What to Do in Chicago Each Day of September 2019

This is where we’ll be all month

September 1: The Great American Lobster Fest Chicago—Spend the afternoon at Naavy Pier sampling succulent lobsters flown in from the freshwaters of the East Coast at the Midwest’s largest seafood festival. In addition to stuffing yourself silly with lobster, enjoy live music, cold drinks and family friendly activities for the little ones.

September 2: Fireworks at Navy Pier—The good times at Navy Pier continue tonight with a spectacular display of fireworks. This is your last chance to watch the Chicago skyline be illuminated by an incredible array of fireworks until New Year’s Eve!

September 3: “The Band’s Visit”—Inspired by the acclaimed arthouse film of the same name, “The Band’s Visit” is an offbeat story about a lost band of musicians that has taken Broadway by storm. In addition to winning a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, they’ve won 10 Tony Awards, including the highly prized Best Musical. Tonight, they debut in Chicago for a week-and-a-half run at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Also September 4-15.

September 4: “High Fidelity”—When the Cubs aren’t playing at home this summer, you can catch movies at Gallagher Way, the small yet stylish park right outside of Wrigley Field that is anchored by trendy restaurants such as the award winning taqueria Big Star. Tonight, in collaboration with the Music Box Theatre, they’re hosting a free screening of the Chicago-centric hipster rom-com classic, “High Fidelity.”

September 5: Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers—Who’s ready for some football? Tonight, the mighty Chicago Bears take on their greatest rival, the Green Bay Packers, at Soldier Field for the NFL season opener.

September 6: Brian McKnight—Nominated for 16 Grammys, Brian McKnight returns to City Winery for a mini-residency of sophisticatedly smooth soul including a double header tonight and two shows on September 5.

September 7: “The Great Leap”—Steppenwolf kicks off their 44th season with playwright Luren Yee’s work, “The Great Leap.” Taking place in 1989 in the midst of rising tensions between America and a post-Cultural Revolution China, “The Great Leap” tells the daring story of a young Chinese-American man who dominates the street basketball scene of San Francisco and talks his way onto an American college team travelling to Beijing for a “friendship” game. Runs through October 20.

September 8: Kesha—Just outside the city limits in Highland Park is one of the best traditions of the summer. The annual Ravinia Festival presents top touring acts in a gorgeous soundspace. Get seats in the pavilion or buy lawn tickets and pack a picnic with friends and catch Kesha tonight in a daring evening of empowering R&B.

September 9: Lips—This gloriously fabulous South Loop diner offers plenty of entertainment with servers and performers all in drag. Inside, opulent eight-foot chandeliers drape from the wall to illuminate bright pink and purple designs. The menu was developed by Thomas J. Schmidt, the former Sous Chef of Little Goat, and includes standouts such as their “Batty Davis” elote corn fritters served with cilantro, lime zest, queso fresco and smoked chili crema.

September 10: The Moth—Aiming to sharpen the craft of storytelling, The Moth has presented thousands of extraordinary stories told by ordinary people to audiences around the world. Tonight, The Moth holds an event at the dapper Hyde Park nightclub The Promontory where people can come in and share their extraordinary experiences for all to hear.

September 11: Free Field Museum—Enjoy a thrilling family-friendly adventure of exploring replicas of ancient Egypt and examining dinosaur fossils because today the Field Museum is free for Illinois residents. Also, September 18 and 25.

September 12: SeptemberFest—Feel like a VIP tonight at Eataly’s all-access food festival. In addition to excellent Italian cuisine from Eataly’s roster of chefs, spend the night tasting dishes from Parson’s Chicken & Fish, Pretty Cool Ice Cream and more. And make sure to leave room for cocktails from Three Dots and a Dash at the open bar.

September 13: Big Bounce America—The World’s Biggest Bounce House comes to Elk Grove Village, just outside Chicago. Enjoy slides, ball pits, an inflatable obstacle course and a 60-foot tall maze. Kids and adults welcome. Also September 6-8 and 14-15.

September 14: ChiSox Craft Beer Fest—The White Sox are in Seattle today taking on the Mariners, but that doesn’t mean Guaranteed Rate Field is closed for the day. Meet Frank Thomas and cheer on the home team while trying craft beer from 3 Floyds, Goose Island, Lagunitas and more than 35 breweries on the outfield this afternoon.

September 15: Riot Fest—Held during the intersection between summer and autumn, Riot Fest is a three-day punk rock carnival in the expansive Douglas Park on Chicago’s west side. Musically, the fest tends to focus on punk, hip-hop and indie acts with Slayer, Blink-182 and Bikini Kill scheduled to headline each day. In between bands, explore the park and grab some funnel cake and take a ride on the Ferris wheel or play carnival games. Families are welcome too. Also September 13-14.

September 16: “Parks and Recreation” Pop-Up Bar—Inspired by the beloved sitcom, Replay Lincoln Park has transformed itself into the fictional small town of Pawnee, Indiana. Starting tonight, enjoy themed bingo and trivia as well as indulge on themed cocktails such as the Give Me All the Bacon [bacon infused bourbon and maple syrup old fashioned] or the Galentine’s Day [passionfruit orange juice and champagne.

September 17: Wicker Park Fall Dinner Crawl—Go on a culinary adventure of restaurant hopping as part of the Wicker Park Bucktown’s Fall Dinner Crawl. Sample small plates and appetizers at Smoke Daddy, Antique Taco, Fatpour Tap Works and many more of the best restaurants in the trendy neighborhood.

September 18: “Cooked: Survival by Zip Code”—This new locally produced documentary focuses on the deadly 1995 heat wave that killed 726 Chicagoians. “Cooked: Survival by Zip Code” takes an unflinching look at the role that wealth inequality plays in surviving climate-based natural disasters. After winning over audiences across the nation, it returns home to Chicago for a series of screenings at the Siskel Film Center. Also September 13-16 & 19.

September 19: Chicago Architecture Biennial—Happening once every two years, the Chicago Architecture Biennial is the largest exhibition of modern architecture in North America with over 100 cultural events scheduled at venues throughout the city to explore what’s next in design for the places that we live, work and play in. Runs through January 5, 2020.

September 20: Chicago Japanese Matsuri—This weekend, Newcity Plaza in Lincoln Park hosts the second annual Chicago Japanese Matsuri, a food festival that aims to celebrate Japanese culinary culture in the heart of Chicago with dishes such as grilled octopus on a stick and slow cooked Japanese pork over rice all prepared by chefs at the esteemed ramen restaurant, Kizuki. Also enjoy imported Japanese drinks such as beer, sake and whiskey. Admission is free, but food and drink tickets will cost a nominal fee. Also September 21-22.

September 21: Hattie B’s Pop-Up—For one night only, Hattie B’s is bringing their acclaimed Nashville hot fried chicken to Chicago with a pop-up at Dove’s Luncheonette in the heart of Wicker Park. Enjoy hot chicken sandwiches and plates served with sides such as collard greens and pimento mac and cheese. Once you select your meal, choose from six levels of heat that range from the mild “Southern” to the devilishly hot “Shut the Cluck Up!”

September 22: EXPO Chicago—Arguably on the same level as festivals like Miami’s Art Basel, the critically acclaimed International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art (EXPO Chicago) returns to Navy Pier for another year of spectacularly curated works from some of contemporary art’s most promising artists who want to prove themselves on a worldwide stage. Also September 19-21.

September 23: "Friends" 25th Anniversary—Celebrate the landmark 25th anniversary of this beloved sitcom by watching the misadventures of Monica, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Ross and Rachel on the big screen at theaters across the city. In addition to classic episodes that have been remastered in gloriously crisp 4K, the screenings will show illuminating cast interviews and never before seen footage from the show. Also September 28 and October 2 at cinemas throughout the city.

September 24: Pumpkin Daze—Make a quick road trip to nearby Aurora and get ready for Halloween by spending the afternoon navigating two giant corn mazes, sampling local breweries at a craft beer tent and picking pumpkins all at Abbey Farms’ 40-acre pumpkin patch. Make sure to leave room for their apple cider and pumpkin spice donuts. Runs through October 27.

September 25: Street Food Happy Hour—Inspired by street food throughout Southeast Asia, Sunda invites you to come to their award winning restaurant in River North and spend the evening experiencing the cuisine of the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and more! Highlights from tonight’s menu are Pinoy-style BBQ pork skewers, wok-tossed shishito peppers, lumpia and Korean fried chicken bao buns.

September 26: World Music Festival Chicago—Throughout the month of September, musicians around the globe will perform at venues throughout the city as part of the esteemed World Music Festival Chicago. Les Filles de Illighadad, an all-femme band of psychedelic nomadic desert blues from Niger headlines a free show tonight as part of the festivies at the Avondale nightclub Sleeping Village. Also September 13-25 and 27-29.

September 27: Chicago Gourmet—Head downtown to Millennium Park for a weekend of discovering what's new and noteworthy in the world of food at Chicago Gourmet. Spend the afternoon watching live cooking demonstrations, fascinating panel discussions and more from your favorites chefs. Amongst the announced names of speakers are local chefs such as Rick Bayless and Stephanie Izard. Also September 24-26 and 28-29.

September 28: Fright Fest at Great America—Rider beware, you’re in for a scare when Six Flags Great America in suburban Gurnee gives themselves a ghoulish transformation! During Fright Fest, only the brave will discover that the roller coasters have been overrun with creepy spiders and spooky monsters that have escaped the haunted houses roam the park looking to terrify anyone who dares enter. Be warned, Fright Fest may be too intense for kids under 13. Starts September 14 and runs through November 3.

September 29: Chance the Rapper—In support of his highly anticipated debut studio album, “The Big Day,” Chicago’s very own Chance the Rapper takes over the United Center tonight and September 28 for a massive hometown celebration.

September 30: Butterfly Yoga—Break away from ordinary yoga studios. Stop by Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park for a refreshingly atmospheric morning yoga session surrounded by majestic butterflies that’ll strengthen your mind, body and soul.