Chicago’s downtown alleys never looked so good.

If you don’t believe it, check out the return of ACTIVATE this summer. The four-event pop-up series transforms alleys into “creative exhibition spaces that bring artists and the public together for an evening of exploration, interaction, and celebration of the arts,” according to the official announcement. The dates for this year’s events are: June 15, July 20, August 24 and September 28, from 5 to 10 p.m. each evening.

The specific locations and more details for each event will be announced two weeks prior to scheduled dates; you can currently RSVP at, which guarantees you’ll be notified of all the info or any date changes. Admission to the events is free, but you can purchase beer/wine at competitive pricing (cash only).

This year’s ACTIVATE theme is “Off Street,” which, according to the announcement, “explores the ‘alleyness’ of alleys. … Each event will focus on an aspect of alley life and take advantage of the physical attributes of this very Chicago space. In addition to its practical functions, such as trash pickup and utility delivery, the alley is the ‘rec room of the block.’ … In these civic spaces, children play, neighbors gossip and back alley deals transpire. ‘Off Street’  invites the public to explore the pulse of daily life that the alley embodies.”

ACTIVATE, which has attracted more than 47,000 people in its first three years, is presented by the Chicago Loop Alliance.

ACTIVATE | Chicago Loop Alliance