"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!
Year of Chicago Theatre
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) Commissioner Mark Kelly, League of Chicago Theatres Executive Director Deb Clapp, and many other civic, arts and theatre leaders announced plans to designate 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 will include theatre performances - including improv, dance, opera, puppetry and more - and special events for the public at hundreds of cultural venues, theaters, parks and neighborhood locations throughout the city.
City of Chicago
A favorite family event and a harbinger of springtime in Chicago, the 21st Annual Chicago Kids and Kites Festival returns to Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park. The City of Chicago will provide free kite kits, while supplies last, for children to get creative as they build, decorate and fly their own kites.
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.
The Chicago House Music Conference and Festival will feature an industry gathering, DJs and live performances showcasing the various sounds and styles of house music, the genre born in Chicago that has gone on to revolutionize dance music internationally.
Catering to DJs, musicians and industry professionals, the Chicago House Music Conference will include panel discussions on topics related to the culture, artistry and business of House music. The festival will continue throughout the park with DJs and family activities. For a full schedule of events, visit the website: www.chicago.gov/dcase.
Chicago Park District
Thursday, May 2, 10am-1pm
Soldier Field, 1410 S. Museum Campus Drive
The Opening Ceremonies serves as the formal start to three days of track and field competition. A formal arrival and lighting of the ceremonial torch will also be part of the celebration. In keeping with a tradition that began over 50 years ago, more than 3,000 Special Olympics Chicago athletes will be participating in a "Parade of Athletes" at Soldier Field, the birthplace of the Special Olympics movement. A formal arrival and lighting of the ceremonial torch will also be part of the celebration.
Friday, May 10, 7-9pm
La Follette (Robert) Park, 1333 N. Laramie Ave.
Led by legendary band leader and arranger Tom Tom Washington, the South Side Jazz Band mines the vast wealth of established and new talent on the south side of the city and has developed a repertoire that reflects the many streams of music that have shaped jazz, including swing, rhythm and blues, soul and funk.
Thursday, May 23, 5-7pm
Rainey (Edward) Park, 4350 W. 79th St.
The Community Bonfire Series invites community members to experience their park by firelight. Spend the evening in the park roasting marshmallows, learning about wildlife and getting to know your neighbors. We'll provide the marshmallows, but please feel welcome to bring any other ingredients you'd like to add. Join us within the first 15 minutes of the event for a brief lesson on campfire building as we get things going.
Chicago Public Library
Saturday, May 4, 12-1pm
Oriole Park, 7454 W. Balmoral Ave.
Join the Cambodian Pinpeat musical ensemble. The pinpeat is one of the oldest Khmer music ensembles dating back thousands of years. This program is presented by Paul Chhorm from the National Cambodian Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial.
Thursday, May 16, 12:15-1:15pm
Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St.
Making meaningful connections between people and dance through intriguing choreography and skilled dancing, Lin Shook & Perceptual Motion, Inc. appear with dancers Natalja Aicardi, Mary Iris Loncto, and Helene Alter-Dyche.
Saturday, May 25, 3-4:15pm
Albany Park, 3401 W. Foster Ave.
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. entered World War II. Two children whose lives were forever changed by the war search for lost friends. At the age of 7, Reiko Nagumo was evacuated and eventually found herself isolated at Wyoming's Heart Mountain camp for the duration of the war. She hopes to find the classmate, Mary Frances, who stood by her in the face of anti-Japanese sentiment, and whose acts of kindness, helped her cope during her internment and after the war.
We'll Meet Again, produced by Ann Curry, an American journalist and photojournalist who has been a reporter for more than 30 years, focused on human suffering in war zones and natural disasters. Curry has covered numerous disasters, including the tsunamis in Southeast Asia, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Free Admission Tuesdays in May: 12:30-9pm
1601 N. Clark St.
CHM’s mission—to share Chicago’s stories, serving as a hub of scholarship and learning, inspiration, and civic engagement—is the foundation of the Museum’s programs and events, exhibitions, educational initiatives, publications, and collecting activities that touch the lives of all Chicagoans and help them make meaningful and personal connections to history. The Chicago History Museum stands at the crossroads of America’s past and its future. If you live in Chicago or visit here and are curious about the city’s past, present, and future, the Museum should be your first stop.
Free Admission Day: Thursday, May 9, 10am-6pm
104 S. Michigan Ave.
The Mission of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library is to acquire and maintain an accessible collection of materials and to develop appropriate programs focusing on the citizen soldier in the preservation of democracy. Since opening in 2003, the Museum & Library has hosted more than 500 events featuring the country's most acclaimed authors, historians, journalists, and scholars.