Chicago Riverwalk kicks off summer 2017 with daylong celebration

Chicago Riverwalk kicks off summer 2017 with daylong celebration

Chicago is throwing a big party to kick off the completion of the Chicago Riverwalk and the official start of the 2017 summer season on Saturday, May 20 with a variety of mostly free events from 9:00 a.m to 9:00 pm.

The celebration offers a preview of the summer programming that will take place along the riverfront through October.

Highlights include walking tours led by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, parades with puppets, fishing at the Jetty—plus the “Dance of the Bridges,” a traveling music cruise and a pyrotechnic display.


Click on map for key to numbered locations

Completed in the fall of 2016, the Chicago Riverwalk (Lake Shore Dr. to Lake St. along the south bank of the Chicago River) is a 1.25-mile promenade through the heart of Chicago.

Run, walk, kayak, boat, eat, drink, take in the world class architecture and iconic system of bridges or just grab a seat and people watch.

“Our Chicago Riverwalk celebration offers an extravaganza of music, art, architecture and puppetry,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “We invite Chicagoans and visitors to escape the everyday and embrace Chicago from a new vantage point.”

All events are free unless otherwise noted. For more information about the Chicago Riverwalk, click here.

Scheduled of events for Saturday, May 20, 2017

9:00 a.m. Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady
Check out Chicago’s First Lady Cruises (@cflcruises) and Chicago Architecture Foundation’s (@chiarchitecture) Instagram & Twitter feeds for more information about how to secure tickets. Passengers board at 112 E. Riverwalk South.

10:15 a.m. Mercury’s Canine Cruise
Canines and their owners can take a 90-minute river and lake cruise. Tickets are $35 for adults. Kids under 15 and canines ride FREE! Passengers board at 112 E. Wacker Drive

10:15 am, 12:15 pm., 2:15 pm., 4:15 pm. 6:15 pm
Mercury’s Urban Adventure Cruise
Take a 90-minute Chicago River and Lake Michigan cruise featuring narration and stories of Chicago’s rich history. Tickets are $35 for adults. “Kids ride free” offer available at box office only. Passengers board at 112 E. Wacker Drive.

10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Chicago Architecture Foundation Riverwalk West Walking Tours
Take a free hour-long walk along the Riverwalk stretching from Lake Michigan to Lake Street. Meet at the Vietnam War Memorial at State Street and Wabash Avenue.

10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Riverwalk Paddle
Hop in a kayak and paddle through Chicago’s river canyon. Kids and parents are free. Meet at Urban Kayaks location between the Columbus Drive and Lake Shore Drive bridges.

11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Dance of the Bridges and Boats
See the annual bridge lifts and the parade of boats traveling under Chicago’s iconic movable bridges between Lake Street and Lake Shore Drive. Times for the bridge lifts are subject to change.

11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Downtown Docks
Find discounted transient dockage for the Chicago Riverwalk during the kick-off event at 27 W. Riverwalk South.

Noon to 4:00p.m. Classic Boat Rendezvous at The Water Plaza
View a fleet of classic and antique boats sponsored by the Chicago Yachting Association along with live music by the Chicago folk collective Old Lazarus’ Harp. Boats will be located between Wells and LaSalle Streets.

Noon to 8:00 p.m. Music at Island Party Hut Tiki Barriverwalkcelebration3iph-party
Party with cool island jams, reggae, soca, punta, Afrobeat, Latin vibes and more. Todd Donnelly performs from noon to 4 p.m. and Corey Bless from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Island Party Hut located at 355 E. Riverwalk South.

Frost Gelato
Celebrate the opening of the Chicago Riverwalk with discounted gelato at 27 W. Riverwalk South.

City Winery Riverwalk

City Winery Riverwalk. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

City Winery Riverwalk. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Relax with live music by Lucky Dutch & DJ Jevon Jackson at 11 Riverwalk.

1:00 P.M. and 2:00 P.M. Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Perform
Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform as part of the Riverwalk kick-off celebration between Lake Street and Franklin Street, at 1:00 p.m. and near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 2:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. O’Brien’s Riverwalk Cafe
Go Irish at O’Brien’s with a special appearance by the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band and a session of jigs and ballads from Ireland at 45 E. Riverwalk South.

5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Dragon Boat Exhibition Race
Watch a dragon boat exhibition race along the Riverwalk. Boats will be docked for viewing to learn more about this historic Chinese tradition.

6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Traveling Music Cruise
Enjoy Beats y Bateria, a Chicago-based world music band, as they travel on Island Party Hut’s tiki boat, stopping along the Riverwalk for music performances. Starts at Island Party Hut’s dock and travels up the river between Lake Street and Franklin Street with a final stop at the River Theatre between LaSalle Street and Clark Street for the grand finale display of pyrotechnic waterfalls from the bridges. Begins at 355 E. Riverwalk South at 8:00 p.m.

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