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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

Spring Into Action: Cardio Yoga Free Public Program

Spring Into Action: Cardio Yoga

May 3 @ 7:00 am - 8:00 am
|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 7:00am on Thursday, repeating until May 17, 2018

Spring Into Action: Cardio Yoga Free Public Program

Spring Into Action: Cardio Yoga

May 10 @ 7:00 am - 8:00 am
|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 7:00am on Thursday, repeating until May 17, 2018

Spring Into Action: Cardio Yoga Free Public Program

Spring Into Action: Cardio Yoga

May 17 @ 7:00 am - 8:00 am
|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 7:00am on Thursday, repeating until May 17, 2018

Upcoming Events

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.

Chicago Restaurant Week: First Bites Bash 2018

First Bites Bash is the official kick-off event for the 11th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, produced by Choose Chicago.

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First Bites Bash 2018 is the official kick-off event for the 11th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, produced by Choose Chicago. Join us inside the magnificent Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier for savory and sweet food tastings from 60 of Chicago’s most celebrated chefs and restaurants. Toast to the city’s culinary scene with beer, wine, and cocktail pairings.

Lee Wolen, executive chef and partner at Boka restaurant in Lincoln Park, will host this year’s event, from which a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.*

Browse the list of restaurants to see who will be at First Bites Bash 2018, and view photos from the 2017 event for a taste of what’s to come.

 

*No portion of the ticket will be deductible for charitable income tax purposes.

Chicago Restaurant Week Cruises: Odyssey

January 26, 2018 - February 8, 2018

Chicago Restaurant Week Cruises: Odyssey

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Odyssey

Experience a special Odyssey dinner menu available during Chicago Restaurant Week 2018— all for an exclusive Restaurant Week price!

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Chicago Restaurant Week Cruises are coming to Navy Pier! Experience a special Odyssey dinner menu available during Chicago Restaurant Week 2018. Enjoy gracious service and stunning views of the city skyline on select dates from January 26 through February 8—all for an exclusive Restaurant Week price!

Chicago Restaurant Week Cruises: What to Expect

Odyssey’s Chicago Restaurant Week Dinner Cruises include:

 • Two-hour cruise on Lake Michigan with incredible skyline views
 • New Chicago Restaurant Week dinner menu
 • Curated music selection from our onboard DJ

Board: 6:30pm | Cruise: 7 – 9pm
Exclusive Restaurant Week Price: from $33.92*

For date availability and to make reservations, call 888.957.2634 or visit odysseycruises.com

Chicago Restaurant Week Cruises: Spirit of Chicago

January 26, 2018 - February 8, 2018

Chicago Restaurant Week Cruises: Spirit of Chicago

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Spirit of Chicago

Join the Spirit of Chicago during Chicago Restaurant Week 2018 and enjoy a freshly-prepared dinner buffet—all for an exclusive low price!

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Enjoy Chicago Restaurant Week cruises at Navy Pier! Come aboard the Spirit of Chicago on select dates from January 26 through February 8, 2018, to enjoy a freshly-prepared dinner buffet, gracious service and stunning views of the city skyline—all for an exclusive low price. Join Spirit of Chicago on its first Restaurant Week cruise series ever!

Chicago Restaurant Week Cruises: What to Expect 

Spirit’s Chicago Restaurant Week Dinner Cruises include:

 • Two-hour cruise on Lake Michigan with incredible skyline views 
 • Restaurant Week dinner menu
 • Curated music selection from our onboard DJ

Board: 6:30pm | Cruise: 7 – 9pm
Exclusive Restaurant Week Price: from $33.92*

For date availability and to make reservations, call 888.957.2634 or visit spiritcruises.com

Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Shakespeare’s magical comedy to family and school audiences.

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The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare
By William Shakespeare
Adapted & directed by Jess McLeod

The perfect choice for families or any time-challenged theater fans. This 75-minute abridged version introduces Shakespeare’s magical comedy to family and school audiences in a new production in The Yard, where its extended run will serve thousands of additional students and families next year. One evening, four young lovers find themselves lost in the forest. When the Fairy Court finds them, hijinks and hilarity ensue until the dawn. Following the performance, the cast remains on stage for a question-and-answer session, then joins the audience in the lobby for conversation and photos. This production will most be enjoyed by those ages 10 and up.

Stroller Grooves: Little Miss Ann

Free Public Program

February 6, 2018

Stroller Grooves: Little Miss Ann

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Crystal Gardens

A free children’s music series presented in partnership with the Chicago Children’s Museum!

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Join us in the Crystal Gardens Tuesdays in February and March from 12:00pm – 1:00pm for Stroller Grooves – a free children’s music series presented in partnership with the Chicago Children’s Museum! The series will continue every Tuesday from February 6th thru March 27th.

About Little Miss Ann

Ann Torralba aka Little Miss Ann is an award winning kids musician, a former Chicago Public School teacher, a mom, a veteran instructor at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, and a first generation Filipina-American.

She has made 5 kids cd’s including her latest, “Keep On” with Amy D. “Keep On” was produced by Grammy award winning producer, Dean Jones. Ann is an award winning kids musician and has received a Silver Parent’s Choice Award and a NAPPA for her music.

Little Miss Ann’s songs have been featured on Sirius XM Kids Place Live, WXPN Kids Corner, WTMD Young at Heart, WXRT Local Anesthetic, and on the NAEYC Featured songs page. Little Miss Ann and her band have brought their down-to-earth, yet upbeat, interactive and energetic performances to Millennium Park, SXSW, Lollapalooza, Pilgrimage Music Festival outside of Nashville, TN, 92Y Tribeca and Brookfield Place in NYC, Overture Center, and more.

IGI Chicago Style Meet

February 9, 2018 - February 11, 2018

IGI Chicago Style Meet

Festival Hall

The largest Women’s artistic gymnastics competition in the world

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Competition times at 8:00am, 12:30pm & 5:00pm

IGI Chicago Style 2018, a USAG foreign sanctioned events, is a women’s artistic gymnastics competition. Known as the largest Women’s artistic gymnastics competition in the world, for 20 years we have been hosting athletes from all across the United States and the world. Gymanasts, level 3 – 10, Elite and Xcel levels Bronze, SIlver, Gold, Platinum & Diamond will compete in 6 gyms throughout the weekend in Historic Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. This year to mark our 20th Anniversary, Olympic Gold & Silver Medalist, Laurie Hernandez will be with us to kick off the weekend on Friday, February 9, 2018. For details about her appearance, please visit our website www. chicagostylemeet.com. Friday evening we will host a Special Olympics demonstration and Saturday evening will host our Level 10 team competition!

Global Connections: International Carnivale Celebration

Free Public Program

Celebrate Carnivale with food, music and arts from Italy, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, New Orleans and more.

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The tradition of Carnivale is celebrated throughout the world in a wide variety of ways. Join us in the Aon Grand Ballroom for an afternoon celebration of Carnivale, featuring art, music, dance, food and drinks of from Italy, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, New Orleans and more!

International Carnivale Live Performances Include:

La Tosca performing with dancers (Italy)
PLANETA AZUL and Passistas Dancers (Brazil)
LowDown Brass Band (New Orleans style brass band)
Rhythm Jammerz from Windy City West Indian Carnival with dancers (Trinidad and Tobago)
DJ AfroQbano (Future Rootz)
Joe Sonnefeldt (Steel pan) 

Navy Pier’s International Carnivale Celebration is part of Global Connections, presented by ComEd, a free community event series. Learn more about Global Connections, and be sure to check out all of Navy Pier’s free events and programs throughout the year. 

Stroller Grooves: The Lucky Trikes

Free Public Program

February 13, 2018

Stroller Grooves: The Lucky Trikes

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Crystal Gardens

A free children’s music series presented in partnership with the Chicago Children’s Museum!

Read More

Join us in the Crystal Gardens Tuesdays in February and March from 12:00pm – 1:00pm for Stroller Grooves – a free children’s music series presented in partnership with the Chicago Children’s Museum! The series will continue every Tuesday from February 6th thru March 27th.

About The Lucky Trikes

The Lucky Trikes is a storytelling chamber band that performs for groups of all ages anywhere there is a gathering space and a few pairs of open ears. We grew out of a chamber band, The Lucky Bikes, in 2014 while performing Stories Wrapped in String at the William Harris Lee & Co. luthier shops in Chicago’s Fine Arts Building and Wilmette, where they still perform monthly.

Each story time is curated around a theme and includes well-known and award-winning books, new publications, improvised and classical music, original stories and songs. Musicians from Chicago’s thriving new music and free jazz scenes join storyteller-musicians Deirdre and Kyle for each performance.

Prismatica

Free Public Program

February 16, 2018 - April 15, 2018

Prismatica

Polk Bros Park

Experience Prismatica, a new interactive art installation at Navy Pier presented in partnership with the Quartier des Spectacle and RAW Design.

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Join us in Polk Bros Park from February 17, 2018, through April 15, 2018, to experience Prismatica, a new interactive art installation at Navy Pier presented in partnership with the Quartier des Spectacle and RAW Design. Admission to this exhibit is free and open to the public.

This immersive installation, comprised of 25 pivoting prisms more than six feet tall, transforms Polk Bros Park in Navy Pier into a giant kaleidoscope. The prisms are made of panels laminated with a dichronic film that transmits and reflects every color in the visible spectrum, varying with the position of the light source and the observer. The prisms are mounted on bases containing projectors. As guests wander among and manipulate the prisms, they will enjoy an infinite interplay of lights and colorful reflections. As the prisms rotate, a variable-intensity soundtrack comprised of bell sounds will play.

Above and Beyond

February 17, 2018

Above and Beyond

6:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Festival Hall

Progressive house act Above & Beyond comes to Navy Pier for an 18+ show in Festival Hall.

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Above & Beyond came together in 2000 originally to complete a remix of Chakra’s club classic “Home” for WEA.

Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamäki had met at Westminster University and kicked off the Anjunabeats label in summer 1999 with a track titled “Volume One “, this track was released in 2000 under the artist name “Anjunabeats”. For the duo’s second track release in 2000 titled “Different Ways” and their third in 2001 titled “Release” they went under the artist name of “Free State” and Anjunabeats remained as the label name.

All backpacks, camel backs, and oversized bags will not be permitted within the facility and must be stowed in one of the onsite lockers, at bag check or in the vehicle of the patron. All permitted bags will be thoroughly searched by authorized security prior to entry.

Buy Tickets

Stroller Grooves: Q Brothers

Free Public Program

February 20, 2018

Stroller Grooves: Q Brothers

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Crystal Gardens

A free children’s music series presented in partnership with the Chicago Children’s Museum!

Read More

Join us in the Crystal Gardens Tuesdays in February and March from 12:00pm – 1:00pm for Stroller Grooves – a free children’s music series presented in partnership with the Chicago Children’s Museum! The series will continue every Tuesday from February 6th thru March 27th.

About the Q Brothers

The Q Brothers have been writing plays/musicals for almost 20 years. We like to take classic works and translate them into modern contexts, while staying true to the original stories. In this way, we believe we pay homage to the original authors, and make their timeless stories more accessible to modern day audiences. Our plays are in rhyme, and performed over original music spun by a live deejay. We call them “Add-Rap-Tations”.

Mary Stuart

February 21, 2018 - April 15, 2018

Mary Stuart

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Two extraordinary women clash in a power play over the right to rule. Elizabeth I, Queen of England, must decide the fate of her jailed cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, accused of treason.

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CST’s Courtyard Theater
In a new version by Peter Oswald
Directed by Jenn Thompson

One will rule. One will fall. Two extraordinary women clash in a power play over the right to rule. Elizabeth I, Queen of England, must decide the fate of her jailed cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, accused of treason. After a single, clandestine meeting where both women’s ambitions are unmasked, the fate of two countries is decided. Jenn Thompson, former artistic director of The Actors Company Theater, (named “Company of the Year” by The Wall Street Journal during her tenure), stages Peter Oswald’s electrifying take on this fascinating drama.

Click here to learn more.

Global Connections: Chinese New Year

Free Public Program

February 24, 2018

Global Connections: Chinese New Year

1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Aon Grand Ballroom

Celebrate Chinese New Year with traditional food, music and arts.

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Join us in the Aon Grand Ballroom for an afternoon celebration of Chinese New Year, presented in partnership with the Chinese Fine Arts Society.

Guests can enjoy performances by the Chicago Chinese Cultural Center Lion Dancers, the award-winning Flying Fairies dance troupe, martial arts by Bei Dou Kung Fu’s Master Wu Jing Tao and his studio, traditional Chinese music by the Eight Tones Chinese Music Ensemble, Cheng Da Drum Team, and many other luminaries from the Chicago Chinese community.

Navy Pier’s Chinese New Year Celebration is part of Global Connections, presented by ComEd, a free community event series. Learn more about Global Connections, and be sure to check out all of Navy Pier’s free events and programs throughout the year. 

Mr. Dave’s Baby Rave Cruise: Spirit of Chicago

Take the whole family out to the water for Mr. Dave’s Baby Rave lunch cruise, on Sunday, February 25, aboard Spirit of Chicago! Spirit partners with Mr. Dave Music to bring kids and parents a fun-filled afternoon on Lake Michigan, complete with music, dancing and other surprises on deck. Details:  • Lunch buffet with kid friendly options • Entertainment by Mr. Dave, DJ Matt Roan and The Magical Myster AJ • Amazing views of the Chicago skyline • Stroller check…

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Take the whole family out to the water for Mr. Dave’s Baby Rave lunch cruise, on Sunday, February 25, aboard Spirit of Chicago! Spirit partners with Mr. Dave Music to bring kids and parents a fun-filled afternoon on Lake Michigan, complete with music, dancing and other surprises on deck.

Details: 

Lunch buffet with kid friendly options
• Entertainment by Mr. Dave, DJ Matt Roan and The Magical Myster AJ
• Amazing views of the Chicago skyline
• Stroller check and cash bar available onboard
• Board 10am | Cruise 11am-12:30pm
• Price* Adults: $29.95 | Kids: $21.95 | Under 11mo: free

For reservations, call 888.957.2634 or visit spiritcruises.com 

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