The Chicago Park District is holding its ninth summer season of Night Out in the Parks, which will bring more than 450 events to audiences in parks across Chicago. Through theater, music, movies, dance, site-specific performance, nature programs, and community festivals, the series supports Chicago-based artists, facilitates community-based partnerships and programs, cultivates civic engagement, and ensures equity in access to the arts for all Chicagoans.
Night Out in the Parks this summer will feature more than 100 of Chicago’s partners, artists, and neighborhood arts organizations that will enliven city parks and communities through a family-friendly park event series.
“For almost a decade, Night Out in the Parks has not only been an iconic summer tradition, but an important entryway for all of our residents to get involved in and enjoy the arts,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “This summer lineup will feature arts, music, theatre, dance, and more live performances throughout all of our 77 neighborhoods—ensuring that our residents will be able to have some fun right in their own communities. I encourage everyone to attend at least one of these events this summer and fully experience the talent and beauty of our arts and culture scene.”
From hip-hop to folkloric dance, new arts partners such as M.A.D.D. Rhythms and Open Architecture Chicago’s Poetic Platforms will join returning favorites Midnight Circus, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, and the Chicago Philharmonic Society, on stages in parks citywide.
Mayor Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have designated 2021 as the “Year of Chicago Music.” Learn more at chicago.gov/music.
All events will take place outdoors and feature smaller ensembles, shorter performances, and multiple function events. The performance areas and the audiences will be distanced, and some events will be enjoyed as roaming performances.
This year’s overarching themes are:
Keep It Moving.The theme Keep It Moving applies to the audience’s way of experiencing the performance or event. This may be processional or spectacle based performance, episodic installations, and/or work that audiences may encounter at their own pace, safely and socially distanced.
Nature (Art in Nature). Some performances will be hosted in green spaces and pay homage to the natural areas, flora, fauna, scientific practice, and artistic inspiration parks host every day.
Community Healing.Many events and performances this season are exploring the theme of community healing through art.
Queering the Parks. The Queering the Parks initiative celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community in Chicago.
The full list of programming is on the Night Out mobile application My Chi Parks, available to download on Apple and Android devices. Users can browse through events by date, location, and interest. More information is available at www.nightoutintheparks.com, or call (312) 742-PLAY.
In 2020, the Chicago Park District featured more than 80 virtual works from Night Out artists. The on-demand performances are available to view at https://bit.ly/NightOut-AtHome.
This year’s offerings include:
Open Architecture Chicago (OACChicago): Poetic Platforms, the Saturdays of June 26, July 31, and Sept. 25. Poetic Platforms fosters cross-cultural connection and collective healing through pop-ups in underutilized spaces and parks. OACChicago encourages participants to become “everyday designers,” co-creators of more inclusive and equitable public spaces by exploring community-led culture-making through the arts, culture performance, interactive installations, and wellness activities.
Dance in the Parks, Tuesday, June 29, through Monday, July 16. Dance in the Parks’ concerts are created and performed by professional Chicago dance artists. Guest youth partners based in the performance neighborhoods will join the troupe.
M.A.D.D. Rhythms: A Journey of the Dance through Music, the Fridays of July 9 and Aug. 13. As popular music has grown and changed, so has the art of tap dance. M.A.D.D. Rhythms presents a new collaborative work, conceived and directed by Star Dixon. Explore the different forms that tap dance has taken from its roots in Africa up to today’s contemporary styles. Each piece takes on a different era of music, celebrating the ways that the deep traditions and culture of tap dance have survived.
Movies in the Parks, Tuesday, July 6, through Tuesday, Sept. 14. This year’s more than 100 screenings will fill more local parks with everything from classics from the Golden Age of Hollywood to retro childhood favorites and family-friendly favorites from recent years. All movies begin at dusk, weather permitting. Call (312) 742-1134 for daily listings and weather-related cancelations.
Gustavo Cortiñas and Desafío Candente, Sunday, July 18 and Wednesday, Aug. 18. Gustavo Cortiñas brings together more than 30 collaborators, from over ten countries, on a 14-song journey through the rhythms, music, and landscapes of the American continent.
Side by Side with the Chicago Philharmonic Society, Thursday, July 24. Bring your instrument and play alongside professional musicians from the Chicago Philharmonic in Chicago’s beautiful parks. Participation and concert attendance are free. Students and musicians of any age are welcome to apply. To learn more, visit chicagophilharmonic.org.
Aloft Circus “Brave Space,” Tuesday through Friday, Aug. 3 to 6.Inspired by the idea of creating community in trying times, the circus show Brave Space starts as a puddle of fabric on the ground, and grows to encompass a world of wonders that includes feats of acrobatics, balance, and strength.
Goodman Theatre and Sones de México present “Zulema: A refugee’s musical journey from Chiapas to Chicago,” Thursday, Aug. 5, through Saturday, Aug. 21. On a musical journey of many thousands of miles—from her Chiapas home in Mexico to Chicago—young Zulema zig-zags through the culturally diverse landscapes of her homeland and Chicago along the way. Regional music and dance from the Grammy-nominated Sones de México Ensemble, in this collaboration with the Goodman Theatre, make this an event for the whole family. The music is produced by the Sones de México Ensemble. The performance is written by Dolores Díaz and directed by Henry Godínez.
Jarochicanos: Fandanguito en el Parque,Tuesday through Thursday, Aug. 17 to 19. “Fandanguito en el Parque” brings music from Veracruz, Mexico to Chicago’s parks. Jarochicanos will conduct a dance workshop where participants can learn basic zapateado steps in order to participate in a small version of a traditional fandango to follow, accompanied by live music from Jarochicanos.
Shakespeare in the Parks, Tuesday, Aug. 24, through Saturday, Sept. 4. Chicago Shakespeare Theater celebrates the tenth anniversary of Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks with a return to outdoor, in-person performances. Through a collaboration with community partners, the summer tour will bring a new take on a Shakespeare play to Chicago parks including Ogden, West Pullman, Kelvyn, Columbus, Piotrowski, and Ping Tom. Neighborhood artists, musicians, and dancers will take center stage alongside actors to create a multidisciplinary, multilingual, and unique artistic event celebrating resiliency and connection. Inspired by the city’s Together We Heal and INVEST South/West initiatives, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks will launch the theater’s new, year-round program that responds to and engages with the evolving needs of neighborhoods and community partners.
Chicago Onscreen, Tuesday, Aug. 31, through Tuesday, Sept. 14.The Chicago Onscreen Local Film Showcase is back with a fresh batch of locally-made and Chicago-focused films in nine parks across the city, Tuesday, Aug. 31 through Tuesday, Sept. 14. This year’s 16 official selections include shorts and feature-length films, documentaries, narratives, and animated films. This showcase puts the talents of Chicago’s filmmakers on display in free, outdoor screenings and in a virtual film festival, making hometown films accessible to park audiences throughout the city.
Midnight Circus (Open Air Circus in the Parks), Saturday, Sept. 11, through Saturday, Oct. 9. Midnight Circus in the Parks brings a world class, accessible, circus to parks and communities in every corner of Chicago. The 2021 show will feature a diverse mix of acrobats, actors, dancers, musicians, and multi-disciplinary performers telling a story of hope, healing, inspiration, and inclusion in high-flying and heart wrenching fashion.
Some events are special for early childhood audiences:
Toddlers, Tunes, and Turtles, Tuesday, July 13, through Thursday, Aug. 19. Now in its 16th year, Toddlers, Tunes, and Turtles invites Chicago’s youngest explorers to visit the parks and explore. This outdoor nature program encourages families to enjoy the park together. Re-envisioned for safety and social distancing in 2021, this program will feature loose parts for nature play, early childhood activities, and more.
Kerfuffle: Goose and Gert, Friday, July 16, through Monday, July 26. Gert just wants some peace and quiet. Goose just wants a friend. Created for very young children, Kerfuffle’s Goose and Gert is a funny romp in the park that explores friendship, opposites, and noise. Featuring live music, it is best enjoyed by children ages two-to-six years old with their families.
Enchanted Tightrope, Tuesday, Aug. 17, through Tuesday, Aug. 31.Enchanted Tightrope is a family friendly romp through Chicago’s parks with fairies. Maintain safe social distance and watch with wonder as magical creatures gracefully traverse the taught silver strand, high up in the air. All are welcome.
For more information, go to www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/night-out-in-the-parks.