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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

Quinceañera Free Public Program

Quinceañera

Aug 15 @ 6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on July 15, 2019 at 6:00pm

One event on August 15, 2019 at 6:00pm

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

Aug 29
|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on August 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 20, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 27, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 10, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 24, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 22, 2019 at 12:00am

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

Sep 5
|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on August 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 20, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 27, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 10, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 24, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 22, 2019 at 12:00am

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

Sep 29
|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on August 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 20, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 27, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 10, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 24, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 22, 2019 at 12:00am

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

Oct 20
|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on August 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 20, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 27, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 10, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 24, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 22, 2019 at 12:00am

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

Oct 27
|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on August 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 20, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 27, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 10, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 24, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 22, 2019 at 12:00am

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

Nov 10
|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on August 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 20, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 27, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 10, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 24, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 22, 2019 at 12:00am

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

Nov 24
|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on August 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 20, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 27, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 10, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 24, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 22, 2019 at 12:00am

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

Dec 5
|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on August 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 20, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 27, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 10, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 24, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 22, 2019 at 12:00am

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

MILLER LITE PRESENTS CHICAGO BEARS: PARK, TAILGATE AND RIDE

Dec 22
|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on August 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on September 29, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 20, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on October 27, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 10, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on November 24, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 5, 2019 at 12:00am

One event on December 22, 2019 at 12:00am

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

Chicago Shakespeare presents: The Wizard of Oz
Thursday, August 15, 2019 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

July 6–August 25, 2019, take an unforgettable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz with Dorothy and her trusty pup Toto.

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July 6 – August 25, 2019 / CST’s Courtyard Theater

by L. Frank Baum | with music & lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
adapted by John Kane | directed by Brian Hill | choreographed by Kenny Ingram

Take an unforgettable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz with Dorothy and her trusty pup Toto as they encounter new friends—including Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion—and face unexpected challenges in the musical stage adaptation of the landmark 1939 MGM film. Audiences of all ages will be dazzled by the spectacular setting and charmed by its timeless score, featuring such cherished classics as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”—ultimately to discover that there’s truly no place like home.

Learn more at chicagoshakes.com

Quinceañera

Free Public Program

Thursday, August 15, 2019 | 6:00 pm - 7:45 pm

Free public program! Celebrate your quinceañera at Navy Pier with live music and free professional group photos!

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*Please note: check-in will be moved to the Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion in Polk Bros Park on June 15, 2019. 


Free and open to the public! Señioritas quinceañeras, join us for Quinceañera at Navy Pier! On the 15th of July, celebrate your 15th birthday with us and enjoy an unforgettable experience like only Navy Pier has to offer.

After meeting in the Crystal Gardens, all participating young ladies will be treated to a free, professional photo to commemorate the occasion, along with one complimentary ticket to ride the Centennial Wheel. The photo shoots will be followed by live musical performances from local Latin American bands for participants and guests to enjoy for free.

Please note that advance registration is required for this free event.

What is la fiesta de quinceañera?

La fiesta de quinceañera is a celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday, marking her transition from childhood into young adulthood.

With origins in Latin America, this time-honored tradition is often observed in Latinx communities throughout Chicago and around the world with family, music, dancing and—for the quinceañera  herself—formal dress, elegant jewelry, and makeup.

 

About This Series

Navy Pier is celebrating the quinceañeras of young ladies throughout Chicagoland with free professional group photos and live musical performances on the 15 of June, July and August, 2019. Learn more about Navy Pier’s free Quinceañera events here, and be sure to check out all of Navy Pier’s free events and programs throughout the year. 

Neighborhood Artisan Market: Humboldt Park
Friday, August 16, 2019 - Sunday, August 18, 2019

All summer, artisans and businesses from throughout Chicago set up shop at Navy Pier to offer items for sale and show off the city’s dynamic neighborhoods.

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Shop Local at Navy Pier This Summer!

Whether you are looking for an authentic Chicago souvenir or a one-of-a-kind collectible for your home, shopping in Chicago is more when you’re shopping local. During special Neighborhood Artisan Markets happening all summer, artisans and businesses from throughout Chicago set up shop at Navy Pier to offer items for sale and show off the city’s dynamic neighborhoods.

Each market:

  • Showcases the talent found all across Chicago and its neighborhoods
  • A way to learn about the neighborhoods of Chicago and the talent found there
  • Meet local Chicago artists, see their craft and learn their stories
  • Planned in conjunction with local neighborhood business groups, chambers of commerce, and the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs

On August 16–18, the market celebrates the neighborhoods of Humoldt Park.

For a full list of Neighborhood Artisan Market events, see the flyer (PDF).

Wiggleworms

Free Public Program

Friday, August 16, 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 Jarod Facknitz & Manny Bances.

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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

Jarod Facknitz & Manny Bances


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. 

Odyssey Air & Water Show Preview Brunch + Preview Lunch Cruise
Friday, August 16, 2019 | 10:00 am - 12:30 pm

Come down to Navy Pier and board Odyssey for unbeatable seats for the 2019 Chicago Air and Water Show. Enjoy a delicious menu, onboard DJ entertainment and -of course – spectacular, unobstructed views of the show. 

Read More

Do something different and experience a true Chicago summer tradition from Lake Michigan this year. Come down to Navy Pier and board Odyssey for unbeatable seats for the 2019 Chicago Air and Water Show. Enjoy a delicious menu, onboard DJ entertainment and -of course – spectacular, unobstructed views of the show. 

CRUISE DETAILS

  • Enjoy a cruise on Lake Michigan and watch as stunt pilots practice for the main event**
  • Freshly prepared 3-course buffet
  • DJ entertainment and gorgeous views from our spacious roof deck
  • Brunch Board: 10:00am | Cruise: 10:30am – 12:30pm | Price: from $69.90*
  • Lunch Board: 2:00pm | Cruise: 2:30pm – 5:00pm | Price: from $79.90*

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.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: The Wizard of Oz
Friday, August 16, 2019 | 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

July 6–August 25, 2019, take an unforgettable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz with Dorothy and her trusty pup Toto.

Read More

July 6 – August 25, 2019 / CST’s Courtyard Theater

by L. Frank Baum | with music & lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
adapted by John Kane | directed by Brian Hill | choreographed by Kenny Ingram

Take an unforgettable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz with Dorothy and her trusty pup Toto as they encounter new friends—including Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion—and face unexpected challenges in the musical stage adaptation of the landmark 1939 MGM film. Audiences of all ages will be dazzled by the spectacular setting and charmed by its timeless score, featuring such cherished classics as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”—ultimately to discover that there’s truly no place like home.

Learn more at chicagoshakes.com

Offshore Rooftop & Bar: Air and Water Show Viewing Party
Friday, August 16, 2019 | 11:00 am - 3:00 pm

Join Offshore Rooftop & Bar at Navy Pier for a 2019 Air and Water Show Viewing Party. Ticket includes brunch, open bar and live music.

Read More

Join Offshore Rooftop & Bar for their first, exclusive Air and Water Show Viewing Party.

Details

  • All tickets include exclusive access into offshore, brunch and bbq stations
  • Open bar and live music
  • Must be 21+ with a valid form of identification (ID) to enter into the venue
  • Dates: 8/16, 8/17 and 8/18

Tickets are available at drinkoffshore.com

About Offshore Rooftop & Bar

Offshore is the world’s largest rooftop venue that sits on the third floor of Navy Pier’s Festival Hall at 1000 East Grand, and offers panoramic, unmatched views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline, providing a completely unique perspective not found anywhere else.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: The Wizard of Oz
Friday, August 16, 2019 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

July 6–August 25, 2019, take an unforgettable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz with Dorothy and her trusty pup Toto.

Read More

July 6 – August 25, 2019 / CST’s Courtyard Theater

by L. Frank Baum | with music & lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
adapted by John Kane | directed by Brian Hill | choreographed by Kenny Ingram

Take an unforgettable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz with Dorothy and her trusty pup Toto as they encounter new friends—including Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion—and face unexpected challenges in the musical stage adaptation of the landmark 1939 MGM film. Audiences of all ages will be dazzled by the spectacular setting and charmed by its timeless score, featuring such cherished classics as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”—ultimately to discover that there’s truly no place like home.

Learn more at chicagoshakes.com

Odyssey Air & Water Show Preview Brunch + Preview Lunch Cruise
Friday, August 16, 2019 | 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Come down to Navy Pier and board Odyssey for unbeatable seats for the 2019 Chicago Air and Water Show. Enjoy a delicious menu, onboard DJ entertainment and -of course – spectacular, unobstructed views of the show. 

Read More

Do something different and experience a true Chicago summer tradition from Lake Michigan this year. Come down to Navy Pier and board Odyssey for unbeatable seats for the 2019 Chicago Air and Water Show. Enjoy a delicious menu, onboard DJ entertainment and -of course – spectacular, unobstructed views of the show. 

CRUISE DETAILS

  • Enjoy a cruise on Lake Michigan and watch as stunt pilots practice for the main event**
  • Freshly prepared 3-course buffet
  • DJ entertainment and gorgeous views from our spacious roof deck
  • Brunch Board: 10:00am | Cruise: 10:30am – 12:30pm | Price: from $69.90*
  • Lunch Board: 2:00pm | Cruise: 2:30pm – 5:00pm | Price: from $79.90*

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.

Water Colors</br>Chicago Jazz Orchestra, 1940s

Free Public Program

Friday, August 16, 2019 | 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Free public program! An all-ages concert, part of Water Colors, a free live jazz music series presented in partnership with the Jazz Institute of Chicago.

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Free and open to the public!

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra (CJO) is a 17-piece premiere jazz ensemble that has garnered both national and international recognition–is Chicago’s oldest professional jazz orchestra in continuous operation and one of the oldest jazz repertory orchestras in the country. Conductor and Artistic Director Jeff Lindberg is one of the foremost transcribers in jazz. As a result, the Orchestra’s repertoire draws upon his vast library, which includes the works of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Benny Carter, Oliver Nelson, Ray Charles, and many others.

Guest vocalist Dee Alexander and musicians Eric Schneider and Thaddeus Tukes will join the CJO for a tribute and musical celebration to jazz greats Dinah Washington, Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton.

Lil' Miss Ann at Stoller Grooves at Navy Pier

About Water Colors

A live jazz music series presented in partnership with the Jazz Institute of Chicago at the Lake Stage in Polk Bros Park. This series celebrates the 100 years of jazz in Chicago with performers paying tribute to the range of eras and movements of Chicago jazz.

Odyssey Air & Water Show Early Brunch + Buffet Lunch Cruises
Saturday, August 17, 2019 | 9:30 am - 12:00 pm

Hop aboard Odyssey Lake Michigan for unbeatable seats to the 2019 Chicago Air & Water Show. Enjoy delicious food, live entertainment and spectacular, unobstructed views of the show. 

Read More

Enjoy a special cruise aboard Odyssey Lake Michigan for unbeatable seats for the 2019 Chicago Air and Water Show. Enjoy a delicious menu, onboard DJ entertainment and -of course – spectacular, unobstructed views of the show. 

CRUISE DETAILS

  • Incredible, unobstructed views of the Air & Water Show
  • Freshly prepared 3-course buffet
  • DJ entertainment and gorgeous views from our spacious roof deck
  • Early Brunch: Board: 9:30am | Cruise: 10am – 12pm | Price: from $74.90*
  • Afternoon Lunch: Board: 1:15pm | Cruise: 1:45m – 4:15pm | Price: from $89.90*

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.

Offshore Rooftop & Bar: Air and Water Show Viewing Party
Saturday, August 17, 2019 | 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Join Offshore Rooftop & Bar at Navy Pier for a 2019 Air and Water Show Viewing Party. Ticket includes brunch, open bar and live music.

Read More

Join Offshore Rooftop & Bar for their first, exclusive Air and Water Show Viewing Party.

Details

  • All tickets include exclusive access into offshore, brunch and bbq stations
  • Open bar and live music
  • Must be 21+ with a valid form of identification (ID) to enter into the venue
  • Dates: 8/16, 8/17 and 8/18

Tickets are available at drinkoffshore.com

About Offshore Rooftop & Bar

Offshore is the world’s largest rooftop venue that sits on the third floor of Navy Pier’s Festival Hall at 1000 East Grand, and offers panoramic, unmatched views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline, providing a completely unique perspective not found anywhere else.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: The Wizard of Oz
Saturday, August 17, 2019 | 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

July 6–August 25, 2019, take an unforgettable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz with Dorothy and her trusty pup Toto.

Read More

July 6 – August 25, 2019 / CST’s Courtyard Theater

by L. Frank Baum | with music & lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
adapted by John Kane | directed by Brian Hill | choreographed by Kenny Ingram

Take an unforgettable journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the magical land of Oz with Dorothy and her trusty pup Toto as they encounter new friends—including Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion—and face unexpected challenges in the musical stage adaptation of the landmark 1939 MGM film. Audiences of all ages will be dazzled by the spectacular setting and charmed by its timeless score, featuring such cherished classics as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”—ultimately to discover that there’s truly no place like home.

Learn more at chicagoshakes.com