By Philip Vidal
The full reopening of Chicago was originally planned for July 4, but Mayor Lightfoot moved the date up to June 11. Still, as compared to one year ago, this 4th of July will truly mark independence from COVID-19 restrictions.
The Grant Park Music Festival
So many festivals are reemerging. The Grant Park Music Festival returns to Millennium Park from July 2-Augu Pst 21. Millennium Park is also the venue for “ABT Across America,” a free, live performance by American Ballet Theatre presented by the Auditorium Theatre on July 8. The 30th edition of the four-day music festival Lollapalooza returns to Grant Park from July 29-August 1.
The Ravinia Festival, the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States, and the summer home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), reopens this month. Ravinia’s Women’s Board hosts “The Music Shines on Gala: Light the Night at Ravinia” to support of Ravinia’s “Reach Teach Play” program on July 18. I’m looking forward to July 13, when the CSO announces their programming for the fall. CSO music director Riccardo Muti’s 80th birthday is July 28. Tanti auguri!
Movies in Grant Park
“Night Out in the Parks” continues through October at over one hundred parks across Chicago and includes events, performances, and “Movies in the Parks.” The first of the movies coincides with the opening of the Cannes Film Festival, which this year is July 6-17. If a trip to Cannes isn’t in the cards, then Chicago’s lakefront can be a stand-in for the Côte d’Azur. Watch one of the free outdoor movies in the “Water Flicks” series in Polk Bros. Park at Navy Pier beginning July 8.
The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival’s annual “The Living Room Tour” fundraiser moves outdoors this year to three diverse venues: an urban garden in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood; a suburban English garden on the grounds of a Tudor-style home in Glencoe; and farmland near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The work of the three featured professional puppeteers will be just as diverse as the venues. In addition to the performances, the fundraiser, from July 15-17, also includes food and beverages.
James Taylor will be at United Center on July 29.
Outdoor art festivals, summer in Chicago is a celebration of good food. The Taste of Chicago was replaced last year by ameTaste of Chicago To-Go. It returns this year from July 7-11 with special events city-wide. This year the Chicago location for the James Beard Foundation’s national Taste America® culinary series is Frontier Restaurant, on July 13. Perhaps the first street/outdoor food festival of the season is the Windy City Smokeout at the United Center’s Parking Lot C from July 8-11. The Windy City Smokeout is also an outdoor music festival with a terrific line-up of country performers. The first concert in the United Center this year is on July 29 with James Taylor.
The Windy City Smokeout reminds me that the Union Stock Yards closed fifty years ago, on July 30, 1971, and that Carl Sandburg’s famous moniker for Chicago is “hog butcher for the world.”
Race to Mackinac is July 16
The Chicago Yacht Club’s 112th Race to Mackinac is July 16. The Chicago Auto Show is normally held in February, when static is a hazard when touching anything metallic, and opening a car door can be a shocking experience. This year, the only shock may be price of a new car. The 113th Chicago Auto Show is now July 15-19 at McCormick Place. It’s the first major exposition at McCormick Place since the pandemic.
If you prefer planes to cars, then head to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for what’s billed as “The World’s Greatest Aviation Experience.” The Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 is July 26-August 1. The Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo, Japan, are set to start July 23. If just the thought of watching the Olympics is too strenuous, then head to the Elmhurst Art Museum for Par Excellence Redux: The Front 9, from July 7-Sept 16, to play a round of miniature golf on a course designed by artists. Come back on October 13, when a new course, Par Excellence: The Back 9, opens, designed by a new group of artists.
Congratulations to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, which reopens July 1, and which received an $8 million unrestricted donation, their largest ever, from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett. Chicago’s John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic foundations, supports many worthwhile causes, including funding the MacArthur Fellows Program, aka the “genius grant.” The program turns forty this year and several venues are commemorating its anniversary.
Mark Bradford is one of the artists participating in the Smart Museum of Art’s city-wide group exhibition beginning July 15.
The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago presents a city-wide group exhibition” from July 15-19. Mark Bradford is one of the artists participating. Nora Lambert, a MacArthur fellow, curated an exhibition “Love, Lust, and Loss in Renaissance Europe“ that closed last month. One of the other participating venues in “Towards a Common Cause” is the Museum of Contemporary Photography, which is
The Walder Foundation’s Chicago Takes 10 virtual performance series showcases and supports Chicago’s diverse artists and organizations. “Arts + Public Life” on July 8 is the next performance in the series from Arts + Public Life, a project by UChicago Arts to foster ties between the University of Chicago and the South Side.
Outdoor arts festivals are also back. The Southport Art Fest is July 10-11. The Mercury Theater Chicago on Southport celebrates its reopening that weekend with an open house at its Venus Cabaret. Most likely the first theater to open downtown is Teatro ZinZanni. It reopens July 8.
The Goodman Theatre’s “Live” series of real-time, online plays concludes with one by my favorite Chicago-based playwright. Ike Holter’s new play “I Hate it Here” streams July 15-18. The Goodman’s first play with live audiences is Jocelyn Bioh’s “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play,” Goodman Theatre running July 30-August 29.
The Goodman Theatre’s first play with a live audience begins July 30.
Not everything is reopening. Just a block east from the Goodman Theatre, Chicago’s most iconic street, State Street, will close to traffic from Lake Street to Madison on select Sundays in July, August and September starting July 11 for the Chicago Loop Alliance’s “Sundays on State.” Think of it as a block party for the entire city.
And just a few blocks east of State Street, the Grant Park Music Festival hosts its annual Independence Day Salute concert on July 2 and 3. The concert ends with Tchaikovsky’s rousing “1812 Overture” and John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” A lot to look forward to, and August promises to be just as exciting.
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.