clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Free and cheap things to do in Chicago this weekend: July 27-29

Fiesta Del Sol is this weekend in Pilsen and it's free! | Scott Stewart / Sun-Times

It’s time to start thinking about your weekend plans, and we’ve got a new guide to help you find free and cheap things to do in Chicago and the suburbs.

Some of the highlights the weekend of July 26-28 include:

  • The Fiesta del Sol in Pilsen
  • An art exhibition of the works of Chicago artist Charles White
  • Fermi Lab’s public art gallery
  • Shakespeare in the Park

Fiesta del Sol

Fiesta del Sol is an annual Mexican festival in the heart of Pilsen. | Scott Stewart/Sun-Times
Fiesta del Sol is an annual Mexican festival in the heart of Pilsen. | Scott Stewart/Sun-Times

WHEN: July 26-29 (see times in the link below)

WHERE: Cermak Road and Loomis Street in Pilsen

COST: Free

One of the biggest celebrations of the year is this weekend in Pilsen. It’s the Fiesta Del Sol a free festival that spans 8-blocks; includes live performances on two stages; some of the best Mexican food in you’ve ever tasted; carnival rides; local artists and much more. Proceeds from the festival go to support the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council, a non-profit community-based organization.

Pilsen is one of Chicago’s most interesting neighborhoods with so much to do and see. before you head to the fair, Check out Ji Suk Yi’s Sun-Times travel guide to learn about all the best places to eat, drink, shop and visit. It’s all in this episode of The Grid: Exploring the Pilsen Neighborhood.

The Chills: Beach Party

Promotional poster for The Chills: Beach Party. | Courtesy of National Museum of Mexican Art
Promotional poster for The Chills: Beach Party. | Courtesy of National Museum of Mexican Art

WHEN: Friday, July 27, 1-5 p.m.

WHERE: Humboldt Park Beach, 1400 N. Sacramento Ave., Chicago

COST: Free but RSVP required (see below for details)

The Chills Beach Party is the second of three traveling teen nights brought to you by Yollocalli Arts Reach, the youth initiative wing of the National Museum of Mexican Art, and the DuSable Teen Councils. Aimed at teenagers, the beach party this Friday will feature Chicago-based DJ Ca$h Era, open mic performances, a temporary tattoo station, and more activities. RSVP at http://bit.ly/beachchills.

Comic Fest 2018

Promotional poster for Comic Fest 2018  | Provided by Aimee Norris / Chicago Public Library
Promotional poster for Comic Fest 2018 | Provided by Aimee Norris / Chicago Public Library

WHEN: Saturday, July 28 and Sunday July 29th

WHERE: Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

COST: Free

This is the second year that Sulzer Regional Library has hosted a Comic Fest for Chicago, and it promises to be just as fun! On both days this weekend, local comic artists and creators will have set up tables to showcase their work and speak with fans and aspiring comic artists. On Saturday, the library has organized workshops, with one suitable for every age: experimenting with art materials, binding your own zine or mini-book, programming video games, making your own DIY comic to take home. Several comic artists will also talk about art, comics, school, work and life (wow, packed topics) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Shakespeare in the Park

The cast of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” rehearse for Shakespeare in the Parks. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times
The cast of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” rehearse for Shakespeare in the Parks. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times

WHEN: Friday, July 27, and Saturday, July 28, both at 7:00 pm; more

WHERE: This weekend at Navy Pier on the Polk Brothers performance lawn, then city parks throughout the summer

COST: Free

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater is putting on performances of A Midsummer’s Night Dream across Chicago this summer, beginning this week at Navy Pier at 7 p.m. through Saturday. The show will then travel across 18 other Chicago parks until its final performance at Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown on Sunday, August 26th. Among the cast is Richard Costes, a deaf actor who cannot hear specific words, playing the character of Snout.

Charles White: A Retrospective

Charles White, the artist, in 1976. | Sun-Times archives
Charles White, the artist, in 1976. | Sun-Times archives

WHEN: On exhibit until September 3; open daily 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thursdays until 8 p.m.

WHERE: Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S Michigan Ave., Chicago

COST: General exhibition, $14 + $2 service fee for Chicago residents; free admission for Illinois residents after 5 p.m. Thursdays

The Art Institute of Chicago has a major retrospective of the work of Charles White, a Chicago-born artist who emerged during the city’s so-called Black Renaissance of the 1930s. His art emphasized the lives of African Americans and their struggle for equality, or, as Deanna Isaacs wrote for The Chicago Reader, White’s art was “corrective to the rampant misrepresentation of African-Americans in art and history.” The exhibition at the Art Institute is the first retrospective of White’s work for over 35 years.

Fermilab: Seeing the Prairie

Fermilab, the particle physics research center in Batavia, has an art gallery open to the public. | Sun-Times Archives
Fermilab, the particle physics research center in Batavia, has an art gallery open to the public. | Sun-Times Archives

WHEN: Exhibit opens Friday, July 27. Open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Wilson Hall at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia, Illinois

COST: Free

Photo ID required to enter site

Did you know Fermilab, the nation’s particle physics research laboratory, has a public art gallery? The fusing of science and art stems back to the research lab’s founding director, Robert Wilson, who imagined a space that was not only at the forefront of physics research, but would inspire and wow visitors. The Fermilab Art Gallery is described as a space for “art exhibitions, chamber music concerts and where deep underground neutrino experiment and gravitational waves are discussed over coffee.”

The gallery’s next exhibit, Seeing the Prairie, opens this Friday with an artist reception from 5-8 p.m. The exhibit will feature watercolor paintings and photographs of the lab’s nearly 1000 acres of prairie, and is intended to bring attention to this highly threatened environment.

While the gallery is not open on the weekends, the Fermilab site is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer months.

Contribute to Cradles to Crayons

A group from Charles Schwab volunteers at Cradles to Crayons’ Giving Factory in Chicago. | Event photo by Cradles to Crayons
A group from Charles Schwab volunteers at Cradles to Crayons’ Giving Factory in Chicago. | Event photo by Cradles to Crayons

WHEN: Anytime

WHERE: At your home, office, neighborhood…

COST: Free

Cradles to Crayons began in Boston in 2002 and expanded to Chicago in 2016. The charity provides essentials to children from birth through to the age of 12 through community donations and delivering them to children in need with community partners. If you’re able to volunteer in Chicago, you can either contact them to help out at the Giving Factory, where donated goods are processed and sorted, or work with your community to set up a donation drive. If not, here are some other ways to contribute to Cradles to Crayons is always looking for new and like-new items, such as jackets, shoes, and school supplies, for children up to age 12.

Visit your local library

Harold Washington Library in Printers Row in Chicago. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Harold Washington Library in Printers Row in Chicago. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

WHEN: Weekend times vary by branch

WHERE: Your local library branch

COST: Free

Visit the Chicago Public Library website for CPL locations and hours

In addition to hosting comic book fests, public libraries are great places to visit. Not only can you find a fascinating new book to read, learn something new, or take a quick break from the hustle and bustle of daily life (or the rain), you can also find a ton of non-book related events in the Chicago Public Library, such as movie screenings and opportunities to learn American Sign Language. Get your library card (or get a new one now) and start reading!

Other free and cheap things to do:

  • Bantu Fest is a free community festival that will bring together 30,000 people from across 20 countries to celebrate diversity and encourage cultural exchange on Saturday, July 28, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Midway Plaisance, 60th Street and Ellis Avenue, Chicago.
  • Wicker Park Fest is a music festival on Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park. There is a $10 suggested donation at the gate. Organizers say you’ll get in much faster if you avoid the main entrance at Milwaukee and Damen, and try one of the five other entrances along the fest, such as the one at Paulina and Milwaukee. The festival starts Friday, July 27, at 5 p.m. and runs through the evening of Saturday, July 28.

More Sun-Times Guides with things to do:

Ji Suk Yi is the host of “The Grid,” produced by the audience team at the Chicago Sun-Times and sponsored by Baird & Warner. | Brian Rich/For the Sun-Times
Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and all of them are filled with interesting things to do….much of it free or cheap. Learn more in these videos produced by the Chicago Sun-Times audience team and hosted by Ji Suk Yi.

The Grid: Explore Chicago’s Neighborhoods on your own self-guided walking tour with the help of our Sun-Times travel guides by Ji Suk Yi. Find “The Grid” here including lots of things to do that are free or cheap….and tons of fun.

The Sun-Times has put together a complete 2018 Summer Guide to all the best things to do in Chicago this summer.

You can also check out our Sun-Times 2018 Farmers Market Guide with info on the farmers markets in the city and suburbs, many with weekend hours.

More cool things to do this weekend: Have fun in Chicago this weekend! July 27-29

Tell us about free and cheap things to do!

We’d love to hear about your suggestions for free and cheap things to do in Chicago and the suburbs. Email us at freeandcheap@suntimes.com and we may include your events in a future story.