April 20, 2017

Chicago Riverwalk Kicks Off Summer Season with Opening Celebration Saturday, May 20

Experience Chicago’s riverfront during a free preview of summer programming including Tours, Parades with Puppets and Fishing at the Jetty—plus the “Dance of the Bridges,” a music cruise and a grand finale pyrotechnic display

Mary May    mary.may@cityofchicago.org, 312.744.0576

Christine Carrino    christine.carrino@cityofchicago.org, 312.7440573

The City of Chicago will kick off summer programming along the Chicago Riverwalk during a day-long celebration on Saturday, May 20, 9am–9pm. The celebration offers a preview of the summer programming that will be offered along the riverfront through October. Activities include walking tours led by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, parades with puppets and Fishing at the Jetty led by the Chicago Park District—plus the “Dance of the Bridges,” a traveling music cruise and a pyrotechnic display.

“The Chicago Riverwalk is a destination in the heart of the city that has created an open, artful pedestrian waterfront spanning nine blocks along the south bank of the Chicago River,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Offering dramatic views of our city’s iconic architecture and bridges, this ‘river canyon’ along with bustling bars and restaurants, boating, live music and public art offers a uniquely-Chicago experience.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and DCASE have designated 2017 the Year of Public Art, and the Riverwalk offers a new and improved way to enjoy Chicago's own unique waterfronts and architecture as the backdrop for summer. Completed in the fall of 2016, the Chicago Riverwalk (Lake Shore Dr. to Lake St.) is a 1.25-mile promenade through the heart of the city and a summertime destination for Chicagoans and visitors alike.

“Our Chicago Riverwalk celebration offers an extravaganza of music, art, architecture and puppetry,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “We invite Chicagoans and visitors to escape the everyday and embrace Chicago from a new vantage point.”

The Chicago Riverwalk Summer Kick-Off Celebration is presented by the City of Chicago and produced by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management, Choose Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the vendors and boat tour operators along the Riverwalk.

In addition to the Riverwalk's summer lineup, the City will offer residents and visitors ample opportunities to engage in free events citywide. Chicago's Millennium Park will host hundreds of free concerts, films and events starting in May and running through September. Earlier this month Millennium Park was named the number one tourist attraction in the Midwest—and one of the top ten destinations for entertainment in the nation!—due in large part to the volume of free and family-friendly activities offered by the city for residents and tourists alike to enjoy. For more information on Millennium Park's summer lineup, visit millenniumpark.org.

All events are free unless otherwise noted. For more information about the Chicago Riverwalk and a complete schedule of events, visit chicagoriverwalk.us—and join the conversation on social media using #ChiRiverwalk.


Chicago Riverwalk Summer Kick-Off Celebration – Schedule of Events


Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady

Join us for a FREE cruise to celebrate the Riverwalk’s grand opening! Check out Chicago’s First Lady Cruises (@cflcruises) and Chicago Architecture Foundation’s (@chiarchitecture) Instagram & Twitter feeds for more information about how to secure tickets. Passengers board at 112 E. Wacker Drive.


Mercury's Canine Cruise

Calling all canines! Canines and their owners are invited to join us for a 90-minute river and lake cruise. Tickets are $35 for adults. Kids under 15 and canines ride FREE! Passengers board at 112 E. Wacker Drive.

10:15am, 12:15pm, 2:15pm, 4:15pm and 6:15pm

Mercury's Urban Adventure Cruise

Relax and unwind on our 90-minute Chicago River and Lake Michigan cruise. You’ll enjoy lively narration and stories of Chicago's rich history. Tickets are $35 for adults.

“Kids ride free” offer available at box office only. Passengers board at 112 E. Wacker Drive.

10am, 1pm and 3pm

Chicago Architecture Foundation Riverwalk West Walking Tours

Enjoy a free hour-long walk along the Riverwalk stretching from Lake Michigan to Lake Street. Meet at the Vietnam War Memorial at State Street and Wabash Avenue.


Riverwalk Paddle  

Hop in a kayak and paddle through Chicago’s river canyon! Kids and parents are free. Meet at Urban Kayaks location between the Columbus Drive and Lake Shore Drive bridges.


Dance of the Bridges and Boats     

See the annual bridge lifts and the parade of boats traveling under Chicago’s iconic movable bridges between Lake Street and Lake Shore Drive. Times for the bridge lifts are subject to change.


Downtown Docks

Find discounted transient dockage for the Chicago Riverwalk during the kick-off event at 27 W. Riverwalk South.

Noon and 2pm

March of the Fish

Watch or join The Art Side Out Studio and Mask Shop’s Parade Club march along the Riverwalk with their large fish puppets and spectacle pieces joined by the King College Prep Marching Band! The noon parade starts at Columbus Drive and goes to Lake Street, and at 2pm the parade will start at Lake Street and proceed back to Columbus Drive.


Bridge Lift Viewings at McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum

View the Michigan Avenue bridge lift from inside the tower located at 99 E. Riverwalk. Times for the bridge lifts are subject to change.


Chicago Park District Fishing at the Jetty 

Chicago’s Fish’N’ Kids will teach children and adults of all ages to fish for free, including supplies and instruction. The fishing jetty is located at Franklin and Wells Streets along the Riverwalk.


Classic Boat Rendezvous at The Water Plaza      

View a fleet of classic and antique boats sponsored by the Chicago Yachting Association while enjoying live music by the Chicago folk collective Old Lazarus' Harp. Boats will be located between Wells and LaSalle Streets.


Music at Island Party Hut Tiki Bar

Enjoy cool island jams, reggae, soca, punta, Afrobeat, Latin vibes and more! Todd Donnelly performs from noon to 4pm and Corey Bless from 4pm to 8pm at the Island Party Hut located at 355 E. Riverwalk South.


Frost Gelato

Celebrate the opening of the Chicago Riverwalk with discounted gelato at 27 W. Riverwalk South.


City Winery Riverwalk

Relax with live music by Lucky Dutch & DJ Jevon Jackson at 11 Riverwalk.

1pm and 2pm

Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Enjoy a chamber ensemble comprised of members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform as part of the Riverwalk kick-off celebration, performing at 1pm between Franklin and Wells Streets, and 2pm near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


O’Brien’s Riverwalk Cafe

Celebrate at O’Brien’s with a special appearance by the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band and a session of jigs and ballads from Ireland at 45 E. Riverwalk South.


Dragon Boat Exhibition Race                     

Watch an exciting dragon boat exhibition race with the Greater Chicago Dragon Boat Club and Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce between Wells and Dearborn Streets. Boats will be docked for viewing to learn more about this historic Chinese tradition.


Traveling Music Cruise

Enjoy Beats y Bateria, a Chicago-based world music band, as they travel on Island Party Hut’s tiki boat, stopping along the Riverwalk for music performances. The fun begins at Island Party Hut’s dock and will travel up the river between Lake Street and Franklin Street with a final stop at the River Theatre between LaSalle Street and Clark Street for the grand finale display of pyrotechnic waterfalls from the bridges. Begins at 355 E. Riverwalk South.


Pyrotechnic Waterfall Display                    

Delight in the one-minute grand finale display of pyrotechnic waterfalls at the River Theatre off of the west side of the Clark Street bridge and the east side of LaSalle Street bridge.


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.


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