May 1: Germany Week—Put on some lederhosen and head to the Daley Center for a weeklong celebration of American/German friendship. Organized in large part by the German Consulate of Chicago, the event features authentic German food, art, dance, and music that’s fun for the whole family. Through May 4.
May 2: CHVRCHES—Fresh from headlining one of the stages at Coachella, the Scottish trio makes their return to Chicago for a night of crystalline indie-pop at the Aragon Ballroom. The feminist LA art-punks Cherry Glazerr get the night started.
May 3: Fyre Festival Pop-Up Bar—Inspired by the Internet’s favorite doomed music festival, Replay will transform themselves into Fyre Festival for a two-week run starting tonight. Featuring a Blink-182 cover band and a soundtrack featuring plenty of Ja Rule, explore an ill-fated island paradise that, allegedly, once belonged to Pablo Escobar. In between hanging out by a fire pit and drinking specialty frozen cocktails, you can take photos with sad looking cheese sandwiches and drink bottles of Evian water that you didn’t have to commit unspeakable acts to obtain. Admission is free, but a VIP ticket to attend the opening night party will cost you $20. Through May 19.
May 4: Kentucky Derby Party—The neighboring River North bars of Joy District and Hubbard Inn are teaming up for an epic Kentucky Derby soirée that's too big for one place. Spend the afternoon drinking mint juleps while wearing a seersucker suit as you and your friends cheer on Gray Magician and other horses with eccentric names as they try to take first place at the iconic race.
May 5: Cinco de Mayo Parade—Contrary to popular belief, the 5th of May is not Mexican Independence Day. That’s on September 16. Cinco de Mayo is more accurately a day of remembrance about a Mexican military victory over invading French forces during the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Regardless of the day’s origins, get the family together this afternoon and head to Pilsen for a festive parade that celebrates Mexican culture. After, get something to eat at one of the neighborhood taquerias and make sure to check out the nearby National Museum of Mexican Art.
May 6: James Beard Awards Gala—Essentially the Oscars of food, the highly coveted James Beard Awards will be presented to the best in American cuisine tonight at an ultra luxe black-tie event at the Lyric Opera. Sample small plates such as Oregon dungeness crab seven-layer dip from Portland’s Vitaly Paley and others from promising chefs around the country. Afterwards, cheer on Chicago nominees such as the Logan Square tiki bar Lost Lake for Outstanding Bar Program or the Magnificent Mile-based Italian bistro Spiaggia for Outstanding Wine Program.
May 7: Al Green—Head to the Chicago Theatre tonight and hear iconic songs such as “Let’s Stay Together” and “Love and Happiness” as Al Green takes a break from preaching at his church to return to the Windy City for an enthralling evening of classic Memphis soul.
May 8: Miracle: A Cubs Musical—A few years ago, the impossible happened when the Cubs won the World Series. Yeah, they’re making a movie about the 2016 Cubs based on the memoirs of David Ross, their former pitcher. In the meantime the Royal George Theatre is debuting a Cubs musical tonight. Set during the historic 2016 season, “Miracle” is a heartwarming examination of working class blue collar families in the modern age, the dangers of gentrification and faith in the things that you love. As of publication, no end date has been announced.
May 9: Djembe! The Show—Pronounced “GEM-BAY”, it’s a traditional drum from West Africa that is usually adorned in rope and topped with goatskin. Tonight, get the family together and head over to the Apollo Theater in Lincoln Park for “Djembe! The Show.” During performances, each seat has a drum and you are encouraged to play along with world-class musicians while they lead you on an immersive exploration of world music. Runs through June 9.
May 10: Beer Under Glass—Located in the ravishing gardens of the Garfield Park Conservatory, celebrate Illinois Craft Beer Week by sampling Solemn Oath, Goose Island and over 100 of the best beers brewed throughout the state while losing yourself in greenhouses full of rare and wonderful plants.
May 11: Lincoln Park Zoo Food Truck Social—Take a walk on the wild side with lions and tigers and pierogi trucks. Oh my! Tonight, the Lincoln Park Zoo stays up late to host family-friendly activities, live music and some of the most exciting food trucks in the city for you to enjoy while looking at baby hedgehogs from Madagascar and other adorable animals.
May 12: Mother’s Day—Treat your mom right with a day out in the city. Stop by Caffé Umbria in Logan Square to get mom a free coffee drink of her choice, including the decadently smooth new nitro cold brew. After catching up over drinks, head downtown to the MCA for a relaxing afternoon browsing art and enjoying a special prix-fixe Mother’s Day brunch at their award-winning restaurant, Marisol.
May 13: Brick Safari—Featuring more than 40 life-sized sculptures of majestic animals, the Brick Safari has warmed the hearts of zoo-goers throughout the UK. This summer, it makes its highly anticipated American debut at the nearby Brookfield Zoo with incredibly intricate replicas of leopards and giraffes and other creatures that have all been crafted from millions of Lego bricks.
May 14: “West Side Story”—Essentially a modern version of Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet,” Bernstein & Sondheim’s musical masterpiece comes to Chicago for a month-long run at the legendary Lyric Opera. Runs through June 2.
May 15: Passion Pit—In celebration of the 10th anniversary of their breakthrough album, “Manners,” Passion Pit is returning to Chicago for a dreamy evening of eclectic art pop at the Riviera Theatre.
May 16: “Rent”—In the mid ‘90s, a rock opera named “Rent” took Broadway by storm and changed the landscape of musicals forever. Twenty years and a Hollywood movie later, it’s still one of the world’s most popular shows. To celebrate, “Rent” is going on a massive international tour that stops at Chicago’s Nederlander Theatre for a week long residency. Starts on May 10 and runs through May 19.
May 17: Betty Who—Probably best known as the signer of the theme song of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” Betty Who returns to Chicago tonight for a two-night run of thrilling dance pop at the Vic Theatre. Also May 16.
May 18: Sunda 10-Year Anniversary Party—Beloved by celebs such as Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, Sunda is a trendy River North restaurant that specializes in modern Asian cuisine. Today is their tenth birthday, and they’re celebrating with an extravagant party called The Sunda Sessions. The best part? You’re invited! Head on down for a hands-on class led by a master itamae who will teach you how to make great sushi while enjoying samplings of sake. They’ll also teach you how to make the restaurant’s signature cocktail, the Sumo Mary. Make sure to leave room for the all vegan dinner with offerings such as Crispy Szechuan Tofu and more.
May 19: Chicago Open Air—Anchored by rare performances by System of A Down and Tool, make a getaway to Seatgeek Stadium in nearby Bridgeview for a fist pumping weekend full of revelry and rock ‘n roll. Also May 18.
May 20: Garbage—Tonight, the prolific alternative rockers Garbage take a break from working on their upcoming new album to perform at the Riviera Theatre. Expect test runs of new material interlaced with genre essentials such as “Only Happy When it Rains” and “ I Think I’m Paranoid.” The band has said that 100% of ticket sales go to Recovery Unplugged, a charity designed to help recovering addicts overcome adversity with the healing power of music.
May 21: The Who—As part of their Moving On! Tour, The Who return to the Chicago area for a show this evening at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in nearby Tinley Park. Join Roger Daltrey, bolstered by a local symphony orchestra, and Pete Townshend’s signature windmill guitar riffs as they perform rock classics such as “My Generation” and “Baba O’Riley.”
May 22: Cirque du Soleil: Volta—With an extensive cast of death-defying daredevils and thrilling acrobats adorned in fabulous costumes designed by Lady Gaga’s designer, Zaldy Goco, get the family together and head over to Soldier Field for a sensational evening under Cirque du Soleil’s incredible Big Top. Starts on May 18 and runs through July 6.
May 23: Florence and The Machine—In support of their ethereal new album, “High as Hope,” Florence and The Machine returns to Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island in the heart of Chicago for a daring evening of well-curated baroque pop. Dev Hynes’ experimental R&B project, Blood Orange, opens.
May 24: “Apollo 11”—A critical darling at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Apollo 11” aims to be the definitive documentary about NASA’s quest to land the first two people on the Moon. The movie focuses less on expert interviews and instead provides a minimalist fly-on-the-wall perspective of the historic mission as it occurs. Mostly sourced from newly discovered footage that was shot with spectacularly crisp 65mm film, the documentary looks stunning on the big screen. So stunning, that the Siskel Center is showing the film exclusively on their colossal 32-foot screen when it debuts for a weeklong run tonight. Also May 25-30.
May 25: House Music Festival—Chicago is the birthplace of house music. To celebrate, the city is throwing a massive party this weekend with some of the genre’s founders at Millennium Park. Move your body to the joyful beat with thousands of your fellow Chicagoans. The best part? It’s free! Also May 23-24.
May 26: Bike the Drive—Good news. Bicycling magazine recently rated Chicago as the best city for bikes in the country. This afternoon, kick your Memorial Day weekend into high gear by enjoying a exhilarating ride down the open road of Lake Shore Drive without cars. Ticket sales go to help the Active Transportation Alliance in their work of improving biking and transit throughout the Chicagoland area.
May 27: Raging Waves—Make a quick road trip to nearby Yorkville and go to Illinois’ largest waterpark, Raging Waves. Conquer 26 thrilling water slides full of breathtaking twists and turns, sing along with princesses, encounter exotic replies, float on lazy rivers with relaxing currents and so much more. Runs through September 2.
May 28: Moonlight Yoga—Break away from ordinary yoga studios. Stop by Your Happy Place Liquors in Logan Square for a refreshingly atmospheric evening of candles, crystals and yoga under the summertime Chicago moon that’ll strengthen your mind, body and soul.
May 29: Nick Murphy—Formerly known as Chet Faker, Nick Murphy is releasing new music under his real name and touring around the world as he prepares to release his upcoming new album, “Run Fast Sleep Naked.” Murphy’s newest single, “Sanity,” is laced with jangly piano and finds the artist channeling influences such as George Michael’s breakthrough single “Freedom! 90.” Tonight, he returns to Chicago for a show at the Metro for an evening of downtempo R&B.
May 30: Shedd Aquarium After Hours: Penguin Party—Put the kids to bed, grab yourself a glass of wine, watch a beluga whale glide through the water and become best friends with a penguin as the Shedd Aquarium keeps their doors open after hours tonight for a 21+ only event.
May 31: Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation—Debuting tonight at the Siskel for a week long run, “Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation” is a new documentary that was commissioned in celebration of the upcoming anniversary shows. In addition to revisiting musical highlights such as Jimi Hendrix’s incredible cover of “The Star Bangled Banner,” it also takes on an unflinching look at the chaotic behind-the-scenes story of how one of pop culture’s most defining moments came to be. Runs through June 6.