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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
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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

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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
Thursday, January 31, 2019 - Monday, February 4, 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
Friday, February 1, 2019
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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

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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
Friday, February 1, 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, February 1, 2019 - Tuesday, February 5, 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
Saturday, February 2, 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, February 2, 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, February 2, 2019 - Wednesday, February 6, 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.

Dillon Francis & Alison Wonderland: Lost My Mind Tour
Saturday, February 2, 2019
Festival Hall

Concord Music Hall & AEG Presents Dillon Francis & Alison Wonderland: Lost My Mind Tour
Located in Festival Hall

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PRESALE REGISTRATION
Sign up now through Monday, November 26th at 9:30am CST at LOSTMYMINDTOUR.COM

$30 Advance Starting Soon
18+
Doors: 6:30PM // 7:00PM – 11:00PM

Chicago Shakespeare presents: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Sunday, February 3, 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, February 3, 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, February 3, 2019 - Thursday, February 7, 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.

Stroller Grooves: Little Miss Ann

Free Public Program

Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Crystal Gardens

Free public program! Join us for a free children’s music series, presented in partnership with the Chicago Children’s Museum.

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Free and open to the public! Get your little one moving and grooving at Stroller Grooves! From noon to 12:45pm on Tuesdays in February and March, join local children’s musicians for a free, live performance in the Crystal Gardens. 

Lil' Miss Ann at Stoller Grooves at Navy Pier

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 byGrammy award winning producer, Dean Jones. Ann is an award winning kids musician and has received a Silver Parent’s Choice Award and aNAPPA 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, Old Town School of Folk Music, SXSW, Lollapalooza, Pilgrimage Music Festival outside of Nashville, TN,92Y Tribeca and Brookfield Place in NYC, Overture Center, Strathmore Theater, and more.

About this Series

Presented in Partnership with the Chicago Children’s Museum, Stroller Grooves is a free series of musical performances by local children’s artists. Stroller Grooves takes place each Tuesday in February and March at Navy Pier’s Crystal Gardens.  Learn more about Stroller Grooves, and be sure to check out all of Navy Pier’s free events and programs throughout the year.

Stroller Grooves: Wendy & DB

Free Public Program

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Crystal Gardens

Free public program! Join us for a free children’s music series, presented in partnership with the Chicago Children’s Museum.

Read More

Free and open to the public! Get your little one moving and grooving at Stroller Grooves! From noon to 12:45pm on Tuesdays in February and March, join local children’s musicians for a free, live performance in the Crystal Gardens. 

Wendy & DB at Stoller Grooves, a free children's music series at Navy Pier

Wendy + DB

The Funn band is a group of musicians that back up Wendy and DB – they include Dean Rolando on Piano, Geoffrey Lowe on Bass and Dennis Calito on  percussion/drum sounds from around the world!

Wendy Morgan has been performing children’s music on the North Shore for over 10 years and a singer/songwriter for over 20 years. She started with a program at the Wilmette Park District, making music with kids, and it blossomed into a fun music show which the whole community can enjoy! She loves performing children’s music because she feels it is suited to her energy. Recently, Wendy and DB’s CD, Pockets Seasons Rhymes & Reasons, was released. Wendy’s lyrics for the album were inspired by the kids she plays with everyday and being a mother.

Darryl Boggs has been making music professionally for over 30 years. He has worked in the private and public school systems where he has taught band, choir and classroom music. Presently, he is doing all of these in his district. Special attention has been given to his primary level classes where he found his love of creating songs for young children. Pockets, Seasons, Rhymes & Reasons is his first CD as a composer and lyricist.

Dean Rolando has been an in-demand pianist in the Chicago area for 40 years. He has had the pleasure of working with and backing up the likes of Garth Brooks, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, and The Manhattan Transfer, just to name a few. Dean regularly works with Wendy at The Vocal Gymnasium as her pianist for many children’s programs.

Geoffrey Lowe grew up in Colorado learning a variety of  instruments. Since moving to Chicago, he’s been busy playing bass in jazz, R&B, blues, and classical ensembles. He’s toured around the world, and played in studio for more than a dozen albums. Geoffrey is proud to join Wendy & DB in showing young children how amazing music can be.

Dennis Calito has been a percussionist since the age of ten. He has the distinction of playing with Latin greats Grupo Niche, Willy Torres, Kevin Ceballo, and many more. He has taught percussion for Columbia College Chicago, and currently runs percusion clinics for Chicago Public Schools, teaching kids about percussion instruments and rhythms from around the world.


Video: Walla Walla Tree from “It’s A Doo Da Day”

About this Series

Presented in Partnership with the Chicago Children’s Museum, Stroller Grooves is a free series of musical performances by local children’s artists. Stroller Grooves takes place each Tuesday in February and March at Navy Pier’s Crystal Gardens.  Learn more about Stroller Grooves, and be sure to check out all of Navy Pier’s free events and programs throughout the year.

Chicago Shakespeare presents: Short Shakespeare!: Macbeth
Saturday, February 16, 2019 | 11:00 am - 12:15 pm
Chicago Shakespeare Theater

A 75-minute abridged production of the classic tragedy, for family and student audiences.

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Driven by the desire for power, Macbeth struggles with his conscience and chooses a tragic path. This 75-minute abridged production of the classic tragedy is a perfect introduction to Shakespeare. Adapted and directed by Marti Lyons—who is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after directors in American theater—it will be performed for more than 30,000 students during weekday Team Shakespeare matinees, with public performances on Saturdays, making Shakespeare accessible for audiences of all ages. After the performance, the actors remain on stage for a question-and-answer session, and then join the audience in the Lobby for informal conversations and photos. Tickets available at chicagoshakes.com.

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