April 16, 2019

City of Chicago Celebrates the 2019 Season of Chicago Riverwalk Monday, May 13–Sunday, May 19

Experience Chicago’s second waterfront during a preview of summer programming including Art on theMART, new works of public art, fireworks, tours, kayaking, Fishing at the Jetty, great food, live music, Year of Chicago Theatre programs and much more

Mary May    mary.may@cityofchicago.org, 312.744.0576

Christine Carrino    christine.carrino@cityofchicago.org, 312.744.0573

Images of the Chicago Riverwalk


The City of Chicago will highlight the Chicago Riverwalk’s free summer programming during a public celebration running Monday, May 13, through Sunday, May 19. Activities include Year of Chicago Theatre themed programs, Art on theMART, walking tours led by the Chicago Architecture Center, Fishing at the Jetty led by the Chicago Park District and a pyrotechnic display off of the south drive of the Merchandise Mart on Monday, May 13. For complete details, visit ChicagoRiverwalk.us

"With this summer season of Riverwalk upon us, it is easy to see why the Chicago River is the city’s next recreational frontier,” said Mayor Emanuel. “From kayaking, to fishing, to live music and great food, there is an exciting activity for visitors and residents across Chicago to enjoy this summer along the Riverwalk.”

The Chicago Riverwalk has transformed Chicago’s downtown waterfront into an active, pedestrian friendly environment and a cultural destination for both residents and tourists alike. It has emerged as a must-visit destination in the heart of our city offering dramatic views of the “River Canyon” of iconic architecture and beautiful bridges and a uniquely Chicago experience with bustling bars and restaurants, cultural events and public art. The Department of Fleet and Facility Management is wrapping up a $12 million improvement project on the east end of the Chicago Riverwalk, including a new path, landscaping, updated lighting and seating to enjoy the view of the Chicago River.

New to the Chicago Riverwalk in 2019 is the Community Marketplace. 2FM conducted a public solicitation encouraging minority and women-owned vendors to operate concessions on the Chicago Riverwalk. There is a pool of twenty-three qualified vendors who will be eligible to operate on the Chicago Riverwalk for the next three years. 2019 will have nine new vendors operating later this summer. Vendors will be announced later this spring.

During the opening week celebration and throughout the summer season, various activities, entertainment and specials will be offered at Chicago Riverwalk vendors and tour operators including the Community Marketplace vendors, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Chicago Brewhouse, Chicago Cycle Boat, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises-Mercury, Chicago’s Skyline Cruiseline, Chicago Water Taxi, City Winery, Downtown Docks, Island Party Hut and Boat Charters, McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum, The Northman Beer & Cider Garden, O’Briens Riverwalk Café, Sweet Home Gelato, Tiny Tapp and Café, Urban Kayaks and Wendalla Sightseeing.

For a complete listing of special programming and events offered by Chicago Riverwalk vendors and partners, visit ChicagoRiverwalk.us.


2019 Chicago Riverwalk Season Celebration Programming Highlights


Monday, May 13

Public Art Installations

Public Art will continue to enliven the Chicago Riverwalk with a new commissioned work by Ebony G. Patterson. Known for her drawings, tapestries, videos, sculptures and installations that involve surfaces layered with flowers, glitter, lace and beads, the Kingston-born multimedia artist is creating a series of five intricate and colorful banners titled …between the below… The banners will adorn the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive just east of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, above the Chicago First Lady dockside ticket booths.

Robert Burnier’s Black Tibernius will remain throughout the 2019 season. The large-scale work, specifically commissioned for the western Confluence section of the Chicago Riverwalk between Franklin and Lake Streets, features three geometric structures made of steel, nylon mesh and rope. Responding to structural constraints imposed by the narrow strip of land that curves around the riverbend where Wacker Drive turns from west to south, Burnier’s suspended forms hang over the lawn and are visible from Upper Wacker as well as the river level. 


7–8pm Year of Chicago Theatre Performances and LUMA8’s Arts in the Dark Lantern Procession

The Confluence between Franklin and Lake Streets

As part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, designated by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres, theatre performances will take place in the western part of the Chicago Riverwalk known as the Confluence.


7:45pm LUMA8’s Arts in the Dark on the Riverwalk Lantern Procession

Procession begins at Wabash Avenue heading west to the Confluence between Franklin and Lake Streets

LUMA8 presents an Arts in the Dark Lantern Procession honoring Broadway In Chicago. Spectacular lanterns created by artist Heather Killian will illuminate iconic elements of famed productions Hamilton, Kinky Boots, Mary Poppins, Aida, The Lion King, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera and Alladdin. This inaugural procession is sponsored by Millennium Garages and will be the first of several presented this season as part of the Second Tuesdays at the Chicago Riverwalk program.


8:15pm Art on theMART

Starting Monday, May 13 and running through September 30, 2019Art on theMART will expand to nightly showings of the largest permanent digital art projection in the world. The 2-hour projection program rotates seasonally, currently featuring a commission in alignment with the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre by renowned media designer John Boesche. Several new “Acts” of his multi-part projection piece 7 soliloquies will debut on May 13. Boesche’s work is presented alongside a new commission by Istanbul-based video mapping group Ouchhh Studios for the spring program. Ouchhh Studios uses data gathered from musical compositions by famed Chicago-based jazz musicians to create a real-time audio and visual experience.

The projections begin approximately 15 minutes after sunset and are visible to the public from Wacker Dr. and along Chicago Riverwalk. For the special May 13 presentation, speakers will be placed in the Jetty and Confluence areas.


8:30pm Fireworks Display from theMART


Tuesday, May 14

Second Tuesdays on the Chicago Riverwalk

Come out to the Chicago Riverwalk on the second Tuesdays (May 14, June 11, July 9 and August 13) for live entertainment, discounts and special programming from vendors including Tiny Tapp and Café, Chicago Brewhouse, City Winery, O’Brien’s Restaurant and Island Party Hut.  Upcoming second Tuesdays in June, July and August will also feature LUMA8’s Arts in the Dark Lantern Processions on the Riverwalk featuring local theatre companies in honor of the Year of Chicago Theatre. Processions start at 8:30pm just east of Columbus Street and move west to the Confluence area between Franklin and Lake Streets.


Chicago Architecture Center at the Confluence

Join CAC docents to hear their favorite stories about the larger-than-life characters who made the Chicago River the nation’s crossroad of commerce then transformed it into a cultural destination and a unique urban landscape lined with architectural masterpieces. Meet at the Confluence on the Riverwalk at Lake Street and Wacker Drive.  Reservations required ($3 fee) at architecture.org.


Thursday, May 16–Sunday, May 19

11:30am & 1pm Choose Chicago InstaGreeter

FREE one hour walks with a city wise local volunteer highlighting the history, architecture and life along the Riverwalk. Meet a Greeter at the Plaza in front of the Bridgehouse Museum, Michigan Ave and the Riverwalk.  Walks are at 11:30am and 1pm, Thursday through Sunday. No one knows Chicago like a Greeter!


Friday, May 17

Noon–6pm Fishing at the Jetty with the Chicago Park District

Returning for its third year, the Chicago Park District will share a preview of their popular Fishing at the Jetty. As they fish outdoors, children learn about the ecosystem and the role the river plays in Chicago’s history and future. The Chicago Park District’s free public programming will expand this season, with three days (Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays), weekly from June 27 to August 17, of hands-on, spontaneous activities on the Chicago Riverwalk.


Saturday, May 18

Chicago Architecture Center Walking Tours

Enjoy FREE CAC docent-led mini-walking tour along the Riverwalk and learn about the Riverwalk’s history and design. Meet at the Vietnam War Memorial at State Street and Wabash Avenue. Reservations required ($3 fee) at architecture.org. Times: Noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm, Vietnam War Memorial at State Street and Wabash Avenue.


WWII Submarine Memorial Dedication

A group of Navy veterans have developed a submarine memorial for the Chicago Riverwalk to Honor, Educate and Inspire. Twenty-eight submarines were manufactured in Wisconsin after the attack on Pearl Harbor and traveled through the Chicago River to get to the Gulf of Mexico, via the Mississippi River on through the Panama Canal and ultimately to the war effort in the Pacific. The new memorial includes a submarine door and seating and will be located near the updated Field Drive Plaza on the east end of the Riverwalk. The time for the ceremony will be announced at a later date.

The Chicago Riverwalk Season 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.

Chicago Riverwalk Season Celebration activites are free unless otherwise noted. The Riverwalk is open to the public from 6am–11pm throughout the year. 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 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.


About the Chicago Riverwalk

The City of Chicago’s award-winning Chicago Riverwalk, a 1.25-mile promenade through the heart of downtown, has quickly become one of the city’s most popular destinations for art, music, dining and the enjoyment of natural habitats, beloved by Chicagoans and visitors alike. The Riverwalk is managed by the Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management with programming support from the Access to the space is free and open to the public daily from 6am–11pm. 


2019 Year of Chicago Theatre

The City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres have designated 2019 as the ‘Year of Chicago Theatre.’ This citywide, year-long focus on theatre is the first of its kind in the U.S. The initiative includes performances and special events throughout the city – including theatre-themed events in all 77 community areas, as part of the Chicago Park District’s ‘Night Out in the Parks’ series. The City of Chicago and its partners will also launch a marketing campaign; provide additional financial grants to theatre projects; encourage dialog around inclusion and equity; and call on civic, philanthropic, arts and business leaders to support the theatre community. To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there’s a seat waiting for you at one of our 200+ theatres. Book your next show today at ChicagoPlays.com.


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