Chicago announces 2018 Millennium Park summer season events
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) are pleased to announce the dates for Millennium Park’s 2018 summer season which runs from May through September. Millennium Park will offer traditional favorites like the Chicago House Music Festival, Chicago Gospel Music Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, Summer Music Series, Summer Film Series and SummerDance Celebration, in addition to dozens of free concerts, events, family activities, nature programs, work outs, public art and more. New this year, the Creative Youth Festival will take place on September 22, showcasing teen artists in dance, theatre, music, spoken word, the visual arts and more as part of the 2018 Year of Creative Youth initiative.
“This summer, Millennium Park will bring together millions of Chicago residents and visitors to experience world class culture and entertainment for free throughout the summer,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The summer performances are one of many reasons why Millennium Park is the number one attraction in the Midwest, and showcases why no place in the world beats Chicago.”
The 2018 Millennium Park summer season is presented by DCASE and its programming partners, and is made possible by the Millennium Park Foundation and others.
“Located in the heart of the city, Millennium Park offers a beautiful gathering place for all to linger and enjoy,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “We encourage everyone to discover the state of the art collection of architecture and landscape design that provides the perfect backdrop for hundreds of free cultural programs.
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This summer season, Millennium Park will implement additional security measures designed to improve the visitor experience at the park. Beginning May 19, the City of Chicago will implement a security perimeter and bag check for all concerts and events that take place in Millennium Park. These strengthened security measures were developed with the City’s public safety officials, and will provide similar protections to other major events, trade shows, retail spaces and airports around the world.
Outside alcohol will also be prohibited at the seven Jay Pritzker Pavilion events with the highest attendance, including the Chicago House Music Festival on May 26; the Chicago Blues Festival from June 8–10; the Chicago Mariachi Festival on June 24; the Grant Park Music Festival Independence Day Salute on July 4; Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me on August 9; the Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert on August 13; and the Chicago Jazz Festival from August 29–September 2. Outside alcohol will be allowed at the more than 70 public concerts and programs happening in Millennium Park this summer.
Visitors will have additional food and beverage options at various price points available for purchase inside the venue at the events where outside alcohol is restricted. Subject to bag search at the security perimeter, guests will continue to be allowed to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages to all events in Millennium Park.
Millennium Park is Chicago’s town square and the anchor of an urban cultural campus that includes the Chicago Cultural Center, Maggie Daley Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. Opened in 2004, Millennium Park is a 24.5-acre urban park in the heart of downtown Chicago, home to the iconic Cloud Gate (also known as “The Bean”) sculpture by Anish Kapoor, Crown Fountain designed by Jaume Plensa, the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the internationally-acclaimed Lurie Garden and more.
2018 Summer Season Schedule: May-September
Live music has been a hallmark of Millennium Park since its founding, and this summer is no exception. DCASE and its partners are pleased to present a diverse lineup of Chicago artists as well as musical acts from across the U.S. and the globe. Lineups for the festivals, music series and film series will be released later this spring. Admission to all events and festivals is FREE. For the latest news and events, visit millenniumpark.org or download the Millennium Park app.
A Chicago House Music Festival will kick off the summer in Millennium Park on Saturday, May 26, from 1 to 9 p.m. at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Great Lawn, the North Chase Promenade and the South Chase Promenade. Throughout the day, DJs and live performances on three stages will showcase the various sounds and styles of house music, the musical form born in Chicago that has gone on to revolutionize dance music internationally. Admission is FREE. For details, visit chicagohousemusicfestival.us.
The 33rd Chicago Gospel Music Festival returns to Millennium Park, as well as the Chicago Cultural Center, this June 1–2. The two-day festival, featuring local and national artists, celebrates the music style’s deep Chicago roots with traditional choirs and contemporary urban gospel music. Admission is FREE. For details, visit chicagogospelmusicfestival.us.
Experience the blues at the 35th Annual Chicago Blues Festival happening June 8–10. The Blues Festival shares the great Chicago-born music tradition with the world and shines a spotlight on its contributions to hip hop, R&B, rock, pop and more in the city’s premier outdoor music venue. The headliners performing at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion over the three days include: Corey Dennison Band; Mississippi Heat with Billy Flynn and Giles Corey; Special Tribute to Bob Koester and the 65th Anniversary of Delmark Records; Selwyn Birchwood; Willie Clayton; Little Walter Tribute; Fantastic Negrito, Kenny Neal and Mavis Staples. Admission is FREE. For details, visit chicagobluesfestival.us.
The Millennium Park Summer Music Series will offer an exciting lineup of outdoor concerts on most Mondays and Thursdays, June 18–August 16, at 6:30 p.m., and on Sunday, August 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The music series features a wide variety of genre-defying music from top local, national and international artists—both established and emerging. All performances are FREE.
Chicago has more the 40 independent festivals presenting provocative award-winning films throughout the year. New this year to celebrate this community’s diverse cinema tradition, the Millennium Park Summer Film Series will co-present each film of the series with a select festival, providing a season-long sampling of themes, ethnicities and genres to reflect the city’s rich passion for cinema in all its variety. On Tuesdays, June 5-August 21 at 6:30 p.m., film lovers can take a seat at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or spread out a blanket on the Great lawn to watch your favorite films on a state-of-the-art, 40-foot LED screen. The series is co-curated by DCASE and the Millennium Park Foundation. Before each feature film, the ChicagoMade Shorts program will screen an original work by a locally-based filmmaker.
Grab your dancing shoes for the SummerDance Celebration on Saturday, August 25, a day-long family-friendly festival of dance throughout the park. Highlights include a dance village, interactive dances from around the world, Chicago-based dance companies performing at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a House DJ Dance Party at Cloud Gate, and much more. The FREE admission festival is noon–9 p.m. Complete details will be announced later this spring.
A favorite Labor Day weekend tradition, the 40th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival, August 29–September 2, showcases four stages of free live performances by Chicago’s vast jazz talent alongside national and international jazz legends and artists. NEW! The Chicago Jazz Festival will open at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion on Wednesday, August 29 at 6:30 p.m. with concert by the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. Produced by DCASE and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago, festival admission is FREE. Festival headliners will be announced later this spring. For details, visit chicagojazzfestival.us.
The 20th Annual World Music Festival Chicago rounds out the city’s summer music festivals with performances taking place September 7–23 in various locations. Millennium Park will serve as one of the many festival venues with a performance at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion on Saturday, September 15, 3–9 p.m. The city-wide, multi-venue festival has attracted over 800,000 concertgoers and has presented more than 800 artists and ensembles from over 80 countries since it began in 1999—making it the largest world music festival in the U.S. Artists will be announced at a later date. Admission is FREE. For details, visit worldmusicfestivalchicago.org.
2018 has been declared the Year of Creative Youth by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and the Creative Youth Festival presented by AllState Insurance Company on Saturday, September 22, will showcase youth artists in dance, theatre, music, spoken word, the visual arts and more. Through performances and activities, all ages will discover and celebrate the creativity and talent of emerging local artists–and those helping to inspire their creative potential. The full schedule will be announced this summer.
For more than 80 years, the Grant Park Music Festival has been Chicago’s summer musical sensation, demonstrating that classical music, performed by a world-class orchestra and chorus can have a transformative impact on the city. The tradition continues June 13–August 18 with Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Carlos Kalmar and Chorus Director Christopher Bell leading the award-winning Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus in a summer of world and Midwest premieres, along with Festival favorites and renowned guest artists. Most performances are Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, with free seats available for every concert. The Grant Park Music Festival is presented by the Grant Park Orchestral Association, in partnership with the Chicago Park District and DCASE. Start times vary. For the complete schedule, visit gpmf.org.
Throughout the summer season, Millennium Park will also feature a series of one-night-only special performances showcasing classical music, dance, opera, Broadway hits and more, performed by some of Chicago’s best-loved cultural institutions. Highlights include performances by the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic on Thursday, June 14, Monday, July 16, Monday, July 30, and Wednesday, August 29, (opening night of the Chicago Jazz Festival in the park) at 6:30 p.m.; the Chicago Mariachi Festival on Sunday, June 24, at 2 p.m.; Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me on Thursday, August 9, at 6:30 p.m.; the annual Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert at Millennium Park on Monday, August 13, at 6:15 p.m.; a Stars of Lyric on Friday, September 7, at 7:30 p.m. and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Concert for Chicago on Friday, September 20, at 6:30 p.m. For a complete schedule and updates, visit millenniumpark.org.
On Wednesday, June 21, Millennium Park will welcome Make Music Chicago at 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Presented by Rush Hour Concerts, Make Music Chicago, links Chicago with over 700 cities worldwide for an annual music-making celebration on the Summer Solstice. Enjoy free musical events in Millennium Park’s Wrigley Square. Grant Park Music Festival Open Rehearsal at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is also part of Make Music Chicago. For the complete schedule, visit makemusicchicago.org.
For the fitness-minded—Millennium Park will once again offer FREE Summer Workouts on the Great Lawn, Saturdays, June 2–September 1. Each workout is 45 minutes, with classes beginning on the hour, every hour from 7–11 a.m. Workouts and start times are: Pilates at 7 a.m., Yoga at 8 a.m., Strength Training at 9 a.m. and Zumba® at 10 a.m. Weekday Yoga will also be offered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, June 5–August 31, 7:30–8:15 a.m. Summer Workouts are produced by DCASE with grant support provided by McDonald’s Active Lifestyles Endowment, managed by the Millennium Park Foundation.
Families are invited to join the fun all summer long with activities, including music and arts and crafts for kids of all ages at the Family Fun Festival, Mondays through Fridays, June 25–August 10, 10 a.m.–2p.m. The series is presented by the Millennium Park Foundation with additional support by the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, under the tent on the Chase Promenade North. Admission is FREE.
For teens and visitors of all ages, the After School Matters Summer Program, Mondays through Fridays, June 25–August 10, 9 a.m.–1 p.m., will showcase Chicago teens discovering their potential all summer long— including programs in furniture painting, hat design, mural creation and more (under the tent at Chase Promenade North)—and After School Matters Jazz Band rehearsals and performances (Wrigley Square). After School Matters provides 13,000 opportunities throughout the city for Chicago teens to develop their talents in the arts, communication and leadership, sports and STEM, while gaining critical skills for college, careers and beyond. For details, visit afterschoolmatters.org.
Lurie Garden is an internationally-acclaimed 5-acre urban oasis for fun and enrichment in the Southeast corner of Millennium Park, open daily 6 a.m.–11 p.m. FREE summer event include the annual Lurie Garden Plant Sale on Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. (with hands-on gardening programs and tips). Lurie Garden is supported by the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Foundation Endowment managed by the Millennium Park Foundation. For details and registration information, visit luriegarden.org. Stay in touch with Lurie Garden by liking us on Facebook (The
Lurie Garden) and following us on Twitter and Instagram, @LurieGarden.
Experience an award-winning restaurant — and the city’s largest al fresco dining venue — at the Park Grill and The Plaza at Millennium Park, offering contemporary American cuisine with a Chicago flair inside and casual fare, live music, a family-friendly game tent, full walk-up bar & more outside. Annual Events include: Smokin’ Pork in the Park on May 24 and Chefs on the Grill on August 23. Open daily, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. the Park Grill offers food and refreshments on the go, from ice cream, to creating your own Chicago-style picnic, Park Café and Concessions has you covered. For complete information, visit parkgrillchicago.com.
Millennium Park is located on Michigan Avenue, bordered by Randolph St. to the north, Columbus Dr. to the east and Monroe St. to the south. The Park is open 6 a.m.–11 p.m. daily. For the latest news and events, download the Millennium Park app, visit millenniumpark.org, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @Millennium_Park. To plan your trip to Chicago for Millennium Park events and more, visit choosechicago.com.
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.
Millennium Park Foundation
The Millennium Park Foundation, a private, philanthropic not-for-profit partner, was created in 1998 to support the City of Chicago’s efforts in the design, construction and management of Millennium Park. It is the steward of Millennium Park’s internationally-recognized icons and public features. These include the prestigious Jay Pritzker Pavilion and dramatic BP Pedestrian Bridge, world-renowned Cloud Gate and Lurie Garden, iconic Crown Fountain, and exquisite Boeing Galleries for public art exhibitions. Through its ongoing development initiatives, the Millennium Park Foundation is dedicated to keeping Millennium Park a free and accessible venue for all Chicagoans today, and for generations to come.
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Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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