Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right Illinois icon-chevron-right Chicago icon-chevron-right ACTIVATE


Things to do, Quirky events Thursday June 6 2019 - Thursday September 26 2019 Free
5 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Loop Alliance

Chicago Loop Alliance's pop-up party series returns to alleys and other unexpected downtown locations this summer, giving you a good reason to hang out on a street after work. Joining the city's celebration of the Chicago Year of Theater, all four ACTIVATE events will be centered around the local performing arts community, including drag performers, lighting designers, stage decorators, comedians and circus acts. The location of each party is typically announced a few weeks before the event takes place. Don't forget to RSVP for ACTIVATE to receive a complimentary drink ticket (good for beer, wine or cocktails) when you show up.

By: Zach Long


Venue name: Various locations throughout Chicago

Price: Free
Event website:
    • Various locations throughout Chicago Free

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening
moderatorStaff Writer

ACTIVATE is probably one of the most unique experiences you can have in the city. To see the city's alleyways transformed into spaces where Chicagoans actually want to hang out and spend a few hours is a true feat. Every event bring something different, from creative artworks to performances, music, people and drinks, it's a really fun way to spend a few extra hours in the Loop and explore a part of the city you never would otherwise.

I'm always searching for new, unique and fun events to attend during the summer that won't break the bank. Activate fits the bill perfectly. This summer, the Activate alley takeovers focus on the different senses. I went to the first one of the summer, Touch. Not sure what to expect, I RSVPed on Do312 ahead of time to earn my free beer and showed up the day of right before it officially started. We waited in line, but not for too long, then were let into the event. 

The organizers entirely transformed this alley in the South Loop. When I think of the alleys in Chicago, I think of dumpsters, back entrances, and probably rats hanging around by the dumpsters. This alleyway felt like a grown up version of a play zone. For this event, there was a whole area set up with inflatable golden pillows probably six feet wide on a fake turf. Sponsor tents, a beer tent, an art area set up in a loading dock all made the space even more enticing. We got our free beers from Lagunitas and sat on the golden pillows. Of course we landed up bouncing around on them and eventually, several people started running through them to send them flying in every direction. Even though it rained a little, we still had a great time and I'd definitely go again. 


I went to Activate last night and had such a great time! The music was great and even though the event is free you still get a free drink ticket if you RSVP before the event (we had the choice of two different types of Blue Moon or chardonnay.) While there was a larger turnout then I had expected the space didn't feel too crowded and the longest I had to wait to get a drink was 2-4 minuets. The art expositions were really interesting and interactive and they had a Photo Booth. All in all it was an interesting and fun new way to spend the night outside and I'm really looking forward to the next event!