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Fun and Free Things to do in Chicago at Navy Pier

Looking for fun and free 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.

See also: free events & public programs

Navy Pier, Chicago’s mission-driven cultural district, proudly offers free events and public programming year-round. See a full listing of Navy Pier’s ongoing free events and public programs

Upcoming Events

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

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

About IVÁN NAVARRO

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

Rush Hour Workouts

Free Public Program

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Free public program! Join us for a free motion fitness class for all ages and experience levels.

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Free and open to the public! Keep your body in shape with weekly Rush Hour Workouts at the City Stage in Polk Bros Park! 

All participants must complete the Fitness Waiver Form.  Waiver forms will be available on site the day of each event. 

SCHEDULE:

June 4: Zumba
Instructor: Natalia Montalvo

June 11: Werq
Instructor: Randi Karlinsky

June 18: Zumba
Instructor: Natalia Montalvo

June 25: Werq
Instructor: Randi Karlinsky

July 2: Zumba
Instructor: Yamile Koch

July 9: Werq
Instructor: Hanna Bedell

July 23: Zumba
Instructor: Yamile Koch

July 30: Werq
Instructor: Hannah Bedell

August 13: Zumba
Instructor: Reina Gold

August 20: Werq
Instructor: Randi Karlinsky

About This Series

Rush Hour Workouts are part of Summer Fitness supported by LifeStart at Navy Pier, offering free motion fitness classes and sunset yoga classes in the months of June, July and August. Learn more about Summer Fitness, and be sure to check out all of Navy Pier’s free events and programs throughout the year. 

Sunset Yoga

Free Public Program

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Free public program! Join us for a free sunset yoga session for all ages and experience levels.

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Free and open to the public! Keep your body in shape and your mind centered with FREE weekly Sunset Yoga classes at the City Stage in Polk Bros Park! Each week, top yoga instructors will lead guided sessions in a variety of yoga styles. All ages and skill levels are welcome!

Please check back soon for full details.

What to Bring

For a more enjoyable experience, guests are invited to bring the following items:

  • Yoga mat
  • Towel
  • Water bottle
  • Completed waiver form (printed copies will also be available at walk-up)

Please note that yoga mats, towels, and water bottles are not provided on-site. 

About This Series

Sunset Yoga is part of Summer Fitness at Navy Pier, offering free motion fitness classes and sunset yoga classes in the months of June, July and August. Learn more about Navy Pier’s free fitness classes, and be sure to check out all of Navy Pier’s free events and programs throughout the year. 

Chicago Shakespeare presents: SIX
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | 7:45 pm - 9:05 pm

This spring, Chicago Shakespeare stages the critically acclaimed new musical SIX, following its debut in the United Kingdom and celebrated West End run.

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May 14 – June 30, 2019 / The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare

By Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
directed by  Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage

Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived. This spring, Chicago Shakespeare stages the critically acclaimed new musical SIX, following its debut in the United Kingdom and celebrated West End run. The six wives of King Henry VIII join forces for an electrifying musical celebration of empowerment—shining a spotlight on women who are so much more than the history books might lead us to believe. The all-woman cast, backed by an all-woman band known as the “Ladies in Waiting,” traverses the spectrum of modern-day pop with a soundtrack that has stormed up the UK charts. The queens take the mic to reclaim their identities out of the shadow of their infamous spouse—remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of twenty-first-century girl power.

Learn more at chicagoshakes.com

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip

Free Public Program

Wednesday, June 26, 2019 | 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm

From June 26-30, bring your family and experience a colorful and highly interactive space featuring playable demos of some of the hottest Nintendo Switch games, fun photo opportunities, Nintendo-themed challenges and more!

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Located at Polk Bros Park Promenade at Navy Pier from June 26-30, bring your family and experience a colorful and highly interactive space featuring playable demos of some of the hottest Nintendo Switch games, fun photo opportunities, Nintendo-themed challenges and more!

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip is a great place to get hands-on time with the system and some of its games. The space offers many areas themed to different games, like a warp pipe-filled stage to play the Super Mario Maker 2 game, a neon-colored paradise for the Splatoon 2 game and a large-screen TV and bucket race car seats for the high-octane Mario Kart 8 Deluxe game.

Take home a special Target discount coupon (while supplies last) and receive a free gift (while supplies last) by completing an event passport and checking in with your My Nintendo QR code pattern.

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip is the perfect opportunity to relax, play games and have fun with the whole family!

For more details, please visit (https://events.nintendo.com/roadtrip/)

Chicago Shakespeare presents: SIX
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 | 7:45 pm - 9:05 pm

This spring, Chicago Shakespeare stages the critically acclaimed new musical SIX, following its debut in the United Kingdom and celebrated West End run.

Read More

May 14 – June 30, 2019 / The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare

By Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
directed by  Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage

Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived. This spring, Chicago Shakespeare stages the critically acclaimed new musical SIX, following its debut in the United Kingdom and celebrated West End run. The six wives of King Henry VIII join forces for an electrifying musical celebration of empowerment—shining a spotlight on women who are so much more than the history books might lead us to believe. The all-woman cast, backed by an all-woman band known as the “Ladies in Waiting,” traverses the spectrum of modern-day pop with a soundtrack that has stormed up the UK charts. The queens take the mic to reclaim their identities out of the shadow of their infamous spouse—remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of twenty-first-century girl power.

Learn more at chicagoshakes.com

Aon Summer Fireworks

Free Public Program

Wednesday, June 26, 2019 | 9:30 pm - 9:40 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

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip

Free Public Program

Thursday, June 27, 2019 | 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm

From June 26-30, bring your family and experience a colorful and highly interactive space featuring playable demos of some of the hottest Nintendo Switch games, fun photo opportunities, Nintendo-themed challenges and more!

Read More

Located at Polk Bros Park Promenade at Navy Pier from June 26-30, bring your family and experience a colorful and highly interactive space featuring playable demos of some of the hottest Nintendo Switch games, fun photo opportunities, Nintendo-themed challenges and more!

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip is a great place to get hands-on time with the system and some of its games. The space offers many areas themed to different games, like a warp pipe-filled stage to play the Super Mario Maker 2 game, a neon-colored paradise for the Splatoon 2 game and a large-screen TV and bucket race car seats for the high-octane Mario Kart 8 Deluxe game.

Take home a special Target discount coupon (while supplies last) and receive a free gift (while supplies last) by completing an event passport and checking in with your My Nintendo QR code pattern.

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip is the perfect opportunity to relax, play games and have fun with the whole family!

For more details, please visit (https://events.nintendo.com/roadtrip/)

Chicago Shakespeare presents: SIX
Thursday, June 27, 2019 | 7:45 pm - 9:05 pm

This spring, Chicago Shakespeare stages the critically acclaimed new musical SIX, following its debut in the United Kingdom and celebrated West End run.

Read More

May 14 – June 30, 2019 / The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare

By Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
directed by  Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage

Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived. This spring, Chicago Shakespeare stages the critically acclaimed new musical SIX, following its debut in the United Kingdom and celebrated West End run. The six wives of King Henry VIII join forces for an electrifying musical celebration of empowerment—shining a spotlight on women who are so much more than the history books might lead us to believe. The all-woman cast, backed by an all-woman band known as the “Ladies in Waiting,” traverses the spectrum of modern-day pop with a soundtrack that has stormed up the UK charts. The queens take the mic to reclaim their identities out of the shadow of their infamous spouse—remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of twenty-first-century girl power.

Learn more at chicagoshakes.com

Wiggleworms

Free Public Program

Friday, June 28, 2019 | 10:00 am - 11:45 am

Free public program! Experience Old Town School of Folk Music’s celebrated early childhood music program at the Lake Stage in Polk Bros Park featuring Laura Doherty & Cat Tager.

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Free and open to the public! Join us at the Lake Stage in Polk Bros Park at Navy Pier for Wiggleworms, Old Town School of Folk Music’s celebrated early childhood music program. This free program for babies, toddlers and preschoolers features two back-to-back 45-minute performances, separated by a 15-minute break. Come sing, clap and play along!

Session 1: 10am-10:45am
Session 2: 11am-11:45am

Performers

Laura Doherty & Cat Tager


View the full schedule of upcoming Wiggleworms performances at Navy Pier at navypier.org/wiggleworms.

About This Series

Since 1985, Wiggleworms, the Old Town School of Folk Music’s celebrated early childhood music program, has welcomed young children and their families to the world of music. Children sing, dance, learn finger plays and story songs, and explore rhythm instruments especially designed for little hands. For children newborn through four years, it’s the perfect time for these special experiences with the language of music. 

Learn more about Wiggleworms at Navy Pier, and be sure to check out all of Navy Pier’s free events and programs throughout the year. 

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip

Free Public Program

Friday, June 28, 2019 | 11:00 am - 8:00 pm

From June 26-30, bring your family and experience a colorful and highly interactive space featuring playable demos of some of the hottest Nintendo Switch games, fun photo opportunities, Nintendo-themed challenges and more!

Read More

Located at Polk Bros Park Promenade at Navy Pier from June 26-30, bring your family and experience a colorful and highly interactive space featuring playable demos of some of the hottest Nintendo Switch games, fun photo opportunities, Nintendo-themed challenges and more!

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip is a great place to get hands-on time with the system and some of its games. The space offers many areas themed to different games, like a warp pipe-filled stage to play the Super Mario Maker 2 game, a neon-colored paradise for the Splatoon 2 game and a large-screen TV and bucket race car seats for the high-octane Mario Kart 8 Deluxe game.

Take home a special Target discount coupon (while supplies last) and receive a free gift (while supplies last) by completing an event passport and checking in with your My Nintendo QR code pattern.

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip is the perfect opportunity to relax, play games and have fun with the whole family!

For more details, please visit (https://events.nintendo.com/roadtrip/)

Chicago Shakespeare presents: SIX
Friday, June 28, 2019 | 7:45 pm - 9:05 pm

This spring, Chicago Shakespeare stages the critically acclaimed new musical SIX, following its debut in the United Kingdom and celebrated West End run.

Read More

May 14 – June 30, 2019 / The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare

By Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
directed by  Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage

Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived. This spring, Chicago Shakespeare stages the critically acclaimed new musical SIX, following its debut in the United Kingdom and celebrated West End run. The six wives of King Henry VIII join forces for an electrifying musical celebration of empowerment—shining a spotlight on women who are so much more than the history books might lead us to believe. The all-woman cast, backed by an all-woman band known as the “Ladies in Waiting,” traverses the spectrum of modern-day pop with a soundtrack that has stormed up the UK charts. The queens take the mic to reclaim their identities out of the shadow of their infamous spouse—remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of twenty-first-century girl power.

Learn more at chicagoshakes.com

Navy Pier Pride<br />Presented by American Airlines

Free Public Program

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Free public programming, presented by American Airlines! Come join chicago’s largest Pride celebration outside of the Lakeview neighborhood.

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Pier Pride, Presented by American Airlines

Free public programming, presented by American Airlines! Navy Pier Pride, presented by American Airlines, is coming through with flying colors this year! The fourth annual free Pride event at Navy Pier will consist of a full day of family-friendly festivities in honor of the LGBTQ+ community on Saturday, June 29, 2019. 

Performance & Activity Schedule: June 29, 2019

Chicago Children’s Museum’s Family Resource & Activity Station
South Dock
12pm – 2pm

The station gives guests the opportunity to learn about the Museum’s resources for LGBTQ+ families and participate in pride-themed arts and crafts activities. 

Story Time With Drag Queens, presented in partnership with Chicago Children’s Museum
West Performance Platform
1pm – 2pm

Enjoy a special reading of classic children’s books by a few of Chicago’s fun and fabulous drag queens.

Information & Resource Station
South Dock
12pm – 4pm

Browse the Resource Station along the South Dock, which offers information and resources from LGBTQ+ organizations, such as PFLAG.

Lakeside Pride Marching Band
South Dock
2:00pm – 2:30pm

Join us for a festive musical procession down the South Dock (starting at the People’s Energy Welcome Pavilion)! 

Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus
Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion Grand Staircase
3:00pm – 4:00pm

Enjoy a special performance by Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus in the Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion.

Wave Wall Wax
Wave Wall Performance Platform
4pm – 6pm

Get movin’ and groovin’ at Wave Wall Wax, a free weekly DJ series at South Dock.

Aon Summer Fireworks
South Dock
10:15pm – 10:25pm

Gather on the South Dock for Navy Pier’s signature Aon Summer Fireworks – synchronized specially to house music in honor of Navy Pier Pride presented by American Airlines – to end the evening with a bang!

 

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip

Free Public Program

Saturday, June 29, 2019 | 11:00 am - 9:00 pm

From June 26-30, bring your family and experience a colorful and highly interactive space featuring playable demos of some of the hottest Nintendo Switch games, fun photo opportunities, Nintendo-themed challenges and more!

Read More

Located at Polk Bros Park Promenade at Navy Pier from June 26-30, bring your family and experience a colorful and highly interactive space featuring playable demos of some of the hottest Nintendo Switch games, fun photo opportunities, Nintendo-themed challenges and more!

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip is a great place to get hands-on time with the system and some of its games. The space offers many areas themed to different games, like a warp pipe-filled stage to play the Super Mario Maker 2 game, a neon-colored paradise for the Splatoon 2 game and a large-screen TV and bucket race car seats for the high-octane Mario Kart 8 Deluxe game.

Take home a special Target discount coupon (while supplies last) and receive a free gift (while supplies last) by completing an event passport and checking in with your My Nintendo QR code pattern.

The Nintendo Switch Road Trip is the perfect opportunity to relax, play games and have fun with the whole family!

For more details, please visit (https://events.nintendo.com/roadtrip/)