Storm the field where the Chicago Bears play during Family Fest, then polish off a classic Chicago hot dog at the annual Hot Dog Fest. Or have a classy night out at Ravinia Fest, where the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will play along to Lord of the Rings.
AFAR Local is our monthly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
August 1 - September 3 | Performing arts
Cirque du Soleil: “Luzia”
Cirque du Soleil’s impressive Luzia show is landing in Chicago this month. The story follows a dream of an imaginary Mexico, where people fly like butterflies and bright colors flex over contorting bodies. The surrealist show was inspired by the monarch butterfly and its annual migration from Canada to Mexico.
United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago | From $35 | website
August 5 | Sports
Chicago Bears Family Fest
Football fanatics will flock to Soldier Field for the Chicago Bears Family Fest, where they can get on the field and into the action instead of watching from the stands. Kids and adults can run on the field, play football-themed games, get autographs signed, win a few giveaways, and buy Bears-themed merchandise.
11:00 AM | Soldier Field, 1410 S. Museum Campus Dr., Chicago | $8 | website
August 11 - 13 | Food festival
Chicago Hot Dog Fest
Chicago is famous for its hot dogs, and the best of the best will be available for tasting at the Chicago Hot Dog Fest. A classic Chicago-style dog features yellow mustard, chopped onions, bright green relish, a pickle, tomatoes, and celery salt (never, ever ask for ketchup on a Chicago dog). The Hot Dog Fest will feature all sorts of new twists on the traditional street food, plus beer, dessert, live music, and 30,000 people ready to enjoy an afternoon of classic Chicago bites.
11:00 AM - 9:00 PM | 1701 N. Stockton Dr., Chicago | $5 | website
August 14 | Music
Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert
Pack a picnic and head to Millennium Park for a concert showcasing songs from Broadway musicals. Billed as the Lollapalooza of Broadway, the free event will include the sounds of Aladdin, Les Miserables, Wicked, Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, and more.
6:15 PM - 7:45 PM | Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago | Free | website
August 17 | Benefit
Clark After Dark
Break out your red, white, and blue attire one more time this summer for the annual Clark After Dark festival. Proceeds from the event, which features live music from the cover band 16 Candles and Liquidated Damages, go to benefit the more than 300,000 Illinois troops and their families who receive support from the USO of Illinois. Plus, enjoy drinks, an auction, and a raffle of prizes courtesy of sponsors such as Boeing, Verizon, and Miller.
4:00 PM - 10:00 PM | 420 N. Clark St., Chicago | $10 | website
August 18 - 20 | Music & film
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Presents “The Lord of the Rings”
The annual summer festival Ravinia brings performances across a variety of musical spectrums to an enchanting outdoor venue. This year, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is coming out to perform the entire score of The Lord of the Rings alongside the film series, which will play on large screens throughout the park across three nights (The Fellowship of the Ring on the 18th, The Two Towers on the 19th, and The Return of the King on the 20th). The live accompaniment will sound even more thunderous than the theater version, and it’s just the emotional injection you’ll need to feel like you’re seeing the series for the first time.
7:00 PM | 200 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park | From $25 | website
August 19 - 20 | Outdoors
Chicago Air and Water Show
Catch some death-defying stunts by civilian and military trick pilots at the Chicago Air and Water Show. Always a favorite with people of all ages, the two-day event is full of plane flips and stunts at breakneck speeds. The North Avenue Beach is a prime viewing location.
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM | Various locations | Free | website
August 24 - 27 | Convention
Wizard World Comic Con
Enter a fantasy world of superheroes, villains, and plenty of action at the Wizard World Comic Con. Celebrity guests will be onsite to sign autographs and take photos, and you’ll even have the opportunity to commission a piece from a few of your favorite comic book artists. Expect familiar faces from Doctor Who (Alex Kingston, John Barrowman, David Tennant), Captain America: Civil War (Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany), and The Walking Dead (Michael Rooker, Lennie James), plus several WWE superstars.
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont | From $40 | website
August 25 | Music
The show was sold out minutes after it went on sale, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still snag seats to see Lady Gaga at Wrigley Field. Secondhand listing sites like Stubhub and Ticketsnow have your back, and you’ll be happy you scored—even if it is at a higher price point—when you hear Gaga’s unbelievable vocals on tracks from her latest album, Joanne.
7:00 PM | Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison St., Chicago | From $105 | website
September 15 - 17 | Plan ahead: Music
Get your tickets now for Riot Fest, a massive rock-and-roll concert that marks the unofficial end of festival season. This year’s lineup includes Nine Inch Nails, Jawbreaker, and Queens of the Stone Age, among plenty of other indie, punk rock, metal, and hip-hop acts performing in Douglas Park.
11:00 AM | 1401 S. Sacramento Dr., Chicago | From $75 | 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.