Free, Free, Free! Chicago Arts + Events

Free Free Free! Chicago Arts + Events

"Free, Free, Free!" is an e-newsletter and website that provides a monthly curated list of free programs, events and activities happening throughout the city in our libraries, museums, cultural centers and parks. We encourage you to express your culture through the arts and take advantage of the many opportunities the City of Chicago provides you to engage, create and participate!

  Rahm Emanuel Mayor   Mark Kelly Commissioner
Rahm Emanuel
Mark Kelly


Millennium Campus Holiday Season

McCormick Tribune Ice RinkMcCormick Tribune Ice Rink

Friday, November 17, 2017 - March 4, 2018

Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St.

The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium park will kick off the winter season on Friday, November 17 (weather permitting), on the same day as the 104th Annual Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration. The rink will open to the public at noon and remain open through Sunday, March 4, 2018. Skating is FREE and open to the public, with skate rentals available for $12. For the full skating schedule, visit


Skating Ribbon at Maggie Daley ParkSkating Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park

Opens Friday, November 17, 2017

337 E. Randolph St.

In the heart of downtown Chicago, with the City's skyline as a backdrop, a ribbon of ice winds through a rolling landscape providing an ice skating experience unlike any other. Skaters can experience "alpine in the city" as they lace up their ice skates and follow a path twice the length of a lap around a traditional skating rink. Dates and time vary depending on weather. Please check their website for the full schedule.


Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony104th Anniversary of the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Friday, November 17, 2017
Millennium Park near Washington St.

The City of Chicago is proud to present the 104th Anniversary of the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Millennium Park, Friday, November 17. Admission to the Tree Lighting Ceremony and all other holiday activities in Millennium Park is free.


Thorne Miniature RoomsHoliday Thorne Miniature Rooms and Neapolitan Creche

November 18 - January, daily 10:30am-5pm; Thursday until 8pm

Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.

The Art Institute's Thorne Miniature Rooms are once again decked out with tiny seasonal trimmings that offer a window into festivities from a Victorian Christmas to a traditional Chinese New Year. The spectacular Neapolitan crèche is one of the few and finest examples found outside of Naples. Free for children under 14 and Chicago residents under 18.


Wreathing of the LionsWreathing of the Lions

Friday, November 24, 2017, 10am

Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.

Kick off the holidays at the 26th anniversary of this Chicago family favorite. After adorning the lions on the historic Michigan Avenue steps with their traditional holiday wreaths, move inside at 10:30am for wreath-making fun inspired by the museum’s collection. Wreathing of the Lions is a free event.


Caroling at Cloud GateCaroling at Cloud Gate

Friday, November 24 - December 15, 2017, 6-7pm

Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St. (at the "Bean")

Bundle up and get ready to belt out some holiday classics at these festive events that are part concert, part sing-along as local Chicago choral groups lead hundreds of celebrants in song. Note: Performance may be shortened in cases of extreme cold weather.


Year of Public Art

Hyde Park Art CenterBill Walker: Urban Griot

November 5, 2017 - April 8, 2018

Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.

Ailliam "Bill" Walker was a prolific muralist best known for creating the iconic Wall of Respect on Chicago's South Side. Urban Griot highlights Walker's artwork beyond the wall in a series of drawings and paintings that he made between 1979 and 1984.




The Future of Public Art in ChicagoThe Future of Public Art in Chicago

Thursday, November 30, 2017, 6pm

Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.

Presented by The Department of Museum Education, DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly and others will discuss the future of public art in Chicago. FREE Thursday evenings to Illinois Residents.




National Veterans Art MuseumNational Veterans Art Museum

Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10am-5pm

4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., 2nd Floor

In honor of Veteran's Day this November, visit the National Veterans Art Museum. To bridge the gap between the perception and the reality of combat, the National Veterans Art Museum offers a place where all can experience combat inspired art. NVAM provides both a physical and emotional space for veterans and civilians of all ages to come gain a new appreciation for how the split-second decisions made in combat can impact a lifetime. The museum is open Tuesdays - Saturdays, 10am to 5pm and offers free admission year-round.


Night Out In The Parks


Presented by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Night Out in the Parks brings over 1,000 cultural events to neighborhood parks each year. Chicagoans and visitors alike, enjoy the breadth of world-class events in every one of the city's 77 community areas. Here are a few programming highlights happening in November, but be sure to check out their website (or download the app!) for a full listing of events!


Dia de los MuertosDia de los Muertos at Dvorak

Thursday, November 2, 2017, 3:30-8pm

Dvorak Park, 1119 W. Cullerton St.

Sponsored by Elevarte, This Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) event is a Mexican cultural celebration. It will include arts & crafts and music.



Thursday, November 2, 2017, 6-8pm

La Follette Park, 1333 N. Laramie Ave.

Collaboraction's acclaimed Peacebook festival features collaborations from over 200 artists creating 21 world premiere pieces of theatre. Peacebook, Collaboraction's acclaimed annual arts festival, features collaborations from over 200 artists creating 21 world premiere pieces of theatre, dance and spoken word about Peace in Chicago. The free festival includes food, workshops, panels and dance battles all aimed at inciting dialogue and action around Peace in Chicago.


Chicago Public Library


Since first opening our doors in 1873, Chicago Public Library has served all Chicagoans with free and open places to gather, learn, connect, read and be transformed. The libraries are that special third place-beyond home and work-where people come to improve their lives, nourish their intellect or savor entertainment. Their 80 locations host a variety of free events ranging from performances, arts and crafts, writing and poetry, continuing education and more.


Teen Studio with Chicago Architecture FoundationTeen Studio with Chicago Architecture Foundation at Thurgood Marshall

Wednesday, November 1, 2017, 3-6pm

Thurgood Marshall Branch, 7506 S. Racine Ave.

Tap into your desire to create a better city, and make a fun, beautiful and functional city plan! Join a special three hour, interactive program for up to 35 tweens/teens to "Make New History" while working on hands-on projects alongside a local architect or designer. No previous design experience needed; simply come prepared to communicate, engage and be creative!


Chicago Public Library Celebrating DiversityWe Are A Horse Nation at Legler

Monday, November 6, 2017, 5:15-7:15pm

Legler Branch, 115 S. Pulaski Rd.

"We Are A Horse Nation" documents the relationships existing and being built among the Oceti Sakowin (Lakota, Dakota, Nakota) people and the Sunka Wakan Oyate (Horse Nation). Stories, History, Traditional Songs and Culture tell the story of how people across the Oceti Sakowin lands are bringing the Horse back into the center of their way of life.


Roy KinseyRap and Poetry with Roy Kinsey at Sherman Park

Monday, November 13, 2017, 6:30-7:30pm

Sherman Park Branch, 5440 S. Racine Ave.

Rapper, poet, and librarian Roy Kinsey shares his new highly anticipated release bl4cki3, an album with message-oriented music covering the effects of racism, the Great Migration, addiction, violence, mental illness and sexuality. Join us as we come together for a live performance, an open mic, and conversation.



Tatsu AokiThe Art of Work with Tatsu Aoki at McKinley Park

Saturday, November 18, 2017, 1-3pm

McKinley Park Branch, 1915 W. 35th St.

Tatsu Aoki is a prolific artist, composer, musician, and educator. Based in Chicago, he was born in Tokyo and has been performing since age 4. Program is presented by Company of Folk.




Navy Pier

Sequence Ch!cagoSequence Ch!cago

Wednesday, November 22, 7:30-11:30pm & Saturday, November 25, 3-6pm

Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Aon Grand Ballroom

Over the course of 10 dates between September 30 and December 20, Sequence Ch!cago spotlights talented performers from different Chicago neighborhoods who have inspired and influenced the local arts community through their creative works. Sequence Ch!cago is free and open to the public. Visit for more information and full schedule.

Daley Plaza Market

Strawberries at the Daley Plaza Farmers Market Thursdays, May 11 - October 26, 7am-3pm

50 W. Washington St.

Daley Plaza Market is the longest running farmers market in Chicago! Chicago's Farmers Markets bring vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers to neighborhoods throughout the City of Chicago. Check the website for the full schedule and to find a market near you!

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