Welcome to the weekend, Chicago. Who's ready to chow down on dishes from THE BEST chefs, enjoy one of the largest art festivals EVER, celebrate National Lobster Day at some of Chicago's top restaurants, take in FREE jazz music and do up Oktoberfest Chicago-style? Here's your chance!
September 22-25 // Admission starts at $20
The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art returns for its fifth edition, bringing with it 145 leading galleries representing 22 countries and 53 cities from around the world. Attracting more than 35,000 visitors in 2015, EXPO CHICAGO continues to showcase the city as an international cultural destination. It will present the return of key programs including EXPO Art Week, EXPO Editions + Books, IN/SITU and IN/SITU Outside and EXPO VIDEO.
Navy Pier plays host to this mega event but sites all around town are also being activated... from a glow-in-the-dark dinner at Virgin Hotels Chicago to late night parties during Art After Dark. Even billboards are getting in on the action!
September 23-25 // $5 (FREE Sunday)
This popular annual Bavarian celebration, Oktoberfest Chicago, in West Lakeview welcomes fall with plenty of food, two stages of music, arts & crafts, and activities for children. Other highlights include ticketed craft beer tasting nights on Friday and Saturday and "KinderFest" for families on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
And that's not all! Take your pick of three other beer-filled seasonal celebrations:
Oktoberfest Party at Revolution Brewing Kedzie in Avondale (September 23-24), Belgian Fest 2016 at Goose Island Clybourn (September 25) and Blocktoberfest based at Dusek's and spreading out into the Pilsen neighborhood (September 25). Get a full fall roundup on the 2016 Guide to Beer Festivals.
September 23-25 // $185
Explore culinary masterpieces at Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet 2016 in Millennium Park. Now in its ninth year, one of the nation's premier culinary celebrations promises a thrilling lineup of celebrity chef talent and newly developed programming for the weekend-long culinary showcase, amplified in large part by the event's first-ever Host Chef — Rick Bayless of the acclaimed Frontera Restaurants. With the theme Food is Art, this year's edition will become a canvas for the culinary arts. Though these hot tickets are now sold out for the most part, join the after party Late Night Gourmet.
Hyde Park Jazz Festival
September 24-25 // $5 donation
To celebrate its 10th Anniversary, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival is pleased to partner with the Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts to compose a series of pieces to be performed with Chicago's own Spektral Quartet. The fest takes over the Hyde Park neighborhood with national, international, and critically acclaimed local performers to a dozen venues through out Hyde Park and will feature a very special performance by Randy Weston.
National Lobster Day deals all across the city
September 25 // Prices vary
Enjoy the latest and greatest lobster creations in celebration of National Lobster Day. Lobster lovers can find plenty of places to indulge in this seafood delicacy with lobster creations from some of Chicago's top chefs. From a fancified Lobster Tempura Roll found 15 floors up at the brand new South American rooftop restaurant, Boleo, to a full on Oyster & Lobster Boil downtown at The Dearborn, and more from hot spots such as Hugo's Frog Bar, Dusek's, St. Lou's Assembly and The Promontory, locals can ensure they'll be celebrating National Lobster Day the right way.
Chicago Latino Music Festival
September 25 // FREE
The Chicago Latino Music Festival is a program of the International Latino Cultural Center and Chicago's only Latino-focused classical music festival. This free concert will take place at the Harold Washington Library in the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium. The performance celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Mexican Center for Music and Sonic Arts, and will focus on the intersection of music and technology.
September 25 // $10
Shop, shop, eat and shop! The pop-up artisan fair, Dose Market, is about to pop off a long, loving look at the artistry of the Dosers with all kinds of goodness to increase your wardrobe stoke, amp up your art collection, cozy into when the weather gets cold, imbibe on days necessitating booze, etc. Your Dose ticket directly funds MARWEN arts programming for Chicago youth.
Want more? Catch the finales for World Music Festival Chicago. Or check out the Edgewater Arts Festival & West Town Food Truck Social. Find more September festivals in our 2016 event guide. You can also make your own weekend itinerary with this Chicago bucket list.