It's the final (partial) month of summer, which means that it's time to get your fill of festivals and outdoor fun before the leaves start falling. You can rock out with Beck and Blink-182 at Riot Fest, run a half marathon along Lake Shore Drive, get in on the Oktoberfest celebration and check out amazing contemporary art at Navy Pier. Plot out your September social calendar with our list of the best exhibits, concerts, festivals and things to do in Chicago this month.
THINGS TO DO
Aug 29–Sept 2
Taste of Polonia; Copernicus Center
This Polish celebration gives you a place to feast on potato pancakes, dance to polka music and play a round of bingo over Labor Day weekend.
Sept 1, 2
Cider and Sliders Festival; Lincoln Ave and Addison St
Taste more than 30 ciders and enjoy miniature burgers at the latest edition of this Lakeview fest.
Slow and Low Chicago Lowrider Festival; Cermak Rd and Loomis St
Head to Pilsen to watch souped-up cars bounce around in the streets while enjoying tacos and sets from local DJs.
Stars of Lyric Opera; Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion
Get a free preview of the Lyric Opera season, as a cast of talented performers take on selections from La bohème, Mozart’s Idomeneo and Verdi’s Il trovatore.
German-American Oktoberfest; Lincoln Square
Lincoln Square kicks off Oktoberfest season with this weekend celebration of Deutschland heritage, which includes the Von Steuben Parade on Saturday at 2pm.
Festival de la Villita; 26th St and Kostner Ave
Celebrate Mexico's independence from Spain with authentic cuisine, music, dancing and carnival rides in Little Village.
Sept 7, 8
Windy City Wine Festival; Grant Park
Quaff a glass of vino near Buckingham Fountain and admire the Chicago skyline while enjoying more than 300 wines from around the world.
Sept 8, 9
Renegade Craft Fair; Division St between Damen and Ashland Aves
Makers from throughout the country set up shop on Division Avenue, offering prints, pottery, jewelry and other handmade goods for you to browse to your heart's content.
ACTIVATE; Location TBA
If you've waited all summer to attend a pop-up party at an unexpected location in the Loop, you should probably show up to the final ACTIVATE event of the season.
The Music Box 70mm Film Festival; Music Box Theatre
See 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lawrence of Arabia, The Dark Crystal and more classic films projected on a gigantic screen during the Music Box's annual 70mm screening series.
Fulton Market Harvest Fest; Fulton Market between Halsted and Peoria Sts
Chef Stephanie Izard curates a weekend of tastings, cooking demos and dinners at this street festival for foodies.
Independence Park Beer Festival; Independence Park
Half Acre, Begyle, Lake Effect, Old Irving and more local breweries show up to sample beers in one of Irving Park's most beautiful green spaces.
Pilsen Mexican Independence Day Parade; 18th St between Newberry and Wolcott Aves
A colorful procession of floats, costumed dancers and marching bands streams across 18th Street during this annual community celebration of Mexican Independence.
Sept 15, 16
Sam Adams Lakeview Taco Fest; Southport Ave and Addison St
More than a dozen restaurants cook tacos in the Southport Corridor while guests enjoy beer pairings, Lucha Libre wrestling and live music.
Two Brother Oktoberfest; Two Brothers Roundhouse
Take a Metra to the suburbs for Two Brothers Brewing Company's autumn celebration, which features a stein-holding contest, music from an oompah band and a beer choir.
Reeling Film Festival; Davis Theater, Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema
One of the nation's longest-running LGBTQ film fests, Reeling features flicks that showcase underrepresented talent both in front of and behind the camera.
Museum Day; various museums
Score a free ticket to Museum of Contemporary Art, Adler Planetarium, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and more the city's best institutions, courtesy of Smithsonian magazine.
BeerHoptacular; Vertiport Chicago
One of the city's biggest beer fests lets you taste 150 beers inside a helicopter hanger.
Chicago Half Marathon; Jackson Park
With the Obama Presidential Library about to begin construction, this might be the last year that this 13.1-mile race will follow its current course through Jackson Park and across Lake Shore Drive.
Chicago Gourmet; Millennium Park
The most filling three-day fest of the season returns, offering cooking demos, tasting pavilions and wine sampling during the main event as well as fun one-off events like the popular Hamburger Hop.
St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest; St. Alphonsus Church
One of the city's best Oktoberfest events is hosted by a Lakeview church, which fills the street with food vendors, craft beer, cover bands and more.
Aug 30–Sept 2
Chicago Jazz Festival; Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion
Pianist and radio personality Ramsey Lewis, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling and funk legend Maceo Parker headline a series of free shows in the Pritzker Pavilion.
Aug 21–Sept 2
North Coast Music Festival; Union Park
EDM acts like Axwell Λ Ingrosso, French producer DJ Snake dominate the lineup at this year's North Coast, joined by electro-funk act Jamiroquai and sultry R&B singer-songwriter Miguel.
Luke Bryan + Sam Hunt + Jon Pardi; Wrigley Field
Bro-country poster boy Luke Bryan headlines the home of the Cubs, with a slew of Nashville singers in tow.
Billy Joel; Wrigley Field
The "Piano Man" returns to the Friendly Confines for the fifth summer in a row to play hits like "Uptown Girl" in front of a ballpark crowd.
World Music Festival; Various venues
Argentinian singer-songwriter Juana Molina, Congolese funk band Jupiter and local act Mariachi Herencia De México are among the performers playing free shows during this year's World Music Festival.
Fall Out Boy + Machine Gun Kelly + Rise Against; Wrigley Field
Trading in emo-rock for towering pop anthems, Fall Out Boy returns to Chicago for a ballpark bash with rapper Machine Gun Kelly and punk-rockers Rise Against.
Childish Gambino + Rae Sremmurd; United Center
Atlanta mastermind Donald Glover assumes his hip-hip persona to perform "This is America" (and some more new tracks, hopefully) at the United Center.
Bands & Beers for Comfort Station; Logan Square
Logan Square community art center Comfort Station brings local acts Dos Santos, Phoelix, Campdogzz and Dim outdoors for sets under the Illinois Centennial Monument at this annual fundraiser.
The Breaks Vol. II; Toyota Park
Wu-Tang Clan, Vic Mensa, Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), Curren$y, Freddie Gibbs and Talib Kweli top the bill at one of the city's only hip-hip–focused music festivals.
Jon Hopkins + Daniel Avery; Thalia Hall
English electronic music producer presents expansive new compositions, littered with ambient synths and glitchy beats that coalesce into some of his most epic, room-enveloping tracks to date.
The Mattson 2 + Astronauts, Etc.; Schubas
Identical twin brothers Jonathan and Jared Mattson reinterpret John Coltrane's classic jazz album A Love Supreme with guitars, synths and drums.
Trouble in Paradise; Empty Bottle
Local record label Trouble in Mind teams up with North Carolina-based Paradise of Bachelors to present three days of shows featuring acts like FACS, the Weather Station, Omni, Nap Eyes and more.
Riot Fest; Douglas Park
Beck, Blink-182, Alkaline Trio, Blondie, Elvis Costello and more nostalgic artists top a stacked bill at this punk, hip-hop and alt-rock carnival.
Lupe Fiasco; House of Blues
On the heels of his 2017 album, Drogas Light, Lupe Fiasco returns to the House of Blues for a set that will hopefully shed some light on his new music.
Natalie Prass + Stella Donnelly; Lincoln Hall
Stepping away from the lush, string-dappled ballads of her debut album, singer-songwriter Natalie Prass lends her crystalline pipes to retro R&B- and funk-inspired tracks.
Sept 21, 22
312 Block Party; Goose Island Brewery
Come for the $3 Goose Island beers and stay for sets from TV on the Radio, the Drive-By Truckers and the Hold Steady at this brewery bash.
Desiigner + Ravyn Lenae; Millennium Park
Young artists from throughout Chicago take the spotlight at YAS! Fest, which culminates with headlining performances from "Panda" emcee Desiinger and Chicago High School for the Arts graduate Ravyn Lenae.
Sept 28, 29
Revolution Oktoberfest; Milwaukee Ave between California and Fullerton
Taking over the street in front of Revolution's Brewpub, this year's event welcomes Whitney, Ex Hex, King Khan and the Shrines and more great acts to the stage.
Sept 29, 30
Hyde Park Jazz Festival; Various venues
Venues throughout Hyde Park host a weekend of jazz, bringing together local acts like Ben LaMar Gay, Dee Alexander and Junius Paul, as well as headlining sets from pianist Jason Moran and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane.
Sept 14–Oct 13
Second Skin; The Den Theatre
A woman returns home to care for her dying mother and to confront the secret horrors that caused her to flee years ago.
Sept 15–Oct 21
We’re Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time; Goodman Theatre
Solo performer and storyteller David Cale uses this musical memoir to recount his desire to escape his childhood in an industrial English town.
Sept 20–Oct 28
The Artificial Jungle; Stage 773
A bored housewife meets a sexy drifter, and the duo plots to off her husband in a zany ’80s noir pastiche from the late, great Charles Ludlam.
Sept 20–Nov 4
Nell Gwynn; Chicago Shakespeare Theater
One day you’re hawking oranges in the streets of Restoration-era London, and the next you’re a famous actress and the mistress of King Charles II—go figure!
Sept 20–Nov 11
Downstate; Steppenwolf Theatre Company
A man turns up at a group home for sex offenders to confront his childhood abuser. Pam Mackinnon directs this world-premiere drama by Bruce Norris (Clybourne Park).
Sept 21–Nov 4
Indecent; Victory Gardens Biograph Theater
Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Paula Vogel recounts the true tale of the 1923 Broadway premiere of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, a lesbian love story that caused a public stir.
Sept 22–Oct 28
Caroline, or Change; The Den Theatre
Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s beautiful 2003 musical charts the moral crisis of Caroline Thibodeaux, a black woman working as a maid for a Jewish family in Louisiana in 1963.
Hannibal Buress; Chicago Theatre
Local comedian and Broad City star Buress hosts a surprise Labor Day weekend show at the Chicago Theatre, joined by comedian Lil Rel Howery and local rapper Vic Mensa.
Three Busy Debras; Hideout
New York comedians Alyssa Stonoha, Sandy Honig and Mitra Jouhari bring their surreal brand of humor to the Hideout's stage, ahead of the debut of their forthcoming Adult Swim show.
Andy Borowitz; Chicago Theatre
New Yorker satirist Borowitz combines political humor with calls to action on his Make America Not Embarrassing Again tour.
Brendon Walsh; @North Bar
You've seen Walsh on the small screen in shows like Another Period and Drunk History—now you can catch a set from the comedian in an intimate venue.
Sept 6–Dec 16
"Brendan Fernandes: The Living Mask"; DePaul Art Museum
Chicago-based artist Fernandes displays his neon interpretations of traditional wooden masks alongside wooden masks from DePaul Art Museum’s African collection.
Sept 13–Dec 30
"The Time Is Now! Art Worlds of Chicago’s South Side, 1960–1980"; Smart Museum of Art
Learn about the Wall of Respect, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, AfriCOBRA and the various artists that made an impact on Chicago's art scene during the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Sept 17–Dec 9
"Break A Rule: Ed Paschke’s Art and Teaching"; Block Museum of Art
Chicago-native Paschke's vibrant paintings take the spotlight in this exhibition that connects his output to creative lessons he imparted as a professor at Northwestern University.
Sept 26–Jan 6
"Hairy Who? 1966–1969"; Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute surveys the output of Chicago artists Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca and Karl Wirsum during the period of time when they displayed bold, colorful graphic works under the moniker "The Hairy Who."
EXPO Chicago; Navy Pier Grand Ballroom
More than 100 of the world's leading contemporary art galleries show off towering installations, sprawling canvases, intriguing sculptures and more at this cutting-edge art exposition.
The Other Art Fair; Mana Contemporary
Looking for contemporary art you might actually be able to afford? 130 emerging artists display (and sell!) their work at the Chicago debut of this fair.
Art on theMart; Merchandise Mart
Be among the first to see the 25-story video projections on the side of Merchandise Mart at the opening night of this impressive new art installation.
Sept 29–Mar 10
"Enrico David: Gradations of Slow Release"; Museum of Contemporary Art
The form of the human body inspires the expressive sculptures, paintings and installation of Italian artist Enrico, who expands upon and modifies recognizable forms in unexpected ways.
RESTAURANTS & BARS
Welcome fall at Mark Steuer's new West Town spot, a modern beer hall and brasserie serving house-made pretzels, spaetzle and, of course, lots of beer.
Named for author Mark Twain, this Logan Square eatery focuses on Midwestern comfort cuisine, including elevated twists on chicken and dumplings, gooey butter cake and beer cheese soup.
From the owners of Happy Camper and Homeslice comes this patio-equipped pizza joint in Wicker Park.
Bartender Brad Bolt's (Bar DeVille) funky new watering hole is located just off the Division Blue Line stop. Go for a curated selection of craft cocktails, beers by the can and wines by the glass.
Lettuce Entertain You debuts its first wine bar: Expect unique pours and a collection of small plates in the former Bottlefork space.
Hampton Social Streeterville
If you love the easy, breezy vibes of the River North original, look out for Hampton Social's second location in Streeterville. The new outpost will have two outdoor spaces and serve coastal fare, an expansive wine list and refreshing cocktails.
Walton Street Kitchen + Bar
Situated on the second floor of a luxury condo tower in the Gold Coast, Walton Street Kitchen + Bar will serve "unpretentious American-leaning fare with a global, seasonal twist."
Queenie's Supper Club
United Center welcomes a 270-seat full-service restaurant with a menu from Bad Hunter chef Dan Snowden. Fans can nosh on bacon-wrapped scallops, prime rib and fried walleye before catching a game.
Chef Zoe Schor temporarily closes Spilt-Rail in to retool the concept. The space will reopen later this month with fried chicken as the focal point of the menu.
The crew behind viral pop-up Saved by The Max is at it again, this time with a permanent installation inspired by the late 1960s. Guests will enter through a fully functioning record shop and be treated to globally inspired plates from chef Brian Fisher (Entente).