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Jun. 26, 2024

Navy Pier Announces Return of ‘Chicago Live!’

Navy Pier Announces Return of ‘Chicago Live!’
Midwest’s largest free performing arts festival slated for Sept. 21-22

CHICAGO—Navy Pier today announced the return of its free performing arts festival “Chicago Live!,” slated for Saturday, Sept. 21, and Sunday, Sept. 22. This year’s event will be the largest to-date, welcoming more than 100 Chicago-grown performing groups in back-to-back performances across five Pier stages. Featured artists range from Chicago’s world-class stalwarts, including The Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Second City, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Philharmonic, Black Ensemble Theater, and the perennially popular Blue Man Group, to pop culture icons like RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Ginger Minj, Tony-nominated Felicia Fields, The Voice’s Oliv Blu, and many exciting up-and-comers. More than 50,000 Chicago-area residents and out-of-town guests are expected to take in free Chicago Live! performances over the course of the two-day festival.

“If I were to sum up the entire Chicago Live! experience in one word, it would be ‘access,’” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “It provides local artists access to new and bigger audiences. But perhaps more importantly, it affords guests with access to the performing arts they might not otherwise have.”

Supported by the Pritzker Foundation and Peoples Gas, Chicago Live! was launched in 2021, following the pandemic, to reconnect audiences with Chicago’s performing arts community after a devastating 18-month closure that left many in the industry in limbo. The festival has grown from 43 performing companies in its inaugural year to 110 groups and individual artists on-deck to appear at this September’s fourth-annual event.

New to the 2024 festival are a number of curated experiences designed to celebrate and give voice to the rich diversity of Chicago’s cultural landscape, including:

Chicago Sound Stage

Located in Navy Pier’s Beer Garden, the Chicago Sound Stage will welcome 10 local record labels and big-name tastemakers, including Jesse de la Pena’s Blue Groove Lounge Reunion, Closed Sessions, Alligator Records and Delmark Records, to curate sets featuring their top artists. From hip-hop to Indie rock, Blues to funk, the Chicago Sound Stage will provide fans with a rare opportunity to see their favorite artists live in-person. There’ll also be a Chicago Sound Stage Record Mart offering rare, unpublished, and newly released titles, and vinyl, alongside band merchandise, with 100 percent of proceeds going to the artists.

40th Anniversary Tribute to Chicago House Music

This year’s festival will celebrate House music’s Chicago roots with a 40th anniversary tribute to the energy, music, and dance of Black and Latino youth on Chicago’s south and west sides who revolutionized dance music internationally. Legendary Chicago House singers and DJs, including Linda Clifford, Dajae, Suzanne Palmer, Andrea Love, Shawn Christopher and DJs Ralphi Rosario, Derrick Carter, Psycho Bitch, Ron Carroll, Michael Serafini, Ca$h Era, and Lady D will take over the Pier’s Wave Wall Stage from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

DisFest Chicago

Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, DisFest, a celebration of artists and performers with disabilities, will find a high-profile outpost at Chicago Live! Featured performing groups will include Momenta Dance Company, jazz fusion band Calculated Discomfort featuring Tommy Carroll, and Tekki Lomnicki’s Tellin’ Tales Theatre. An Instagram-based live audio description for low/non-sighted individuals will be available during East Stage performances. Sound shirts that translate audio into physical sensations for audience members who are d/Deaf will be offered at the Lake Stage. All stages will be ASL interpreted. There’ll also be a Chicago Live! DisFest informational and low-sensory tent for those seeking a sensory-friendly respite.

Sixty-four artists and organizations new to Chicago Live! this year include: 8Matik Records, Alligator Records, Andrea Love, Ballet Folklorico de Chicago, Ballet Folklorico Xochitl, Boom Crack! Dance Company, DJ Ca$h Era, Cabinet of Curiosity Events, Calculated Discomfort, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Closed Sessions, Dajae, Delmark Records, DJ Derrick Carter, Drag City, Eric Williams & Silver Room Productions, Felicia Fields, Fiddlerock Live, Galapogos4, Ginger Minj, Hedwig Dances, House of DOV, International Anthem, Jesse de la Pena’s Blue Groove Lounge, Kuumba Lynx, DJ Lady D, Linda Clifford, Liquid Soul, Little Fire Artist Collective, Lucky Plush Productions, Matter Dance Company, DJ Michael Serafini, Movement Revolution Dance Crew, Oliv Blu, Otherworld Theatre Company, DJ Psycho Bitch, DJ Ralphi Rosario, DJ Ron Carroll, Shawn Christopher, Shubukai, Suzanne Palmer, Tellin’ Tales Theatre, The Frankie Knuckles Foundation, The Numero Group, Tickled Pink: Mancini at 100, and Winifred Haun & Dancers.

Returning are: About Face Theatre, Aerial Dance Chicago, Black Ensemble Theater, Blue Man Group, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Chicago Dance Crash, Chicago Fringe Opera, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Chicago Philharmonic, Chicago Repertory Ballet, Chicago Samba, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Sinfonietta, Culture Shock Chicago, DanceWorks Chicago, Dee Alexander, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, DJ Readerz, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, Forward Momentum, Game Changers, Giordano Dance Chicago, Hiplet Ballerinas, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Joel Hall Dancers, Joffrey Ballet, Kokandy Productions, Korean Performing Arts Institute of Chicago, Meher Dance Company, Momenta Dance Company, Muntu Dance Theatre, Para.Mar Dance Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, Red Clay Dance Company, The Second City, Soul Children of Chicago, South Chicago Dance Theatre, Teatro ZinZanni, The Happiness Club, The Seldoms, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, Too Much Molly, Trinity Irish Dance Company, Victor Garcia, Visceral Dance Chicago, and Yin He Dance.

The full schedule will be released at a later date.

Click here for Chicago Live! photos from 2023 performances.

Note: All activities, times, and dates are subject to change.

About Navy Pier

Located on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is the top nonprofit tourism destination in the Midwest, stretching more than six city blocks and typically welcoming nearly 9 million annual guests. Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, this Chicago landmark showcases more than 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities and more.

The Pier celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016 with the unveiling of the iconic Centennial Wheel, Polk Bros Park, Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion. In 2021, Navy Pier continued to usher in its second century with ongoing Pier-wide redevelopment efforts—including Sable, a 223-room Hilton hotel, new restaurants and partnerships, and thrilling additions to Pier Park. The Pier is also proud to continue providing free, year-round arts and cultural programming designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe. Click here to donate to Navy Pier, a mission-driven 501(c)(3) organization, in support of the organization’s post-pandemic revival and free public programming. For more information, visit www.navypier.org.

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