August means summer is soon coming to a close, so if you haven't been to the beach, or haven’t yet made it out to a music festival or free film screening, don’t sweat it. There are still plenty of fun warm weather activities lined up for the month of August, whether watching planes in the sky, or bingeing on the city’s signature sausage at food fairs and festivals around the city (one in particular this month). 

Without further ado, our list of the top 10 free things to do in August in Chicago.


Grant Park Music Festival
August 2-19

Grant Park Music Festival

The Grant Park Music Festival is a summer outdoor classical music series that started in June, and takes place at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The final performances of the summer take place in August, so check out the complete musical lineup to set a date before it’s over for the year! 


Unifest on the River
August 3, 10 & 17

free things to do in august

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A new summer event, this weekly cultural exchange with Chicago’s sister cities celebrates diversity by sharing food, drink and music along Chicago’s Riverwalk every Thursday from 4:30-8:30pm, through August 17.

*Also FREE on the Chicago Riverwalk... a floating museum! See an industrial barge turned mobile art gallery dock riverside from August 14-28. See more dates, locations and details at


Music Box Theatre Movies at the Park
August 9 & 23

The Park at Wrigley partnered with their neighbors at the Music Box Theatre to provide free outdoor screenings every other week of the summer until August 23. This month’s movies include the coming-of-age comedy The Sandlot (August 9), and the 1980 classic, The Blues Brothers (August 23).


Chicago Hot Dog Fest
August 11-13

free things to do in august

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Now on its 5th year, the Chicago Hot Dog Fest is the world’s largest celebration of the red hot, the city’s signature dish. Join over 30,000 people at the Chicago History Museum to enjoy some of the best sausages from the city’s best vendors. Admission is technically free, with a $5 suggested donation.


Bud Billiken Parade
August 12

Bud Billiken Parade

(Photo above and at top © Adam Alexander)

With the theme “Honoring Hometown Heroes”, this year’s Bud Billiken parade (the largest African-American parade in America) features Chance the Rapper as the grand marshal. The parade starts at 10am on King Drive and Oakwood Boulevard and ends with a picnic and food vendors at Washington Park.

*Also FREE on this day... a guided docent tour (offered both in English and Spanish) of the National Museum of Mexican Art, one of Chicago's always free attractions.


Edison Park Fest
August 18-20

A fundraiser and community celebration, the Edison Park Fest, now on it’s 45th year, brings together a large assortment of entertainment for the whole family. Featuring attractions like a parade, crafts fair, live bands, games, and beer gardens, the festival aims to raise money for various community projects.


Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest
August 18-20

free things to do in august

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The Glenwood Ave Arts Festival is a free weekend-long arts festival that brings together over 100 artists, open studios, crafts, theatre, food vendors and live performances on three outdoor stages at Chicago’s Rogers Park.


Chicago Air and Water Show
August 19-20

Chicago Air & Water Show

(Image © Adam Alexander)

Catch daring pilots, parachute teams, jets in formation, on top of other dauntless stunts, performed during the Chicago Air and Water show at North Beach. Don't be surprised if you get a neckache from staring at performances by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights.


Taste of Greektown
August 25-27

Now on its 28th year, join the celebration of Hellenic pride at the center of Chicago’s very own Greektown—Halsted St. There will be drinks, dancing and plenty of food from neighborhood restaurant favorites Artopolis and Santorini.


Chicago Jazz Festival
August 31-September 3

Chicago Jazz Festival

(Image © City of Chicago)

A favorite Labor Day tradition, this year’s festival will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park, featuring free performances from some of the best local and international jazz music talents.


Which of these 10 free things to do in August will you be checking out? Anything we missed? Tweet your thoughts at @ChooseChicago! Three other summer-long options: Chicago SummerDance and Millennium Park Film Series and Music Series. Bonus! One freebie available year round is the Chicago Greeter program. Sign up for free guided sightseeing walks all around Chicago neighborhoods.