Technically, Labor Day is not the end of summer (that day occurs on September 21) but it is when things start to wind down in Chicago. The parks and beaches are less crowded, and many of Chicago's street festivals and outdoor concerts come to an end.
Below are some of our top picks for things to do in Chicago Labor Day weekend (in no particular order). More events will be added so check back often. Labor Day weekend is Thursday, August 30, through Monday, September 3, 2012.
Related Topics: History and Origin of Labor Day l Chicago's Best Outdoor Parks and Gardens l Taste of Chicago 2012
Take in the opening night of the 34th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival with Exquisitely For Ella: A Songbook Tribute at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park at 6:30pm. Jeff Lindberg’s Chicago Jazz Orchestra and Chicago vocalists Dee Alexander, Frieda Lee and Spider Saloff celebrate Ella’s 95th birthday with original arrangements of music by Gershwin, Kern, Ellington, Arlen, Mercer, Berlin, Porter, and Jobim from the legendary Songbook recordings Ella made in the 1950s.
Known for its artistic creativity and headline talents, the Chicago Jazz Festival is a favorite Labor Day Weekend tradition. Veteran Jazz drummer Roy Haynes, one of the last remaining inventors of bebop, performs Friday evening beginning at 6 p.m. at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The festival then moves to its longtime home in Grant Park with its four stages of free performances. Saturday evening’s headliner beginning at 8:30 p.m. is four-time Grammy winning vocalist Dianne Reeves. Closing out the festival on Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. is Allen Toussaint’s “The Bright Mississippi” featuring Marc Robot and Don Byron.
This annual Labor Day weekend event transforms Chicago’s Washington Park into an authentic African village, complete with multiple stages of spectacular music entertainment and a marketplace showcasing art and culture, as well as family fun and authentic cuisine.
Head to Union Park as this outdoor festival brings a variety of top names in electronic music, jam bands and hip-hop, including Pretty Lights and Modestep. The festival benefits the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago
Enjoy a fireworks show overlooking the lakefront from historic Navy Pier, which boasts 50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, shops, eateries, and attractions.
Join the fun at the Family Fun Tent, located on Millennium Park’s Chase Promenade North, with interactive activities, arts and crafts, and games for kids of all ages, including Wiggleworms® at 10 a.m., a Reading Circle at 11 a.m., and family performances at 1 p.m.
Chicago’s “Recycled Art Fair” is a two-day green festival celebrating artists who incorporate used or recycled items in creating original, handmade art and crafts, clothing, household items, jewelry, and collectibles. Local schools benefit from the fest, which features free workshops and education for artists of all ages.
Take in the city’s 26-mile lakefront along Lake Michigan by spending the day at one of Chicago’s 23 swimming beaches. Admission is free and open to the public, with lifeguards on duty from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. daily through September 3, 2012. Enjoy a number of other outdoor activities including biking and running along the 18-mile long lakefront trail, as well s fishing, sand volleyball, soccer, and golf. You can also explore the 8,100 acres of green space that includes bird sanctuaries, nature conservatories, historic lagoons, and harbors
Head out to Wrigley Field as the Cubs take on the San Francisco Giants. On the south side, the White Sox start a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field on September 3 against the Minnesota Twins. Both stadiums are easily accessible on the Red Line “El” train. Learn more about public transportation in Chicago
Historic Pullman, the original company town built by George Pullman in the 1880s to house the workers at his Palace Car factory, is a significant part of Chicago's southside labor history. Hosted by neighborhood civic and cultural organizations, this annual bicycle tour is held on Labor Day and honors the role labor unions have played in Pullman and the Calumet, Indiana region.