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Chicago's
Annual Event Guide '24

One of Chicago's most defining characteristics is the commitment residents have to celebrations, reflected in the plethora of events on the calendar annually. Chicago’s streets, parks, and venues are filled year-round with events that speak to the city’s liveliness, inviting residents and tourists to participate in various cultural exchanges.
 

Air Chicago is excited to provide this 2024 at-a-glance guide, which provides more information about various Chicagoland events throughout the year.

Lollapalooza Credit_ Taylor Regulski_edi

Cultural & Seasonal

 

Saint Patrick’s Day 

Outside of Ireland, there is no better place to spend St. Patrick’s Day than Chicago, with its large Irish population and plentiful Irish pubs and eateries welcoming patrons. The city has a long tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green to commemorate the date. The Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130 started the tradition in 1962, and it never fails to excite first-timers and residents alike.

March 16

Various Locations
 

Thanksgiving Parade

Every Thanksgiving season, a parade for the holiday stretches across Chicago’s downtown. With giant helium balloons, decorated floats, and live performances, it is a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving with families and loved ones. This year marks the event’s 90th anniversary.

November 28

State Street

Christkindlmarket

Each year, the holiday season seems to roll around sooner than before. While it may feel like the holidays recently ended, many are already counting down the days until Christkindlmarket. Reminiscent of an authentic German holiday market, this charming event is a great way to get into the season’s gift-giving spirit.

December

Daley Plaza

Entertainment

 

Chicago Air and Water Show 

The annual Chicago Air and Water Show is a sight to see! Over two days, city dwellers and visitors can watch military and civilian pilots perform mind-blowing aerial acrobatics across Chicago’s summer skies. The best views of the show are along the lakefront, with arguably the favorite spot being North Avenue Beach. Moreover, it is also the most extensive free show of its kind in the United States.

August 10

Lakefront

 

Chicago Marathon 

Some like to warm up as winter approaches by participating in the Chicago Marathon. First held in 1977, runners from around the world compete in the race that begins and ends at the city’s Grant Park.

October 13

Grant Park

Museum of Contemporary Art

Essential for art lovers from Chicago and elsewhere, the MCA boasts an impressive collection of contemporary artworks ranging from thought-provoking displays to interactive installations. In addition to exhibitions, the MCA offers a calendar filled with live performances and events this year.

Music Festivals

Chicago’s Blues Fest

In June, Millennium Park will be the site of the 40th edition of the Chicago Blues Festival. Here, the City pays homage to the musical history of the blues and its influence on genres such as rock, hip-hop, soul, and R&B. Adding to the uniqueness of the festival is the many legendary performers -— such as BB King and Etta James, to name just a couple — who have graced its stages in the past. Free to the public, the show provides an unforgettable festival experience to help kick off Chicago’s summer of events.

June 6

Millennium Park

 

The Chosen Few Picnic

House music, born in the Windy City in the late 1970s, is a popular fusion of genres such as disco, soul, and electronic music. Every July, a group of seven DJs known as the “Chosen Few” host an all-day house celebration on the South Side that also feels like a family reunion (with tens of thousands of your closest relatives). The event gets going by early afternoon, but many attendees arrive early in the morning to secure a space for setting up a tent and barbecuing, so plan accordingly.

July 13
Jackson Park

 

Lollapalooza 

During the summer, residents and tourists flock to see their favorite artists play at this groundbreaking music festival. Packed with thrilling performances from current artists and musical legends, the massive celebration features art installations, food vendors, and other attractions, creating a vibrant and immersive experience for attendees.

August 1

Grant Park

Lollapalooza Credit_ Roger Ho_edited.jpg

Culinary Chicago

 

Readers’ Food Choice Awards

The Readers’ Food Choice Awards returns in 2024, recognizing favorite local dining establishments as voted on by Chicagoland foodies. The Chicago Tribune organizes the awards, which celebrate the diverse culinary preferences of area residents.

May 6

Various Locations

 

James Beard Awards

Named after the iconic chef and epicurean trailblazer, the James Beard Foundation celebrates the craftspeople behind America’s thriving food culture and pushes for new and improved industry standards. Recognition by the foundation — with its prestigious awards, diverse programs, and commitment to excellence — is a badge of honor for rising chefs and eateries nationwide. Check out this year’s nominees at jamesbeard.org.

June 10

Lyric Opera of Chicago

 

Chicago Gourmet

Chicago Gourmet is a food and wine festival held annually in the heart of Millennium Park. It brings together renowned chefs and sommeliers for a weekend of culinary observance. Attendees can sample exquisite dishes and fine wines crafted by the industry’s top experts.

September 26

Millennium Park

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