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Best Free Labor Day Events In Chicago

It happens every year — somehow those lazy, hazy and crazy days of summer do wind down. Labor Day weekend acts as a reminder, if you will, to get out there at least one more time and enjoy all the wonderful things that the City of Chicago has to offer before winter gets here and no one wants to go outdoors. So if you're looking for your own way to say goodbye to summer, here are some of the best free Labor Day events going on in Chicago this year.
Chicago Jazz Festival
(Photo Credit: Chicago Jazz Festival's Facebook)

Chicago Jazz Festival
Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 742-1168

Date: Sept. 3 - 6 from noon to 9:30 p.m.

Although New Orleans might be referred to as the birthplace of jazz music, Chicago knows a thing or two about it as well, and has been celebrating this art form with the Chicago Jazz Festival since 1979. With an aim to promote awareness and appreciateion for all forms of jazz, Jazz Fest (as the locals call it) features live performances of stellar Chicago, national and international jazz artists over Labor Day weekend. With the official kickoff on Sept. 3 at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.), the party then moves to Millennium Park through Sunday, Sept. 6. Come see talented artists like Dee Dee Bridgewater, Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9, The Fred Hersch Trio, the Billy Strayhorn Centennial Celebration, Brian Gephart Sextet, Douglas Ewart and Inventions, the Muhal Richard Abrams' Experimental Band, and so much more.

19th Annual Chicago Summerdance 
Grant Park- Spirit of Music Garden
601 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 742-3918

Date: June 26 - Sept. 13 from 6-9:30 p.m., Fri/Sat, 4-7 p.m. Sunday

Whomever said that you can't dance your way through a summer has never been to Chicago. If you're looking for something fun and free to do this Labor Day weekend, come out to Grand Park's Spirit of Music Garden and boogie to the tunes of over 40 different live bands, take dance lessons beforehand if you so choose, and shake off those lazy days of summer cobwebs. Happening all summer long, Summerdance takes place atop a restored and 100% recycled, 4,900 square-foot, open-air dance floor. On Labor Day weekend come dance to the jazz sounds of the Lake Shore Syncopators, jitterbug artists Margot Toppen and Riley Wimes, Jr., Cumbia, Ska, Reggae DJ Los Vicios de Papá Soundsystem, the Latin Rhythms Academy of Dance and Performance, and Cajun two-step artists Louie Stallone and Monica Vachlon.

(Photo Credit:

Navy Pier Fireworks
Navy Pier
600 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(800) 595-7437

Date: Sept. 5 at 10:15 p.m.

Chicagoans love watching the firework shows twice weekly from Navy Pier during the summer, and Labor Day weekend marks the second to last one of the summer. Come out to the Pier on the Saturday night prior to Labor Day, and watch the stunning and bombastic show synchronized to music on the lovely Lake Michigan. There's just something special about being near the water with Chicago's amazing downtown area as a backdrop, and with colors and explosions galore lighting up the sky. Admission to Navy Pier is free, but there is also an array of evening cruises available to create a one-of-a-kind memory.

Related: Best Free Summer Activities For Kids In Chicago

Pilsen Community Market
S Halsted St & W. 18th St.
Chicago, IL 60608
(305) 283-6747

Date: Sept. 6 from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

So much more than just a farmer's market, the Pilsen Community Market encapsulates the true meaning of community. While representing an eclectic area and connecting with surrounding neighborhoods as well, the market provides fresh products for sale like organic eggs and produce, meats, cheeses and more. Especially the tamales! There are non-edible items as well, like crafts and handmade jewelry. The Pilsen Community Market is like coming home, and all in a warm, music-filled environment.

The Last Day At Oak Street Beach
Oak Street Beach
1001 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611-1388
(312) 988-4650

Date: Sept. 7 from 6 a.m. - 11 p.m.

With having the privilate of living next to such a massive and amazing lake, beach days are obligatory during the summer in Chicago. And whether you've been to one (or more) of Chicago's beaches ever day this summer, or haven't been there at all yet, your last chance is coming up on Labor Day.  Oak Street Beach, and all of the beaches in the City of Chicago, will be closing their proverbial doors on Sept. 7, and won't be open again until next year. So pack a lunch and head over to Oak Street Beach on Labor Day for an enjoyable and relaxing day under the sun. Now that's the perfect way to spend a holiday!

Related: 3 Science Experiments To Try Outdoors With Kids This Summer

Soon after earning her BA in journalism, Melanie Falina began writing about one of the loves of her life - music. Since then, she's covered some of the biggest names in music, in addition to writing on an array of other topics as well. She has written for Black Belt magazine, KISS: The Official Authorized Quarterly Magazine, Examiner,, Yahoo Voices, and more, and was editor for Don Lemmon's KNOW HOW Book Three, Refuse To Fail. Melanie is also a poet with five published collections of poetry available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and various establishments.
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