2017 Festival & Event Dates

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(event highlights only, subject to change)


Chicago Cultural Center Music, Theater & Dance, Exhibitions and More



Discover the free visual art and performance programs presented at the Cultural Center by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and its partners.

Maxwell Street Market

Sundays, Year Round, 7am–3pm
800 S. Desplaines St.


A Chicago tradition of bargains and bargaining with an international flavor, the Maxwell Street Market offers an eclectic mix of merchandise – from tools to tires, plus fresh produce, furniture, clothing, rare find and collectibles – plus some of the best Mexican and Latin street food in the city.

Under the Picasso

Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St.


The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events presents FREE cultural programs year round weekdays at Noon at the Daley Civic Center. 


1st & 3rd Fridays (Chicago Cultural Center)
1st & 3rd Saturdays (Garfield Park Conservatory)
11am Winter, Spring & Fall


With engaging music and dance performances in a kid-friendly setting, the free Juicebox programs are geared for toddlers, but enjoyable for the whole family.

Year of Public Art

January-December 2017


Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have declared 2017 as the “Year of Public Art” in Chicago with a new 50x50 Neighborhood Arts Project, the creation of a Public Art Youth Corps, a new Public Art Festival, exhibitions, performances, tours and more.

Eugene Eda’s Doors for Malcolm X College

January 21-June 25, 2017
Chicago Cultural Center


This exhibition will reunite all 32 doors painted by Eugene Eda for the stairwells of the original, now demolished Malcolm X College. Painted in 1917 by one of the principal artists of the Wall of Respect, the monumental doors are a landmark of the Black Arts movement in Chicago. The Exhibition includes other portable artworks in the MXC collection as well as documentation that will shed light on this important and turbulent period in Chicago history. Part of the Year of Public Art.

50x50 Invitational / The Subject is Chicago: People, Places, Possibilities

February 11-April 9, 2017
Chicago Cultural Center


The Subject is Chicago is our first invitational exhibition in several years, with a call going out in mid-October 2016 for works in all media by artists who reside within the city limits of Chicago. Works by 50 artists will be selected by an external panel of jurors, with the aim of representing all 50 wards, offering an exhibition opportunity to artists who may be underrepresented. Part of the Year of Public Art.


February 24-March 25, 2017
Chicago Cultural Center and other locations


The OnEdge performance series spotlights experimental dance, theater and genre-defying performances from national and international artists and companies.

Wall of Respect, Guest Curated by Romi Crawford, Abdul Alkalimat and Rebecca Zorach

February 25-July 30, 2017
Chicago Cultural Center


The Wall of Respect chronicles how the Organization of Black Arts and Culture – a collection of 14 designers, photographers, painters and others – designed and produced a seminal mural for and within Chicago’s Black South Side communities. Part of the Year of Public Art.

3rd Annual Lake FX presented by Google

April 21-22, 2017
Chicago Cultural Center and other locations


The Midwest’s largest FREE conference for emerging artists and creatives, April 21–22 at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.). The keynote address on Friday, April 21, at 5pm will be given by Kevin Liles, Co-Founder of 300 Entertainment and CEO of KWL Management.

Candida Alvarez, Guest Curated by Terry Myers

April 29-August 6, 2017
Chicago Cultural Center


The first major career survey of the work of Chicago-based artist Candida Alvarez, this exhibition will focus primarily on the artist’s painting, from 1975 to the present. Born in Brooklyn and based in Chicago since 1988, Alvarez has been involved with both abstraction and representation in her work for more than 30 years.

19th Annual Chicago Kids and Kites Festival presented by Country Financial

May 6, 2017
Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park

A favorite family event and a harbinger of springtime in Chicago, the festival provides free kite kits for children to build, decorate and fly (while supplies last) along with other family activities such as face painting, balloon artists and the Big Kite Candy Drop (weather permitting).

Chicago Farmers Markets (City Markets) presented by Country Financial

May-October 2017
Daley Plaza Farmers Market opens May 11, 2017
Daley Plaza and citywide locations


Across Chicago at locations downtown and throughout the city’s neighborhoods, the markets managed by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) sell fresh fruits, vegetables plants and flowers. Some neighborhood markets also feature music programming, prepared foods and local artisan (non-food) vendors.

Chicago's Memorial Day Parade

May 27, 2017
State St. from Lake St. to Van Buren St.


The City of Chicago’s Memorial Day Parade honors all men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country.

32nd Chicago Gospel Music Festival

June 2-3, 2017
Millennium Park and Chicago Cultural Center


The Chicago Gospel Music Festival showcases the best in local, national and international Gospel music performers.

Millennium Park Summer Workouts

Wednesdays & Saturdays, June 3-September 2, 2017
Millennium Park, Great Lawn


Jump start your weekend with tai chi, yoga, pilates and Zumba® classes on Millennium Park’s Great Lawn.

34th Annual Chicago Blues Festival

June 9-11, 2017
Millennium Park


Experience the blues live in Millennium Park at the 34th Annual Chicago Blues Festival happening June 9-11. At its new home in Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St.), the Blues Festival will offer fans performances by the genres’ leading artists, as well as a wonderful new experience in the city’s premier outdoor music venue.

Millennium Park Summer Music Series

Select Mondays & Thursdays, June 12–August 17, 2017
Millennium Park


Grab a seat in the pavilion or bring a picnic for the Great Lawn and enjoy the free music taking place all summer long at Chicago’s architectural gem, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Millennium Park Summer Film Series

Tuesdays, June 13–August 29, 2017
Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion


Grab a seat in the pavilion or bring a picnic for the Great Lawn and enjoy the free outdoor movies at Chicago’s architectural gem, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

21st Annual Chicago SummerDance

Fridays–Sundays, June 23–September 10, 2017
Grant Park, Spirit of the Music Garden

Saturdays & Thursdays, July 13-September 14, 2017
Eight Neighborhood Parks throughout the City


Swing, waltz, cha-cha...or simply enjoy the music at the largest annual outdoor live music and dancing series in the United States. Dancers of all ages and skill levels are invited to take part in introductory, one-hour dance lessons by professional instructors followed by live music and dancing.

37th Annual Taste of Chicago

July 5-9, 2017
Grant Park


Taste of Chicago is the nation’s premier free outdoor food festival showcasing the diversity of Chicago’s dining scene, alongside concerts and other activities for the entire family.

4th Annual Fifth Star Honors

August 28, 2017
Millennium Park


Celebrate Chicago’s creativity at the Fifth Star Honors, a free awards show honoring legendary Chicago artists and cultural institutions with live performances and video tributes.

59th Annual Chicago Air and Water Show presented by Shell Oil Products US

August 19-20, 2017
North Avenue Beach


Featuring military and civilian flight aerobatics, historic aircraft, simulated water rescues and parachute teams, the Chicago Air and Water Show is one of the largest and longest-running free admission events of its kind.

39th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival

August 31-September 3, 2017
Millennium Park and Chicago Cultural Center


A favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition, the Chicago Jazz Festival showcases free live performances by Chicago’s vast jazz talent alongside national and international jazz legends and artists.

19th Annual World Music Festival Chicago

September 8-24, 2017
Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park and other citywide locations


Enjoy global grooves by award-winning artists from around the world at the free, city-wide, multi-venue World Music Festival Chicago that has presented more than 750 artists and ensembles from over 80 countries since it began.

2nd Chicago Architecture Biennial

September 16-December 31, 2017
Chicago Cultural Center and other locations


The 2nd edition of the successful Chicago Architecture Biennial will be the largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America. The 1st Chicago Biennial in 2015 drew more than a half-million visitors to free exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center and elsewhere that showcased the cutting-edge ideas of 120 architects and firms from more than 30 countries, including many from Chicago.

McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

November 17, 2017-March 4, 2018
Millennium Park


Kicking off Chicago’s winter season, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park will open November 17 and will remain open through March 4, 2018 (weather permitting).

104th Christmas Tree and Holiday Celebrations

November 17-December 2017
Millennium Park


Celebrate the holiday season at the official Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting, sing holiday favorites at Caroling at Cloud Gate on Friday evenings and visit the Santa Claus House on weekends throughout the season.

Caroling at Cloud Gate

Fridays, November 24–December 15, 2017
Millennium Park


Bundle up and get ready to belt out some holiday classics at these festive events that are part concert, part sing-along. Local choral groups lead hundreds of celebrants in song.

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