Here are the five coolest things to do in and around Chicago this week. We publish a new list every Wednesday, covering Thursday through Wednesday. Stay tuned for insider updates on restaurant openings, festivals, exhibitions, shows, weekend escapes, and more.
Through November | Music
Hideout Riverwalk Series
Venerable dive bar and concert venue The Hideout infuses the posh downtown Riverwalk area with its hip indie spirit during this pop-up concert series, which takes place Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through the fall. Expect to hear tunes from favorite local acts like Devil in a Woodpile and The Wandering Boys on a makeshift riverside stage, as architecture cruises and kayakers sail past. Beer, wine, and cocktails are available, along with savory pasties (something like a handheld pot pie) from Bridgeport Pasty. Don’t forget to down a Malort shot—this is The Hideout, after all! 5:30–7:30 p.m. (Sundays 1–3 p.m.) | 35 E. Riverwalk South, Chicago | Free | website
September 3–13 | Performing arts
Chicago Fringe Festival
The Chicago Fringe Festival features 47 groups in 197 budget-friendly performances, including everything from comedy to dance to performance art. (Bonus: All proceeds go to the performers.) Performances are scattered among several venues in the Jefferson Park neighborhood, allowing you to see many shows in one day. Be sure to make a stop at “Fringe central,” Fischman Liquor and Tavern, where you can buy tickets and hang with performers over a stellar selection of craft beer. Be warned: The shows are all 100 percent uncensored, so prepare for nudity, salty language, and more. Venues & times vary | $5 festival entry fee + $10 per performance | website
September 4–7 | Festival
Taste of Polonia
The largest Polish festival in the United States has laid claim to Labor Day weekend since 1980, making it a fantastic way to end the summer for 35 years. Nearly 35,000 people, a majority of whom are Polish-born or Polish American, descend upon Jefferson Park for four days of outdoor polka dancing, pierogi eating, and Kiss Me I’m Polish T-shirt-buying. Cool off inside the beautiful Copernicus Center, a former 1930s movie palace that’s hosting traditional Polish cooking classes and folk dancing as well as film screenings. Fri 5–10:30 p.m., Sat & Sun noon–10:30 p.m., Mon noon–10 p.m. | 5216 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago | $7 | website
September 5–January 10 | Photography
Deana Lawson: Ruttenberg Contemporary Photography Series
New York photographer Deana Lawson’s stunning work, showing at the Art Institute through January 10, speaks to the ways black culture is portrayed visually, and how people express their individuality within it. The portraits are highly stylized, with breathtakingly vivid colors and an intimacy that would exist even if most of her work weren’t nudes. “Some people are good storytellers because they have a knack for describing details in words and the narrator adds his or her own unique performance to the telling,” she told The New Yorker in 2011. “I try to do that in pictures.” 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m. (Thursdays until 8 p.m.) | 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago (312) 443-3600 | From $22 | website
Weekend Escape | Swiss festival
New Glarus, WI
The small town of New Glarus, set in the rolling countryside south of Madison, WI, is understandably proud of its Swiss heritage. Its downtown resembles a village in the Swiss Alps—hotels, restaurants, and even the bank have the A-frame, shutters, and intricate wooden balconies of Swiss chalets. Fondue is on the menu at a majority of the restaurants, and some bars’ entertainment consists of older gentlemen honking on an alpine horn. New Glarus is a fun day trip from Chicago any time of year, but during its Labor Day weekend Wilhelm Tell Festival (September 4–6 this year), the town busts out more Swiss kitsch than their cheese has holes in: yodeling concerts, a children’s lantern parade, and lots and lots of traditional costumes. Don’t leave town without a visit to the excellent New Glarus Brewing Company. New Glarus Tourism Center, 418 Railroad St, New Glarus, WI | (608) 527-2095 | website
Laura Baginski is a Chicago-based writer and editor who specializes in travel and parenting. Because of the latter, the former doesn’t happen as much as she’d like.
Planning a trip? Check out the AFAR guide to Chicago.