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Chicago August 18–24: Wizard World & Air and Water Show

The best of what to do in and around Chicago this week

Festival season is coming to a close in Chicago, so make sure to catch the last few big events this week. First, support our troops by dancing, drinking, and eating at the Clark After Dark Festival. Then switch gears completely at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. You won’t be able to ignore the Chicago Air and Water Show—and you won’t want to miss it, anyway. Finish off the week by celebrating everything that’s good about the world at the Albany Park World Fest.

AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.   

August 18 | Festival
USO Clark After Dark
This festival, sponsored by the United Service Organizations of Illinois, is a call to celebrate America’s military with drinking, dancing, and a live auction. Proceeds from the auction will go to benefit the more than 300,000 veterans who receive support from the USO of Illinois, so whatever you buy, know that it’s for a good cause. If auctions aren’t your thing, the event is still worth attending to show your support and rock out to 16 Candles, a talented local ’80s cover band.
4–10 p.m. | 420 N. Clark St., Chicago | $10 | website

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August 18–22 | Convention
Wizard World Chicago Comic Con
The sci-fi world comes alive this week at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. Star Wars fans, X-Files addicts, and Back to the Future lovers will all be on-site, as well as everyone else who takes an interest in sci-fi films and TV shows. Pop culture icons, including X-Files’ David Duchovny, Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd, and even Star Wars’ Carrie Fisher will be there signing autographs and talking to fans. Come in costume or come to buy a costume, as everybody’s going to be in character.
Times vary | Donald Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont | From $50 | website

August 20–21 | Air show
Chicago Air and Water Show
If you aren’t from Chicago, you may see the planes darting down close to the city’s skyscrapers and worry. But those in the know will be squealing with delight, packing picnics and heading to the lakefront to get closer to the action. It’s all part of the annual Air and Water Show, where military and civilian planes show off crazy moves, flipping and tumbling in the sky while viewers relax and cheer. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds—a collection of four pilots—will headline the event.
10 a.m.–3 p.m. | North Avenue Beach, 1600 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago | Free | website 

Madison, WI

August 20–21 | Escape the city
Madison, Wisconsin
There’s renewed energy in Madison now that all the college students are coming back to school, making this the perfect time to visit. Just two and a half hours from Chicago, the city is packed with things to do, but food is really the draw. Toby’s Supper Club (try the pan-fried walleye fish) is a local favorite; for a full overview of the region, choose from one of Madison Eats’ food tours. They zone in on specific parts of the city, like downtown or Willy Street, and give you a tour of the area while you restaurant-hop it. There’s even a bike and eat tour, so you can burn some of those calories on your way to consuming more.

August 21–22 | World festival
Albany Park World Fest
Feast your eyes—and your bellies—on this festival, which has a little of everything. It’s a celebration of the world in one of Chicago’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods, Albany Park, complete with global music, food, and performance acts. Some highlights: Asian drummers, a Greek guitarist, Polynesian dance, and rhythmic Gypsy rock. And we haven’t even gotten to the food. Trust us, this is one event you won’t want to miss; it’s like traveling the globe without ever leaving the block.
12–10 p.m. | 4700 N. Kimball Ave., Chicago | $5 | website

Danielle Braff lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and her dog. When she’s not writing, she’s out photographing her city and running around frantically trying to fit as many events as she can into her day. You can check out her other articles at Daniellebraff.com.

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