About the Town in August



By Philip Vidal



Ask any boater in Chicago and they’ll tell you that summer in Chicago is too short… so enjoy the most of it!  August is the peak time in Chicago to enjoy outdoor events and festivals.


Enjoy Navy Pier’s outdoor movie series “Water Flicks,” Mondays through August 29. Photo by Navy Pier. 


There’s an outdoor movie series for just about every day of the week.  The Water Flicks outdoor movie series in Polk Bros. Park at Navy Pier is Mondays through August 29. On Tuesdays, it’s the Millennium Park Summer Film Series at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion through September 6. Head to Movie Night at Gallagher Way next to Wrigley Field on Wednesdays through September 21.  Cantigny Park in Wheaton hosts Movies in the Park on Fridays through August 19.  The Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks program includes the Movies in the Parks series continuing through September 7.  The Rooftop Cinema Club screens films on the 5th floor terrace of the Emily Hotel on Fulton through September 5.  Watch films under the stars this summer at the ChiTown Movies drive-in in Pilsen.


Jacqueline Stewart, raised on Chicago’s South Side and professor at the University of Chicago, is the new director and president of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Photo by Turner Classic Movies.


Chicago is not only where movies are presented, it’s where movies are made.  Filming starts in Chicago this month on the TV movie “Heist 88” about the $80,000,000 theft from the First National Bank of Chicago in 1988.   Congratulations to Jacqueline Stewart, the new director and president of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. Stewart was raised on Chicago’s South Side, taught at Northwestern University, is a professor at the University of Chicago, and hosts Silent Sunday Nights on Turner Classic Movies.


The 14th annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) takes place at McCormick Place, August 5-7. Photo by Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.


Movies and pop culture will be celebrated the weekend of August 5-7.  The 14th annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) at McCormick Place, billed as “Chicago’s Home of Pop Culture,” includes guests such as Billy Dee Williams (“Star Wars”).  Horror movie fans will flock to the 20th anniversary Flashback Weekend Chicago Horror Con at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare.   Robert Englund who played serial killer Freddie Krueger is scheduled to appear at the convention.


Love the Blues Brothers? The old Joliet Prison transforms into the center of Blues Brothers Con, August 19-20. Photo by Old Joliet Prison.


The inaugural  Blues Brothers Con August 19-20 at the old Joliet Prison pays homage to all things related to the classic Chicago 1980 movie “The Blues Brothers.”  Dan Ackroyd and Jim Belushi, John Belushi’s brother, are slated to appear.


The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) offers “Lights! Action! Architecture!,” walking tours August 6 and 27 to view some of the buildings featured in movies set in Chicago.  Part of the Chicago on the Silver Screen series, the CAC and Chicago Filmmakers, team up to present “Halsted Street, USA” (1995) on August 7 at Chicago Filmmakers.  Halsted is one of the longest streets in Chicago; I grew up near where it ends in Lakeview.


The Service Club of Chicago’s annual Day on the Terrace will be held at The Peninsula Chicago Hotel and has a cinema theme, August 1. Photo by Service Club of Chicago.


From a book to a play to two movies and then a musical…  Kokandy Productions presents “Cruel Intentions: The 90s” Musical” at Chopin Theatre through August 7.  It’s based on Roger Kumble’s 1999 film which was adapted from the 1782 French novel “Les Liasons Dangereuses.”   From a book to a movie to a musical…The pre-Broadway world premiere of “The Devil Wears Prada – The Musical” runs through August 21 at the James M. Nederlander Theatre.  With music by Elton John, it’s directed by Anna D. Shapiro, the former artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company.  Even fundraisers have a movie theme. The Service Club of Chicago’s annual Day on the Terrace event, “Cinema Paradiso” is August 1 at the Peninsula Hotel Chicago.


The Year of Chicago Dance Showcase on August 27 will feature Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project: Reclamation. Photo by the City of Chicago.


This year is the City’s Year of Chicago Dance.  The citywide Chicago SummerDance festival continues through September 17.  This month the festival presents “A Dance Party for Every Body!’ on August 20 at the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park.   The program includes Desueño Dance, MOMENTA Dance Company performing for the first time at Chicago SummerDance, and Calculated Discomfort.  MOMENTA includes artists with disabilities.  The Year of Chicago Dance Showcase is Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project: Reclamation on August 27 in Millennium Park featuring eight Chicago-based dance companies.


One of Chicago’s newest outdoor events is the inaugural Thalia Hall Block Party on August 27.  The music venue hosts a block party with live music, food, drink and local vendors.  Time Out Chicago (2021) called Sundays on State the best new event of the year.  It’s back this summer on August 7, August 21 and September 4.  Think of it as an outdoor block party for the entire city on Chicago’s most famous street, State Street, from Lake Street to Monroe.


One of Chicago’s newest music and event venues has actually been around a long time.  The old Morton Salt Factory at 1357 N Elston Avenue with its iconic “Morton Salt…When it Rains it Pours” sign on the roof, visible to many from the Kennedy Expressway, is now The Salt Shed and opens August 2-September 24 for outdoor concerts.  An indoor stage is scheduled to open in 2023.


Chicago’s oldest park, Washington Square Park, aka Bughouse Square, is the venue for the Newberry Library’s “Bughouse Square: A History in Song and Story,” an outdoor event featuring a DJ spinning music created in Chicago, food and storytelling on August 27.


The 7th annual Thirsty Ears Festival returns to Wilson Avenue, August 13-14. Photo by Access Contemporary Music.


Billed as Chicago’s only classical music street festival, the 7th annual Thirsty Ears Festival is back on Wilson Avenue, August 13-14.  The inaugural multi-genre Sacred Rose music festival features Phil Lesh & Friends, aka Philco.  Phil Lesh, formerly of the Grateful Dead, teams up with Jeff Tweedy and Nels Cline of the Chicago-based band Wilco at the SeatGeek Stadium Campus in Bridgeview, August 26-28.


The Alliance Française de Chicago’s summer Plein Air concert series presents a performance by Greta Pope and pianist Paul Coscino on August 9. Photo by Alliance Française de Chicago.


If you’re looking for a more intimate outdoor setting to listen to music, The Alliance Française de Chicago’s summer Plein Air concert series continues in its courtyard with a performance by Greta Pope and pianist Paul Coscino in “Ada ‘Bricktop’ Smith and Cole Porter… Une Amitié Spéciale” on August 9 exploring the special friendship between Bricktop – the American singer, nightclub owner and toast of Paris and composer Cole Porter.  I remember seeing Bricktop when she was a guest on the “Dick Cavett Show,” probably in the 1970s.


Pack a picnic, spread out a blanket and listen to live music at an outdoor concert. The summer courtyard concert series at Chicago’s historic Glessner House on Prairie Avenue continues with the Chen String Quartet – Robert Chen, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster and his family, performing on August 10.  The Wayne Messmer Trio performs jazz, Broadway, cabaret and pop on August 24.  Chicago’s top jazz artists perform at the Tuesdays on the Terrace concerts in the Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago through August 31.


Want to hear a sneak peek of the Lyric’s upcoming 2022/23 season? Enjoy Sunday in the Park with Lyric at the Pritzker Pavilion, August 21. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.


Porchlight Music Theatre’s Broadway in Your Backyard series continues through September 6 with family-friendly, free, outdoor concerts on Tuesday evenings in Chicago parks throughout the city.  This year marks the 60th year of the founding of the Grant Park Chorus. Join them on August 4 at the Grant Park Music Festival’s 60th Anniversary Choral Spectacular.  Listen to artists from The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center perform pieces from the Lyric’s upcoming 2022/23 season at  Sunday in the Park with Lyric on August 21 at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.


The first of two concerts in the 5th season of the Out of Space concert series is at Canal Shores in Evanston, August 4-7.  The impressive line-up includes Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Lucinda Williams, and Buddy Guy.  (Watch “Buddy Guy: True to the Blues” on WTTW on August 19 and 21 to learn more about the Chicago blues legend and eight-time Grammy® award winner.)


Ravinia presents “Saturday in the Park with Sondheim featuring Lee Musiker,” August 20. Photo by Ravinia.


It’s been a long tradition at Ravinia, North America’s oldest music festival, to spread out a blanket (and maybe a candelabra, good china, crystal and silverware) on the lawn and listen to a variety of music.  August includes three tributes to composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who died November 26, 2021: “Yours, Stephen Sondheim,” a semi-staged concert featuring Alexandra Billings, Heather Headley, and Brian Stokes Mitchell on August 7; “Saturday in the Park with Sondheim featuring Lee Musiker” on August 20 and “Anthony De Mare: Reimaging Sondheim from the Piano” on August 27.


The Windy City Smokeout in the United Center Parking Lot, August 4-7, is an outdoor music and food festival featuring not only BBQ and craft beer, but also a stellar line-up of country music including Willie Nelson and Family, Tim McGraw and Miranda Lambert… indeed the Academy of Country Music Awards named the Windy City Smokeout the festival of the year.   If you miss Willie Nelson and Family at the Windy City Smokeout, you can catch them on August 16 when they perform at the Illinois State Fair, August 11-21.


I’d like to sample the ribs at  Ribfest Chicago at Irving and Damen, August 19-21.  I can’t wait to have the famous chicken teriyaki at the Ginza Japanese Cultural Holiday Festival at the Midwest Buddhist Temple in Old Town.  The festival has been around for over 60 years, but took a two-year hiatus during the pandemic.  A smaller version, Ginza Lite, is back this year, August 13-14.


Grab your view at the lakefront near North Avenue Beach for the Chicago Air and Water show. Photo by City of Chicago.


Two of the biggest outdoor events in Chicago occur in August.  One of the Midwest’s largest street festivals, the 40th Northalsted Street Market Days®, runs August 6-7.  One of the largest events of its kind in the U.S., throngs will gather along Chicago’s lakefront near the North Avenue Beach to view the Chicago Air and Water Show, August 20-21.



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