2017 Summer Go Guide, Part 1: Events in Chicago and Beyond

Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Field Museum in Chicago

Another summer stretches out before us — 99 days ready to be filled with festivals, outdoor movies, museum visits, live music, sporting events and more. But before you head out and start enjoying everything this season has to offer, start planning with our Summer Go Guide.

Jurassic World: The Exhibition

Opens May 26
The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

“Jurassic World” comes to life in this can’t-miss exhibit, which is making its Midwest debut at The Field Museum and runs through Jan. 7, 2018. Get an up-close look at Brachiosaurus, Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus rex as you explore interactive educational areas.

Garden Chef Series

Begins May 27
Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

Summer Events in Chicago: Garden Chef Series at Chicago Botanic Garden
Garden Chef Series (Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden.)

On Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer, Chicago Botanic Garden will host favorite chefs who will demonstrate cooking skills and prepare dishes in the open-air amphitheater of the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden. You’ll then be able to make these recipes at home all season long.

Aon Summer Fireworks

Begins May 27
Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

On Wednesdays and Saturdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day, head out to Navy Pier for a fantastic fireworks show. You might even consider catching the show from the water with Tall Ship Windy, Entertainment Cruises, Wateriders Kayaks or Shoreline Sightseeing.

Stories in the Woods

June 1
Heller Nature Center, 2821 Ridge Road, Highland Park

A naturalist will lead story time and a short hike during this Park District of Highland Park event. Plus, kids will work on a craft they can then take home.

Chicago Bandits vs. Akron Racers

June 1-3
The Ballpark at Rosemont, 27 Jennie Finch Way, Rosemont

Chicago’s women’s professional softball team will open their 2017 season against the Akron Racers.

Northshore Concert Band: “On The Town”

June 4
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

For their season finale, the Northshore Concert Band will present pieces from the U.S. and Latin America. Highlights include Leonard Bernstein’s “On the Town” and H. Owen Reed’s “La Fiesta Mexicana.”

Chicago Red Stars vs. Seattle Reign FC

June 4
Toyota Park, 7000 S. Harlem Ave., Bridgeview

The Red Stars will take on Megan Rapinoe and Seattle Reign FC in their first June match.

Central Street Art Walk 2017

June 9-11

Spend a day exploring Evanston’s Central Street (and discovering new artists while you’re at it).

Lake Geneva Paint-In

June 10
Downtown Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Get out of town for a day this summer and explore Lake Geneva as local artists set up shop on the sidewalks of the downtown area.

Pilsen Food Truck Social

June 10-11
Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood

Enjoy live music and a variety of eats from local food trucks for a $5 optional donation. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Illinois Food Truck Owners Association, Saint Procopius Church’s food bank and soup kitchen, and Yollocalli Arts Reach.

Promenade of Art

June 10-11
Arlington Heights

Summer Events in Chicago: Promenade of Art
Promenade of Art (Photo courtesy of Amdur Productions.)

In its 15th year, Promenade of Art will feature around 125 juried artists showcasing paintings, photographs, jewelry, furniture and more.

Author Event: Fredrik Backman

June 14
Barnes & Noble, 55 Old Orchard Center, Skokie

Fredrik Backman, author of “A Man Called Ove” and “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry,” returned in April with “Beartown,” set in a small town that’s rallying around their junior ice hockey team when a scandal breaks. Add the book to your summer reading list and then meet Backman at Barnes & Noble at Westfield Old Orchard.

Bearfoot in the Park Concerts

Begins June 14
Jackman Park, 1930 Prairie St., Glenview

Glenview’s outdoor concert series kicks off with the Glenview Concert Band, so pack a picnic, grab a blanket and head out to Jackman Park Wednesdays through Aug. 2.

Park at Wrigley’s Free Summer Movies Series

Begins June 14
Park at Wrigley, 3637 N. Clark St., Chicago

The new Park at Wrigley will host free movie screenings, presented by Music Box Theatre, throughout the summer. It all kicks off with “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

Summer Nights

Begins June 16
Brookfield Zoo, 8400 31st St., Brookfield

Summer Events in Chicago: Summer Nights at Brookfield Zoo
Summer Nights (Photo courtesy of Brookfield Zoo.)

On Fridays and Saturdays through Aug. 12, Brookfield Zoo will host the fourth season of Summer Nights. Visit the zoo after dark for enhanced dining options, a beer and wine garden, live music, kids’ activities, a laser light show and more.

Movies in the Park 2017: “The Queen of Katwe”

June 17
The DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago

Spend a day at DuSable and then spend the evening under the stars with a free screening of Disney’s “The Queen of Katwe,” starring Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o.

Shakespeare in Love

Ends June 18
Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

Summer Events in Chicago: "Shakespeare in Love" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater
“Shakespeare in Love” (Photo by Jeff Sciortino.)

Don’t miss the Chicago premiere of this stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning film. The Sunday Times (UK) called it “riotously funny.”

The Dustbowl Revival

June 22
SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston

Summer Events in Chicago: The Dustbowl Revival
Photo courtesy of The Dustbowl Revival.

This group returns to SPACE with “velvety vocals over a sea of quick-picking strings,” as our music columnist Lyndsey Havens wrote back in May 2016.

Festival of Fine Arts

June 24-25
Highland Park

This festival will return this summer to highlight artists in categories like ceramics, glass, print making, drawing, stone, watercolor and more.

Evanston Chamber Artisan SummerFest

June 24-25
Church Street and Sherman Avenue, Evanston

Fountain Square Art Festival is now Evanston Chamber Artisan SummerFest, which will feature eco-friendly art created with recycled and found materials. Plus, enjoy beer and wine tastings both afternoons from 2-6 p.m., live music, food and FamilyFest.

“Black Pearl: A Tribute to Josephine Baker”

Open through June 25
Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark St., Chicago

Black Ensemble Theater’s latest show will take audiences on a journey through the life of singer and activist Josephine Baker.


Open through June 25
American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St., Chicago

This “darkly funny and unrelenting” play, making its world premiere in Chicago, takes a look at the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan saga.

Ribfest 2017

June 30 to July 3
724 S. West St., Naperville

Naperville’s Ribfest is celebrating 30 years with delicious food and drinks, live music from national bands, and family activities like carnival rides, inflatables, magic shows and more. And did you know that Ribfest has raised more than $15.5 million to support the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence?

Exhibitionism — The Rolling Stones

Closes July 30
Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

Summer Events in Chicago: Exhibitionism — The Rolling Stones at Navy Pier
Exhibitionism — The Rolling Stones (Photo courtesy of Margie Korshak Inc.)

The Rolling Stones’ first major exhibition has made its way to Chicago with more than 500 items from the band’s archive. Fans will see instruments, clothes, handwritten lyric books, unseen photos and more, including a “backstage-to-onstage 3D concert experience.”

Brick by Brick

Open through Sept. 4
Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Summer Events in Chicago: Brick by Brick at Museum of Science and Industry
Brick by Brick (Photo by J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago)

If you haven’t yet visited this exhibit, make sure to visit the Museum of Science and Industry this summer to see the Golden Gate Bridge, International Space Station, Roman Colosseum and more made entirely of LEGOs.

Disney’s “Aladdin”

Closes Sept. 10
Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago

Take a trip to Agrabah this summer as Disney’s “Aladdin” comes to Chicago. You’ll be dancing in your seat thanks to favorite songs from the animated film, as well as new hits you won’t be able to get out of your head. Plus, Adam Jacobs, who originated Aladdin on Broadway, will play the role again on this tour.

Origami in the Garden

Open through Oct. 22
The Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle

Summer Events in Chicago: Origami in the Garden
Hero’s Horse and White Bison: Kevin Box and Robert J. Lang (Photo courtesy of Origami in the Garden.)

Santa Fe artists Kevin and Jennifer Box created this exhibition of large-scale metal sculptures, which can be seen throughout the Arboretum (perfect for those who want to explore the entire grounds).

Model Railroad Garden

Open through Oct. 29
Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe

Summer Events in Chicago: Model Railroad Garden at Chicago Botanic Garden
Model Railroad Garden (Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden.)

This favorite family-friendly attraction is back with 18 model trains, almost 50 mini American landmarks, 5,000 plants and more. Plus, take advantage of the Garden’s Summer Family Fun Pack, which includes parking and five tickets to both the Model Railroad Garden and Butterflies & Blooms.