Loading Events
Hero Image

Upcoming Events

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.

Read More

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

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.

Read More

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

2008

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

 

Gridlock

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

Iván Navarro: This Land is Your Land

Free Public Program

Friday, July 27, 2018 - Monday, September 30, 2019

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

Read More

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

Zoom Room
Friday, October 26, 2018 - Sunday, April 21, 2019

Exhibit now open in the Chicago Children’s Museum

Read More

Zoom Room is a multilevel race course that lets kids send toy cars hurtling through the curves, loops, dips, and crash sites. Developed and designed by Chicago Children’s Museum, Zoom Room features hundreds of toy cars and more than 40 tracks of every length, height and angle, including two bi-level crash courses. It’s the ultimate toy car experience— for children and adults.

Click here for more information.

Loop

Free Public Program

Thursday, February 28, 2019 - Sunday, May 12, 2019

Free public program! Experience LOOP, a free, interactive art installation for all ages in Polk Bros Park.

Read More

Free and open to the public!  Experience Loop, a free, interactive art installation for all ages, in Polk Bros Park!

This illuminated musical installation, featuring a distinctive retro-futuristic look, uses cylinders two meters in diameter. Members of the public are invited to sit down inside and activate the mechanism, causing beautiful images inspired by 13 fairy tales to come to life. Loop is sure to spark children’s imagination and revive their parents’ childhood memories.

Loop is a cross between a music box, a zoetrope and a railway handcar – the pump-powered vehicles familiar from Bugs Bunny cartoons.

The retro-futuristic machine plays animated fairy-tale loops set in motion when visitors work the lever together. When the cylinder starts spinning, it lights up, making the series of still images appear to move. A flickering strobe effect accompanies the black and white images, like in the very first movies.

The animation is visible from inside or outside the cylinder and can be viewed from up close or far away. The speed at which the images move, the frequency of the flickering and the tempo of the music are determined by how fast the participants move the lever.

Photos: Mark Gurgone & Steven Koch

About the Creators

A work by Ekumen, designed by Olivier Girouard, Jonathan Villeneuve, and Ottoblix in collaboration with Generique Design, Jérôme Roy and Thomas Ouellet Fredericks.

Works Credits

Conception and execution: Olivier Girouard, Jonathan Villeneuve and Ottoblix

Production: Ekumen and Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, Montreal, Canada

Chicago Shakespeare presents: Hamlet
Thursday, April 18, 2019

Artistic Director Barbara Gaines stages one of the great masterworks of Western literature.

Read More

For the first time in more than twenty years, Artistic Director Barbara Gaines returns to Shakespeare’s enduring masterpiece of revenge, passion, and deception. Playing the ill-fated prince of Denmark is Maurice Jones (Broadway’s The Lifespan of a Fact opposite Daniel Radcliffe, Romeo and Juliet starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington). Electrifying performances by an outstanding 20-member cast combine with inventive staging to ignite Shakespeare’s poetry in CST’s uniquely personal Courtyard Theater—making your night out one to remember!

Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: Hamlet
Friday, April 19, 2019

Artistic Director Barbara Gaines stages one of the great masterworks of Western literature.

Read More

For the first time in more than twenty years, Artistic Director Barbara Gaines returns to Shakespeare’s enduring masterpiece of revenge, passion, and deception. Playing the ill-fated prince of Denmark is Maurice Jones (Broadway’s The Lifespan of a Fact opposite Daniel Radcliffe, Romeo and Juliet starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington). Electrifying performances by an outstanding 20-member cast combine with inventive staging to ignite Shakespeare’s poetry in CST’s uniquely personal Courtyard Theater—making your night out one to remember!

Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

Kupjack 21 Miniature Rooms
Friday, April 19, 2019 | 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Join Kupjack Studio from April 20-21, 2019 for an immersive art experience inside Festival Hall at Navy Pier.

Read More

Join Kupjack Studio from April 20-21, 2019 for an immersive art experience inside Festival Hall at Navy Pier. Kupjack studio is presenting a 21 piece Miniature Room retrospective. The experience represents the works of Eugene Kupjack, Henry Kupjack, Jay Kupjack and Lee Meissinger.

Preview Party

On Friday April 19, from 4 pm – 9 pm, there will be a gallery preview party benefiting The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Preview night tickets are $50.00 plus ticket fee. 

General Admission Tickets

Adults: $25.00 | Seniors & Students: $15.00 | Under 5: Free

Chicago Shakespeare presents: Hamlet
Saturday, April 20, 2019

Artistic Director Barbara Gaines stages one of the great masterworks of Western literature.

Read More

For the first time in more than twenty years, Artistic Director Barbara Gaines returns to Shakespeare’s enduring masterpiece of revenge, passion, and deception. Playing the ill-fated prince of Denmark is Maurice Jones (Broadway’s The Lifespan of a Fact opposite Daniel Radcliffe, Romeo and Juliet starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington). Electrifying performances by an outstanding 20-member cast combine with inventive staging to ignite Shakespeare’s poetry in CST’s uniquely personal Courtyard Theater—making your night out one to remember!

Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

Kupjack 21 Miniature Rooms
Saturday, April 20, 2019 | 10:00 am - 10:00 pm

Join Kupjack Studio from April 20-21, 2019 for an immersive art experience inside Festival Hall at Navy Pier.

Read More

Join Kupjack Studio from April 20-21, 2019 for an immersive art experience inside Festival Hall at Navy Pier. Kupjack studio is presenting a 21 piece Miniature Room retrospective. The experience represents the works of Eugene Kupjack, Henry Kupjack, Jay Kupjack and Lee Meissinger.

Preview Party

On Friday April 19, from 4 pm – 9 pm, there will be a gallery preview party benefiting The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Preview night tickets are $50.00 plus ticket fee. 

General Admission Tickets

Adults: $25.00 | Seniors & Students: $15.00 | Under 5: Free

Chicago Shakespeare presents: Hamlet
Sunday, April 21, 2019

Artistic Director Barbara Gaines stages one of the great masterworks of Western literature.

Read More

For the first time in more than twenty years, Artistic Director Barbara Gaines returns to Shakespeare’s enduring masterpiece of revenge, passion, and deception. Playing the ill-fated prince of Denmark is Maurice Jones (Broadway’s The Lifespan of a Fact opposite Daniel Radcliffe, Romeo and Juliet starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington). Electrifying performances by an outstanding 20-member cast combine with inventive staging to ignite Shakespeare’s poetry in CST’s uniquely personal Courtyard Theater—making your night out one to remember!

Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

Kupjack 21 Miniature Rooms
Sunday, April 21, 2019 | 10:00 am - 10:00 pm

Join Kupjack Studio from April 20-21, 2019 for an immersive art experience inside Festival Hall at Navy Pier.

Read More

Join Kupjack Studio from April 20-21, 2019 for an immersive art experience inside Festival Hall at Navy Pier. Kupjack studio is presenting a 21 piece Miniature Room retrospective. The experience represents the works of Eugene Kupjack, Henry Kupjack, Jay Kupjack and Lee Meissinger.

Preview Party

On Friday April 19, from 4 pm – 9 pm, there will be a gallery preview party benefiting The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Preview night tickets are $50.00 plus ticket fee. 

General Admission Tickets

Adults: $25.00 | Seniors & Students: $15.00 | Under 5: Free

Spirit of Chicago Easter Sunday Brunch Cruise
Sunday, April 21, 2019 | 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Celebrate Easter with the whole family aboard Spirit with an Easter Sunday brunch cruise featuring a buffet, DJ music, dancing and amazing views of the skyline.

Read More

Celebrate Easter aboard Spirit of Chicago with a delicious buffet, DJ music, dancing and amazing views of the skyline. Bring the whole family and enjoy the holiday on the water.

Cruise Details

  • 2-hour cruise with amazing views of the Chicago skyline
  • Delicious Easter Brunch Buffet
  • Onboard entertainment with DJ music and interactive games
  • Special appearance by the Easter Bunny and a face painter

BOARD: 12PM | CRUISE: 12:30PM-2:30PM

PRICE: FROM $64.90* per person


For reservations, call 888.957.2634 or visit spiritcruises.com

ABOUT SPIRIT OF CHICAGO

Spirit of Chicago is ready to show you the city. Eat, drink, dance and take in the incredible skyline with a lunch, dinner or specialty cruise. You’ll love the Spirit menu featuring a variety of culturally-inspired recipes incorporating fresh, organic ingredients. From dinners for two to corporate outings, Spirit is fun for all. Let’s celebrate!

Odyssey Lakefront Easter Brunch Cruise
Sunday, April 21, 2019 | 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

This Easter, get out on the water for an exceptional brunch celebration aboard Chicago’s most luxurious cruising vessel, Odyssey.

Read More

This Easter, get out on the water for an exceptional celebration aboard Chicago’s most luxurious cruising vessel, Odyssey. Make a lasting memory and celebrate Easter in brunch-style.

Cruise Details

  • 2-hour cruise on Lake Michigan with incredible views of the Chicago
  • 3-course Easter brunch menu
  • Upscale DJ entertainment
  • Special appearance by the Easter Bunny and a face painter

BOARD: 12:15PM | CRUISE: 1-3PM

PRICE: FROM $79.90* per person


For reservations, call 888.957.2634 or visit odysseycruises.com

ABOUT ODYSSEY LAKE MICHIGAN

Escape on the lake aboard Odyssey Lake Michigan. Sit back as Chicago’s famous skyscrapers drift past your window, music fills the air, and creative entrees are served right to your table. Odyssey Lake Michigan is perfect for a romantic escape for two or dynamic large group events..

Odyssey Lakefront Easter Early Dinner Cruise
Sunday, April 21, 2019 | 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Make lasting memories with an early Easter dinner celebration aboard Odyssey Lake Michigan.

Read More

Bring the family to an exceptional Easter dinner celebration aboard Chicago’s most luxurious cruising vessel, Odyssey. Make a lasting memory and celebrate Easter in style.

Cruise Details

  • 2-hour cruise on Lake Michigan with incredible views of the Chicago
  • 3-course Easter brunch menu
  • Upscale DJ entertainment
  • Special appearance by the Easter Bunny and a face painter

BOARD: 4:15PM | CRUISE: 5-7PM

PRICE: FROM $84.90* per person


For reservations, call 888.957.2634 or visit odysseycruises.com

ABOUT ODYSSEY LAKE MICHIGAN

Escape on the lake aboard Odyssey Lake Michigan. Sit back as Chicago’s famous skyscrapers drift past your window, music fills the air, and creative entrees are served right to your table. Odyssey Lake Michigan is perfect for a romantic escape for two or dynamic large group events..

Share This Page