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To Kill a Mockingbird
Photograph: Julieta Cervantes

The best things to do in Chicago this week

Find the very best things to do in Chicago this week including cultural events, festivals and art.

Emma Krupp
Edited by
Emma Krupp
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The weather has cooled off slightly this week, but our events calendar is looking more and more like summer in Chicago thanks to a robust lineup of outdoor events. Kick off summer festival season this weekend at events like Mayfest and the Chicago Craft Beer Festival, or stop by Greektown on Sunday for a belated parade celebration of the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence Day. Plus, head to one of the best theaters in the Loop to catch a touring production of To Kill a Mockingbird, adapted by director Aaron Sorkin and featuring actress Mary Oldham—who famously played Scout in the 1962 film—as Mrs. Dubose. Ready for more events and happenings across the city? Scroll through our list of the best things to do in Chicago this week. 

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Chicago right now

Best things to do in Chicago this week

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • West Loop

After moving from Lakeview to Fulton Market in 2021, the Chicago Craft Beer Festival returns to the West Loop this year for a three-day extravaganza of craft brews. The fest partners with PB&J: Pizza Beer and Jukebox, offering more than 40 beers from 35 local, regional and national breweries. Snag a tasting ticket to secure your spot and feel free to grab a bite to eat before you begin sampling.

  • Theater
  • Drama
  • Loop

Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of Harper Lee's iconic 1960 novel stops in Chicago for a limited-run engagement at the James M. Nederlander Theatre. Emmy Award-winning actor Richard Thomas stars as legal crusader and father Atticus Finch, Melanie Moore (So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 winner) portrays Scout Finch and Mary Badham—who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the 1962 film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird—plays Mrs. Dubose. 

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Lincoln Park

Say a hearty hello to summer at Mayfest, the annual street party in Lincoln Park that's outfitted with the usual selection of local vendors, tasty food, cover bands and ice-cold beverages.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Greektown

Gather for a belated celebration of the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence Day—as well as all things related to Hellenic culture and identity—for the annual Greek Heritage Parade, which returns to Halsted Street for a day of in-person festivities. The parade steps off at 2:30pm, but attendees can also check out Greek vendors selling art, jewelry and gifts at the Greektown Agora (Elysian Field, Halsted and Van Buren St) and snap photos with Greek Warriors, or stick around for a performance from the Orpheus Dance Troupe at 5pm. 

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  • Art
  • Painting
  • Grant Park

The Art Institute of Chicago has teamed up with London's Tate Modern to mount the first major retrospective of Paul Cezanne's work in more than 25 years, exploring the Impressionist painter's legacy across a variety of mediums and genres. Visitors can explore some of Cezanne's most enduringly iconic works—including his lush still life paintings and landscapes—as well as rarely-seen compositions pulled from private collections, encompassing a total of 90 oil paintings, 40 watercolors and drawings and two complete sketchbooks. You'll need an additional ticket to gain access to the exhibit, but you'll rarely find such a comprehensive perspective on this seminal artist's life and work. 

  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Bridgeport

Grab a cup of tea or a latte from this beloved Bridgeport coffee shop and mill around its annual springtime vendor bazaar, where you can shop goods like plants, stained glass, jewelry, stickers, candles and more. DJ This Margin Walker will provide music. 

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  • Movies

Immerse yourself in the best of contemporary Japanese indie cinema via the annual Chicago Japanese Film Collective festival, which will show 13 films via both in-person and virtual screenings for its second year. The 2022 theme, "Love," spans a multi-genre list of titles including the documentary Ainu - Indigenous People of Japan and My House, a stylized black-and-white look at two interwoven storylines by director Tsutsumi Yukihiko (who will also receive the CJFC Career Achievement Award this year). Grab tickets for showings at the Gene Siskel Film Center and The Logan Theatre, or hang indoors and stream selections online—you'll find a full schedule on the CJFC website

  • Movies
  • Wrigleyville

Wrigley Field-adjacent plaza Gallagher Way is once again teaming up with the Music Box Theatre to program free outdoor movie screenings this summer. Admission is free and attendees are welcome to bring their own food, enjoy on-site concessions or snag a meal from nearby restaurants like Big Star and Smoke Daddy. VIP seating is also available for $30—check out the Gallagher Way website for more details. Gates open at 6pm for each screening and the movie starts at 7:30pm

May 11: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
May 25: Rocketman
June 8: Mamma Mia!
June 22: Josie and the Pussycats
July 6: Dirty Dancing
July 20: School of Rock
July 27: Pitch Perfect
August 3: Grease
August 17: Encanto
August 31: Almost Famous
September 14: Selena
September 21: Bohemian Rhapsody

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  • Dance
  • Millennium Park

The multicultural, multi-genre dance organization South Chicago Dance Theatre presents its first-ever production at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in the Loop, showcasing five world premieres—with styles ranging from ballet and jazz to afro modern—by choreographers Ron De Jesús, Stephanie Martinez, Crystal Michelle, Wade Schaaf and Kia S. Smith. 

  • Things to do
  • Festivals

This annual festival—which returns in 2022 with a full slate of in-person events—assembles luminaries from the fields of politics, journalism and the arts for a multi-week series of programming across the city, with events ranging from lectures and discussions to screenings and musical performances. This year’s fest theme, ”Public,” explores how people might move forward with public and private life after two years of Covid-related isolation. 

Not sure which events to hit? Some of the fest’s biggest speakers—including Anita Hill, John Waters and Selma Blair—will come to Chicago during two “Festival Days” held on May 7 and May 14, when events will stretch from morning through the evening. You can see a full schedule of programming on the Chicago Humanities Festival website

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  • Theater
  • Lincoln Park

Anton Chekov's iconic play—set over the course of one long weekend in the Russian countryside—is adapted, translated and directed by Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Yasen Peyankov in this humorous new production, which is headed to the theater's recently unveiled in-the-round Ensemble Theater. 

  • Art
  • Mixed media
  • Streeterville

The Museum of Contemporary Art hosts the first career-spanning retrospective of Chicago artist Nick Cave's work at Forothermore, a comprehensive dive into Cave's acclaimed body of visual art alongside his roles as an activist and community builder. Dedicated to those who exist as the "other" (whether through racism, homophobia or other modes of discrimination), Forothermore spans everything from installations and sculpture to fashion, performance and video work, with never-before-seen highlights like a continuation of Cave's lauded Soundsuits series. 

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  • Things to do
  • Performances
  • River North

Settle in for a free evening of jazz and spoken word poetry at The Rebirth Tour, a traveling performance organized by the Black artist collective Free Fyre. Throughout the night, guests will hear the stories of artists from the Harlem Renaissance as well as contemporary poetry and jazz from poet Cameron L. Mitchell, Jazzmin Mitchell and other performers. 

  • Art
  • Digital & interactive
  • Lincoln Park

Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija's incisive artwork and culinary installation (who's afraid of red, yellow, and green) transforms Wrightwood 659's second-floor gallery into a communal dining space, where visitors are intermittently served Thai curries while a large-scale mural depicting Thai political protests is painted on the walls. The interactive exhibit—which comes from the collection of the Smithsonian's Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC—invites visitors to consider the ties between food and politics, and to consider the work alongside their fellow diners while sharing a meal. 

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  • Things to do
  • Quirky events
  • Washington Park

Will you be Her Majesty Queen Charlotte's diamond of the season? To find out, don your best finery and take a time machine to the Regency-era London of Shonda Rhimes' imagination at this immersive Bridgerton-themed ball.

Mix and mingle with other members of the ton (short for "le bon ton," or the well-heeled denizens of London) while wandering through rooms outfitted to look like the show's regal ballrooms; throughout the night, a string quartet will play music inspired by the series—including classical covers of contemporary songs—to set a properly aristocratic mood. Don't miss special immersive features like live dance performances and a Regency-era painting studio, and sip Bridgerton-themed cocktails provided by Tanqueray as the evening unfolds. FYI: Attendees must be 21 or older and proof of vaccination is required. 

  • Comedy
  • Solo shows
  • Lincoln Park

Comedian Mike Birbiglia heads to Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theater for a four-week run of his show The Old Man and the Pool, a funny and ruminative coming-of-middle-age story. Written and performed by Birbiglia, the show grapples with questions of life, death and growing older (including what happens when those decorative-looking items at the doctor's office suddenly become useful). 

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  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Loop

The Chicago Architecture Center's largest-ever exhibition explores how cities can rise to meet the challenge of climate change by utilizing creative, eco-friendly approaches to design and the built environment. Visitors can learn about how architects, engineers and urban planners are working on technologies like kinetic energy capture and high-performance facades to create net-zero carbon buildings, or how public transportation and more efficient appliances can help work toward a greener future on an individual scale,giving you a chance to see how you can contribute to the goal of a carbon-free world. 

  • Museums
  • Natural history
  • Museum Campus

The Field Museum's latest exhibition takes you into the depth of prehistoric seas, where gigantic underwater creatures made their home more than 200 million years ago. Visitors will learn how these Jurassic giants evolved into familiar marine animals, like sea snakes, turtles, dolphins and whales. The interactive exhibition include real fossils and CGI projections of ancient creatures like the mosasaur—also known as the T.rex of the sea.

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  • Art
  • Film and video

Projecting a 25-story-tall video installation on the side of the Merchandise Mart, Art on theMart's spring program focuses on two climate change-themed projections presented in partnership with the Shedd Aquarium. The first, Floe, was created by Chicago choreographer Carrie Hanson (in collaboration with her dance company, The Seldoms) and spotlights climate change through melting ice, extreme weather and the human body, set to soundscapes of icebergs, water and rain. The second, Choral, is by the collaborative localStyle and depicts the human impact on coral ecosystems.

Art on theMART's array of 34 digital projectors display the 30-minute program at 8:30 and 9pm every evening. The show is best viewed from the section of the Chicago Riverwalk between Wells Street and Franklin Street.

  • Theater
  • Loop

Join all six of King Henry VIII’s wives—Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr—at CIBC Theatre as they push their murderous, conniving husband aside and take back the mic, sharing and singing their own stories in this history lesson turned pop-concert spectacular imported from the U.K.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Are you the type of person who stops to stare at gorgeous homes and buildings in Chicago? If so, you'll want to check out architecture photographer Will Quam's seasonal Brick of Chicago tours, which guide attendees through some of the city's most stunning examples of brick construction—from massive greystone mansions to the humble Chicago Common brick (and plenty more). Tours are broken up by neighborhood, so choose a date for an area near you or branch out to explore a new area of the city; for a complete list of tour dates, visit the Brick of Chicago website

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • River West/West Town

Explore the housing crisis through the lens of artists like Gabrielle Garland, Tonika Lewis Johnson and Maymay Jumsai—as well as organizations such as the Southside Home Movie Project—in this Weinberg/Newton Gallery exhibit, a partnership with the nonprofit Mercy Housing Lakefront. Featured work includes paintings, collage, sculpture, video and large-scale installation, which tell the story of damaging housing practices while also imagining a more enriching, secure future for urban living. 

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  • Art
  • Arts centers
  • Kenwood

Married artists Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger explore relationships, intimacy, queerness and loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic in this immersive exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center. Visitors can see three new works in the Art Center's gallery space—including a massive mural and a participatory installation that invites people to make their own paper cranes—and attend a number of free public programs, from a Pride-themed performance to a conversation with artist couples.  

  • Theater
  • Comedy
  • Lincoln Park

This raucous and interactive play—which is Off-Broadway's longest-running comedy—makes its Chicago debut at the Greenhouse Theater Center. The cheeky story is set at a meet-the-author event inside a college auditorium, where author Dan Anderson of Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man employs the assistance of a sexy assistant named Stefan to school the audience on all manners of sex tips. Hilarity (and all sorts of naughtiness) ensue! 

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  • Art
  • Digital & interactive
  • Old Town

Ready for the next phase of immersive art in Chicago? Produced by the same team that created “Immersive Van Gogh” and hosted at the Germania Club Building in Old Town, “Immersive Frida Kahlo” showcases animated video projections of some of the artist’s most iconic paintings, including works like “The Two Fridas” and “The Wounded Deer,” alongside a selection of drawings, iconography and photographs of the artist at various stages of her life. Expect something of a history lesson alongside the images: The exhibition jumps through the eras of the Kahlo’s work in an attempt to illuminate themes from the artist’s life, from her feminism to her involvement in the Mexicanidad movement.

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  • Sports and fitness
  • Yoga & Pilates
  • Old Town

Grab a mat and take a 40-minute yoga class inside of the "Immersive Frida Kahlo" experience, moving your body in sync with the music, lights and moving images within the high-tech show. The classes are led by a certified yoga instructor and take place early in the morning (before the exhibit opens to the public) on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month.

  • Sports and fitness
  • Yoga & Pilates
  • Streeterville

Looking for a Sunday morning yoga class with a killer view? 360 Sky Yoga allows you to get on your mat while enjoying the sights from the 360 CHICAGO observation deck on the 94th floor of 875 N Michigan Avenue (formerly the John Hancock Center). Instructor Britta Eumann leads two one-hour sessions every Sunday—you just need to bring your own mat and arrived properly dressed. Each class includes a general admission ticket to 360 CHICAGO, so you can stick around and snap some photos after you're done striking poses on the mat.

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  • Comedy
  • Comedy competitions
  • Logan Square

On the first and third Thursdays of each month, you can watch some of Chicago's best comedians go after one another on stage during the weekly Sticks & Stones Roast Battle. Inspired by celebrity roasts, no topic is off the table as funny folks look for cracks in their opponent's armor and quip their way to victory. In February and March, show up to see the 7-week Roast Battle championship bracket series, which will crown a top roaster.

  • Time Out Market
  • West Loop

Every Sunday from 11am to 3pm, Time Out Market Chicago's chefs offer a variety of delicious brunch dishes, from Hangover Ramen with shrimp and smoked pork to a stack of Buttermilk Pancakes layered with whipped mascarpone. Order as much as you want, grab a mimosa pitcher from the bar and stick around from 1 to 3pm for a set of tunes from the Chicago Soul Jazz Collective. 

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  • Art
  • Painting
  • Loop

The Chicago Cultural Center hosts the first comprehensive retrospective of Robert Colescott, a 20th century American painter whose incisive, large-scale work took aim at racial inequities in America—among other social ills—with humor and wit. The exhibition examines Colescott's work throughout the decades, moving through the artist's stylistic evolutions from riffs on the Bay Area Figuration of the '50s and '60s to his graphic style of the '70s and beyond, as well as his role in bolstering Black representation in art.  

  • Nightlife
  • Cabaret and burlesque
  • Lake View

Settle in for an evening of burlesque performers, belly dancers, drag artists and variety entertainers during this weekly show at Newport Theater. The hour-long show features speciality cocktails and intimate seating arrangements, making this feel like a clandestine speakeasy experience. Bring some singles so that you can tip performers throughout the night!

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  • Comedy
  • Sketch shows
  • Lake View

Bye Bye Liver combines two robust Chicago traditions: comedy and heavy drinking. The show opened a decade ago for a three-week run, then kept getting extended. A cast of four to six performers portray characters at the fictional "Franks Bar," telling stories that explore the city's robust drinking culture. Each show incorporates interactive audience drinking games, allowing you to sip a cocktail or beer while taking cues from the cast. And if you're up for a nightcap after the performance, you can stick around for the official after party and mingle with the cast.

  • Museums
  • Natural history
  • Museum Campus

Explore the colors of the natural world in the Field Museum's latest exhibition, which examines the meaning and function of some of the brightest hues in the world. “Wild Color” explores how plants and animals use color to ward off predators or attract maters, and how the color of gems and minerals can offer clues about their formation. The 7,000-square-foot exhibition is filled with specimens from the Field Museum's extensive collection, including a platypus that fluoresces under UV light and birds in every color (including "super black").

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  • Theater
  • Experimental
  • Uptown

For more than 30-years, the Neo-Futurists have been delighting late-night crowds with performances that pack 30 miniature plays into a 60-minute show. Returning to in-person programming (attendees must be vaccinated and masked) after more than a year spent in the virtual realm, the company's signature show is more unpredictable than ever, with a handful of compact new plays premiering every week. Within the span of 10 minutes, you may be treated to a poignant monologue about everyday life or an irreverent diatribe delivered by a pantsless member of the cast—all inspired by the experiences of the performers on stage. Always changing and evolving, it's the rare show that truly offers something different everytime you show up to see it.

  • Art
  • Contemporary art
  • Streeterville

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents a survey that encapsulates two decades of work by Pakistani artist Bani Abidi, a former student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Known for her video, photography and sound works, Abidi satirizes displays of power and nationalism as she explores the geopolitical relationship between India and Pakistan as well as the historical power struggles of South Asia. The exhibit takes its name from Abidi's watercolor series "The Man Who Talked Until He Disappeared," which depicts writers, political leaders and bloggers from Pakistan that have disappeared over the past decade.

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  • Comedy
  • Stand-up
  • Logan Square

Now housed in the space on Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square, the country's longest countinuously running independent comedy showcase continues every Friday and Saturday night. Boasting alumni like Cameron Esposito, Kumail Nanjiani and Hanibal Buress, this stand-up show will introduce you to fresh new faces that may end up starring in Marvel movies or becoming podcast mainstays. Snag an affordable ticket, avoid the two-drink minimum and prepare to laugh your ass off.

  • Art
  • Sculpture

See five towering sculptures by South African artist Daniel Popper at the Morton Arboretum's new outdoor exhibition, which spreads the 15- to 26-foot-tall works throughout the natural area. Made of glass-reinforced concrete, wood, fiberglass and steel, the one-of-a-kind pieces in "Human+Nature" depict human figures that evoke the natural landscape they're set amid, including a pair of 36-foot-long hands reaching out from a grove of oak trees and a maternal figure that springs up amid magnolia trees.

Access to "Human+Nature" is included as part of timed-entry admission to the Morton Arboretum, and there's a map that will allow you to easily plan your visit and spot all five of the sculptures along the way.

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