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The best things to do in Chicago this weekend

Find the best things to do in Chicago this weekend with our guide to concerts, exhibitions, festivals and more.

pride parade 2017, jordan avery
Photograph: Jordan Avery
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It's the end of June, and it's time for the gigantic Chicago Pride celebration to begin! Before the storied Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday, you can find inclusive LGBTQ events for Pride Month throughout the city, including Chicago's very first drag festival, a concert headlined by Iggy Azalea and Steve Aoki in Grant Park and the annual Back Lot Bash in Andersonville. The lineup of Chicago summer festivals is as strong as ever this weekend, including live music under the Centennial Monument at Logan Square Arts Festival, a cavalcade of cutting-edge hip-hop acts at the Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash and a block party outside of the Stony Island Arts Bank devoted to Spike Lee's film Do The Right Thing. Join the party at some of the best things to do in Chicago this weekend.

RECOMMENDED: Full Chicago events calendar

Things to do this weekend in Chicago

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pride parade 2017, jordan avery
Photograph: Jordan Avery
Things to do

Chicago Pride Parade

icon-location-pin Pride Parade Route, Uptown
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Chicago's LGBTQ community and its allies gather in Boystown to celebrate with a rainbow-colored parade that attracts over one million attendees. This year, the annual extravaganza celebrates 50 years with a commemorative theme: Stonewall 50: Millions of Moments of Pride. Head to the parade route early to grab a prime spot before the procession starts rolling down Halsted and Broadway between Montrose and Diversey.

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Logan Square Arts Festival
Photograph: Christopher Dilts
Things to do, Festivals

Logan Square Arts Festival

icon-location-pin Illinois Centennial Monument, Logan Square
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Each summer, stages, tents and food trucks spring up around the Illinois Centennial Monument for a weekend that celebrates local art, food, beer and music. The Logan Square Arts Festival is one of the neighborhood's most beloved events and a reminder of the importance of community in an area of the city where demographics are changing as rapidly as new condos and high-rises can be built. In addition to a full slate of local artists, printers and makers, this year's festival will feature sets from Philadelphia rockers Hop Along, New Zealand indie-pop group the Beths, Brooklyn electronic act Future Generations and more.

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SummerDance
Photograph: Courtesy DCASE
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago SummerDance

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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All ages and skill levels are welcome at this annual event series that will allow you to practice your jives, twirls and jumps. The dancing breaks out Thursday through Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons in the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, where a professional instructor gives dance lessons (with genres ranging from Swing to Argentine Tango) for the first hour before allowing participants to cut a rug with the accompaniment of a live band. You'll also find SummerDance lessons at Buckingham Fountain during Taste of Chicago and one-off events in parks throughout the city. The series culminates with a day of dancing and performances in Millennium Park on August 24.

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Photograph: Austin D. Oie Photography
Theater

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

icon-location-pin Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, Evanston
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Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre has built its success on taking large-scale musicals and shrinking them down to storefront size. But with this rip-roaring revival of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, director Toma Tavares Langston delivers a show that’s perfectly tailored to the company’s intimate Evanston digs. This rock musical has always had an in-your-face quality to it, but in a theater like Theo Ubique—decked out by designer Colt Frank to look like a grungy rock club—it’s actually in your face. When Hedwig scream-sings about the injustice of the mangled mound of flesh hanging between their legs, you don’t just feel the anger; you have to wipe away the spit.

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Ultra Fresh
Photograph: Hilary Higgins
Things to do, Festivals

Ultra Fresh

icon-location-pin ICNC Make City, United Center
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True to its name, you won’t drink a beer that was packaged more than one week before this expansive tasting event, organized by local craft brewing blog The Hop Review. Each ticket includes 20 tasting of fresh creations from the likes of Dovetail, Half Acre, Marz, Noon Whistle and more than 15 other breweries.

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Playboi Carti
Photograph: Gunnar Stahl
Music, Music festivals

The Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash

icon-location-pin Douglas Park, North Lawndale
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Chicago hip-hop blog Lyrical Lemonade expands its annual summer concert to a two-day festival in Douglas Park this year, bringing along a lineup featuring some of the hottest rappers in the world as well as plenty of rising acts. Atlanta emcees Playboi Carti and Lil Yachty headline the Summer Smash on Saturday, while "Lucid Dreams" rapper Juice WRLD and controversy-courting artist Kodak Black close out the fest on Sunday. You'll also find an impressive array of notable SoundCloud rappers on the bill, including breakthrough acts like Blueface and Trippie Redd as well as performances from soon-to-be-famous names like DaBaby and Yung Bans. If you want to witness the future of hip-hop, this is the place to be.

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Lucy Stoole photographed at Double Door
Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki
Things to do, Festivals

Chicago is a Drag Festival

icon-location-pin Cheetah Gym Andersonville, Andersonville
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A city filled with fierce drag queens deserves a festival devoted to the diverse performers—from Chicago and beyond! The inagural Chicago is a Drag Festival comes just in time for the 50th Chicago Pride celebration, gathering local stars and national headliners for an afternoon or fun, posing and dancing in Andersonville's Cheetah Gym parking lot. RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Raja, Miss Continental winner Candis Cayne and Spikey Van Dykey headline the fest, joined by local talent like T Res, Lucy Stoole, Kat Sass, Imp Queen and Aunty Chan. If you're looking for a Pride party with a killer soundtrack and some serious style, this is the place to be.

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Off-White for Nike, Virgil Abloh
Photograph: Courtesy MCA Chicago
Art, Design

Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech”

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art, Streeterville
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An Illinois native and a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology's architecture program, Virgil Abloh's decision to pursue a career in fashion recently landed him a job as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton. The MCA's latest exhibition explores Abloh's career, including his time as creative director of Kanye West, his popular streetwear company Off-White and the various high-profile collaborations he's had a hand in. Throughout the exhibit, you'll find examples of Abloh's work in fashion, music, design and architecture, offering an intimate look inside his creative process. Naturally, you'll also be able to cop some exclusive Abloh-designed threads when you exit through the gift shop.

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Mariachi Herencia de Mexico
Photograph: Courtesy Mariachi Herencia de Mexico
Music, Music festivals

Chicago Mariachi Festival

icon-location-pin Millennium Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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The Mariachi Heritage Foundation and the National Museum of Mexican Art welcome world-class mariachi ensembles to Pritzker Pavilion for a day of free performances (and dancing)—it's the largest event of its kind in the United States. This year's lineup includes Mexican singer Aida Cuevas, Chicago-based student ensemble Mariachi Herencia de México, Mexico City band Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlan and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley outfit Mariachi Aztlán. Leave the booze at home for this one—there is no outside alcohol permitted at the Chicago Mariachi Festival.

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The National
Photograph: Graham MacIndoe
Music, Rock and indie

The National + Alvvays

icon-location-pin Huntington Bank Pavilion, Downtown
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Armed with a surplus of achingly melancholy songs, two pairs of brothers and the haunting baritone of singer Matt Berninger, Brooklyn-via-Ohio rockers the National have become one of the biggest rock bands in the world. After headlining Lollapalooza last summer, the group returns in support of its moody new album, I Am Easy To Find, which was created as a companion-piece of sorts to a black and white film by director Mike Mills (best know for his 2016 dramedy, 20th Century Women). The record features vocals from David Bowie bandmate Gail Ann Dorsey, Sharon Van Etten and Kate Stables of This Is The Kit, as well as choir and string arrangements that lend each track an appropriately cinematic feel. Canadian indie-pop act (responsible for the extremely catchy single "Archie, Marry Me") Alvvays open the show.

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Photograph: Heidi Zeiger Photography
LGBT

Pier Pride

icon-location-pin Navy Pier | Chicago, IL, Streeterville
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Navy Pier’s annual LGBTQ Pride celebration is billed as a family-friendly day of performances and partying downtown. The lakefront event has quickly established itself as a Pride-weekend alternative, with organizers claiming it’s the largest such event outside of Boystown. Take a spin on the Ferris wheel or splurge on Rainbow Cones for the whole family—an ideal way to celebrate Chicago Pride. 

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Édouard Manet. In the Conservatory, about 1877–79.
Courtesy Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie
Art, Painting

“Manet and Modern Beauty”

icon-location-pin Art Institute of Chicago | Chicago, IL, Grant Park
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Unlike many of his contemporaries in the mid-1800s, French painter Édouard Manet prefered depicting contemporary subjects instead of historical figures and Biblical scenes. In “Manet and Modern Beauty,” the Art Institute collects his paintings of men and women decked out in fashionable attire, rendered with an eye for detail in his distinct impressionist style. The exhibition also includes some of of Manet's personal letters, as well as paintings of flowers and fruits (which, aside from stylish women, were among his favorite subjects).

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Back Lot Bash
Photograph: courtesy ILDK Media
LGBT

Back Lot Bash

icon-location-pin Cheetah Gym Andersonville, Andersonville
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Celebrating 15 years in 2019, Back Lot Bash boasts music and entertainment with serious sapphic appeal. The three-day festival is hosted in Andersonville and celebrates LGBTQ women with programming from local musicians. Hoping to get the kids in on the Pride festivities? Back Lot Bash hosts a family-friendly day for everyone to enjoy.

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The Glide8orz
Photograph: Jeff Millies
Things to do, Late openings

MCA Prime Time: Question Everything

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art, Streeterville
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MCA's after-hours event series returns with a late-night party inspired by the museum's latest exhibition, Virgil Abloh: "Figures of Speech." Just like Abloh's work, the evening will present a mixture of music, fashion, performances and experiences—all spread throughout the museum. Guests will be able to dance to DJ sets from cosmic duo the Illustrious Blacks and local selector Duane Powell or take in concerts from jazz clarinetist Angel Bat Dawid, cellist Lia Kohl and harpist Yomí. Head to the Edlis Neeson Theater to strap on a pair of skates and take a spin on a roller rink set up on the stage, then stick around to catch demonstrations from the Glide8orz Skate Crew. You'll also witness fashion shows currated by Chicago designers like Sheila Rashid, Brandon Breaux, Tatiana Hazel, Sir & Madame, TRAP House Chicago, Abigail Glaum Lathbury. Plus, there'll be pop-up shops throughout the museum where you can purchase something stylish to take home with you. Tickets to MCA Prime Time include timed entry to the Virgil Abloh: "Figures of Speech" exhibition.

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Photograph: Courtesy Rebuild Foundation
Things to do, Festivals

Do the Right Thing Block Party

icon-location-pin Stony Island Arts Bank, South Shore
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Rebuild Foundation celebrates the 30th anniversary of Spike Lee's groundbreaking film Do the Right Thing with a community block party, welcoming guests to dress up as their favorite character from the movie for a day of dancing, DJ sets and outdoor activities. The fun begins at noon with a bring your own vinyl DJ set, inviting attendees to offer up some of their favorite ’90s hip-hop LPs to play throughout the afternoon. There will also be a cookout and a screening of Do the Right Thing at dusk.

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Hallie Duesenberg
Shopping

Randolph Street Market Festival

icon-location-pin Randolph Street Market, West Loop
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More than 100 vendors hawk their antique housewares, furniture, ephemera, clothing and more at this indoor-outdoor festival. Stop in for vintage clothes and jewelry, a vinyl swap meet, a fancy food market and global goods bazaar or bring your own items for appraisal. This event typically occurs on the last weekend of each month. During the warm-weather months of May–September, the market adds an outdoor area, offering even more vintage shopping and a beer garden.

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Chicago Pride Parade 2018
Photograph: Jordan Avery
LGBT

Pride in the Park: Iggy Azalea + Steve Aoki

icon-location-pin Grant Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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This year marks the 50th anniversary of LGBTQ Pride celebrations in Chicago and the city is observing the occasion with a gigantic one-day festival in Grant Park. On the Saturday before the Chicago Pride Parade on the city's North Side, Pride in the Park will bring revelers to the Loop for an entire afternoon of performances and entertainment. Australian rapper Iggy Azalea and EDM cake-thrower Steve Aoki headline the festival, joined by R&B singer (and reality TV star) Tamar Braxton and Kathy Sledge of disco group Sister Sledge. Plus, Ru Paul's Drag Race contestants like Shea Coulee, Alexis Michelle and Coco Montrese will also be appearing at the fest, which will take over Butler Field north of Buckingham Fountain. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit local organizations like the Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Center on Halsted and Stonewall Sports. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Chicago Pride

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Hideout Picnics on the Porch
Photograph: Courtesy Hideout
Music, Folk, country and blues

Picnics on the Porch

icon-location-pin Hideout, River West/West Town
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Hideout's annual summer concert series brings the bands out of the back room and onto the venue's front porch for intimate performances under the setting sun. As usual, the Picnics on the Porch series features sets from a selection of folk and country acts, including Big Sadie, Joan Shelley and Freakwater. Ukranian Village eatery All Together Now will be offering a menu of picnic meals and snacks to accompany the music, including "Lunchables for Grownups," brats and roasted beet sandwiches. If you're craving dinner and show, this summer tradition is one of the best ways to spend a warm Chicago evening. This week, Big Sadie headlines the outdoor stage.

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Photograph: Nick Murway
Things to do, Festivals

Chi-Town Hot Sauce Expo

icon-location-pin SeatGeek Stadium, Suburbs
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Set your taste buds on fire at this expo devoted to spicy sauces from more than 40 different vendors, a cocktail competition and food-eating challenges. Guests will be able to put their heat tolerance to the test with samples of fiery foods and participate in extreme events like the “Spicy Taco of Hell Challenge" or the "Slaytanic Burrito Challenge." You'll also get to watch someone eat a bunch of super-hot Reaper peppers—hope you're a heat seeker.

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Pride North
LGBT

Pride North

icon-location-pin Glenwood Ave,
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Those who like their Pride a little more chill can head north to Rogers Park, where this street festival just off the Morse Red Line stop offers lower-key entertainment across two stages and three dance floors. 

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Photograph: Ally Straussner
Restaurants

Big Gay Ice Cream x Cold Storage

icon-location-pin Cold Storage, West Loop
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Celebrate Pride with something sweet from beloved New York ice cream shop Big Gay Ice Cream and Cold Storage pastry chef Leigh Omilinsky. The two sugar masterminds team up to create a lineup of incredible frozen desserts, like the macaron ice cream sandwich, which is stuffed with blueberry-basil ice cream and rolled in fruity pebbles. Stop in from June 24 to 30 to enjoy these Pride-packed creations. Psst! The Pride Sundae, a dairy-free rainbow sherbert creation with coconut whip, is available all month long.

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Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Sport and Social Club
Things to do, Quirky events

90s Beach Party

icon-location-pin North Avenue Beach, Lincoln Park
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Take a brief trip back in time to the days of Game Boys, Nickelodeon cartoons and Beanie Babies during an afternoon of day drinking at North Avenue Beach. The 90s Beach Party is stocked with photo ops, party games, a DJ spinning classic ‘90s tracks and plenty of booze for you to enjoy. If you're looking for a place to show off that vintage Toon Squad basketball jersey that isn't Lollapalooza, this is the party you've been looking for.

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174.gay.dykemarch.opener.jpg
LGBT

Dyke March

icon-location-pin Piotrowski Park, South Lawndale
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This fierce and festive celebration of community activism and queer solidarity gathers in Little Village. The grassroots collective mobilized more than 20 years ago and continues to represent queer, bisexual, transgender and lesbian folks. Participants are invited to gather at 1:30pm at Little Village Academy; the march begins at 2:30pm and the rally commences at 3:30pm at Piotrowski Park.

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Queen!
Photograph: Erik Kommer
Nightlife, Alternative nightlife

Queen!

icon-location-pin Smart Bar, Wrigleyville
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In the city that served as the birthplace of house music, the weekly Queen! party carries on the genre's inclusive and subversive spirit. Tucked away in Smart Bar's subterranean confines, residents Derrick Carter, Michael Serafini and Garrett David spin deep grooves while drag performers strut across the foggy dance floor. For serious dance music fans, the trek across town to spend a night at Queen! is a pilgrimage worth making. In celebration of Pride, Queen! welcomes the Ladies of LCD Soundsystem (Nancy Wong and Rayna Russom) in addition to local drag performers Lucy Stoole, Jojo Baby, Nico, Sal-E and more.

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A Queer Pride
Photograph: Marisa KM
Things to do

Emerald City: Pride Parade After-Party

icon-location-pin Annoyance Theatre, Lake View
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Keep the party going long after the annual Pride Parade wraps with A Queer Pride's official after-party at the Annoyance, which convientently overlooks the parade route for easy daytime viewing. Programming includes live music, an immersive installation and drag performances from the likes of Lucy Stoole, Auntie Heroine and Dusty Bahls. The party goes till 10pm, so let your rainbow flag fly!

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Ms. Blakk for President
Photograph: Michael Brosilow
Theater

Ms. Blakk for President

icon-location-pin Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lincoln Park
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Tarell Alvin McCraney and Tina Landau’s Ms. Blakk for President has been one of the most anticipated shows of the season, and it arrives at Steppenwolf with the force of a brick through a window. Co-written by the pair and directed by Landau, this raucous historical drama stars McCraney as Ms. Joan Jett Blakk, a real-life Chicago drag queen and queer activist who mounted a 1992 campaign for President of the United States, with the goal of raising awareness about AIDS at a time when the disease was killing tens of thousands of Americans each year. (Her motto? “Lick Bush in ’92.”)

Time Out says
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Photograph: Courtesy Windy City Soul Club
Music, Funk, soul and disco

Windy City Soul Club

icon-location-pin Empty Bottle, Ukrainian Village
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Northern Soul, Motown hits and cuts by regional musicians blast from the speakers at this monthly dance party, hosted by the Empty Bottle. Sing along to classic R&B tunes or dance under the venues sparkling disco ball, while the Windy City Soul Club DJs provide the all-vinyl soundtrack to your revelry (and introduce you to some new artists to add to your Spotify playlists).

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hubbard inn, harry potter
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Music, Classical and opera

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Concert

icon-location-pin Symphony Center, Loop
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Accio conductor’s baton! Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conjure a live performance of John Williams’ score to the third Harry Potter film, accompanying a screening of the magical movie.

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Photograph: Reilly Drew
Bars

Sportsman’s Club Summer BBQ Series

icon-location-pin Sportsman's Club, Ukrainian Village
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Sportsman's Club backyard BBQ series is back again and stronger than ever, with a total of 18 events hosted by some of the best restaurants in Chicago, including Elske, Galit and Lula Cafe. For the uninitiated, the takeovers are first-come, first-served, with the featured chef holding court over the bar's grill and menu. For $20, guests are treated to a heaping plate of food and a beverage pairing. It's one of our all-time favorite summer pastimes. Doors open at 3pm and food is served at 4pm, unless otherwise noted. This weekend, Middlebrow's Bungalow will provide the meal.

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Photograph: Courtesy Proud to Run Chicago
LGBT

Proud To Run

icon-location-pin Montrose Harbor, Uptown
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This Pride weekend half-marathon, 10K run and 5K run/walk, now in its 38th year, raises funds for Chicago's LGBTQ community. This year’s proceeds go to About Face Theatre, Gender Cool Project, Housing Opportunities & Maintenance for the Elderly and the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois.

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The Obama Paintings Rob Pruitt
Photograph: Courtesy Stony Island Arts Bank
Art, Painting

“The Obama Paintings”

icon-location-pin Stony Island Arts Bank, South Shore
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The Obama Presidential Library in Jackson Park is years away from completion, but a new exhibition near the facility's future home pays tribute to the former Illinois Senator in a fasinating way. "The Obama Paintings" is an exhibition made up of nearly 3,000 red- and blue-tinged paintings depicting scenes that correspond to each day of Obama's presidency. Artist Rob Pruitt renders everything from a walk with the Obama family dog, Bo, to State of the Union addresses and meetings with heads of state.

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Cirque du Soleil: Volta
Photograph: Matt Beard
Theater, Circuses & magic

Cirque du Soleil: Volta

icon-location-pin Soldier Field South Parking Lot, Near South Side
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In its newest show, the French Canadian megatroupe Cirque du Soleil once again delivers the spine-tingling spectacle that is its raison d’être. Strung together by a gossamer-thin plot, Volta incorporates street-style sports like BMX riding and double dutch jump rope alongside traditional circus arts; its themes include smartphone addiction, reality shows and the search for belonging.

Time Out says
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Photograph: Courtesy Emporium
Nightlife, Pop-ups and food events

The Dog's Day Adventure

icon-location-pin Emporium Arcade Bar Logan Square, Logan Square
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There are plenty of dog-friendly bars in Chicago, but Emporium and local animal rescue organization One Tail at a Time teamed up to create a pop-PUP bar that your pooch will be begging to hang out at. The Dog's Day Adventure brings a dog park into the Emporium Pop-Ups space in Logan Square, complete with an agility mountain, trout pond ball pit and a doggo camp site. Your furry friends will be able to lap up bowls of water, while human attendees can enjoy beer and a list of themed cocktails—a portion of proceeds benefit One Tail at a Time. While all well-behaved pups are welcome, dogs must be leashed at all times when visiting the Dog's Day Adventure and all owners will be asked to sign a waiver upon entering the premises.

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Morton Arboretum Nature Connects
Photograph: Michael Hudson
Art, Outdoor art

“Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks”

icon-location-pin Morton Arboretum, Suburbs
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Take in 15 sculptures spread throughout the Morton Arboretum's pathways, including an eight-foot dragonfly, a peacock, a turtle and a nearly life-size family of deer—all made out of LEGO bricks. The intricate models are the work of New York-based artist Sean Kenney, who is well-known for turning the tiny plastic bricks into creative works that tour the world as part of the "Nature Connects" exhibition.

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Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Room
Photograph: Courtesy wndr museum
Art, Installation

wndr museum

icon-location-pin 1130 W Monroe St, West Loop
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Step inside one of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's famous Infinity Mirror Rooms at this pop-up exhibition, which features installations that blend art and science. The latest "chapter" of wndr museum features a lineup of new installations (giving previous visitors a reason to come back), focusing on works that utilize technology. Among the new experiences are a room lined with LED walls that guests can "draw" on with water, a series of abstract shapes that guests can project images onto and an interactive dance station that replicates and manipulates your moves on a screen. You'll also find a two-story rainbow slide and murals by local artists Mac Blackout and Lauren Asta. The latest iteration of wndr museum will stick around for "limited, yet undetermined amount of time," so squeeze in a visit while the current batch of installations is on display.

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Hamilton: The Exhibition
Illustration: David Korins
Museums, History

“Hamilton: The Exhibition”

icon-location-pin 1535 S Linn White Dr, Museum Campus
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Experience the life of Alexander Hamilton at this stand-alone exhibition, created by the team behind the hit musical Hamilton. Debuting in Chicago, "Hamilton: The Exhibition" takes visitors on a journey from a trading post in St. Croix to the New Jersey hilltop where the Founding Father was shot in a duel, using imaginative environments (created by the Broadway production's set designer David Korins) to immerse guests in the historical tale. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda serves as the exhibition's narrator (via a high-tech headset), fleshing out details as you make your way through the display and listen to rearranged music from the Broadway show.

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Art on theMART
Photograph: Joshua Brott
Art, Film and video

Art on theMART

icon-location-pin Merchandise Mart,
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Every night, a 25-story-tall video installation takes over the side of the Merchandise Mart, filling the building's historic facade with vibrant colors and moving images. Harnessing 34 digital projectors, the show features work by a rotating lineup of artists and is best viewed from Wacker Drive or the Riverwalk, between Wells and Orleans Streets. Art on theMART lights up the night Monday through Sunday, with projections beginning approximately 15 minutes after sunset.

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