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

ACTIVATE: Premiere

Things to do, Quirky events Thursday July 18 2019 - Thursday September 26 2019 Free
5 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
ACTIVATE: Premiere
Photograph: Courtesy ACTIVATE

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 downtown after work. The first of four events will be hosted at MacChesney Court, and guests can enter at the corner of Lake Street and Garland Court. Inspired by circus arts, this surprising seasonal pop-up transforms a hidden alley for one night only. The event features contortionists, magicians and hip-hop acts on two stages, plus a costume photo booth and live murals. This year's theme, "ACTIVATE: Backstage," celebrates the city's Year of Chicago Theatre initiative by honoring the local performing arts community through its programming. Look out for more ACTIVATE events on July 18, August 22 and September 26 at soon-to-be-announced urban spaces around the Loop.

By: Time Out Chicago editors


Venue name: Various locations throughout Chicago

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

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!