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Free and cheap things to do in Chicago this weekend: August 17-19

Our free and cheap guide includes info on the Air and Water show this weekend. | Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

Another weekend is upon us. Here our top recommendations for fun, free and cheap things to do in Chicago this weekend:

  • Fighter jets and more at the annual Air and Water Show
  • Cards Against Humanity Comics headline at the Bentwood Comedy Fest
  • Get out your paintbrush to support the Friends of the Chicago River
  • Stroll the cobblestone streets in the Glenwood Ave Arts District during the Arts Fest

These ideas and more all in this week’s Free and Cheap weekend Guide from the Sun-Times:

Chicago Air and Water Show

United States Navy’s Blue Angels during The Chicago Air & and Water show at North Ave. beach on Saturday, August 19, 2017. | Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times
The United States Navy’s Blue Angels during The Chicago Air & Water Show at North Avenue beach in 2017. | Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

WHAT: Dozens of planes and boats of all sizes will be flying and sailing along the shores of Lake Michigan, in an outdoor performance of the marvels of transport engineering.

It’s been happening every year off the shores of Lake Michigan since 1959, and it’s happening again. The Chicago Air and Water Show draws millions to North Avenue Beach (as if it wasn’t busy enough already) to watch amazing performances on and above Lake Michigan.

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018 and Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

WHERE: North Avenue Beach, Chicago

COST: FREE

GETTING THERE: CTA Red Line, Clark/Division; Brown Line, Sedgewick; buses 22, 36, 72, 151, 156

MORE INFO: City of Chicago website

Pilsen Fest

Performers on the stage at Pilsen Fest, an annual celebration of Latino culture and the Pilsen neighborhood community that takes place in August. | Provided
Performers on the stage at Pilsen Fest, an annual celebration of Latino culture and the Pilsen neighborhood community that takes place in August. | Provided

WHAT: The Pilsen neighborhood hosts an outdoor street festival.

With food, music, drinks and more, Pilsen Fest is a celebration of Latino culture and of Pilsen’s heritage and history, and showcases the diversity and value that the Pilsen neighborhood brings to Chicago. Around 80,000 are expected to attend this year.

WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018 and Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, noon – 10 p.m.

WHERE: 18th Street and Blue Island Avenue, Chicago

GETTING THERE: CTA Pink Line, 18th; buses 18, 60

COST: $5

MORE INFO: Pilsen Fest website. Plus take a walking tour of Pilsen with the help of our Sun-Times travel guide to the neighborhood, The Grid: Exploring Pilsen.

DIY Art by the Chicago River

Friends of the Chicago River is organizing “Plein Air Painting Festival,” an outdoor painting fundraiser, by the Chicago River. | Provided by Friends of the Chicago River
Friends of the Chicago River is organizing “Plein Air Painting Festival,” an outdoor painting fundraiser, by the Chicago River. | Provided by Friends of the Chicago River

WHAT: A public painting event, followed by a public display of the art painted then, will take place on the Chicago Riverwalk to fundraise for Friends of the Chicago River.

Plein-air, French literal for “open-air,” usually refers to French impressionist painting styles which emphasize observations of outdoor light and atmosphere.

This weekend’s festival will mean dozens of artists painting on the Chicago Riverwalk, drawing inspiration from the Chicago River, in the morning, followed by a public exhibition and sale of the same art that afternoon at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum. A portion of the proceeds will go to support the museum.

WHEN: Painting, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, from 8 a.m. to noon; art display, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE: McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum; the southwest bridge tower at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive; 99 Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago

GETTING THERE: CTA Red Line, Lake; Brown, Green, Orange, Pink lines, State/Lake; buses 3, 6, 10, 146, 147, 151, 157

COST: FREE

MORE INFO: Visit the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

Other suggestions

  • The South Shore Cultural Center will host the neighborhood’s Summer Festival on Sunday. The South Shore Drill Team and musician Jeffrey Osborne are performing, along with plenty of food and activities. Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, 3-8 p.m.; South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, Chicago; free; Chicago events website
  • Cards Against Humanity is hosting two live comedy shows at the first-ever Bentwood Comedy Festival, organized by the iO Theater. Friday, Aug. 17, 2018 and Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, 10 p.m.; iO Theater, 1501 North Kingsbury St., Chicago; CTA Red Line, North/Clybourn, buses 8, 70; tickets $15 for one night; Cards Against Humanity website, Bentwood Comedy Festival website
  • The Glenwood Avenue Arts District in Rogers Park is organizing its annual street fair, which will feature live music on multiple stages and over 100 artists with open-air studios. Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Glenwood Avenue at Morse Avenue, Chicago; CTA Red Line, Morse, buses 96, 155; free; Glenwood Ave Arts District website

More Sun-Times Guides with things to do:

We’ve got neighborhood guides to help you explore Chicago. Check out “The Grid”, which includes lots of things to do and tons of fun.

Or check out the Sun-Times’ 2018 Summer Guide with all the best things to do in Chicago this summer, or our Sun-Times 2018 Farmers Market Guide with info on the farmers markets in the city and suburbs.

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.