September signals the end of summer and the start of fall. And although Chicagoans will miss beaches, music festivals and patio dining, there are still a lot of things to look forward to, like outdoor concerts, craft fairs, parades, and even free museum entry.

Here are the top ten cheap and free things to do in Chicago this September.


The Bloomingdale Trail Tour: A guided walk though the heart of The 606
September 2, 11 and 23, 2017

Leavitt entrance to The 606 ChicagoThe 606 is the latest in Chicago’s long line of world-class public spaces: a park and trail system made up of the elevated Bloomingdale Trail as its centerpiece and six neighborhood parks at ground level. Lead by a volunteer docent from The Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, these tours, beginning at either the east or west trail head, will cover: 

  • The Bloomingdale Trail and its design
  • How the Bloomingdale Trail came to be
  • Bloomingdale Line and Chicago railroad history
  • East and/or west Bloomingdale Trail walk highlights 


Chicago International Film Festival: International Screenings Program
September 6, 20 and 27, 2017

As part of its 6-month long film festival, the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events presents its 14th annual International Screenings Program with September offerings: Taiwanese film My Egg Boy (September 6),  Mexican She’s Ramona (September 20), and Argentinean All About Asado (September 27). The screenings start at 6:30 pm at the Claudia Cassidy Theatre at the Chicago Cultural Center.


Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park
September 8, 2017

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Now on its 17th season, this year’s Stars of Lyric Opera will feature outstanding soloists that will be performing excerpts from some of the world’s most famous and classical musical pieces, such as Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Sir Andrew Davis conducts with chorus master Michael Black. The annual free outdoor performance will start at 7:30pm at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.


Chicago German-American Oktoberfest
Free admission
September 8-10, 2017

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Dance to the music of German bands, taste German food, drink German beer and bask in German hospitality as the United German-American Societies of Great Chicago brings you a taste of the world famous German festival at Lincoln Square. The Von Steuben Parade starts at 2 pm Saturday at Lincoln Avenue & Irving Park.


World Music Festival Chicago
September 8-24, 2017

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80Since the first event in 1999, the eleven-day music festival presented by the City of Chicago has featured over 650 artists from over 80 countries, and attracts a crowd of over 650,000. This year’s highlights include Underground System from New York City, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, an all-night Ragamala, and Bharath Symphony.


Renegade Craft Fair
Free admission
September 9-10, 2017

Renegade Craft Fair ChicagoFounded in 2003, the Renegade Craft Fair is an independent showcase on craft and design that started in Chicago and grew to almost 300,000 attendees across 12 major cities in the US and UK. This year marks the fair’s 15th year and for the Chicago leg, will be held in Division Street.


Mexican Independence Day
September 10 & 16, 2017

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Mexico’s Independence Day (September 16) festivities presents parades, floats, and street dancing at several Chicago locations:


Museum Day Live!
September 23, 2017

The Smithsonian Magazine sponsors Museum Day Live! where a ticket grants free admission for two people to any participating museum around the USA. Check their website to see a list of all participating Chicago museums.


Fiesta Familiar at Lincoln Park Zoo
September 23, 2017

A great event allowing children and their parents to bond, Fiesta Familiar brings the best of family entertainment to the Lincoln Park Zoo. This year’s program holds topics on arts & crafts, health & nutrition, and science & technology.


Lincoln Square Ravenswood Apple Fest
September 30-October 1, 2017

The Apple Fest features everything apple-related, from candy apples to scarves and hats. Now on its 30th year, this event hosted by the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, is the perfect way to usher in the Fall Season, with cooking demonstrations, food vendors, and musical performances.

Which of these 10 free things to do in Chicago during September will you be checking out? Anything we missed? Tweet your thoughts at @ChooseChicago!