The beginning of May marks the start of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time to honor and explore the rich cultures and contributions within this diverse community. It’s also an opportunity to come together and show support for the local AAPI community in Chicago by celebrating their traditions and achievements.

Here’s a roundup of Chicago events, exhibits, and beyond to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2024.

AAPI Heritage Month events and activities in Chicago


Music of Cambodia (May 4)
This free performance will showcase the tradition and history of ancient Cambodian music. Held at the Harold Washington Library Center, the event is presented by the National Cambodian Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial and will feature traditional Cambodian sounds and instruments.

AAPI Heritage Month Cultural Festival (May 4 – 26)
The Heritage Museum of Asian Art will host this month-long celebration, including events that spotlight calligraphy, tai chi, Chinese paper cutting, Indian dance, and more. Plus, stop in for performances, movie screenings, and free admission nights.

Hula Dancing (May 11)
Sway to the rhythm while watching the enchanting art of Hula dancing, a Hawaiian storytelling tradition passed down through generations. The Zen Life & Meditation Center presents ancient and modern Hula at the Avalon Branch of the Chicago Public Library. This timeless dance form weaves a tale of love, nature, and tradition.

Get to Know AAPI Communities (May 16)
Explore the rich and diverse histories of Asian communities in America with the Chinese American Service League. Discover the geographic, linguistic, and cultural diversity that defines Asian Americans, gaining insights into ways to support Asian American colleagues, neighbors, and community members. The event is hosted at the Lozano Branch of the Chicago Public Library.

Asian American Showcase at the Gene Siskel Film Center (May 17 – 23)
The 27th annual Asian American Showcase provides a platform for new works by established and emerging Asian American filmmakers. The multi-day festival will include both shorts and feature-length films.

AAPI Restaurant Week (May 17 – 26)
Get your tastebuds ready for this year’s AAPI Restaurant Week. Discover a multitude of AAPI-owned restaurants across the city and suburbs, all offering special deals and discounts throughout the week.

Asian Pacific Heritage Festival at Zhou B Art Center (May 17 and 19)
The Zhou B Art Center in Bridgeport will host its second Asian Pacific Heritage Art Festival, a dynamic free showcase of music, dance, and visual arts that highlights the diverse talents and cultural contributions of Asian Pacific American artists.

Asia on Argyle Block Park (May 18)
This inaugural, one-day event in celebration of AAPI month will showcase the vibrant Argyle corridor. Enjoy cultural performances, live music, youth activities, film screenings, live art painting, and artisan craft vendors. The event aims to reflect the neighborhood’s exciting future and highlight its flourishing businesses.

Chinese Zither (Guzheng) Music (May 18)
Step into the mesmerizing and ancient world of Chinese zither music with Menghua Guan as she plays enchanting traditional melodies and contemporary compositions. Chinese zither (Guzheng) is a 21-string plucked instrument and has more than 2,500 years of history.

Chicago Cubs AAPI Celebration (May 19)
Head to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs take on the Pirates and host a new ballpark celebration for AAPI Heritage Month. Purchase the AAPI Heritage Celebration Special Ticket Offer to receive a limited-edition shirt along with admission to the game.

American Writers Festival (May 19)
Curated by The American Writers Museum, this annual festival features many prominent AAPI writers including Nicole Chung, Michi Trota, Samira Ahmed, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Cindy Juyoung Ok, and more. The event showcases the immense contributions made by writers of all genres and styles to American history, culture, and daily life.

Exhibits & museums celebrating Asian culture

Oriental InstitutePhoto by Michael Tropea

The Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures
Visit the University of Chicago’s world-renowned museum that houses 350,000 artifacts encompassing 10,000 years of history in West Asia and beyond. Learn about the beginnings of human life and discover how people thousands of years ago forged a collective identity in the ancient Middle East, giving rise to the world’s first villages, cities, and empires.

A Sign of Things to Come: Prints by Japanese Women Artists after 1950
Take a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago to see the captivating world of Japanese printmaking. The exhibit showcases how post-World War II, Japanese women artists became integral to the sōsaku hanga (creative print) movement, using printmaking as a powerful form of artistic expression. Together, the artists illuminate diverse styles and themes including abstract florals and concepts.

Cyrus Tang Hall of China at the Field Museum
Explore the intricacies and rich cultural history of the vast country of China and its evolution over more than 10,000 years. From recovered cargo in a sunken trading vessel to bronze weapons dating back centuries, there are a variety of artifacts to marvel at and learn from.

Heritage Museum of Asian Art
For 10 years, this museum in the Bridgeport neighborhood has been showcasing a wide range of art forms, spanning a diverse array of Asian cultures and eras. Visit on the third Friday of the month for free admission, tours of the museum, and unique performances.

Chinese American Museum of Chicago
Examine Chinese American culture through rotating exhibits, where visitors are immersed in the profound connection between the natural and supernatural within Chinese culture in Chinese Creatures: Myths, Meanings, and Metaphors. Meanwhile, Shared Lines: The AAPI Experience on Route 66 explores the cultural narratives of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, as depicted in Sammy Yuen’s captivating line drawings.

International neighborhoods

Pui Tak Center Chinatown
Photo by Albert Yau, courtesy Pui Tak Center

From architecture to shopping to some of the best bites in the city, Chicago’s Chinatown reflects both traditional Chinese elements and Western influences. Visit the Chinese American Museum of Chicago, see Chinatown’s Nine Dragon Wall on the corner of Cermak and Wentworth, and find your Chinese zodiac calendar animal in Chinatown Square. If you want to take a closer look at the history behind this historic neighborhood, take a 90-minute Chinatown walking tour through the Chicago Architecture Center on May 11 and 13.

Devon Avenue in West Ridge
On Devon Avenue in West Ridge sits Chicago’s main cluster of South Asian restaurants with a vibrant mix of cultures and a strong feeling of community on display. From traditional bakeries to clothing shops to international grocers, the Devon Corridor, also known as “The International Marketplace,” has Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian populations. Enjoy Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and vegetarian cuisine as well as bookstores, clothing stores, bakeries, and more.

Asia on Argyle in Uptown
Located just off the Argyle Red Line stop in Uptown, you can find a variety of local businesses, family-owned restaurants, and supermarkets in what has become known as Asia on Argyle. Get takeout at Nha Hang or Ba Le Sandwiches and walk to the Margate Fieldhouse for a fun picnic in the park. Or, make dinner plans at Sun Wah BBQ for the best Peking duck in Chicago.

AAPI-owned businesses

This month and every month, there are so many ways to support local AAPI-owned businesses. Check out a few favorite local AAPI-owned restaurants in Chicago: