Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, that wonderful time in Chicago filled with festivals, concerts, new museum exhibits and more. Before you dive into summer fun, read our 99 Days of Summer guide to find at least one thing to do every day through Labor Day and let the good times roll all summer long!
May 30: Butterflies & Blooms
Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
Visit Chicago Botanic Garden to see up to 500 butterflies at one time. Butterflies & Blooms opens May 28 and runs through Sept. 5.
May 31: Holst’s The Planets
Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
This stunning concert features the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Women of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, conductor Cristian Măcelaru, chorus director Duain Wolfe and internationally acclaimed cellist Alisa Weilerstein.
June 1: Tal Gamlieli
SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Jerusalem-born musician Tal Gamieli has performed around the world and is now coming to Evanston for the Israeli Jazz Festival.
June 2-12: 4th Annual Pivot Arts Festival
Edgewater and Uptown, Chicago
This festival celebrates artistic innovators with live music, theater, dance, kids events, workshops, wine tastings and more. Don’t miss the Celebrate Community! parade on June 4.
June 3: A Conversation on Justice
The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago
If you binge-watched Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” and still can’t get enough, Steven Avery’s defense attorneys Dean Strang and Jerry Buting will host a discussion on the case and the U.S. criminal justice system. The evening will end with a Q&A session.
June 4: Mudderella
Lake County Fair, 1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake
Form your team for this non-competitive obstacle course challenge that is designed for women by women to promote teamwork. Mudderella has also partnered with Futures Without Violence, which educates and provides resources on domestic violence awareness.
Opens June 5: “America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s”
Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
This exhibit takes a look at art and the redefinition of modernism during the Great Depression. Featured artists include Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe and Grant Wood.
June 8-25: American Spanish Dance & Music Festival
Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, in residence at Northeastern Illinois University, celebrates 40 years with this annual festival featuring 40 dancers, singers and musicians from Spain.
Begins June 9: Hot Summer Nights
Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
Chicago Botanic Garden’s Hot Summer Nights concert series kicks off with Morry Sochat & The Special 20s, a blues band celebrating 10 years together. Visit the Garden for Hot Summer Nights concerts Thursdays through Sept. 1.
June 10: “My Fair Lady”
Light Opera Works, 516 4th St., Wilmette
Get to the church, err, theater on time for this classic musical at Light Opera Works. The show opens June 4.
June 11-12: Pilsen Food Truck Social
18th Street at Allport, Pilsen, Chicago
Spend your day exploring Pilsen and munching on offerings from more than 30 food trucks. Event proceeds (there’s a $5 suggested donation) will benefit the Illinois Food Truck Owners Association, St. Procopius Catholic Church’s soup kitchen and food bank, and a Pilsen-based after-school program.
June 14: Haley Reinhart
Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Wheeling native Haley Reinhart, whom you may know from “American Idol” or appearances with Postmodern Jukebox, is bringing her Better Tour to Chicago this June.
Begins June 15: Highwood Evening Markets
Everts Park, 111 North Ave., Highwood
Enjoy a beautiful summer evening shopping for artisan bread, cheese, pasta, sweets and more goodies, as well as jewelry, fashion and art, on Wednesdays through Aug. 31. Dine on food from local restaurants and food trucks, sip on cocktails and dance to live music. Pets are welcome!
June 17-18: See Jane Sing
Lyric Opera of Chicago, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago
Jane Lynch, a Second City alum, returns to the city for a musical-comedy cabaret show with Kate Flannery of “The Office” and Tim Davis, vocal coordinator for “Glee.”
June 17-19: 35th Annual Polish Fest
Enjoy a day trip (or entire weekend) at the country’s largest Polish festival. Stop by the Non-Stop Polka Stage, Cultural Stage, Folk Stage and Children’s Stage for entertainment, meet Polish Sheepdogs, get crafty with the kids, learn how to cook Polish delicacies, watch folk artists demonstrate traditional crafts, and more.
Begins June 21: Millennium Park Summer Film Series
Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago
Every Tuesday, grab a blanket, pack a picnic basket and head out to Millennium Park for films like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (June 21), “A League of Their Own” (July 5) and “West Side Story” (Aug. 2). You can even vote for the last film showing on Aug. 30.
June 22: Lincoln’s Undying Words
Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago
The Chicago History Museum opened this exhibit on Lincoln’s most memorable written moments in April. Stop by to hear Lincoln’s words portrayed by actor Michael Krebs and see artifacts like the Lincoln family carriage and Lincoln’s deathbed.
Opens June 23: “Between Riverside and Crazy”
Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago
Steppenwolf brings the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama-winner to Chicago this summer. “Pops” is an ex-cop waiting for word on his lawsuit against the police department and his son has recently been released from jail. Their rent-controlled apartment is often filled with “sketchy houseguests” in this “celebration of the glorious contradictions that make up human nature …”
June 24-25: 15th Annual Cheese Curd Festival
East End Park, Ellsworth, Wisconsin
If you need a quick getaway, consider heading north to Wisconsin for one of the state’s best offerings: cheese curds. This festival includes food vendors, a parade and events like the Cheese Curd Run (so you can feel OK about all the cheese curds you eat).
June 25: Summer Fest
Lehigh Avenue and Jackson Park, Glenview
This annual family-friendly event features live music, the Glenview Fire Department’s fire pole, kids activities, food from local restaurants, shopping sales, craft beer, puppies (!) and more.
June 25-26: Fountain Square Art Festival
Church and Sherman, Evanston
This favorite festival celebrates 37 years, making it the oldest (and largest) fine arts fair on the North Shore. More than 150 juried artists will show their work. Kids can stop by the children’s art tent, and don’t forget about the food and live jazz.
June 27: 360 Chicago’s Photography Night
360 Chicago, 875 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago
The 360 Chicago Observation Deck at the John Hancock building recently launched their Sunset Series, which includes Photography Night on Mondays (tripods are welcome these nights only) and a DJ on Thursdays. Visit for breathtaking views of the city and TILT.
Opens June 28: “War Paint”
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, both two-time Tony Award winners, star in this world-premiere musical about entrepreneurs and rivals Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden.
June 29: Chicago Sky vs. Indiana Fever
Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Road, Rosemont
The Sky tip off against the Fever in this Eastern Conference matchup. Find a complete schedule and promotional events here.
June 30: Walking Tour of Andersonville
Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark St., Chicago
For $5, you’ll get a guided tour of Andersonville, admission to the Swedish American Museum and a tour booklet. This walking tour takes place on the last Thursday of the month June through September.
Find even more fun things to do with the rest of our 99 Days of Summer series: