How to Have Fun in Chicago: July 8-14

Millennium  Park

July 9: Millennium Park Summer Film Series

Head to Millennium Park on Tuesday evenings this summer to enjoy free movies at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. It’s now home to the latest and most sophisticated outdoor screen with sound projected from the Pavilion’s state-of-the-art sound system. The images are bright, clear and visible from the front row to the back of the Great Lawn, so there isn’t a bad seat in the park! Be sure to grab a blanket and pack a picnic dinner to enjoy with your friends and family. The chosen film for this Tuesday is Amadeus. Read More

July 11-12: Fanfare Ciorcalia in concert

The finest of Gangstabrass from the mountains beyond is coming to Chicago this week! Fanfare Ciocarlia are one of the world’s greatest live bands, their energy and ingenuity having won them fans everywhere. When Fanfare Ciocarlia – the brass orchestra from the “hidden” village of Zece Prajini in north-eastern Romania – take the stage the crowd receive 100% Gypsy music. I went to their show in Chicago last year and I can guarantee you will have a great time! Read More

July 12-13: Caminos del Inca

Take a musical journey through South America with this spectacular multimedia tribute to the vast empire of the Incas and the ancient melodies of the Inca Trail, created and conducted by Peruvian conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Read More

July 12-14: Square Roots Festival

The Old Town School of Folk Music and the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce’s craft beer and music experience in Chicago’s Lincoln Square is right around the corner. Expect multiple music stages, both inside the Old Town School and outside on Lincoln Avenue, programmed with a vibrant mix of performers from local indie rockers to world music stars paired with the best local and regional craft breweries offering a wide variety of beers. Dine on amazing food from choice restaurants in Lincoln Square. Join in the fun with nightly dance parties, open jams, and plenty of family activities. Bring your whole family for a great weekend! Click here for more information

July 13: Bastille Day
Celebrate French National Day at Daley Plaza. 4-10pm. French Cancan and Paris La Nuit Jazz group mixing Edith Piaff chansons with jazz, gypsy, latin, tango and pop. Read More

July 13: Tour de Fat comes to Chicago

A Ballyhoo of bikes and beer, Tour de Fat is a fundraising event whose mission is to connect people with bikes, beer, and community, while having a good ol’ time. Read More

Recommendations for the Week of July 4th

FireworksIndependence Eve Celebration at Grant Park Music Fest: Wednesday

Kick back and enjoy a beautiful evening in the park as The Grant Park Music Festival presents a free Independence Day Celebration featuring the Grant Park Orchestra in Millennium Park, 6:30 p.m.

7/3: Bhangra Party with DJ Rekha

She was named the Ambassador of Bhangra by the New York Times and is coming to Chicago this Independence Day week. Read More

Fourth of July Fireworks

Watch the sky light up during a spectacular fireworks show choreographed to a patriotic score on Lake Michigan. Read More

7/4-7/7: Chicago Tango Week

All night milongas, teachers, performers, live music + chacarera workshops. Read More

7/4-7/7: African/Caribbean International Festival of Life

Enjoy spectacular music, food, arts, crafts, and more at this family-friendly event, now in its 21st year. You can see over 70 acts, featuring the best of Reggae, Caribbean, Latin, African, Rock, Pop, R&B, Gospel and other world music entertainers! Read More

7/4:”Grease” Sing-along

The original high school musical returns to the Music Box Theatre this Independence Day! Wear your best poodle skirt and saddle shoes, biker jacket and shades, and bring your heartiest vocals for a rollicking ’50s sing-along. Read More

7/5: Wavefront Music Festival

Lather up the sunscreen, throw on your favorite swimsuit, rock your shades and get ready to dance as Montrose Beach turns into the hottest beach club in the city! This electronic dance music festival will feature the hottest DJs in the country. Read More

Ongoing: Chicago SummerDance Fest

Show your best moves on Chicago’s urban dance space! Enjoy two hours of live music and dancing on a 4,900 square-foot, open-air dance floor designed by artist Dan Peterman out of 100% recycled materials. Need a refresher? Each dance session is preceded by an introductory one-hour dance lesson. Read More

7/6: 4th pf July Dance Party with Sones de Mexico

Son Jarocho International Exchange project, this concert will feature Chicago bands Sones de Mexico Ensemble and Son Monarcas featuring the music of Veracruz. Special guest Andres Flores from the group Chuchumbe on jarana and pandero joins the cast direct from Veracruz. This concert is sponsored in part by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and support from the Mexican Tourism Bureau, and it takes place at Martyrs’, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. Admission is $15. For tickets go to portoluz.org

How to Have Fun in Chicago Next Week

June 24 at 9:30pm: Divina Natura Italian light show. Free

This event promises to be super cool. To celebrate the Year of Italian Culture, the Field Museum’s grand façade will transform into a mesmerizing panorama of light created by internationally renowned Italian artist Marco Nereo Rotelli. Through a magical performance of music, poetry, and spectacular light projections, Rotelli will showcase his contemporary twist on Dante’s “Divine Comedy” that celebrates the history and achievements in Italian culture. Divina Natura will incorporate projected text and images that will interact with the building’s classical architectural elements, taking attendees on a voyage that delves into the mind of Dante and his struggle through the sinful circles of hell. The event will incorporate spoken word with readings by respected poets, both in English and a variety of global tongues, and the sonic atmosphere will include a soundtrack by soprano Karolina Dvorakova and a soundtrack by Adrian Leverkuhn and Thomas Masters.

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June 24: 1st day of Flamenco Dance Summer Sessions with Clinard Dance Theater. 20% off  beginning level lessons for Chicago Urbanite followers. 

If you have ever been to one of Las Guitarras de Espana show, you have seen Wendy Clinard, the Artistic Director of Clinard Dance Theater, perform with them (see below). Wendy is offering a  7-week Flamenco dance summer session that culminates in a performance at the National Museum of Mexican Art with special guest singer Alfonso Cid. Get 20% off when you mention Chicago Urbanite when you register. Click here for more information. 

June 25 (8-10:15pm): Chicago Full Moon Jam Chicago  at lakefront park, between Foster and Lawrence Avenues. Free

The Chicago Full Moon Jams began in 2004 with a group of friends coming together to celebrate a simple birthday. Since then, it has grown into a monthly celebration, bringing together a diverse community of performers, musicians and spectators. Once the sun sets, dozens of fire dancers perform to music provided by local percussionists, using performance tools such as poi (a set of chains with weighted ends), staff, hula hoops and fans. Fire spinners include everyone from hobbyists to professional performance artists. The whole thing feels very tribal and earthy. Bring a percussion instrument and join one of the drum circles or just joining them as a dancer in the middle! The jams take place during the warm months on the night of the full moon falling between Sundays and Thursdays. They begin at sundown and end at 10:15pm. Go HERE for detailed jam schedule.

June 27: 1st day of SummerDance Fest. Free

My favorite festival – and the largest annual outdoor dancing series in the United States – starts this Thursday.  This a great public space that congregates a very diverse crowd: you will see people from different ethnicities, backgrounds, and ages getting together to dance with music from around the world, and all for free! Thanks Chicago! My recommendation: Mark your calendar for Romanian Fanfare Ciorcalia concert on July 12. It will be a blast! Click here for the complete calendar.

June 28-30: Milwaukee Ave Arts Fest. $5 suggested donation

This fest is a celebration of the art, music and culture of  trendy Logan Square. It has  great drinks and food from some of Logan Square’s most renowned restaurants. There is also a global funk dance after-party happening on the 29th .Get all the scoop here.

June 29th from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM  Bronzeville Historic Bike  Tour. $25-35

The bikes will be hitting the streets of Bronzeville to visit historical sites, like Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole Homes.  Enjoy food, jazz and big fun! Tickets are available through Eventbrite

June 30 at 1am: The L.A.T.E Bike Ride. Prices vary

Friends of the Parks’ L.A.T.E. Ride is a 25 mile, fun-filled tour of Chicago offering a unique nocturnal experience.  The LATE Ride starts at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 30 at the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park (Columbus and Congress Avenues).  From there, the course follows a route that winds through a dozen of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods including Chinatown, Little Italy, Greektown, Bucktown, Humboldt Park and Lincoln Square, culminating in a sunrise trek down the Lakefront Trail. Click here for more information.

June 30 at noon: Chicago Pride Parade at the intersection of Broadway and Montrose. Free

I ALWAYS have a such a great time at this parade!  (see picture below). Funny, colorful, and loving people get together to celebrate Chicago’s LGBT community.  The parade will feature 200 registered entries such as floats, decorated vehicles and marching groups representing organizations, groups, businesses, elected government officials and individuals. Click here for more information.

Gay Pride Parade

June 21: Make Music Chicago, Thai Fest, Ian Maskin and Las Guitarras de España

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Summer Solstice, the official start of summer in the Northern hemisphere, is June 21st and marks the start of my favorite season in Chicago as well as the beginning of a very busy cultural agenda. There are so many activities going that it could get overwhelming! I will try to feed you bits of it at each post so you can keep up with them. These are my picks for June 21st.

Thai Fest (June 19-21). Discover a glimpse of Thailand right in the heart of Chicago. Once a year, you can indulge yourself with mouth-watering hot and spicy authentic Thai food, Thai traditional dance and classical music, exciting Muay Thai, pampering Thai traditional massage, soothing oriental fragrance of Thai orchid, refreshing Thai coconut juice and a blow-away-your mind Thai fashion show.
11am-6pm Free admission.
Federal Plaza Square, 219 S. Dearborn, (Adams St. and Dearborn St.) Chicago. Click here for the festival’s schedule.

Make Music Chicago (June 21st): This is a live, free musical celebration across the city that takes place each June 21st, like its international French counterpart Fête de la Musique (also known as World Music Day) that happens around the world. Throughout the day, people of all ages and from all backgrounds – beginners, amateurs, professionals, and marquee artists – gather in Chicago’s public spaces to make music of all genres. Click here for this year’s schedule.

Cello and flamenco with Ian Maskin, las Guitarras de España and Wendy Clinard(June 21st): Flamenco dancer Wendy Clinard and Russian-born/Chicago-based cellist Ian Maksin will join Las Guitarras de Espana for an evening of flamenco, world music, Spanish folk and classical music at City Winery. Click here for more information.

Iris devoilée (June 21st): Eastern and Western musical traditions entwine in the Chicago premiere of the sensuous Iris devoilée by Chinese composer Qiqang Chen. This show is part of the Grant Park Music Fest. Click here for more information.