Chicago Air and Water

About the Town in August



By Philip Vidal



They’re back! Watch the U.S. Navy Blue Angels on August 21 and 22 at the Chicago Air and Water Show. Photo by City of Chicago.


The roar of jets overhead during the Chicago Air and Water Show has been a fixture in Chicago for more than sixty years.  You’ll again hear the roar of jets this year in August, but the Chicago Air and Water Show will morph into the U.S. Navy Blue Angels show along the lakefront between Oak Street and Fullerton. The Blue Angels will practice on August 20; the show is August 21 and 22.


Live outdoor performances are back! William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” runs through August 21 at Austin Gardens. Photo by Oak Park Festival Theatre.


The long-running “Blue Man Group” show reopens at the Briar Street Theater on August 18.  Theater Wit opens their 2021-2022 season on August 27 with a revival of their 2015 hit, Anne Washburn’s “Mr. Burns, a post-electric play.”  A bit of the bard on balmy nights in the burbs, the Oak Park Festival Theatre is back with live outdoor performances of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at Austin Gardens through August 21.  Another outdoor event is the Chicago Humanities Festival’s “A Comedic Showcase of Chicago” at Navy Pier’s Lake Stage.  Chicago has a long history of comedy and this is a great way to see the latest crop of Chicago’s comedians.


Enjoy Jazzin’ at the Shedd again, August 4 – September 1. Photo by Shedd Aquarium.


Chicago also has a long and rich history of music, of all genres.  Billed as “Chicago’s only classical music street festival,” the Thirsty Ears Classical Music Street Festival returns to Wilson between Hermitage and Ravenswood, August 14-15.  Enjoy more classical music at the Grant Park Music Festival, which continues at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park through August 21. The Ravinia Festival, the oldest outdoor music festival in the U.S., continues through September 25 and will be at full-capacity starting August 14.  There will even be music at our aquarium and farmers markets.  Jazzin’ at the Shedd, live jazz at the Shedd Aquarium, is back on Wednesdays from August 4-September 1.  Stay for the spectacular views of the fireworks.  Students and faculty from the Merit School of Music perform at “Music at the Markets,” August 7 at the Green City Market at Mary Bartelme Park, 115 S Sangamon, and August 28 at the Green City Market in Lincoln Park, 1817 N Clark.


If you prefer virtual performances, “Redemption,” a collection of gospel songs and spirituals presented by the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra and Adrian Dunn, streams for free via the Harris Theater’s HT Virtual Stage through August 27.


If you’ve missed seeing movies in person, the Gene Siskel Film Center reopens to in-person screenings on August 6.  On August 27 the Auditorium Theatre Auxiliary Board hosts “Devil’s Ball,” the first in-person event at the Auditorium since March 2020.  Proceeds from the ball go to the restoration and preservation of the Auditorium Theatre.  Another landmark, the Art Deco beauty, 333 N Michigan Avenue, is the venue for the pop-up, interactive exhibition “Van Gogh for All,” from August 15-September 26.  The original Tavern Club was on the top floors of 333 N Michigan; I remember it fondly.  Local lore has it that that the wives of Tavern Club members donned diaphanous ancient Greek-style gowns and performed a dance in the Greek temple-like structure on top of the London Guarantee Building (now the LondonHouse Chicago Hotel) while their husbands watched with delight from the club across Michigan Avenue.


Chicago Dancers United present “Dance for Life” featuring Chicago dance companies on August 26 at the Pritzker Pavilion. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.


As part of their 25th anniversary season, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater presents “A Deeply Rooted Evening for Chicago’s Healing: GOSHEN (preview) at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on August 25.  General admission is free. Premium tickets are also available.  The following evening at the Pritzker Pavilion, Chicago Dancers United presents the 30th anniversary “Dance for Life” dance concert featuring Chicago dance companies.  For the first time in its history, Dance for Life is free and open to the public.  There’s a minimum donation of $300 for reserved seating.


Chance the Rapper’s “Magnificent Coloring Book” concert film feature’s the Chicago Children’s Choir. Photo by Chicago Children’s Choir.


Other local past and present talent is showcased this month.  Although he wasn’t born in Chicago, boxer Joe Louis had deep roots in Chicago. The racial and political overtones of the 1938 world heavyweight championship rematch between Joe Louis and German boxer Max Schmeling are examined in WTTW’s “Fight: American Experience” on August 3. Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson portrays singer Aretha Franklin in the new movie “Respect,” which opens August 13.  Also opening on August 13 at select AMC Theatres nationwide is Chicagoan Chance the Rapper’s “Magnificent Coloring Book” concert film featuring the Chicago Children’s Choir.  Jordan Peele’s new movie “Candyman,” set in a now gentrified Cabrini Green and the sequel to the 1992 horror film of the same name, opens August 27.  The brilliant puppetry of Chicago’s Manual Cinema is featured in the film.


Humboldt Park’s Sangria Festival takes place on August 22. Photo by Sangria Festival Chicago.


Hispanic Heritage Month doesn’t start until September 15, but there many ways this month to celebrate Hispanic culture.  Dozens of Latinx artists from the Chicago area are featured in the group show “LatinXAmerican” that runs through August 15 at the DePaul Art Museum.  Enjoy modern Latin music at the LatiNxt Music Festival at Navy Pier, August 6-7.  Sones de México Ensemble’s “Zulema” plays in ten Chicago parks August 5-21, with the finale on September 2.  The staging of “Zulema” is a collaboration between the Goodman Theatre, The Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, the Chicago Park District’s Night out in the Parks program, the City of Chicago’s Department of Culture Affairs and Special Events, and the National Museum of Mexican Art. The nation’s largest alternative Latin music festival, Ruido Fest, returns to Union Park from August 20-22.  And there’s Sangria Festival in Humboldt Park on August 22.



“Hello Helios: The Warming Suns of Chicago’s Greektown” line the streets on Halsted from Monroe to Vanburen. Photo by Greektown Chicago.


If you prefer beer, then head to the Old Irving Park Beer and BBQ Challenge on August 7. Proceeds go to the St. Viator Elementary School and Parish.  If you love Greek food, then check-out the 31st annual Taste of Greektown, on Halsted Street from VanBuren to Adams August 27-29.  While you’re there see the outdoor sculpture exhibition “Hello Helios: The Warming Suns of Chicago’s Greektown” on Halsted from Monroe to VanBuren, through spring 2022.  Outdoor art is also featured on the Loop Mural Walk which my friend Doris Timmen told me about.  Self-guided tours of 21 murals in Chicago’s Loop run through September 6.


Another street festival, the Midwest’s largest, Northalsted Market Days returns to Halsted Street between Belmont and Addison on August 6-8.  Other August mainstays are the Midwest’s state fairs.  The Illinois State Fair in Springfield and the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines are August 12-22. The Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis is August 5-15.


If you’d like something fancier than the usual fare found at fairs (think corn dogs and funnel cakes), then how about the fine-dining tasting menu at Esmé, which is slated to open on August 17 at 2200 N Clark.


Welcoming the Chicago Bears’ 101st season with the Meijer Chicago Bears Family Fest at Soldier Field on August 3. Photo by Chicago Bears.


The Chicago Bears kick-off their 101st season with the Meijer Chicago Bears Family Fest on August 3 at Soldier Field, and preseason games on August 14, 21 and 28. The Chicago Bears might move from Soldier Field to Arlington International Racecourse.   This could be the last season for the racecourse, which opened in 1927, but before that happens it will host the Million/Mr. D’s Day race on August 14.  This year is the 40th anniversary of the world’s first million-dollar thoroughbred race at Arlington.


Another fixture of summer in Chicago is the Bud Billiken Parade, also on August 14, which kicks off from 45th and King Drive.  Founded in 1929, the parade is the longest, biggest, largest African-American parade in the U.S.


A parade of a different sort: The exact route isn’t divulged until just before the event, but if you’re out on the evening of August 14th and see lots of naked or near-naked people on bikes or skates, it’s the 18th World Naked Bike Ride (and Skate) Chicago – a singular Chicago celebration of both people and freedom from petroleum products.        


Dates, times, locations and availability are subject to change.  Please stay healthy and safe and keep up with the latest COVID-19 information and guidelines.