An annual summertime tradition, the Chicago Air & Water Show has been bringing daredevil thrills to the lakefront for over fifty years. The free, two-day event draws an audience of over two million each year, spread out on colorful beach blankets and lawn chairs along dazzling Lake Michigan.
Many camp out early, hoping to secure the best spots to catch the spectacular demonstrations by military and civilian aircrafts, boats, and diving and parachute teams. It's a thrilling, multisensory experience for all ages — soak up the sun, breathe in the crisp lake breezes and feel the rumble of the jet engines while watching the soaring action overhead.
Originating as part of a "Family Day Celebration" back in the summer of 1959, the Chicago Air and Water Show has grown to be the largest and oldest free admission air and water exhibition in the United States.
The 55th annual show, presented by Shell Oil Products U.S and the City of Chicago, will take to the skies and waterfront August 17-18, 2013 from 10am-3pm each day, with North Avenue Beach as the center point.
Check back soon for details on what daredevils will headline the shows.
While the program is the same both days, a schedule of performers is not set as pilots decide the order and times the day of the event. Herb Hunter — "The Voice" of the show and a former pilot in the show himself — takes to the announcer's stand with his informative and entertaining play-by-play so you're always in the loop.
WHERE TO WATCH
The prime viewing location for the Chicago Air and Water Show is at ground zero, North Avenue Beach from Fullerton Avenue to Oak Street. In the middle of all the masses, Castaways Bar and Grill throws a lively viewing party on the roof deck of its iconic beachside boathouse and its Sand Bar Beer Garden. Further from the heart of the event but still close to all the action, other bustling beach spots at Belmont Harbor, Diversey Harbor and Oak Street provide more options down by the shore. As does the ever-popular Navy Pier.
Or consider getting on the water yourself with a special dining cruise aboard the Mystic Blue, Odyssey or Spirit of Chicago lines. Tour boats offer incredible views aboard their observation decks as well - try Wendella Boats, Shoreline Sightseeing Company, Seadog Ventures, Chicago's First Lady and Chicago Line Cruises.
For a bird's eye view, head up to the John Hancock Observatory, where you'll be blown away by the 360 degree panoramas and the vastness of Lake Michigan below. Enjoy drinks from 1000 feet up in the Lavazza Espression Café, or head below to The Signature Room at the 95th. And surrounded on three sides by water, Cite Elegant Dining high atop Lake Point Tower, offers unparalleled views as the only skyscraper east of Lake Shore Drive.
If you prefer an open air scene, carve out a spot along a rooftop terrace - from Chicago's newest additions J. Parker at Hotel Lincoln and WET Deck at W Chicago Lakeshore Hotel to any of the city's other alfresco hotspots.
No matter where you are in the city though, it's guaranteed you'll get goose bumps as the jets blast by.
For helpful tips to plan your visit to the Chicago Air and Water Show and a list of frequently asked questions, visit ChicagoAirAndWaterShow.us.
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