Navy Pier happens to be the site of this year’s fireworks display in Chicago, set for July Fourth at 9 PM. In an endeavor to overcome the Windy City’s financial shortfalls, the pyrotechnics presentation for the Fourth of July was a part of this year’s budget cuts. This means that the Taste of Chicago won’t be timed around the July Fourth fireworks.
Fortunately, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority is funding this year’s fireworks. The only problem is that Chicago’s pyrotechnics program normally attracts more than half a million spectators, and Navy Pier is unable to accommodate more than 250,000 people. A seating deficit and limited standing room suggest that early squatters score the best spots.
In previous years, Chicago’s lakefront was the vantage point of three synchronized fireworks presentations: one at Montrose Harbor, another at Navy Pier, and the third at 59th Street. Nevertheless, this year a choice of free events and significant changes to the Taste of Chicago afford a few pre-Fourth of July things to do and see before the fireworks.To celebrate America’s independence, here’s a shortlist of family-fitting Chicago happenings in immediacy to Navy Pier.
Family Fun Festival
Endorsed by Target and hosted by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, in collaboration with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, the Family Fun Festival is a temporary fixture at Millennium Park this summer. Each day, running from June 13 through August 21, the tent–situated on the Chase Promenade North, promises a slew of complimentary hands-on activities, live performances and possibly some giveaways. (Hours are from 10 AM to 3 PM).
Navy Pier Art Walk
Next, saunter northeast to Grand and the Lake Shore Drive viaduct. Make note of the first Navy Pier Art Walk. Here, street artist — Shepard Fairey — known for the “Hope” poster of President Barack Obama, showcases his latest innovation named “Obey.”
Cirque Shangai Extreme
Perhaps, the group requires intense entertainment. Cirque Shangai Extreme delivers at Navy Pier’s Pepsi Skyline (r) Stage. Suitable for all ages, this live show mesmerizes with stunning choreographed performances of trapeze artist, acrobatics, contortionists and sword fighting. Three shows were added for Monday the Fourth of July: 11 AM, 2 PM and 5 PM. All performances last 75-minutes. (Ticket prices start at $17.50 for adults and $15 for children). Navy Pier Skyline Stage | 600 E. Grand Ave. | Chicago, IL 60611 (Please visit NavyPier.com to learn more).
Taste of Chicago
For those, who can forgo the fireworks and given the fact that Chicago is trimming its Independence Day pyrotechnics presentation, improvements to the annual Taste of Chicago may appease a few discerning palates. The family and foodie centric festival, traditionally timed with the Fourth of July holiday festivities, commences June 24 through July 3 at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Congress.
More than 50 different Chicago restaurants are participating in this renowned feeding frenzy at Grant Park. For the first time, healthy food choices bear a green apple icon, designated by the Humana Healthier Choices at specially marked concession stands. Amid all the Taste of Chicago enhancements, most will appreciate the new dining pavilion and seating stationed throughout the festival.
Also, discounted parking for the Taste of Chicago may serve as another redeeming quality. For $13, attendees save more than $10 on parking and hitch a free trolley ride to the Taste of Chicago from the Soldier’s Field parking lot.
Musically speaking, the Taste of Chicago has consolidated other music festivals, dedicating a day for the following genres: Celtic, Country, Latina and Gospel. Soul Asylum headlines at the Budweiser Concert Stage at the Petrillo Band Shell on June 25th. Please visit Taste of Chicago to check the schedule and for additional details.
The Fourth of July is generally a hectic time in Chicago. This means with the proper planning and patience, the dense crowds and congestion won’t deter a delightsome Independence Day celebration.