13, 14: Pilsen hosts the first Renegade Craft Fair of the season, setting up a market of handmade items (and some perfect gifts for mom).

May 18–25: Illinois Craft Beer Week brings eight days of tap takeovers, beer dinners, tastings and events to bars and restaurants throughout the city.

May 18: Celebrate the beginning of Illinois Craft Beer Week at Garfield Park Conservatory, during the annual Beer Under Glass tasting event.

May 18, 19: Shop a selection of self-published works from local and regional makers when Chicago Zine Fest sets up at Plumbers Hall.

May 18–20: Enjoy discounts on tours, food and drink, Water Taxi rides, and boat rentals at the Chicago Riverwalk Summer Kick-Off Celebration.

May 18–20: Street festival season gets started Mayfest, a German-inspired celebration (complete with beer and pretzels) in Lakeview. 

May 19, 20: Pour another glass of rosé and listen to classical music at the Lincoln Park Wine Fest.

May 19: Eat your way through the city's best mobile vendors at the Food Truck Social at Lincoln Park Zoo.

May 19: Somewhere between an EDM concert and a 5K race, Night Nation Run lets you run through Museum Campus wearing a glow necklace.

May 24–28: Buff guys in leather show up to shop a leather market and compete for prizes at International Mr. Leather Weekend.

May 25: Illinois Craft Beer Week comes to an end at the Good Libations Beer Festival, where more than 60 brewers debut island-inspired beers.

May 25–27: Mole de Mayo celebrates the delicious Mexican sauce with three days of food, lucha libre wrestling, live music and more.

May 26: Show off your endurance at the Soldier Field 10-Mile, a race that begins and ends at the home of the Chicago Bears.

May 26: Honor the veterans who fought for our country at Chicago's Memorial Day Parade, which marches down State Street.

May 27: Enjoy an early-morning ride (sans cars) on Lake Shore Drive at the annual Bike the Drive event.


May 3: Spiraling psych-rock meets taut R&B as Unknown Mortal Orchestra brings its recent album, Sex & Food, to life at the Vic.

May 5: Chicago native singer-songwriter Eleanor Friedberger returns with ’80s goth disco-inspired songs from her new album, Rebound!

May 7: Relive the heartbreak and revelations of your early 20s as Frankie Cosmos brings its twee, indie-rock anthems to Lincoln Hall.

May 8: Former Pixies bassist Kim Deal revives her punchy alt-rock act the Breeders for a set at the Vic.

May 10: L.A. noise-rock duo No Age turn up the volume for a sure-to-be-deafening appearance at the Empty Bottle.

May 11: Minimalist pianist David Moore explores the intersection of classical music and experimental artists as Bing & Ruth.

May 11, 12: ’80s-obsessed sisters Haim headline a two-night stand at the Aragon filled with hereditary harmonies. 

May 14: One of the most visceral performers you're likely to see, guitarist Yonatan Gat plays everything from psych-rock to avant-garde jazz at the Hideout.

May 16: London producer Rival Consoles explores skittering dance-floor–friendly arrangements and ominous ambient compositions from his new album, Persona. 

May 18: Decades after they conquered ’80s rock radio, Hall & Oates are the kind of throwback pop act that we can go for.

May 18: Swedish electronic artist Karin Dreijer sings about sex and empowerment at the head of her synth-pop side project Fever Ray.

May 19: Leopard print-wearing diva Shania Twain presents an evening of pop-country music (and plenty of costume changes) at the United Center.

May 21: Aussie singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett plays a special set beneath the Tiffany Dome in the Chicago Cultural Center.

May 22, 23: Don't let a lackluster album stop you from seeing U2 in concert—the Irish group is still the undisputed champion of larger-than-life arena rock.

May 23: Emulating the dusty beats and densely syllabic rhymes of his ’90s hip-hop heroes, Joey Bada$$ brings old-school East Coast hip-hop to Concord Music Hall.

May 29: New York indie-rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs celebrate the 15th anniversary of their debut album, Fever to Tell, at the Aragon.


May 1–July 1: Inspired by true events in Milwaukee, Brett Neveu’s To Catch a Fish follows a man whose new job handing out flyers for a retail store isn’t as straightforward as he believes it to be.

May 2–June 24: Directors Aaron Posner and Teller, who previously teamed up for a magical Tempest at Chicago Shakes in 2015, reunite to take on Macbeth.

May 9–June 17: Sam Shepard’s deeply dysfunctional family portrait Buried Child takes the stage again at Writers Theatre.

May 13–June 9: A near future where 82 percent of the world’s population have uploaded their consciousnesses to IceBox, a digital deep-freeze, is explored in Refrigerator.

May 19–July 8: A Little Night Music follows a collection of moony, mismatched Swedish romantics out on a weekend in the country.

May 23–June 3: Ireland’s Druid Theatre visits Navy Pier with its production of Samuel Beckett’s absurdist classic, Waiting For Godot.


May 4–Aug 5: The grotesque canvases from Chicago painter Ivan Albright take the spotlight in the Art Institute's new “Flesh” exhibition.

May 4–July 7: Photographs of worn tools, scribbled equations and disassembled clockworks fill “Tableaux,” a new show from photographer Francesco Pergolesi.

May 8–Aug 5: “The Painting That is Painted With Poetry is Profoundly Beautiful” explores the work of self-taught Thai painter Tang Chang, who used calligraphy to create expressive works.

May 9–June 30: Ai Weiwei's installation “Trace in Chicago” brings portraits of activists and prisoners of conscience made from millions of Lego bricks to a venue in Lincoln Park.

May 12–26:  Vertical Gallery teams with Galleri Ramfjord in Oslo, Norway to present “20 x 20 x 20,” featuring work created on 20 x 20-inch canvases by 20 Scandinavian artists.

May 12–Oct 28:  Vintage photos of Chicago neighborhoods document three decades of societal transformation in “Never a Lovely So Real: Photography and Film in Chicago, 1950–1980.”

May 19–July 7: Contemporary painter Clare Rojas brings her new show "Egret" to Kavi Gupta, showcasing works that use geometric shapes to create simple yet striking images.


May 1–30: ’90s Saturday Night Live alum Julia Sweeney takes her first stab at stand-up comedy in the new show, Older and Wider.

May 30–June 3: Chris Gethard, Bob Odenkirk, John Hodgman and more funny folks headline the Onion Comedy and Arts Festival at venues throughout Chicago.


Now open: Try Erling Wu-Bower's (Nico Osteria) California-minded eats at Pacific Standard Time in River North.

May 1: Eataly Chicago's newest stall, Ravioli&Co, opens with pillows of house-made pasta and plenty of wine.

May 5: Dart bar Flight Club brings friendly competition, seafood and an extensive beer list to the Loop.

Note: Restaurant and bar openings are subject to change and can be delayed; we recommend calling ahead.

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