5 Things to Do: Chicago and Beyond

This weekend, watch a favorite holiday (yes, holiday!) movie on the beach, look to the sky for a hot-air balloon festival, cheer on wounded veterans in the Warrior Games, shop for art at Chicago Botanic Garden, and laugh with the Capitol Steps. Plus, find a few bonus Fourth of July events.

Movie at the Beach: Christmas Countdown

5 Things to Do: Movie at the Beach: Christmas Countdown
June 30
Lake Forest

Celebrate Christmas in June! Watch “The Santa Clause” featuring Tim Allen under the stars at Forest Park Beach.

Eyes to the Skies Festival

Eyes to the Skies Festival

Photo courtesy of Special Events Management.

June 30 to July 2

This annual festival will celebrate 35 years with more than 20 hot-air balloons, live music, kids activities, food, a craft fair, carnival rides, fireworks and more. Plus, this year’s festival will feature new skydiving shows.

Department of Defense Warrior Games

5 Things to Do: Warrior Games

Image courtesy of Warrior Games.

June 30 to July 8

Chicago will host approximately 265 athletes representing the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Special Operations Commands, plus the U.K. Armed Forces and Australian Defense Force, in sports like archery, cycling, swimming and track. It all kicks off with an opening ceremony and concert with Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and Jon Stewart on July 1 at Soldier Field. Buy tickets here!

Chicago Botanic Garden Art Festival

Chicago Botanic Garden

Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden.

July 1-2

Juried artists will set up shop along Chicago Botanic Garden’s gorgeous Esplanade. Stop by to shop botanic-themed photography, paintings, jewelry and more before spending a day exploring the garden.

The Capitol Steps

The Capitol Steps

Photo courtesy of City Winery.

July 2

This comedy troupe of former Congressional staffers are coming to City Winery Chicago just in time for the Fourth of July.


  • Windy City RibFest will be held June 30 to July 2 in Uptown. Enjoy ribs, drinks, live music, arts & crafts, a kids area with games and inflatables, and more.

Looking Ahead

  • Mercury Cruises will host a Fourth of July 3D Fireworks Extravaganza on July 4. Guests will enjoy a lakefront cruise before watching Chicago’s fireworks show with 3D glasses and a dessert snack-box.
  • Navy Pier will host a variety of Fourth of July events, including Freedom Fest 2017, concerts and fireworks. Learn more here.


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Anna Carlson writes the weekly 5 Things to Do column and monthly Recommended Events. A graduate of Glenbrook South High School and the University of Missouri, she loves cheering on the Cubs and Blackhawks and also fears she watches too much Netflix.