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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

Chicago Shakespeare presents: Us/Them
Friday, January 25, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

An exploration of the way children cope with disaster, told by two trapped inside the Beslan school siege.

Read More

Beslan, Russia, September 2004: Chechen separatists storm a school, taking hundreds of children hostage in a deadly three-day siege. What unfolds onstage is not a recounting of the tragedy, but rather a stunning, intricately choreographed exploration of the unique way that young people cope with disaster, told through the clear eyes of a girl and a boy trapped inside. After winning the The Scotsman Fringe First Award at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Us/Them went on to an acclaimed run at the National Theatre of Great Britain and on tour around the globe. Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

Us/Them is presented as part of a series of three pioneering works that represent the next wave of boundary-pushing International theater—fueling a dynamic engagement between artist and audience.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: L’Après-Midi D’un Foehn
Friday, January 25, 2019 - Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Plastic figures take flight on invisible waves, creating an intoxicating visual ballet.

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Prepare to be blown away! Chicago Shakespeare partners with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival to co-present France’s Compagnie Non Nova, which takes an ordinary object—a flimsy plastic shopping bag—and transforms it into something magical. Anthropomorphized plastic figures take flight buffeted on invisible waves as a performer manipulates them with precise, complex choreography, creating an intoxicating visual ballet out of the everyday. Purchase tickets at chicagoshakes.com.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Joe Dowling reimagines his lauded production from Chicago Shakespeare’s inaugural Navy Pier season.

Read More

Celebrate twenty years of Shakespeare on Navy Pier in a wonderland where fairies fly, a donkey bursts into song, and love potions can change hearts. Internationally acclaimed director Joe Dowling reimagines his lauded production that inaugurated Chicago Shakespeare’s first season on Navy Pier. Over the course of a night, the stories of royalty, quarrelsome fairies, young lovers, and a troupe of aspirational players are woven into one enchanting tapestry backed by a vibrant score blending jazz, blues, rock, and 50’s doo wop. Shakespeare’s raucous humor and wondrous imagery makes it easy to see why this play has remained an audience favorite for more than four hundred years. Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: Us/Them
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

An exploration of the way children cope with disaster, told by two trapped inside the Beslan school siege.

Read More

Beslan, Russia, September 2004: Chechen separatists storm a school, taking hundreds of children hostage in a deadly three-day siege. What unfolds onstage is not a recounting of the tragedy, but rather a stunning, intricately choreographed exploration of the unique way that young people cope with disaster, told through the clear eyes of a girl and a boy trapped inside. After winning the The Scotsman Fringe First Award at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Us/Them went on to an acclaimed run at the National Theatre of Great Britain and on tour around the globe. Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

Us/Them is presented as part of a series of three pioneering works that represent the next wave of boundary-pushing International theater—fueling a dynamic engagement between artist and audience.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: L’Après-Midi D’un Foehn
Saturday, January 26, 2019 - Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Plastic figures take flight on invisible waves, creating an intoxicating visual ballet.

Read More

Prepare to be blown away! Chicago Shakespeare partners with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival to co-present France’s Compagnie Non Nova, which takes an ordinary object—a flimsy plastic shopping bag—and transforms it into something magical. Anthropomorphized plastic figures take flight buffeted on invisible waves as a performer manipulates them with precise, complex choreography, creating an intoxicating visual ballet out of the everyday. Purchase tickets at chicagoshakes.com.

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival: Festival Neighborhood Tour

Free Public Program

Saturday, January 26, 2019
Crystal Gardens

Join the Chicago International Puppet Theater for free, family-friendly performances by amazing puppeteers from Italy and Puerto Rico.

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On Saturday, January 26, 2019, join the Chicago International Puppet Theater at Navy Pier for free, family-friendly performances at 12pm and 2pm. 

The Chicago International Puppet Theater’s Festival Neighborhood Tour fosters an appreciation of puppetry in every corner of the city by presenting two Festival artists in six neighborhood locations, for a total of 12 performances. 

https://navypier.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/ciptf.jpg

This year the Neighborhood Tour is all international, with free performances in every corner of the city by amazing puppeteers from Italy and Puerto Rico. Shows include The Beginning of Nothing by Poncili Creación and Pulcinella by Gaspare Nasuto. Poncili Creación is an interactive sculpture collective based in Puerto Rico. Italy’s Gaspare Nasuto is one of the masters of Commedia dell’Arte performing comic lazzi to the delight of all ages. Click here to view the full schedule.

The Festival Neighborhood Tour is a free series (first come, first-served). Each show runs 45-60 minutes. All ages are welcome.

About the Shows

The Beginning of Nothing
By Poncili Creación (Puerto Rico)

In this fantastical journey audiences witness the clash of two worlds unknown yet familiar, one luscious and beautiful, the other gloomy and scary. All actions in these worlds seem to have strong repercussions on the other. How can both worlds survive this terrible codependency? At times a metaphor for our current society or even for survival itself, The Beginning of Nothing is a visually stunning journey that makes its way down an impossible path with a breeze of hope, told in a dazzling spiral of color and dance.

Pulcinella
By Gaspare Nasuto (Italy) 

From the traditional Italian Commedia dell’Arte comes the very original of the form, hand puppet trickster Pulicinella, who upon migration to England became known to English speakers as Punch. Impeccable timing and hysterical predicaments performed in a classic puppet booth, Pulicinella encounters a host of characters from Scaramouche to the crocodile.

Gaspare Nasuto performance is supported by Istituto Italiano di Cultura Chicago

Chicago Shakespeare presents: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Joe Dowling reimagines his lauded production from Chicago Shakespeare’s inaugural Navy Pier season.

Read More

Celebrate twenty years of Shakespeare on Navy Pier in a wonderland where fairies fly, a donkey bursts into song, and love potions can change hearts. Internationally acclaimed director Joe Dowling reimagines his lauded production that inaugurated Chicago Shakespeare’s first season on Navy Pier. Over the course of a night, the stories of royalty, quarrelsome fairies, young lovers, and a troupe of aspirational players are woven into one enchanting tapestry backed by a vibrant score blending jazz, blues, rock, and 50’s doo wop. Shakespeare’s raucous humor and wondrous imagery makes it easy to see why this play has remained an audience favorite for more than four hundred years. Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: Us/Them
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

An exploration of the way children cope with disaster, told by two trapped inside the Beslan school siege.

Read More

Beslan, Russia, September 2004: Chechen separatists storm a school, taking hundreds of children hostage in a deadly three-day siege. What unfolds onstage is not a recounting of the tragedy, but rather a stunning, intricately choreographed exploration of the unique way that young people cope with disaster, told through the clear eyes of a girl and a boy trapped inside. After winning the The Scotsman Fringe First Award at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Us/Them went on to an acclaimed run at the National Theatre of Great Britain and on tour around the globe. Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

Us/Them is presented as part of a series of three pioneering works that represent the next wave of boundary-pushing International theater—fueling a dynamic engagement between artist and audience.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: L’Après-Midi D’un Foehn
Sunday, January 27, 2019 - Thursday, January 31, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Plastic figures take flight on invisible waves, creating an intoxicating visual ballet.

Read More

Prepare to be blown away! Chicago Shakespeare partners with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival to co-present France’s Compagnie Non Nova, which takes an ordinary object—a flimsy plastic shopping bag—and transforms it into something magical. Anthropomorphized plastic figures take flight buffeted on invisible waves as a performer manipulates them with precise, complex choreography, creating an intoxicating visual ballet out of the everyday. Purchase tickets at chicagoshakes.com.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: L’Après-Midi D’un Foehn
Monday, January 28, 2019 - Friday, February 1, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Plastic figures take flight on invisible waves, creating an intoxicating visual ballet.

Read More

Prepare to be blown away! Chicago Shakespeare partners with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival to co-present France’s Compagnie Non Nova, which takes an ordinary object—a flimsy plastic shopping bag—and transforms it into something magical. Anthropomorphized plastic figures take flight buffeted on invisible waves as a performer manipulates them with precise, complex choreography, creating an intoxicating visual ballet out of the everyday. Purchase tickets at chicagoshakes.com.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: Us/Them
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

An exploration of the way children cope with disaster, told by two trapped inside the Beslan school siege.

Read More

Beslan, Russia, September 2004: Chechen separatists storm a school, taking hundreds of children hostage in a deadly three-day siege. What unfolds onstage is not a recounting of the tragedy, but rather a stunning, intricately choreographed exploration of the unique way that young people cope with disaster, told through the clear eyes of a girl and a boy trapped inside. After winning the The Scotsman Fringe First Award at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Us/Them went on to an acclaimed run at the National Theatre of Great Britain and on tour around the globe. Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

Us/Them is presented as part of a series of three pioneering works that represent the next wave of boundary-pushing International theater—fueling a dynamic engagement between artist and audience.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: L’Après-Midi D’un Foehn
Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - Saturday, February 2, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Plastic figures take flight on invisible waves, creating an intoxicating visual ballet.

Read More

Prepare to be blown away! Chicago Shakespeare partners with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival to co-present France’s Compagnie Non Nova, which takes an ordinary object—a flimsy plastic shopping bag—and transforms it into something magical. Anthropomorphized plastic figures take flight buffeted on invisible waves as a performer manipulates them with precise, complex choreography, creating an intoxicating visual ballet out of the everyday. Purchase tickets at chicagoshakes.com.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: Us/Them
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

An exploration of the way children cope with disaster, told by two trapped inside the Beslan school siege.

Read More

Beslan, Russia, September 2004: Chechen separatists storm a school, taking hundreds of children hostage in a deadly three-day siege. What unfolds onstage is not a recounting of the tragedy, but rather a stunning, intricately choreographed exploration of the unique way that young people cope with disaster, told through the clear eyes of a girl and a boy trapped inside. After winning the The Scotsman Fringe First Award at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Us/Them went on to an acclaimed run at the National Theatre of Great Britain and on tour around the globe. Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

Us/Them is presented as part of a series of three pioneering works that represent the next wave of boundary-pushing International theater—fueling a dynamic engagement between artist and audience.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: L’Après-Midi D’un Foehn
Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - Sunday, February 3, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Plastic figures take flight on invisible waves, creating an intoxicating visual ballet.

Read More

Prepare to be blown away! Chicago Shakespeare partners with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival to co-present France’s Compagnie Non Nova, which takes an ordinary object—a flimsy plastic shopping bag—and transforms it into something magical. Anthropomorphized plastic figures take flight buffeted on invisible waves as a performer manipulates them with precise, complex choreography, creating an intoxicating visual ballet out of the everyday. Purchase tickets at chicagoshakes.com.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Joe Dowling reimagines his lauded production from Chicago Shakespeare’s inaugural Navy Pier season.

Read More

Celebrate twenty years of Shakespeare on Navy Pier in a wonderland where fairies fly, a donkey bursts into song, and love potions can change hearts. Internationally acclaimed director Joe Dowling reimagines his lauded production that inaugurated Chicago Shakespeare’s first season on Navy Pier. Over the course of a night, the stories of royalty, quarrelsome fairies, young lovers, and a troupe of aspirational players are woven into one enchanting tapestry backed by a vibrant score blending jazz, blues, rock, and 50’s doo wop. Shakespeare’s raucous humor and wondrous imagery makes it easy to see why this play has remained an audience favorite for more than four hundred years. Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

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