"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!
(events are subject to change)
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 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.
Chicago Architecture Biennial
See exhibitions, performances, films and talks at the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial and explore how architecture shapes our communities, cities and environment. The main exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center is free and open to the public from September 19, 2019 through January 5, 2020.
As the largest exhibition of contemporary art, architecture, and design in North America, the third edition of the Biennial features over 80 contributors from more than 20 countries. More than 40 sites and 100 organizations across Chicago will partner with the Biennial, serving as host venues and producing independent exhibitions and programs throughout the neighborhoods.
Enjoy global grooves by award-winning artists from around the world at the city–wide, multi-venue World Music Festival Chicago featuring 50 artists and ensembles representing over 20 countries and regions of the world. For a full schedule of events, visit worldmusicfestivalchicago.org.
YAS Fest! — the youth arts showcase - a celebration of young artists, featuring the works of hundreds of creative youth showcased in dozens of events throughout the Millennium Park.
The Chicago Jazz Festival showcases the greatest jazz artists from Chicago and around the world across the city during new, extended festival dates. The Chicago Jazz Festival is produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago. For a full schedule of events visit chicagojazzfestival.us.
Millennium Park Campus
Thursday, September 5, 12–12:45pm
Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.
Gaudete Brass explores the different colors and sounds that brass instruments can create through new works by Jonathan Newman and Robert Patterson. Patterson grew up spending time in his father's studio who was a sculptor primarily working with metal and in his brass quintet Shine, he explores the colorful aspects of four different metals. Jonathan Newman wrote Bright Blue Steel for Gaudete Brass as part of a celebration of John Corigliano's 75th Birthday. Newman based this work on Carl Sandburg's brilliant young Chicago Poems and truly captures the strength of brass and Chicago.
Sunday, September 8, 1–3pm
Millennium Park, Lurie Garden, 280 E. Monroe St.
Botanical artist Heeyoung Kim shows us the basics of botanical drawing and how to maximize the use of color with colored pencils. Come learn how to translate your love of plants into a beautiful work of art!
Tuesday, September 17, 7pm
Millennium Park, Cloud Gate Plaza, 201 E. Randolph St.
In an epic performance featuring fire dancing, circus arts, drumming and multimedia visuals, heroine Luna realizes that the power to overcome great obstacles exists in each of us — and is an unstoppable force when combined with others. The Full Moon Jam is in its 15th year bringing together a diverse community of fire performers, dance troupes, musicians and spectators from around the world at volunteer–run, free–to–attend gatherings that take place monthly throughout the summer.
Various Dates, September 9—November 5
The Art Institute of Chicago, Rubloff Auditorium, 230 S. Columbus Dr.
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is pleased to announce its fall 2019 schedule of Visiting Artists Program lectures. Join us for one of the city's leading public forums on the presentation and contemplation of contemporary art, design, and scholarship. All events are FREE, non-ticketed, and open to the general public unless otherwise noted. Visit the website for a full schedule of events.
Saturday, September 21, 6:30pm
Chicago Riverwalk and Wacker Dr. between Franklin St and Wells St.
The Fall Launch of Art on theMART unveils new works by artists Charles Atlas and Petra Cortright, along with a display from EXPO CHICAGO's 2019 OVERRIDE | A Billboard Program artists and theater maker John Boesche. The public viewing party on Wacker Dr starts at 6:30pm with DJ entertainment and food trucks, and projections begin at 7:30pm. The evening concludes with a grand fireworks display. More information at artonthemart.com.
Community Marketplace on the Riverwalk at between Michigan Ave. and Wabash
Shop Small Chicago creates events and programs that feature creative brands & quality products made in Chicago, the Great Lakes region, and the USA. Shop Small Chicago is open daily in the Community Marketplace and invites you to one of their September Trunk Shows:
Chicago Park District
Saturday, September 7, 12–8pm
Midway Plaisance Park, 1130 Midway Plaisance
Day of old school hip hop music spun by 8 of Chicago's top DJ's. There will be a graffiti wall for tagging and dance floor set up for breakdancing. Event is 8 hours of rotating music of hip hop from the early 70's until 2000.
Friday, September 13, 7:30–10pm
Bloomingdale Trail Park (Park No. 572), 1800 N. Ridgeway Ave.
Join us at the Exelon Observatory on the Bloomingdale Trail, for a celestial viewing with our resident astronomer, Joe Guzman. September 20, 2019 (Rain/Cloud Date)
Saturday, September 28, 1–1:30pm
Washington (George) Park, 5531 S. King Dr.
A series of Live Podcast led by Chicago's youth. Live music, poetry and interviews to experts and fictional characters (25–35 minutes). The live events will take place in late Summer and Fall 2019. After the fact, each event will be available on demand via Blok by Blok Podcast, and Broadcasted at Lumpen Radio. If possible a communal potluck will conclude each event.
Chicago Public Library
Wednesday, September 4, 12–3pm
Chinatown Branch, Community Room, 2100 S. Wentworth Ave.
Enjoy traditional Cantonese opera performed by Zhaoqiu Chinese American ART Center at Chinatown. Cantonese opera has been a popular form of drama and musical theater in China, and has been reformed and continues to be performed today. The acting and singing techniques, as well as makeup conventions, owe much to southern China tradition.
Tuesday, September 17, 12–1pm
West Pullman Branch, 830 W. 119th St.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Chicago musician Luciano Antonio as he brings his Bossa Nova (Brazilian Jazz) music to the library!
Saturday, September 28, 2–4pm
Harold Washington Library Center, Maker Lab, 3rd Floor, 400 S. State St.
Bring your children to explore the Maker Lab for Family Drop-In Day. Each child will be able to choose an item to be made for them using the featured machine in the lab, the laser cutter. All children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. One item per child.
September 3, 4, 9–11, 16–18, 23-25, 30
1200 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Every year Shedd Aquarium welcomes 2 million guests for unforgettable encounters with belugas and bluegills, stingrays and sturgeons, sea otters and a sea turtle-and so many more animals from aquatic environments around the world.
Proof of Illinois residency is required to redeem this offer.
740 E. 56th Place
Understand and appreciate the achievements, contributions, and experiences of African Americans through exhibits, programs, and activities that illustrate African and African American history, culture and art.