Chicago Riverwalk 2019 opening week celebration

Chicago Riverwalk 2019 opening week celebration

lt’s party time at the Chicago Riverwalk celebration Monday, May 13 through Sunday, May 19

The City is inviting everyone to experience Chicago’s second waterfront during a preview of summer programming, the week of May 13 through May 19.

Visitors will see and experience Art on theMART, new works of public art, fireworks, tours, kayaking, Fishing at the Jetty, great food, live music, Year of Chicago Theatre programs and much more.riverwalk12019

 “With this summer season of Riverwalk upon us, it is easy to see why the Chicago River is the city’s next recreational frontier,” said Mayor Emanuel. “From kayaking, to fishing, to live music and great food, there is an exciting activity for visitors and residents across Chicago to enjoy this summer along the Riverwalk.”

New to the Riverwalk

New to the Chicago Riverwalk in 2019 is the Community Marketplace. 2FM conducted a public solicitation encouraging minority and women-owned vendors to operate concessions on the Chicago Riverwalk. There is a pool of twenty-three qualified vendors who will be eligible to operate on the Chicago Riverwalk for the next three years. 2019 will have nine new vendors operating later this summer. Vendors will be announced later this spring.riverwalk22019

 During the opening week celebration and throughout the summer season, various activities, entertainment and specials will be offered at Chicago Riverwalk vendors and tour operators including the Community Marketplace vendors, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Chicago Brewhouse, Chicago Cycle Boat, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises-Mercury, Chicago’s Skyline Cruiseline, Chicago Water Taxi, City Winery, Downtown Docks, Island Party Hut and Boat Charters, McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum, The Northman Beer & Cider Garden, O’Briens Riverwalk Café, Sweet Home Gelato, Tiny Tapp and Café, Urban Kayaks and Wendalla Sightseeing.

Highlights include:

Monday, May 13

Public Art Installations

Public Art will continue to enliven the Chicago Riverwalk with a new commissioned work by Ebony G. Patterson. Known for her drawings, tapestries, videos, sculptures and installations that involve surfaces layered with flowers, glitter, lace and beads, the Kingston-born multimedia artist is creating a series of five intricate and colorful banners titled …between the below… The banners will adorn the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive just east of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, above the Chicago First Lady dockside ticket booths.

Robert Burnier’s Black Tibernius will remain throughout the 2019 season. The large-scale work, specifically commissioned for the western Confluence section of the Chicago Riverwalk between Franklin and Lake Streets, features three geometric structures made of steel, nylon mesh and rope. Responding to structural constraints imposed by the narrow strip of land that curves around the riverbend where Wacker Drive turns from west to south, Burnier’s suspended forms hang over the lawn and are visible from Upper Wacker as well as the river level. 

Black Tibernius

Black Tibernius

7–8pm Year of Chicago Theatre Performances and LUMA8’s Arts in the Dark Lantern Procession

The Confluence between Franklin and Lake Streets

As part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, designated by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres, theatre performances will take place in the western part of the Chicago Riverwalk known as the Confluence.  

7:45pm LUMA8’s Arts in the Dark on the Riverwalk Lantern Procession

Procession begins at Wabash Avenue heading west to the Confluence between Franklin and Lake Streets

LUMA8 presents an Arts in the Dark Lantern Procession honoring Broadway In Chicago. Spectacular lanterns created by artist Heather Killian will illuminate iconic elements of famed productions Hamilton, Kinky Boots, Mary Poppins, Aida, The Lion King, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera and Alladdin. This inaugural procession is sponsored by Millennium Park Garages and will be the first of several presented this season as part of the Second Tuesdays at the Chicago Riverwalk program.

8:15pm Art on theMART

Starting Monday, May 13 and running through September 30, 2019Art on theMART will expand to nightly showings of the largest permanent digital art projection in the world. The 2-hour projection program rotates seasonally, currently featuring a commission in alignment with the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre by renowned media designer John Boesche. Several new “Acts” of his multi-part projection piece 7 soliloquieswill debut on May 13. Boesche’s work is presented alongside a new commission by Istanbul-based video mapping group Ouchhh Studios for the spring program. Ouchhh Studios uses data gathered from musical compositions by famed Chicago-based jazz musicians to create a real-time audio and visual experience.

The projections begin approximately 15 minutes after sunset and are visible to the public from Wacker Dr. and along Chicago Riverwalk. For the special May 13 presentation, speakers will be placed in the Jetty and Confluence areas. 

8:30pm Fireworks Display from theMART

View from the air

View from the air

Tuesday, May 14

Second Tuesdays on the Chicago Riverwalk

Come out to the Chicago Riverwalk on the second Tuesdays (May 14, June 11, July 9 and August 13) for live entertainment, discounts and special programming from vendors including Tiny Tapp and Café, Chicago Brewhouse, City Winery, O’Brien’s Restaurant and Island Party Hut.  Upcoming second Tuesdays in June, July and August will also feature LUMA8’s Arts in the Dark Lantern Processions on the Riverwalk featuring local theatre companies in honor of the Year of Chicago Theatre. Processions start at 8:30 p.m. just east of Columbus Street and move west to the Confluence area between Franklin and Lake Streets. 

Chicago Architecture Center at the Confluence

Join CAC docents to hear their favorite stories about the larger-than-life characters who made the Chicago River the nation’s crossroad of commerce then transformed it into a cultural destination and a unique urban landscape lined with architectural masterpieces. Meet at the Confluence on the Riverwalk at Lake Street and Wacker Drive.  Reservations required ($3 fee).

Thursday, May 16–Sunday, May 19

11:30 a.m. & 1 p.m. Choose Chicago InstaGreeter

FREE one hour walks with a city wise local volunteer highlighting the history, architecture and life along the Riverwalk.  Meet a Greeter at the Plaza in front of the Bridgehouse Museum, Michigan Ave and the Riverwalk.  Walks are at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. No one knows Chicago like a Greeter! 

Friday, May 17

Noon–6 p.m. Fishing at the Jetty with the Chicago Park Districtriverwalk3fish

Yes, you can catch fish on the Chicago Riverwalk–and even eat them! Or better yet return them to the water.

If you are looking for a good fish story join the Chicago Park District for a preview of their popular Fishing at the Jetty.

Children will learn about the ecosystem and the role the river plays in Chicago’s history and future. The Chicago Park District’s free public programming will expand this season, with three days (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays), weekly from June 27 to August 17, of hands-on, spontaneous activities on the Chicago Riverwalk.

Saturday, May 18

Chicago Architecture Center Walking Tours

Enjoy FREE CAC docent-led mini-walking tour along the Riverwalk and learn about the Riverwalk’s history and design. Meet at the Vietnam War Memorial at State Street and Wabash Avenue. Reservations required ($3 fee).

WWII Submarine Memorial Dedication

A group of Navy veterans have developed a submarine memorial for the Chicago Riverwalk to Honor, Educate and Inspire. Twenty-eight submarines were manufactured in Wisconsin after the attack on Pearl Harbor and traveled through the Chicago River to get to the Gulf of Mexico, via the Mississippi River on through the Panama Canal and ultimately to the war effort in the Pacific. The new memorial includes a submarine door and seating and will be located near the updated Field Drive Plaza on the east end of the Riverwalk. The time for the ceremony will be announced at a later date.

The Chicago Riverwalk Season Celebration is presented by the City of Chicago and produced by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management, Choose Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the vendors and boat tour operators along the Riverwalk.

Chicago Riverwalk Season Celebration activites are free unless otherwise noted. The Riverwalk is open to the public from 6 a.m.–11 p.m. throughout the year. For more information about the Chicago Riverwalk and a complete schedule of events, visit

 For a complete listing of special programming and events offered by Chicago Riverwalk vendors and partners, visit

About the Chicago Riverwalk

The City of Chicago’s award-winning Chicago Riverwalk, a 1.25-mile promenade through the heart of downtown, has quickly become one of the city’s most popular destinations for art, music, dining and the enjoyment of natural habitats, beloved by Chicagoans and visitors alike.  The Riverwalk is managed by the Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management with programming support from the Access to the space is free and open to the public daily from 6 a.m.–11 p.m. 

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