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Events and Activities to do in Chicago at Navy Pier

Looking for fun things to do in Chicago? There’s always something going on at Navy Pier! From cultural programming and seasonal celebrations to special events, festivals, fireworks and more, discover fun and free Chicago events at Navy Pier all year long.

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Events for September 1, 2018

Iván Navarro: This Land is Your Land

Free Public Program

Friday, July 27, 2018 - Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Artist Iván Navarro transforms three water towers into hauntingly beautiful sculptural objects, featuring infinitely reflective neon interiors.

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An image that has been a part of the upper realms of Chicago’s landscape comes “down to earth” to Polk Bros Park. Three hauntingly beautiful water towers are transformed as sculptural objects with neon interiors. Viewers are invited to stand beneath them and gaze above to experience. 

About This Land is Your Land

Originally debuted at New York’s Madison Square Park in 2014, the three sculptures – BED, Ladder and ME/WE – are composed of neon-lit interiors with infinite reflections of each structure’s respective design. One tower consists of a limitless repetition of the word, “BED;” another features the boundless image of a ladder; and the third displays the words, “ME” and “WE” in redundancy. An internal arrangement of mirrors enables each word or image to repeat perpetually through a seemingly endless vertical space. Measuring at approximately seven feet in diameter and erected on roughly eight-foot-tall supports, each tower allows guests the ability to stand underneath the sculpture and gaze above for a truly unique viewing experience.

Ladder (Water Tower)

2014, Neon, wood, painted steel, galvanized steel, aluminum, mirror, one-way mirror, and electric energy, 189 x 105 1/8 x 105 1/8 inches, 480.1 x 267 x 267 cm, Edition of 3 + 1 AP

Photo by Elizabeth Bernstein Images courtesy of Iván Navarro and Paul Kasmin Gallery

ME/WE (Water Tower)

2014, neon, wood, painted steel, galvanized steel, aluminum, mirror and one-way mirror, and electric energy, 189 x 105 1/8 x 105 1/8 inches, 480.1 x 267 x 267 cm, Edition of 3 + 1 AP, (PK 18175)

Photo by Elizabeth Bernstein Images courtesy of Iván Navarro and Paul Kasmin Gallery

BED (Water Tower)

2014, Neon, wood, painted steel, galvanized steel, aluminum, mirror, one-way mirror, and electric energy, 189 x 105 1/8 x 105 1/8 inches, 480.1 x 267 x 267 cm, Edition of 3 + 1 AP

Photo by Elizabeth Bernstein Images courtesy of Iván Navarro and Paul Kasmin Gallery


Born in Santiago, Chile 1972
Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York

Iván Navarro was born in 1972 in Santiago, Chile, where he grew up under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. He is known internationally for his socio-politically charged sculptures of neon, fluorescent and incandescent light. Navarro’s unique and captivating use of light transforms the exhibition space by means of visual interplay. Navarro represented Chile at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

Learn more at paulkasmingallery.com

Chakaia Booker: Four Sculptures

Free Public Program

Friday, April 20, 2018 - Tuesday, April 23, 2019

View four sculptural works by artist Chakaia Booker, on display in locations throughout Navy Pier, now through April 2019.

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Since 1994 Chakaia Booker has made abstract sculptures from discarded rubber tires salvaged from city streets, auto body shops, and dump sites. Cutting, shredding, bending, and transforming them into wild organic shapes, she creates objects that evoke the human body and spirit, without being literal representations.  Today, she works almost exclusively with recycled tires—slicing, twisting, stripping, weaving, and riveting rubber and radials to create and exaggerate the textures, prickled edges, and torqued forms of her radical refashioning. Whether she is creating small-scale wall reliefs resembling ballistic blowouts, suggestively hairy and ovoid pedestal sculptures, or colossal landscape-like tableaux, Booker transforms tires—iconic symbols of urban waste and blight—into extraordinary compositions of renewal.

Booker received a B.A. in sociology from Rutgers University in 1976, and an M.F.A. from the City College of New York in 1993. She gained international acclaim at the 2000 Whitney Biennial with It’s So Hard to Be Green (2000), her 12.5 x 21 foot wall-hung tire sculpture. Booker received the Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2002 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. She has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally.

Six sculptures by Booker have been on view in Millennium Park since 2016; four of those works will come to Navy Pier this April (two sited on Illinois Street just outside the entrance of Navy Pier; one on the south dock at the entrance; and one in Pier Park).

Pass the Buck

2008; Rubber tires and stainless steel, 102 x 96 x 84 inches

Booker’s inspiration for this sculpture was Madam C. J. Walker–best known for developing a successful line of hair-care and beauty products for black women–and considered by many to be the first African American businesswoman and philanthropist. For the artist, this sculpture evokes the pursuit of success and giving back to society.

Take Out


Take Out is a whimsical piece embellished with large, looping, swirling tendrils of tire. Evoking photographs and reflections through its frame- or mirror-like rectangular shape, Take Out invites viewers to explore and engage in the Chicago cityscape and alternately, views of the Centennial Wheel in Pier Park.

Shape Shifter

2012; Rubber tires and stainless steel, 192 x 102 x 78 inches



2008; Rubber tire and stainless steel, 2 pieces, 100 x 48 x 20 inches

Gridlock represents a symbol of human journey and life—shows an interplay of concave and convex spaces. The title references travel patterns in cities.

“My work challenges the notion that tires are uniformly black. I want to encourage people to examine assumptions about color, patterns, textures, and functions…. Also, our assumptions about most subject matter, including people, their diversity, and the diversity of ideas and perceptions.” – Chakaia Booker

The Great American Lobster Fest®

Free Public Program

Friday, August 31, 2018 - Sunday, September 2, 2018

Join us Labor Day weekend for the largest seafood and lobster festival in the Midwest!

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The Great American Lobster Fest® is the Midwest’s largest seafood and lobster festival, returning to Chicago’s legendary Navy Pier Labor Day weekend, August 31–September 2, 2018! General Admission to the event is FREE, otherwise Lobster Meals and VIP experiences are ticketed here.

Join us for summer’s last hurrah, where you can enjoy live lobster flown in fresh from the cold waters of the East Coast, live music performances, family-friendly games and activities, unique craft shopping, land food options, and cold beverages. What’s not to love?

The Great American Lobster Fest® will take place on the Pier’s east end, in and around the Aon Grand Ballroom. Should it rain, there is plenty of covered space inside for advance purchase Lobster Meal ticket holders and VIP ticket holders.

Buy Lobster Fest Tickets

Live Musical Performances

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Smiley Tillmon Band – 5:30pm

Rico! A Tribute to Santana (pictured) – 8:00pm

Saturday, September 1, 2018

School of Rock – 12:00pm

Bassel & The Superaturals – 1:30pm

Aniba Hotep & The Sol Collective – 5:30pm

The 17th Floor (Pictured) – 8:00pm

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Buffalo Rose – 1:00pm

South of Disorder (A tribute to Jimmy Buffett) – 3:00pm

Free Fallin’ (A tribute to Tom Petty) (pictured) – 5:30pm


Daily Cruises
Year Round

Enjoy lake and river cruises departing from Navy Pier’s South Dock and Polk Bros. Park. For cruise details visit website.

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Please visit the following pages for daily cruises, special events, and fireworks cruises:

Seadog Cruises Shoreline Sightseeing Odyssey Spirit of Chicago Mystic Blue Tall Ship Windy

Live on the Lake!: Nick Lynch Band

Free Public Program

Saturday, September 1, 2018 | 2:00 pm - 11:30 pm

Playing a free, all ages show with special guests Jocelyn & Chris Arndt and MER & Friends.

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Join us in the Miller Lite Beer Garden for a free, all-ages show with country cover band Nick Lynch Band, and special guests, Jocelyn & Chris Arndt and MER & Friends, part of Navy Pier’s free music and dance seriesLive on the Lake! 

Performance Schedule

Nick Lynch Band
Country Cover Band
9pm – 10:10pm & 10:25pm – 11:30pm

Jocelyn & Chris Arndt
5:30pm – 6:30pm & 7pm – 8pm

MER & Friends
Music Showcase
2pm – 3pm & 3:30pm – 4:30pm

About the Performers

Nick Lynch Band

From getting golden tickets on American Idol in 2008 to rocking New Year’s Eve on ABC in 2013, Nick has been gearing up for his time to Shine on the Country Music Scene. He’s a little bit Country, He’s a little bit Rock and Roll, but he is all Party!

Learn more at www.nicklynchmusic.com

Jocelyn & Chris Arndt

Devastatingly powerful vocals & retro-rock guitar, with lyrics that run the gamut from vulnerable to all-out venomous: Jocelyn & Chris Arndt are creating a new generation of authentic album rock.

Learn more at www.jocelynandchrismusic.com

MER & Friends

MER invites Chicago’s finest artists to partake in a “songwriters in the round” session. This stripped down format gives front men/women a chance to step back from their bands and deliver their stories and music as they were originally contrived. Catch this unique vibe and enjoy the sincere delivery of Chicago’s most dedicated songwriters!

About this Series: Live on the Lake!

This free, all ages concert is presented as part of Live on the Lake!, Navy Pier’s free summer music series in the Miller Lite Beer Garden

Wave Wall Wax: DJ Shon Dervis

Free Public Program

Saturday, September 1, 2018 | 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Performing a free, all-ages show, part of Wave Wall Wax, Navy Pier’s free DJ music series.

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Join us on Navy Pier’s South Dock at the Wave Wall Performance Platform for a DJ set by DJ Shon Dervis, part of Wave Wall Wax, Navy Pier’s free live DJ series on Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

About DJ Shon Dervis

Come to Navy Pier for a free dancing and a DJ performance by DJ Shon Dervis, part of Wave Wall Wax, at 2:00 pm on Saturday, September 1, 2018.

Shon Dervis: DJ, musician, producer, human. He’s been DJing and playing music practically his whole life, and currently spins hip-hop, rare groove, reggae, and more.

Learn more at facebook.com

About Wave Wall Wax

Wave Wall Wax brings Chicago’s incredible DJ culture to Navy Pier every Saturday for a new, free weekly DJ series from 2:00pm-4:00pm at the Wave Wall Performance Platform.

View the full Wave Wall Wax lineup.

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Aon Summer Fireworks

Free Public Program

Saturday, September 1, 2018 | 10:15 pm - 10:25 pm

Enjoy a dazzling fireworks display over Lake Michigan twice per week at Navy Pier!

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Navy Pier is Chicago’s bi-weekly destination for spectacular, free fireworks displays perfectly synchronized to music on Lake Michigan. Navy Pier’s Aon Summer Fireworks occur on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the summer, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  

View Full Aon Summer Fireworks Schedule