Comedy legend Chris Rock is on tour again after almost 10 years, and you won’t want to miss one of his four back-to-back shows in Chicago. Meanwhile, fellow stand-up star Margaret Cho brings her politically incorrect comedy to the stage, and actors from all over the city and beyond perform as part of the Chicago Fringe Festival.
AFAR Local is our monthly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
September 1 - 3 | Music
Chicago Jazz Festival
The lazy days of summer may be ending, but you can prolong them just a bit longer at the Chicago Jazz Festival. Head to Millennium Park to listen to music from some amazing jazz artists, including Jon Faddis, the Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio, Allison Miller Boom Tic Boom, and the Rebirth Brass Band.
12:00 PM - 9:30 PM | Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago | Free | website
September 1 - 4 | Cultural festival
Taste of Polonia
Take a trip to Poland via Chicago at the Taste of Polonia Festival, which brings the Eastern European country to Illinois for a weekend. There will be Polish music to listen to, polka to dance to, plus plenty of food to eat (think potato pancakes, pierogi, kielbasa, and more). There will also be carnival rides, a kids’ zone, a casino, and craft beer (because what’s a Chicago fest without craft beer?).
5216 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago | $10 | website
September 1 - 10 | Theater
Chicago Fringe Festival
Local, national, and international actors will be performing on stages throughout the Chicago area for this festival, now in its eighth year. Ticket prices are low, and the artists receive 100 percent of the net ticket sales. This year, there will be 47 groups performing close to 200 acts. About half of the performers are mainstays from the local Chicago theater scene.
Times & locations vary | From $15 | website
September 7 - 10 | Comedy
The ticket prices are sky high and climbing, and you’ll probably have to get them on a resale site. But it’s Chris Rock’s first tour in nearly a decade, so you can bet it’ll be worth it. It’s no phones allowed inside: All cell phones will be collected and secured in a Yondr pouch (provided) that’ll be unlocked at the end of the show. So if you’re hoping you can just catch the highlights from one of the four shows on YouTube later, you’re out of luck.
Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago | From $125 | website
September 16 - 17 | Food
Lakeview Taco Fest
Celebrate the taco in its many forms at the Lakeview Taco Fest. A dozen restaurants will be serving their take on the classic, from traditional styles with chicken, steak, and chorizo to inventive tacos featuring ingredients such as mushrooms, goat, or duck. Pair whatever style you choose with beer and watch a live wrestling show.
10:00 AM - 10:00 PM | 3500 N. Southport Ave., Chicago | $10 | website
September 22 - 24 | Food
Celebrity chefs including Curtis Stone, Carla Hall, Graham Elliot, and Stephanie Izard will be on hand for cooking demos, wine seminars, and tastings at Chicago Gourmet. The event highlights more than 250 high-end restaurants and chefs, plus breweries and vintners from around the world. The star-studded lineup means that some events and weekend passes are already sold out, but secondhand tickets are plentiful.
55 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago | From $180 | website
September 23 | Comedy
Grammy- and Emmy-nominated queen of comedy Margaret Cho is the comic and LGBT activist who never shies away from a taboo topic, especially if it involves Asians or sex. Rolling Stone magazine just named her one of the 50 best stand-up comics, and she’s doing only a single show in Chicago. Tickets will sell out, so if you don’t get yours in time, turn to the secondary market.
8:00 PM | Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago | From $30 | website
September 29 - October 1 | Drink
Celebrate fall as Germans do—with beer and bratwurst—at Chicago’s 17th annual Oktoberfest. Modeled after the festivals in Germany, the weekend is all about drinking, eating, and merriment. There will also be two stages of live music from German bands and a kinderfest for families in the afternoon.
11:00 AM - 7:00 PM | 1429 W. Wellington Ave., Chicago | Free | website
September 30 - October 1 | Food & drink
Fulton Market Harvest Fest
Stephanie Izard (of Girl & the Goat) and Paul Kahan (of Publican) put together this festival, which features cooking demonstrations, pop-up dinners, and beer pairings from some of Chicago’s best brewmasters and chefs. Rick Bayless and Jamie Bissonnette are among the chefs who will take the stage. The price of admission includes a glass beer stein and $20 worth of food and drink tickets.
Halsted & Fulton Market, Chicago | $30 | website
October 24 | Plan ahead: Music
She puts on one crazy spectacle of a show, and tickets are going quickly. Expect Katy Perry to belt out classics like “Rise” and “I Kissed a Girl,” along with songs from her newest album, Witness. If you remember her Super Bowl halftime show, then you’ll have an inkling of the massive production Perry brings with her to the stage. She’s only in Chicago for one day, and you won’t want to miss her.
7:00 PM | United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago | From $50 | 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.