Chicago cancels summer festivals: See what they are offering instead

City of Chicago will present at-home dance parties, drive-in movies, virtual concerts and community meals for frontline workers — in lieu of summer festivals

No Lollapalooza, no Air & Water Show or Taste of Chicago. And that’s just for starters.

Today Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) have cancelled summer in Chicago as we’ve always known it.

In addition to those forementioned, the City has cancelled Chicago SummerDance, Jazz Fest along with the majority of programming at the Chicago Riverwalk, the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park.

All parades through Labor Day have been cancelled. No word yet on fireworks. But don’t hold your breath.

Maxwell Street Market has also been cancelled through Labor Day. The Jumping Jack Program and other festivals and athletic events — some of which have already been canceled--are also off the table through Labor Day.  

Get ready for what the City calls “a slate of new and reimagined summer events.”

“We must provide ways for people to enjoy the spirit of a Chicago summer while prioritizing health and safety,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “As difficult as it is to remove these in-person events from our calendar, we are pulling out all the stops for an inventive, engaging and fun festival season this summer.”

New and reimagined summer events include:

  • “Millennium Park at Home” will continue with a genre-defying Music Series featuring Jon Langford, The Braided Janes, Zeshan B, Sen Morimoto and other local musicians on Thursdays (June 18 and 25, 6–7:30 p.m.; July 9, 16 and 23, 6–7:30 p.m.); and Blues Music performances by Melody Angel, John Primer, Toronzo Cannon and others are rescheduled for July 31–August 2 at 6–8 p.m. Additionally, Workouts — an alternating weekly schedule of Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates and Zumba© — will be online Saturdays (June 6–August 29, 8–9 a.m.).
  • “SummerDance in Place,” a new citywide, at-home version of Chicago SummerDance will invite residents to plan socially-distant dance parties of up to 10 people — in their homes and backyards, and on porches, balconies and sidewalks — connected via a live broadcast and social media. Programs will include a 30-minute lesson followed by 60 minutes of music on Wednesday evenings in July (July 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29). Dance genres include Salsa, Swing and Line Dancing.
  • “Taste of Chicago To-Go” will include an expanded Community Eats program (July 8–12), supporting about 25 neighborhood restaurants and food trucks while providing free meals to nonprofits serving healthcare and other frontline workers. DCASE will also organize a food truck procession (July 8) and online cooking demos (July 8–12).
  • In lieu of the popular Millennium Park Summer Film Series, DCASE (Chicago Film Office) and the Chicago Park District are planning six drive-in movie nights across the city.  The events will have a limited capacity of 50 cars, all pre-registered — and the City will encourage at-home viewing of the selected movies. Details will be announced soon.
  • Beginning in June, in collaboration with local music venues, DCASE will host a series of about 20 live events featuring Chicago musicians performing at neighborhood clubs and other unique locations — for limited in-person engagements, broadcast to larger audiences. This program brings visibility to local music venues, severely impacted by COVID-19. Concerts will include Jazz music (August/September, in lieu of the Chicago Jazz Festival) presented in collaboration with the Jazz Institute of Chicago and 51st Street Business Association; Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians; Constellation Performing Arts; Elastic Arts Foundation; Jazz Showcase; Kalapriya Foundation; Live The Spirit Residency; Museum of Contemporary Art; Public Media Institute; South Side Jazz Coalition; The Birdhouse, Inc.; and The Hungry Brain.
  • Lollapalooza will honor its annual summer tradition by bringing Chicago, and the world, together around a common bond of community, civic engagement and, of course, live music in a weekend-long livestream event July 30–August 2, 2020. Details to be announced next month.
  • Chicago Park District, Grant Park Music Festival and many other cultural presenters are also considering — or have already announced — alternative smaller and/or virtual summer events.

For updates about DCASE programming, permitting and venues, visit chicago.gov/dcase.

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