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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 Big Bus Chicago Tours

Learn more about Big Bus Chicago sightseeing tours, departing daily from Navy Pier.

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Learn more about Big Bus Chicago sightseeing tours, departing daily from Navy Pier.

Daily Cruises

Year-Round

Daily Cruises

Enjoy lake and river cruises departing from Navy Pier’s South Dock and Polk Bros. Park

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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

Chicago Children’s Museum: Very Eric Carle

Step into the pages of Eric Carle’s colorful picture books!

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Very Eric Carle is a play-and-learn exhibit featuring activities inspired by five of Eric Carle’s classic books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Quiet Cricket, The Very Lonely Firefly, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle and The Very Busy Spider. In this exhibit, you can:

  • Become the Very Hungry Caterpillar as you follow his path
  • Weave a web with the Very Busy Spider
  • Find your light with the Very Lonely Firefly
  • Make the Very Clumsy Click Beetle flip and jump
  • Compose a night symphony with the Very Quiet Cricket
  • Enjoy a gallery of prints from Eric Carle’s Very Series as well as works in progress

Learn more at chicagochildrensmuseum.org

Q Brothers Christmas Carol

November 21, 2017 - December 31, 2017

Q Brothers Christmas Carol

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare

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The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare
Written by Q Brothers Collective (GQ, JQ, Jax, Pos)
Developed with Rick Boynton
Directed by GQ and JQ

Throw your hands up, Chicago—the holiday treat set to a bangin’ beat is back! CST and Chicago hip-hop sensation the Q Brothers—creators of Othello: The Remix and Funk It Up About Nothin’—turn up the volume on Charles Dickens’ classic tale, mixing everything from reggae, dancehall, and dubstep to epic rock ballads. Brighten your festivities with some cheeky spirit and a whole lot of heart—complete with visits from a Jamaican Jacob Marley and that youngest of Cratchits, Lil’ Tim.

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Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest

December 1, 2017 - January 7, 2018

Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest

Festival Hall

Experience the city’s biggest and best indoor winter playground and join the millions of families who have made it a part of their annual holiday tradition!

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Packed with family fun, Fifth Third Bank Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier is a beloved annual Chicago winter event, featuring 170,000 square feet of carnival rides, giant slides, holiday-themed activities, and Indoor Ice Skating Rink, and more. Experience the city’s biggest and best indoor winter playground and join the millions of families who have made it a part of their annual holiday tradition! 

Learn more at navypier.org/winter-wonderfest.

Red Velvet

December 1, 2017 - January 21, 2018

Red Velvet

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

CST’s Courtyard Theater

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CST’s Courtyard Theater
By Lolita Chakrabarti
Directed by Gary Griffin

The director of last fall’s “must-see” King Charles III helms a fascinating glimpse into theater history, called “fiery and funny” by Time Out New York. In 1833 at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his age, collapses on stage while performing the lead in Othello. He is replaced by a young, black actor, Ira Aldridge—a first for the role on London’s West End. As a bill in Parliament promoting the abolition of slavery sends shock waves through the streets, how will London react to his performance? This multi-award-winning play garnered Lolita Chakrabarti the Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising New Playwright.

Click here to learn more.

IMAX® Presents Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Last Jedi is the second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

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Having taken her first steps into a larger world in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Rey continues her epic journey with Finn, Poe, and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the saga.

For tickets to see The Last Jedi in IMAX, click HERE.

Sequence Ch!cago: Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus

Free Public Program

Free and open to the public! A nod to Chicago’s diverse art and music scene, Sequence Ch!cago celebrates local artists, musicians and cultural organizations by showcasing their works through this unique and exciting new performance series!

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Over the course of 10 dates between September 30 and December 20, Sequence Ch!cago spotlights talented performers from different Chicago neighborhoods who have inspired and influenced the local arts community through their creative works. Sequence Ch!cago is free and open to the public. The music program is supported by the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

Details on December 16: 5 p.m.-6.p.m. |The southwest corner of the Food Experience, across from Ben and Jerry’s MUSIC: Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus

Sequence Ch!cago: A Blues Christmas

Free Public Program

December 20, 2017

Sequence Ch!cago: A Blues Christmas

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Aon Grand Ballroom

Free and open to the public! A nod to Chicago’s diverse art and music scene, Sequence Ch!cago celebrates local artists, musicians and cultural organizations by showcasing their works through this unique and exciting new performance series!

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Over the course of 10 dates between September 30 and December 20, Sequence Ch!cago spotlights talented performers from different Chicago neighborhoods who have inspired and influenced the local arts community through their creative works. Sequence Ch!cago is free and open to the public. The music program is supported by the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

Details on December 20: A Blues Christmas | 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. | Aon Grand Ballroom

MUSIC: Collaboration: Toronzo Cannon, Lil’ Ed, Lynne Jordan; Matthew Skoller

Odyssey Christmas Eve Champagne Brunch Cruise

December 24, 2017

Odyssey Christmas Eve Champagne Brunch Cruise

12:15 pm - 3:00 pm

Odyssey

Board: 12:15pm | Cruise: 1:00pm – 3:00pm

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You’ll never forget a holiday cruise on Lake Michigan. This December, get more for the most wonderful season aboard Odyssey. Indulge in fine dining, festive music and fabulous views in the perfect place to celebrate.

Book Your Cruise Online.

Odyssey Christmas Eve Prix Fixe Dinner Cruise

December 24, 2017

Odyssey Christmas Eve Prix Fixe Dinner Cruise

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Odyssey

Board: 6:00pm | Cruise: 7:00pm – 8:00pm

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You’ll never forget a holiday cruise on Lake Michigan. This December, get more for the most wonderful season aboard Odyssey. Explore a prix five menu along with festive music and fabulous views you’ll never forget.

Book Your Cruise Online.

Mystic Blue Eve of the Eve Dinner Cruise

December 30, 2017

Mystic Blue Eve of the Eve Dinner Cruise

6:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Mystic Blue

Board: 6:00 pm | Cruise: 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm

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Raise your glass to the year ahead and ring in 2018 aboard Mystic Blue! Take one last night to let loose before kicking into high gear on your New Year’s resolutions. Try delicious holiday bites and sip champagne before the clock strikes midnight.

Book Your Cruise Online.

Odyssey New Year’s Eve of the Eve Dinner Cruise

December 30, 2017

Odyssey New Year’s Eve of the Eve Dinner Cruise

6:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Odyssey

Board: 6:00pm | Cruise: 7:00pm – 9:30pm

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Join us when we ring in the New Year aboard Odyssey’s New Year’s Eve of the Eve Dinner Cruise, and savor the first wonderful moments of 2018 with a cruise you’ll always remember. Sip champagne and delight in the flavors of the season before bidding farewell to another exceptional year.

Book Your Cruise Online.

Spirit of Chicago New Years Eve of the Eve Dinner Cruise

Board: 6:00pm | Cruise: 7:00pm – 9:30pm

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Be on board when we count down to 2018 and ring in the New Year aboard Spirit of Chicago! Resolutions can wait. Come cruise for one last hurrah on Lake Michigan. Indulge in our delicious holiday buffet and sip champagne before the ball drops on another fabulous year.

Book Your Cruise Online.

Noon Year’s Eve at Chicago Children’s Museum

Why should adults have all the fun on New Year’s Eve?

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Join Chicago Children’s Museum for its annual Noon Year’s Eve festivities! Make a crown starting at 10:30. The dance party will start at 11:30.  The count-down and confetti drop will happen at high noon! Great Hall All ages!

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