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A collage of things to do in Chicago shows two dancers, a concert and planes flying for the Air and Water Show.

Things to do on Aug. 17-22, 2023, include the Air and Water Show, Dance for Life and the Jollof Festival.

Photos by Manuel Martinez/WBEZ (jollof), Kal Solano (Lot Jams), Kyle Flubacker (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Pat Nabong/Chicago Sun-Times (planes) and Todd Rosenberg (Dance for Life, featuring dancers Devin Buchanan and Fernando Duarte). Photoillustration by Mendy Kong.

The best things to do in Chicago from Aug. 17 to Aug. 22, 2023

The final weekend before Chicago Public Schools classes start looks to be a hot one, both weather-wise and with the many events happening in the area. Soak up every bit of summer break with festivals centered around jollof rice or basketball. And, love it or hate it, the Air and Water Show is back in all its ear-shattering glory.

Here are five picks for the next few days ahead.

For more ideas, see the full WBEZ Summer 250, our curated guide of 250+ events for planning the waning weeks of Chicago summer, with easy sorting to help you pick what’s right for you. You can also text “SUMMER” to 312312 for weekly picks in one of three categories: family-friendly, outdoor concerts or the best of all events.



An outdoor concert through Lot Jams

Lot Jams is a free, outdoor concert series this summer in Albany Park. The next event is Aug. 17.

Photo courtesy of Kal Solano

Lot Jams: Radio Free Honduras

Aug. 17

This summer’s Lot Jams series offers free, pop-up concerts around Albany Park. The Radio Free Honduras night mixes Honduran Punta, known for its interactive call-and-response, with Spanish flamenco and jazz fusion. Tapestry Health, 3737 W. Lawrence Ave. Free.



The West African rice dish jollof

The West African rice dish jollof is now in the mainstream.

Manuel Martinez

Jollof Festival

Aug. 19

Try plenty of varieties on this one-pot rice dish native to many countries in West Africa. Festivalgoers will also get to help pick the winner of the “Jollof Wars” that pit representative dishes from each country against each other. The Promontory, 5311 South Lake Park Ave. From $25.




A trio of dancers poses for the camera.

The fundraiser Dance for Life is one of the big annual events on the city’s dance calendar. Pictured here are performers (from left) Jack Halbert, Arielle Israel and Devin Buchanan.

Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Dance for Life

Aug. 19

For 32 years, Dance for Life has raised money for an emergency fund to help members of Chicago’s dance community. This year will feature performances from the Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, BOOM CRACK! Dance Company, Hiplet Ballerinas and South Chicago Dance Theatre. Don’t miss the afterparty at VenueSix10. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive. From $25.

Sunday in the Park with Lyric Opera

Aug. 20

Opera under the stars: Lyric Opera music director Enrique Mazzola conducts favorites from the 2023-2024 opera season in this free concert in Millennium Park. 201 E. Randolph St. Free.




Air and Water Show (and practice)

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform at the annual Chicago Air and Water Show in 2018

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform at the annual Chicago Air and Water Show in 2018. The Thunderbirds will be back at the Chicago show this weekend.

Colin Boyle

Aug. 19-20

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Specifically it’s the Thunderbirds screaming across the sky over downtown Chicago. Watch fighters and parachute teams perform death-defying stunts over Lake Michigan at the Chicago Air and Water Show. The best view is from North Avenue Beach, but really it’s wherever you can find a great rooftop in the city. Here’s a helpful WBEZ guide to the event. North Avenue Beach and along the lakefront. Free.

Bianca Cseke is a digital producer at WBEZ.

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