Technically, Labor Day is not the end of summer (that dreaded day occurs on September 21) but it definitely is when things start to wind down in Chicago. Kids return to school. Business picks back up after summer vacations. The parks and beaches are less crowded and many of the city's street festivals and outdoor concerts come to an end.
Below is our Top Picks for Labor Day weekend events in Chicago (in no particular order), Thursday, September 1 through Monday, September 5, 2011.
The Chicago Jazz Festival is a free annual tradition in Chicago every Labor Day weekend. The festival is the longest running of the city's lakefront music festivals and runs Thursday - Sunday Labor Day weekend. This year's festival will be at several locations, including the Cultural Center, Millennium Park, and Grant Park. Performers include the Orbert Davis Trio and Brian O'Hern and the Model Citizens Big Band. Tip: Get your "jazz smarts" with our At a Glance: Jazz History profile, which breaks down jazz advancements by decade.
This free dance series in Grant Park offers an introductory one-hour dance lesson by professional instructors followed by two hours of live music and dancing on a 4,900 square-foot, open-air dance floor made out of 100% recycled materials. This Labor Day weekend, choose from a:
- Mexican polka dance lesson on Thursday, September 1, with music by Sones de Mexico Ensemble.
- Salsa on Friday, September 2, with music by De La Buena.
- Swing and lindy hop on Saturday, September 3, with music by The Flat Cats.
- Fox-trot on Sunday, September 4, with music by The Weiss Brothers.
Millennium Park's new music program, Lunchbreak, will take place on Thursday, September 1, with the "pop and rock" sounds of Amplified, as well as on Friday, September 2, with electric dance music from Chicago House and on Saturday, September 3, is Electric Picnic. Tip: If you get there early on Saturday, Millennium Park is hosting a workout on its Great Lawn with classes in yoga, Pilates, and Zumba.
Head out to Wrigley Field as the Cubs take on the Pittsburg Pirates (September 2 - 4) and the Cincinnati Reds (September 5). Tickets information can be found on our Guide to Chicago Cubs Tickets. You can also learn everything about the Chicago Cubs's home, Wrigley Field, with our Wrigley Field: Home of the Chicago Cubs profile.
Enjoy Fourth of July-style fireworks over Chicago's Navy Pier when the skies late up the Saturday of Labor Day weekend at 10:15 p.m.
9. Emerald City Theatre Play at Millennium Park: September 4, 2011
On Sunday, September 4, the Emerald City Theatre will perform Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! at Millennium Park - an interactive play ideal for families with young children.
Enjoy your Labor Day weekend at one of Chicago's beaches where you can bask in the sun, play sand volleyball, and enjoy lunch at Castaways at the North Avenue Beach Boathouse. Most of Chicago's beaches also have facilities for soccer, as well as concession areas. The Montrose Beach is also near the TK bird sanctuary. If you want to bring your dog to the beach, the following beaches are dog-friendly:
- Belmont Harbor.
- North of Montrose Beach.
- Wilson Avenue
- North end of Foster Avenue.
Lifeguards will be on duty at Chicago's beaches through September 5. (Tips: Sometimes some of Chicago's beaches close for weather reasons. Check out the Chicago Park District's Swim Report for beach closure updates.)