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Celebrate the Chicago Riverwalk with an All-Day Summer Celebration

We’re officially one month away from the season opening of the Loop’s newest outdoor attraction, the Chicago Riverwalk! Experience the riverfront during an all-day summer celebration on May 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

From architecture cruises to boat races, the free event offers a preview of the unique programing offered through October on the Riverwalk. A complete schedule of the day’s activities can be found below, but we are particularly excited for walking tours led by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, parades with puppets, fishing, and the “Dance of the Bridges,” a traveling music cruise and a pyrotechnic display.

 “Our Chicago Riverwalk celebration offers an extravaganza of music, art, architecture and puppetry,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “We invite Chicagoans and visitors to escape the everyday and embrace Chicago from a new vantage point.”

For more information about the Chicago Riverwalk and a complete schedule of events, visit chicagoriverwalk.us—and join the conversation on social media using #ChiRiverwalk.

Chicago Riverwalk Summer Kick-Off Celebration – Schedule of Events

 9:00am 

Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady

Join us for a FREE cruise to celebrate the Riverwalk’s grand opening! Check out Chicago’s First Lady Cruises (@cflcruises) and Chicago Architecture Foundation’s (@chiarchitecture) Instagram & Twitter feeds for more information about how to secure tickets. Passengers board at 112 E. Riverwalk South.
 10:15am   

Mercury's Canine Cruise

Calling all canines! Canines and their owners are invited to join us for a 90-minute river and lake cruise. Tickets are $35 for adults. Kids under 15 and canines ride FREE! Passengers board at 112 E. Wacker Drive.

  10:15am, 12:15pm, 2:15pm, 4:15pm and 6:15pm  

Mercury's Urban Adventure Cruise

Relax and unwind on our 90-minute Chicago River and Lake Michigan cruise. You’ll enjoy lively narration and stories of Chicago's rich history. Tickets are $35 for adults.

“Kids ride free” offer available at box office only. Passengers board at 112 E. Wacker Drive.
  10am, 1pm and 3pm 

Chicago Architecture Foundation Riverwalk West Walking Tours

Enjoy a free hour-long walk along the Riverwalk stretching from Lake Michigan to Lake Street. Meet at the Vietnam War Memorial at State Street and Wabash Avenue.

  10am–3pm  

Riverwalk Paddle  

Hop in a kayak and paddle through Chicago’s river canyon! Kids and parents are free. Meet at Urban Kayaks location between the Columbus Drive and Lake Shore Drive bridges.
 11am–1pm 

Dance of the Bridges and Boats     

See the annual bridge lifts and the parade of boats traveling under Chicago’s iconic movable bridges between Lake Street and Lake Shore Drive. Times for the bridge lifts are subject to change.
 11am–9pm 

Downtown Docks

Find discounted transient dockage for the Chicago Riverwalk during the kick-off event at 27 W. Riverwalk South.
Noon and 2pm

March of the Fish

Watch or join The Art Side Out Studio and Mask Shop’s Parade Club march along the Riverwalk with their large fish puppets and spectacle pieces joined by the King College Prep Marching Band! The noon parade starts at Columbus Drive and goes to Lake Street, and at 2pm the parade will start at Lake Street and proceed back to Columbus Drive.
Noon–3pm

Bridge Lift Viewings at McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum

View the Michigan Avenue bridge lift from inside the tower located at 99 E. Riverwalk. Times for the bridge lifts are subject to change.
Noon–4pm

Classic Boat Rendezvous at The Water Plaza      

View a fleet of classic and antique boats sponsored by the Chicago Yachting Association while enjoying live music by the Chicago folk collective Old Lazarus' Harp. Boats will be located between Wells and LaSalle Streets.
Noon–8pm

Music at Island Party Hut Tiki Bar

Enjoy cool island jams, reggae, soca, punta, Afrobeat, Latin vibes and more! Todd Donnelly performs from noon to 4pm and Corey Bless from 4 p.m. to 8pm at the Island Party Hut located at 355 E. Riverwalk South.
Noon–8pm

Frost Gelato

Celebrate the opening of the Chicago Riverwalk with discounted gelato at 27 W. Riverwalk South.
Noon–8pm

City Winery Riverwalk

Relax with live music by Lucky Dutch & DJ Jevon Jackson at 11 Riverwalk.
1pm and 2pm

Members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Enjoy a chamber ensemble comprised of members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will perform as part of the Riverwalk kick-off celebration, performing at 1pm between Lake Street and Franklin Street, and 2pm near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
2–5pm

O’Brien’s Riverwalk Cafe

Celebrate at O’Brien’s with a special appearance by the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band and a session of jigs and ballads from Ireland at 45 E. Riverwalk South.
5–6pm

Dragon Boat Exhibition Race                     

Watch an exciting dragon boat exhibition race along the Riverwalk. Boats will be docked for viewing to learn more about this historic Chinese tradition.
6:30–8pm

Traveling Music Cruise

Enjoy Beats y Bateria, a Chicago-based world music band, as they travel on Island Party Hut’s tiki boat, stopping along the Riverwalk for music performances. The fun begins at Island Party Hut’s dock and will travel up the river between Lake Street and Franklin Street with a final stop at the River Theatre between LaSalle Street and Clark Street for the grand finale display of pyrotechnic waterfalls from the bridges. Begins at 355 E. Riverwalk South.
8pm

Pyrotechnic Waterfall Display                    

Delight in the one-minute grand finale display of pyrotechnic waterfalls at the River Theatre off of the west side of the Clark Street bridge and the east side of LaSalle Street bridge.

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