Summer 2017: 12 Things We're Looking Forward to

Posted on January 19, 2017

There are 152 days until summer. But hey, who's counting? Summer officially begins in Chicago at 11:24pm on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. That’s 93 days, 15 hours and 38 minutes of pure bliss. But thankfully, here in Chicago we don’t restrict summer to dates on a calendar. From the moment the cheerful tulips start poking their heads from the ground along The Magnificent Mile in April to the last September (or October!) day you can still frolic outside jacket-free, summer is on the hearts and minds of every person who calls Chicago home.

In eager anticipation of weekends filled with festival hopping and busy skyline-backdropped beaches, we’ve taken a look and found 12 happenings we are looking forward to in 2017.

1. 19th Annual Chicago Kids and Kites Festival
May 6, 2017

Kids (and kids-at-heart) will enjoy face painting, balloon artists, a Big Kite Candy Drop (that is basically a pinata in the sky...amazing), professional kite flyers and, of course, kite flying. The City of Chicago will provide kite kits for children to build, decorate and fly, or kite-lovers can bring their own.

2. Museum of Contemporary Art’s $16 Million Facelift
Anticipated Completion Summer 2017

The redesign will include more creative  space activated by living artists, 12,000 square feet of public gathering spaces, a new restaurant on ground level headed up by Lula Cafe owner Jason Hammel (if you haven’t yet been to Lula’s in Logan Square for breakfast, it is delish!), a state-of the art education wing and more. Read about more about it in the New York Times.

3. Wright 150
May - June 2017

Happy 150th Birthday Frank Lloyd Wright! With more than 425 works accredited to him (23 of which are in Chicago and surrounding suburbs), his designs are beautiful and iconic to anyone who loves architecture. To celebrate his birthday, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust is presenting an array of programs, a special Wright Plus 150 Housewalk on May 20th and collaborations with cultural partners around Chicago and the country. And for those looking to bring the experience full circle, there is even a FLW house you can rent for overnight stays (yes, we got excited, too).

4. Chicago Blues Festival
June 9 - 11, 2017

An oldie, but a goodie. Experience three jam-packed days of blues in the “Blues Capital of the World”. There aren’t many details yet for 2017, but these are dates that should be on your calendar. And on top of being spectacular, this festival is still free. 

5. Grant Park Music Festival
Opens June 14

Grab your picnic basket and blankets for a beautiful evening of music under the city lights. The perfect ending to a long work day, 2017 highlights include:

- A special visit from the Canadian Brass playing blues, Beatles and more (with a Canadian flair of course!)
- Music from your favorite films by Academy Award-winning composer John Williams. Star Wars, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark and more.
- Broadway stars Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana sing romantic numbers from Carousel, West Side Story, Follies and more.

6. 2017 NHL® Draft comes to Chicago
June 23-24

Three Stanley Cups. Nine straight playoff appearances. It is official, Chicago is hockey’s number 1 town. And now, Chicago and the Hawks are making history by hosting the 2017 NHL Draft for the first time ever. Hockey fans can attend the draft and witness the beginning of the careers of the latest NHL stars.

7. Concerts at Wrigley Field
Starts June 29

Cubs fan or not (after last season, is there such a thing?), watching musical greats play at historic Wrigley Field is pretty awesome. This year’s line-up includes Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Joel, Zac Brown Band, Dead & Company (a mash-up of former Grateful Dead band members and John Mayer. Yes, John Mayer.) Tickets available now.

8. Eyes to the Skies Balloon Festival
June 30 - July 2

Ok, so this one is outside of the city, but not by far. A pre-Fourth of July festival, the main attraction is the 20+ hot air balloons that are launched every evening into the night sky. Fun to see for all ages and incredible photo opps. Other activities include a carnival, live music, tethered balloon rides, a craft fair and nightly fireworks.

9. Drink and Play: Park & Field, Shuffleboard Club & Bar

Drinking can be a sport in itself (for some), but we like how these two bars are co-mingling beverages with some friendly competition.

Park & Field may have already opened just days before the new year, but what hasn’t yet been used to its full potential is the sprawling front lawn with bocce ball courts (though kudos for keeping their winter fire pits blazing with smores). The interior with vintage sports decor is clever and beautiful, so head over now for a beverage, a bite and board games while you wait for the bocce ball court opening day.

Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club plans to open its second location (original is in Brooklyn) this summer in a 17,000-square-foot warehouse in Bucktown. The Brooklyn location features tropical cocktails, food trucks and plenty of shuffleboard courts (they even give free lessons to get you started). 

10. Broadway in Chicago: Wicked and Aladdin

Wicked is coming back! Wicked is coming back! Ok, so maybe it won’t be here until December of 2017, but we were so excited we had to include it on the list. What will be here for summer is Disney-favorite Aladdin, a musical production bringing the 1992 animated film to life. Chicago is the launch city for its national tour from April 11th - July 2nd. Get ready to sing along (preferably in your head) to favorites like “Friend Like Me”, “A Whole New World” and more. Another goodie - don’t miss Rent as it flies into town for its 20th Anniversary Tour, May 9th - 14th.

11. Chicago Riverwalk

In case you missed it, the Riverwalk opened the latest portion of its westward expansion in late October. Which meant not a lot of warm-weather time to enjoy the new space before winter snuck in. What you can look forward to in spring and summer is the nearly 1.5 mile continuous Riverwalk expanse from Lake Street all the way to Lake Michigan. Enjoy wining, dining, a museum, boat tours (from yours truly) and much more. Keep an eye out for the City to announce what vendors will call the Riverwalk home in the near future.

12. Chicago Architecture Biennial
Starts September 16

When it comes to architecture, Chicago has pretty legitimate bragging rights. And after more than half a million people came out to celebrate architecture at the inaugural 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial, the festival is back. Plan on symposiums, forward-thinking ideas, world-class exhibits, participation from architects around the world and so much more. From the Biennial website:

“The theme MAKE NEW HISTORY will focus on the efforts of contemporary architects to align their work with versions of history. In the realm of building practice—from new construction to adaptive reuse to conservation—it will investigate the ways that the architect’s encounter with a site is, in fact, a prior accumulation of state and government regulations, social conventions, and markers of personhood to be interpreted and responded to.”