Chicago is known for its summer festivals, live theatre and music,
especially the blues and classical music. On the page below we
cover the highlights of Chicago's entertainment scene.
The Chicago Air and Water Show has been providing thrilling,
dare-devil aeronautics and water stunts along the shore of Lake
Michigan since 1954. Today it entertains crowds of more than two
million people a year, making Chicago’s Air and Water Show the
largest free show of its kind in the United States. The Show
features high-flying acrobatics by performers such as: The U.S.
Navy’s Blue Angels, U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, The
Firebirds, Chicago Fire Department Air and Rescue Team and more. The
line-up changes from year to year.
The Air and Water Show can be viewed anywhere along the lakeshore
between Fullerton and Oak Street Beach, with grandstands set up at
North Avenue Beach. For more information about specific dates and
times, go to see the official
Chicago Tourism site and search for the "Air and Water
It’s best to take public transportation or walk to the viewing
areas. If that’s not
possible park at Millennium Park garages and take the shuttle back (see
Food is so important to Chicago that they have a 10-day lakefront
festival devoted to just that. The Taste of Chicago is the World’s
largest food festival, serving culinary treats from approximately 70
of Chicago’s popular restaurants to as many as 3.6 million visitors
each year. This is foodie heaven – a chance to graze for hours on
taste tempting sample size portions of food, from ethnic to elegant
to just plain scrumptious. In addition to great food, the Taste also
offers music and entertainment, cooking demonstrations and more.
The most popular day to visit the Taste of Chicago is
July 3, which culminates with a spectacular fireworks
display over Lake Michigan. To purchase food, you must
buy strips of tickets at the ticket booths. The Taste
of Chicago is usually held for 10 days, beginning on the
Friday before July 4th. The best way to get to the Taste
of Chicago is to use public transportation or walk. If
you must drive, there is parking available at the
Millennium Park Parking lots. For further information,
visit the official
City of Chicago Tourism Site and search for "Taste
Chicago has been called “The Blues Capital of the World,” so it is
fitting that it is also home to the world’s largest free Blues
Festival. For three days every June, more than 500,000 people
converge on Chicago’s Grant Park to enjoy music played by some of
the best blues performers in the world.
Music is presented on five
stages running simultaneously throughout the day and night. Previous
festivals have featured such big-name performers as: B.B. King,
Bonnie Raitt, Ray Charles and KoKo Taylor. Food and beverages are
also available. More information on dates and what's-on can be found
at the official
Chicago Tourism Website , just search for "Chicago Blues
The Chicago Jazz Festival has been a Labor Day Weekend
tradition in Chicago for more than 30 years. It is the oldest free
concert offered by the City . Although its primary venue is a
two-day festivity in Grant Park, Jazz is celebrated at other spots
throughout the weekend, including Millennium Park’s Pritzker
Pavilion, the Chicago Cultural Center and many of the jazz clubs
throughout the city.
The concert in Grant Park features big-name jazz headliners, as
well as local talent. For more information go to the City of
Chicago Tourism Website and search for the Chicago Jazz
was named “The Wonder Theater of the World,”
when it opened in 1921. It was the first elegant movie “palace” to be
built in America, and it set the tone for those that followed. Today
the theater features live entertainment, and has presented Bill Cosby, Harry Connick, Jr., and Robin Williams.
Once you enter the lobby, with its French Baroque interior (based
on the chapel at Versailles), grand staircase (replicating that of
the Paris Opera House), and ceiling murals you may forget about the
show that you came to see because the true star here is the
If you don’t have time to see a show, Chicago Theatre tours are
available throughout the year. For tour schedules and show
information go to the
website. The Chicago Theatre is located at 175 N. State Street.
The Cadillac Palace Theatre, at 151 W. Randolph St., is another
of Chicago’s former grand movie palaces. It was built as a premier
vaudeville house in 1926 with an abundance of brass ornamentation.
It is said that during World War II, when the government was
confiscating brass from theaters for the war effort, the Palace’s
owners ordered that all its brass be painted white to camouflage its
presence. It remained hidden that way until renovations in 1999.
During its vaudeville hay-day the Palace featured well known acts
like Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, and Mae West. Today it features many
Broadway shows like: Phantom of the Opera, the Color Purple, Wicked
and more. Operated by "Broadway in Chicago", more information
can be found
The Bank of America Theatre (formerly the Shubert Theater) is the oldest
theater operating in the City today. It was originally named the
Majestic Theater when it was built in 1906, then, renamed the
Shubert in 1945.
The theater was built to be a vaudeville house, and remains,
today, a popular venue for live musicals and Broadway touring
performances. The Bank of America Theater is located at 18 W. Monroe
Street. The theatre is operated by "Broadway in Chicago" whose website
can be found
Second City and its style of improvisational sketch comedy were
almost unheard of when it opened in Chicago in 1959. Today, it is
world famous for introducing many talented comedians, including Alan Arkin, Robert Klein, and David Steinberg.
With the advent of NBC's Saturday Night Live, other alumni, like:
John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, Martin Short, John Candy,
Mike Meyers and Tina Fey joined the list, as well as others too
numerous to mention.
Second City is a cabaret-style theatre located in Piper’s Alley
(1616 Wells Street), in an area known as Old Town. It entertains
audiences nightly with a variety of comedy shows from improve to
satirical. For information, reservations and directions to the
theatre go to Second City's
The Lyric Opera of Chicago performs both classic and modern
operas. Its season runs from October to March, and it is dark
rest of the year. If you’re interested in seeing a show, buy tickets
early, as performances are often sold out. For more information
on what's-on, ticket prices and schedules. see the
website . The Lyric Opera House is located at 20 N. Wacker
Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue, is
the home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as the hosting
many extraordinary orchestras from around the world. Orchestra Hall
first opened in 1904 and was named a National Historic Treasure in
1994. The Hall is closed throughout the summer months, when the
Orchestra moves to the Ravinia Festival, in the Chicago suburb of
Highland Park. For more information, visit the Symphony's
official website .
You don't have to look too far to find blues bars in Chicago. You
can usually narrow your choices to nearby locations using the local
entertainment guides available in most hotel lobbies or by asking
the hotel staff for their recommendation on a blues bar that meets
your preferences. Alternatively, the blues bars listed and
linked to below are regarded as some of the finest venues in
the Chicago blues scene.
The Loop - Some of the best blues in
the city can be found at Buddy
Near North Side - If you are looking for blues
in Near-North, try the
House of Blues.
Lincoln Park - This is a great area for listening to
the blues, especially along Halsted Street, where you will
find several popular blues bars. Standouts include
and Kingston Mines
although there are many excellent venues scattered throughout the
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