Ever wonder what it would be like to walk down the middle of State Street without the threat of oncoming traffic? You'll have a chance to find out in the coming weeks. Beginning on July 11, the iconic (and oftentimes car-clogged) Loop thoroughfare will shut down vehicle traffic on select Sundays for a series of events called Sundays on State, a new, free-to-attend street fair that's bringing live music, sidewalk dining and tons of other activations to a three-block stretch of State Street.
The series, hosted by the Chicago Loop Alliance, draws inspiration from Active Transportation Alliance's pedestrian-geared Open Streets program, which ran from 2005 to 2013 (and was resurrected for the pandemic era last year, when the city launched its Open Dining and Shared Streets initiatives). In fact, the Loop Alliance even partnered with ATA for a similar State Street shutdown event in 2011 and 2012. Sundays on State, however, is the Loop Alliance's most ambitious take on the idea yet, with more than 80 activations expected to fill the street—everything from live music and art performances to face painting and mini architecture tours.
"This is going to be State Street like you’ve never experienced it before," Chicago Loop Alliance president and CEO Michael Edwards said in a statement. "It’s not every day you get to watch a wrestling match or take a yoga class in the middle of the most iconic street in Chicago."
Want to get in on the action? Here's everything you need to know about the Sundays on State festivities.
Where and when are the events happening?
State Street! (Sorry.) More specifically, the festivities will take up residence on a stretch of the street that runs from State and Lake—near the Chicago Theatre—to State and Madison. The event will take place from 11am to 8pm over the course of eight Sundays: July 18 and 25; August 8, 22 and 29; and September 5 and 12.
How can I get there?
Public transit is your best bet. Head to Lake on the Red Line, State/Lake on the Brown, Green, Orange, Pink and Purple Line and Washington on the Blue Line; you can also opt for a number of nearby buses (see schedules here). If you're coming in from outside the city, all of Metra's downtown stations are within a reasonable walking distance of no more than around 20 minutes.
If you're looking to drive, you'll find plenty of parking garages in the vicinity of State Street—just be prepared to pay for steep downtown parking prices. State Street from Wacker to Lake has also been designated as a drop off zone, if you want to hitch a ride via Uber or Lyft.
Do I need to register in advance?
No, but it's recommended that you do! And registering in advance automatically enters you in a raffle to win a $1,000 Loop staycation package. You can sign up on Eventbrite.
What am I allowed to bring inside?
Leashed dogs, strollers, bicycles, scooters, skateboards and other non-motorized modes of transit are all fair game. There will be some seating options, but bringing your own picnic-style outdoor seating—like lawn chairs and blankets—is encouraged. You can even pack your own food and drinks, though no outside alcohol is permitted.
What kind of activities, performances, etc. are popping up?
The pop-ups are broken up into four categories: Arts and culture (like concerts, performances and art exhibitions), active recreation (dance lessons and fitness demos), dining (food trucks and carts) and retail (various vendors and stalls). On July 18, you can enjoy 45-minute power yoga classes led by Starr Fitness, fried chicken from the Harold's Chicken food truck, miniature operas performed by OperaGram.com and DJ sets from Moz Definite, Illanoize, Shon Roka and E Double. For a full list of vendors—and performance schedules—see the Chicago Loop Alliance's website.
Sundays on State will take place from 11am to 8pm on July 11, 18 and 25; August 8, 22 and 29; and September 5 and 12.