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Free and cheap things to do in Chicago this weekend: August 10-12

Northalsted Market Days, billed as the largest street festival in the Midwest, takes place this weekend in Boystown. | Photo courtesy Anthony Meade / Northalsted.

For all of you who were hunkered down in your apartments this past weekend, this is an all clear: Lollapalloza is over! But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any glitter this weekend…

Our recommendations for free and cheap things to do in Chicago this weekend of August 10-12 include:

  • The Bud Billiken Parade in Bronzeville
  • Northhalsted Market Days in Boystown
  • Children’s stories, music at the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park
  • A day trip to the Hyde Park neighborhood
  • Plus, free day at the Field Museum!

We’ve also rounded up a bunch of other suggestions, too. Take a look:

The Bud Billiken Parade

The Bud Billiken parade in Chicago will take place this Saturday. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

WHAT: The Bud Billiken Parade, one of the largest African American parades in the United States, will take place in the South Side neighborhood of Bronzeville this weekend.

Previous participants have included major figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Barack and Michelle Obama. The parade’s name, Bud Billiken, derives from the youth section of the Chicago Defender named Bud Billiken Jr. when it began in 1929 with the intention of honoring and celebrating the paper’s newsboys.

Today, the parade features marching bands, drills, floats and a post-parade festival with children’s activities, such as face-painting and games, and on-site services such as mini hiring fairs and blood pressure checks. The parade will be broadcast live on ABC7 Chicago.

WHEN: Parade begins Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, 10 a.m.; festival from 1-4 p.m.

WHERE: Route takes place on South Martin Luther King Drive from Oakwood Boulevard to 51st Street​ in the Bronzeville neighborhood; then continues on Elsworth Drive in Washington Park to Garfield Boulevard.

GETTING HERE: CTA Green Line stations Indiana, 43rd, 47th, 51st, Garfield; CTA buses 3, 4, 15, 43, 47

COST: Free

MORE INFO: Visit the Bud Billiken Parade website

Northalsted Market Days in Boystown

Organized by the Northalsted Business Alliance, Market Days is expected to draw over 200,000 visitors this weekend. | Photo courtesy of Anthony Meade / Northalsted

WHAT: A two-day street festival in the heart of Chicago’s gay village, Boystown.

Billed as the largest street festival in the Midwest, Northalsted Business Alliance‘s Market Days features four stages and over 200 vendors in Boystown. The festival’s scheduled performers include MAX, Betty Who, Todrick Hall and Ty Herndon, as well as a litany of Chicago-based artists.

This is not the first time that we’ve suggested Market Days; we found the Sun-Times first mentioned Northalstead Market Days in July 1988 — as a thing to do on the weekend.

WHEN: Friday, Aug. 11, 2018 and Saturday, Aug. 12, 2018, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

WHERE: Halsted Street, from Belmont Avenue to Addison Street, Chicago

GETTING HERE: CTA Brown and Red lines, Belmont; Red Line, Addison; CTA buses 8, 22, 36, 77, 80, 146, 151, 152

COST: Suggested donation $10

MORE INFO: Visit the Northalsted Market Days website

Stories in the Lurie Garden

The Lurie Garden is hosting an interactive musical storytelling event for kids this Sunday. Photo courtesy of the Lurie Garden.

WHAT: Children aged 4-6 can listen and sing along as they explore the beauty of the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park with children’s musician Tisa Batchelder.

This free event, part of the Lurie Garden’s commitment to provide free nature programs to the Chicago public, takes place in the beautiful south lawn at the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, right next to the Art Institute of Chicago. This event is great for kids, but if that’s not your thing (or you’re not taking care of any young kids), the Garden’s 293 species and varieties of plants over the Millennium Park parking garage makes it a beautiful place to visit in the heart of the city. And yes, it’s classified as an urban rooftop garden.

WHEN: Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, 11:00-11:45 a.m.

WHERE: Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, 280 East Monroe Dr., Chicago

GETTING HERE: CTA Brown, Pink, Green, Orange lines, Washington/Wabash; Metra, Millennium Park station

COST: Free

A day trip to Hyde Park

Hyde Park neighborhood, Chicago. | Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

WHAT: Plan a day trip to the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Hyde Park is the kind of neighborhood worth spending a whole day exploring. With the Museum of Science and Industry‘s many exhibits, the Hyde Park Art Center, the DuSable Museum of African American History and the Japanese styled garden in Jackson Park, you can definitely make a great day trip out of it.

WHEN: Plan to spend a whole day at Hyde Park!

WHERE: The Hyde Park neighborhood, Chicago

GETTING HERE: CTA Red Line, Garfield; CTA Green Line, Garfield; CTA buses 6, 15, 28, 55, 59; Metra Electric line stations 51st/53rd St. (Hyde Park), 55th-56th-57th St., 59th St. (U of Chicago)

COST: Free

MORE INFO: Check out our Sun-Times neighborhood series  “The Grid” for more info: The Hyde Park episode , hosted by Ji Suk Yi, has all the info you need for a self-guided walking tour.

Other suggestions

  • The Field Museum is free to all Illinois residents who bring proof of residency on Friday, August 10, 2018. Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; 1400 South Lake Shore Dr., Chicago; CTA Red, Orange, Green lines, Roosevelt; CTA buses 130, 146; Metra Electric station Museum Campus/11th Street.
  • The Adler Planetarium is organizing “‘Scopes in the City” events across Chicago, bringing free telescope viewings to the city’s neighborhoods. The planetarium simply sets up one or two telescopes and invites passers-by to safety view the Sun, visible planets and other interesting things in the sky. Viewings are highly weather-sensitive, so check the website for updates. Friday, Aug. 10, 2018; 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; Coleman Branch, Chicago Public Library, 731 East 63rd St., Chicago; CTA Green Line, Cottage Grove.
  • The Chicago Symphony Orchestra‘s summer season is taking place at the The Pavilion at Ravinia in surburb Highland Park. This weekend, the CSO at Ravinia will feature James Conlon, conductor; Nadine Sierra, soprano; Bryan Hymel, tenor. Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, public doors open 5 p.m., concert starts 7:30 p.m.; 418 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park, Illinois; lawn tickets $10. Metra UP-N to Ravinia Park.
  • The Ginza Holiday Japanese cultural festival is scheduled in Lincoln Park on all three days this weekend. The festival, which is meant to celebrate Japanese culture, will feature Japanese cultural performances, food and an arts and crafts shopping area. Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, 5:30-9 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 11, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sunday, Aug. 12, 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; 435 W. Menomonee St., Chicago; $5. CTA Brown Line and Purple Line Express, Sedgwick; CTA bus 37 Sedgwick.
  • Retro On Roscoe features performances from Chicago’s talent on three main stages, while artists, restaurants and other merchants will show off their wares at the festival. The event is the main fundraiser for Roscoe Village Neighbors, the area’s neighborhood association. Ji Suk Yi explored Roscoe Village for The Grid. Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018 and Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, noon – 10 p.m.; intersection of Roscoe Street at Damen Avenue (2000 W Roscoe St.), Chicago; suggested donation $10. CTA Brown Line, Paulina; buses 9, 49, 50, 77.

More Sun-Times Guides with things to do:

In addition to Hyde Park, we’ve got other 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.