Chicago events calendar for September 2016. Best festivals, fun things to do, free kids activities, street fairs, and Labor Day weekend events in Chicago, Illinois.

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Best events for 12 months
September 2016
September 2016

Enjoy the best Chicago events, festivals, and things to do with this calendar of events.

Mileage is from the Wrigley Building in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

Black film festival

September 1, 2016 (begins Aug. 5)

0.5 miles SW

Black Harvest Film Festival celebrates the stories, images, heritage, and history of the black experience with dozens of films at Gene Siskel Film Center.

Johnny Cash show

September 1 - 3, 2016 (also Aug.)

26 miles NW

Ring of Fire features the story and music of legendary musician Johnny Cash at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Discount tickets $19.

Feel-good musical

September 1 - 4, 2016 (begins Aug. 31)

0.5 miles SW

The Broadway show Kinky Boots, based on a true story about a shoe factory owner and a drag queen, features an inspiring and joyful score by Cyndi Lauper at Oriental Theatre. Discount tickets $34.

Jazz festival

September 1 - 4, 2016

0.5 miles south

The Chicago Jazz Festival is Labor Day weekend at Millennium Park. No dogs. Free.

Movies in the Parks

September 1 - 10, 2016 (begins June 11)

Chicago locations

See 250 Movies in the Parks, if weather allows. Free.

Fringe theater festival

September 1 - 11, 2016 (begins Aug. 31)

10 miles NW

See 50 weird and wonderful shows by local theater groups at Chicago Fringe Festival in Jefferson Park.

Ravinia music festival

September 1 - 17, 2016 (begins June 2)

23 miles north

See nationally known performers at Ravinia Festival, billed as America’s oldest outdoor music festival at Ravinia Park in Highland Park.

Magic lounge

September 1 - 29, 2016 (also Aug.)

7 miles north

Chicago Magic Lounge is an old-school magic show with close-up magic, bar magic, table-hopping magicians, and main stage acts at beautiful Uptown Underground. Discount tickets $14.


September 1 - 30, 2016 (also Aug.)

multiple locations

Discount prices include all taxes and ticket fees.


September 1 - 30, 2016

multiple locations

Kayak with a guide on Lake Michigan during the day or on the Chicago River in the evening.

Blue Man show

September 1 - Oct. 2, 2016 (also Aug.)

4.5 miles north

Blue Man Group puts on an exciting show that combines comedy, theater, music, and special effects at Briar Street Theatre. Discount tickets $36.

Funny musical

September 1 - Oct. 16, 2016 (begins Aug. 24)

27.8 miles north

An ambitious window washer learns how to climb the corporate ladder in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, an award-winning musical at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Discount tickets $30.

‘50s and ‘60s music

September 1 - Oct. 23, 2016

18 miles west

Smokey Joe’s Cafe is a song & dance show with rock 'n' roll songs written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (Stand by Me, Love Potion #9, On Broadway) at Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace. Discount tickets $33.

Rock concert: Sammy Hagar

September 2, 2016 (8 p.m.)

2.4 miles SE

The Loop Luau features Sammy Hagar & the Circle at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island. Discount tickets $25.

North Coast Music Festival

September 2 - 4, 2016

2 miles west

North Coast Music Festival is an all-ages music fest that ranges from hip-hop to electronic to indie rock in Union Park on Labor Day weekend.

African festival

September 2 - 5, 2016

7 miles south

African Festival of the Arts celebrates African art, crafts, drumming, food, and entertainment at a festival Labor Day weekend in Washington Park.

Polish festival

September 2 - 5, 2016

10 miles NW

Taste of Polonia has 37 bands, 50 vendors, 12 food booths (polska kielbasa, potato pancakes, pierogi, and beer) Labor Day weekend in Jefferson Park. Discount tickets $5.

Naperville festival

September 2 - 5, 2016

33 miles west

Naperville Last Fling is a family event with a parade, carnival rides, children’s area, music stages, and food vendors Labor Day weekend at Naperville’s Riverwalk.

Yoga festival

September 2 - 5, 2016

76 miles west

Sukhava Bodhe Yoga & Music Festival includes yoga classes, music, drumming, chanting, meditation, camping, and fireside ceremonies at Stonehouse Farm in Paw Paw.

Dating comedy

September 2 - 25, 2016

2.1 miles north

Based on actual online-dating conversations, #DateMe: An OKCupid Experiment is a comic mix of original music, improvisation, and multimedia elements at Up Comedy Club. Discount tickets $17.

Adult variety show

September 2 - 30, 2016 (also Aug.)

7 miles north

Kiss Kiss Cabaret is a fun mix of burlesque, off-color comedy, music, magic, and variety acts at Uptown Underground. Reviews.

Discount Friday & Saturday tickets $13.

Poignant play

September 2 - Oct. 8, 2016

6.9 miles NW

The Heidi Chronicles shows us a Baby Boomer as she comes of age and must reject materialism in order to be true to herself at Prop Thtr. Discount tickets $6 to $10.

Renaissance fair

September 3 - 5, 2016 (begins July 9)

49 miles north

Watch knights joust, shop an artisan market, mingle with costumed minstrels, play games, and attend shows at Bristol Renaissance Faire in 16th century England (i.e. Kenosha, WI).

Campy burlesque

September 3 - 17, 2016 (10:30 p.m. Saturdays)

4.5 miles north

Burlesque is More is an entertaining and funny combination of striptease and improvisation at Annoyance Theatre and Bar. Discount tickets $10.

Circus in the park

September 3 - Oct. 16, 2016 (begins Aug. 27)

Chicago locations

Midnight Circus in the Parks is a series of daytime shows on the weekends at eight parks, which is perfect for families.


September 3 - Oct. 16, 2016

15 miles SW

Watch Chicago Fire play a home game at Toyota Park.

Discount tickets $12 to $52.

Evening cruise

September 5 - 27, 2016 (6:30 p.m.)

0.7 miles east

An After Work Cruise on Anita Dee II offers amazing views from the open top deck, dancing, and pricey drinks, departing from 200 N Breakwater Access.

Free science museum

September 6 - 30, 2016 (weekdays only)

8 miles south

Show Illinois ID to enter the Museum of Science and Industry free during Free Days. Repeats in January.

Country fair

September 7 - 11, 2016

62 miles SW

Head to the Sandwich Fair for carnival games, fair food, grandstand shows, and farm animals.

Jazz at the aquarium

September 7 & 14, 2016 (begins June 22)

2 miles south

Hear musicians and vocalists, see views from the terrace, buy cocktails & food, and visit the aquarium at Jazzin’ at the Shedd at Shedd Aquarium.

Free foreign films

September 7 - 28, 2016 (Wednesdays from June)

0.4 miles south

See a different comedy film each week at International Screenings Program at Chicago Cultural Center. Free.

Adult zoo night

September 8, 2016 (6:30 to 10 p.m.)

2.5 miles north

Leave the kids at home and head to Adults Night Out at Lincoln Park Zoo to experience unique animal chats and live entertainment if you are age 18+. (Cash bars are available for age 21+.)

Adult comedy

September 8 - Oct. 9, 2016

27 miles west

Don't Dress for Dinner is a sexy farce about a playboy and shenanigans involving his mistress, his wife, and his best friend at McAninch Arts Center in Glen Ellyn. Discount tickets $18.

Opera in the park

September 9, 2016

0.5 mile south

Spectacular singing and orchestral music await at Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, which is preceded by an Air Force Band concert. Free.

Wine festival

September 9 - 10, 2016

1 mile south

Sample from more than 300 wines at the outdoor Windy City Wine Festival near Buckingham Fountain.

Festival of Lebanon

September 9 - 10, 2016

24 miles west

Enjoy Lebanese food, drinks, dessert, music, folk dancing, belly dancing, and kids’ activities at the Lebanese Food Festival at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Lombard. Free entry.

Hip-hop music festival

September 9 - 11, 2016

3.6 miles SW

Hip-Hop Summerfest has 125 acts of hip hop, R&B, comedy, and fashion on multiple stages near UIC campus at Addams/Medill Park, with a dozen food vendors. No pets. Children age 5 and younger are free. Discount tickets $10.

German festival & parade

September 9 - 11, 2016

7 miles north

Chicago German-American Fest has German music, culture, beer, and food at Lincoln Square. The Von Steuben Parade starts 2 p.m. Sat. at 4000 N Lincoln Ave. Free.

Mexican independence festival

September 9 - 11, 2016

10 miles SW

Thousands attend Festival de La Villita for authentic Mexican cuisine, music, artisans, carnival rides, and family entertainment on W 26th St. at Kostner. Free.

Northwest neighborhood festival

September 9 - 11, 2016 (begins 4 p.m. Friday)

11.8 miles NW

Hear retro tunes at the first Throwback Music Festival, which includes craft beer tastings, arts & crafts, and kids’ activities in Gladstone Park at Milwaukee & Peterson Avenues. Donation. Discount beer-tasting tickets $20 at Groupon and LivingSocial.

World Music Festival

September 9 - 25, 2016

Chicago locations

World Music Festival Chicago features artists and ensembles from all over the world. Free.

Urban adventure race

September 10, 2016 (noon)

Downtown Chicago

XPLORE Chicago is a 5K race to solve clues and complete challenges as you travel around the city. Discount tickets $25.

Whiskey tasting

September 10, 2016 (12 to 4 p.m.)

0.7 miles west

River North Whiskey Festival features 50 varieties of whiskey, bourbon, and scotch at Moe’s Cantina and Old Crow Smokehouse. Discount tickets $23.

Boat parade

September 10, 2016

1 mile east

Venetian Night is a parade of illuminated boats with Broadway musical themes set to music and followed by fireworks at Navy Pier’s south dock. Free.

Family festival

September 10, 2016

11 miles south

The Auburn Gresham 79th Street Renaissance Festival is a community festival with entertainment, food vendors, a marketplace, and a large kids’ corner on 79th Street (Racine to Loomis). Free.

Forest Park Ribfest

September 10, 2016

11 miles west

Eat, hear live music, and enjoy children’s activities at Ribfest at 7824 Madison Street, Forest Park. Free.

Beer & wine tasting

September 10, 2016 (3 to 6:30 p.m.)

12 miles NW

Taste up to 50 beers or wines with hors d’oeuvres, pretzels, veggies, cheese, and crackers at Stems and Steins at Norwood Park Historical Society, age 21+.

Hungarian festival

September 10, 2016

15 miles NW

Eat traditional dishes like goulash, hear folk music, watch dancers, play games, and see films about Hungary at Taste of Hungary in Norridge.

Country music: Brad Paisley

September 10, 2016 (7:30 p.m.)

31.8 miles south

Join Brad Paisley (Remind Me; Whiskey Lullaby) and opening acts Tyler Farr and Maddie & Tae at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park. Discount tickets $20 to $49.

Mexican parades

September 10 - 11, 2016

Chicago locations

Celebrate Mexico’s separation from Spain at these Mexican Independence Day parades, with colorful floats, mariachi bands, and street dancing. Free.

Craft fair

September 10 - 11, 2016

3.5 miles NW

Shop from independent artisans and chefs at the Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park. Free.

Ukrainian festival

September 10 - 11, 2016

3.6 miles west

Ukrainian Village Fest offers folk dance, music, food (potato pancakes, borsch, pierogies, kabobs, blintzes), beer, wine, and a kids’ area at Superior St. & Oakley.

Lakeview East art festival

September 10 - 11, 2016

4 miles north

Meet 150 juried artists selling paintings, sculpture, photography, furniture, and jewelry at Lakeview East Festival of the Arts on Broadway Avenue, north of Belmont. Donation.

Ravenswood Art Walk

September 10 - 11, 2016

7 miles north

Visit 150 artists in tents and shops along Ravenswood Avenue during Ravenswood ArtWalk.

Women’s expo

September 10 - 11, 2016

17 miles NW

Hear celebrity speakers, watch chef demos, and shop from 600 vendors of beauty and health products at the Chicago Ultimate Women’s Expo [sound] in the Rosemont convention center.

Discount tickets $4.

Revolutionary War

September 10 - 11, 2016

27 miles west

Get a feel for camp life, experience a battle, and enjoy colonial sights and sounds at the Revolutionary War Reenactment at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Free except parking.

Naperville film festival

September 10 - 17, 2016

30 miles SW

The Naperville Independent Film Festival shows 60+ films, gives out awards, and offers filmmakers advice on lighting, writing and directing.

Comedy dinner

September 10 - 28, 2016 (also Aug.)

5.8 miles north

We Gotta Bingo delivers corny, bawdy, slapstick humor, lasagna, bread, and salad, as you participate in a bingo game between rival parishes at Chicago Theater Works. Discount tickets $25 to $40.

Take your dog to the movies

September 11, 2016 (11:30 a.m. & 2 p.m.)

6 miles north

Your dog can join you at the family-friendly Dog Film Festival at Music Box Theatre, which features short films about the bond between dogs and humans. Discount tickets $11.

Race at the zoo

September 11, 2016

14 miles SW

Run or walk past animals on a 5K entirely within Brookfield Zoo by joining the ZooRunRun.

Scandinavian festival

September 11, 2016

41 miles NW

Enjoy food, crafts, and entertainment from Northern Europe at Scandinavian Day Festival in South Elgin.

Short film winners

September 11 - 12, 2016

6 miles north

See the winning films from Chicago 48 Hour Film Project, which locals made in only two days, at Music Box Theatre.

Rock out with Bryan Adams

September 15, 2016 (8 p.m.)

2.4 miles SE

Bryan Adams plays classics like “Summer of ‘69” and “Heaven” plus new songs at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island. Discount tickets $25 to $45.

Oak Park “Oaktoberfest”

September 16 - 17, 2016

9 miles west

Enjoy music, craft beer, wine, pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, bratwurst, and a kids’ root beer garden at Oaktoberfest in Oak Park. Free entry.

Rock festival

September 16 - 18, 2016

7 miles SW

Riot Fest is a huge outdoor punk, rock and alternative music festival plus carnival at Douglas Park.

Englewood Jazz Festival

September 17, 2016

11 miles south

Englewood Jazz Festival features six performances plus awards at Hamilton Park Cultural Center. Free.

Small art fair

September 17, 2016

16 miles NW

Fall Arts & Crafts Adventure is a friendly juried show at Hodges Park in Park Ridge. Repeats in May. Free.

Suburban Oktoberfest

September 17, 2016

20 miles north

St. Joseph Oktoberfest has an antiques market 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., a family festival with games 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a German dinner and beer garden with music for age 21+ from 6 to 9:30 p.m. in Wilmette.

Art fair in West Loop

September 17 - 18, 2016

1.5 miles west

West Loop Art Fest features 150 juried artists, live music, and food for sale on Washington Boulevard from Aberdeen to Halsted. Free.

Taco festival

September 17 - 18, 2016

5 miles north

Try tacos from a dozen restaurants and vote for the best, taste beer, hear live music on two stages, visit the kids’ area, and see arts and crafts at Lakeview Taco Fest on Southport Avenue. Donation.

Locally made festival

September 17 - 18, 2016

8 miles north

Andersonville City Made Fest features local artists, brewers, businesses, and musicians on N Clark Street from Argyle to Carmen. Donation.

Indian pow wow

September 17 - 18, 2016

25 miles NW

The American Indian Center of Chicago Powwow features song and dance, arts and crafts vendors, native foods, and archery at Busse Woods Forest Preserve in Elk Grove Village.

Naperville art fair

September 17 - 18, 2016

32 miles west

Riverwalk Fine Art Fair is a juried fair with 130 artists at a scenic park in downtown Naperville. Free.

Yoga festival

September 17 - 18, 2016

41.5 miles SW

Soul Love Fest is a yoga and meditation retreat with 100 workshops, classes, outdoor activities, and vendors at Arranmore Polo Club in Oswego.

Haunted farm

September 17 - Oct. 30, 2016

32 miles SW

The Haunted Barn at Bengtson’s Pumpkin Fest in Homer Glen is fine for mature kids. The Fun Barn will entertain even the youngest children. Also visit the corn maze, kids’ rides, and petting zoo.

Romantic music

September 18, 2016 (3 p.m.)

14 miles north

Legendary Lovers features music from epic love stories like West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet played by Chicago Philharmonic in Evanston. Discount tickets $17 to $37.

Butterfly festival

September 18, 2016

22 miles SW

The Monarch Butterfly Festival has a butterfly tent, hayrides, games, kids’ crafts, boat rentals, live animals, and food vendors at Lake Katherine Nature Center in Palos Heights.

Art for seniors

September 21, 2016 (9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)

1 mile south

Reflections (formerly Senior Celebrations) is lectures, demonstrations, and free entry to the Art Institute of Chicago at 159 E. Monroe St. Register for lunch.

Spirits tasting

September 21, 2016 (6:30 p.m., VIP 5)

1.2 miles south

Sample handcrafted spirits and meet the distillers at Chicago Indie Spirits Expo at Hilton Chicago.

Discount tickets $10 (VIP $12).

Gay film festival

September 22 - 29, 2016

Chicago locations

Reeling is Chicago’s LGBT International Film Festival.

Comedy dinner show

September 22 - 30, 2016 (7:30 p.m.)

5.8 miles north

You’re invited to the fake Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding at Resurrection Church, followed by a real Italian dinner at Chicago Theater Works, with plenty of comedy improv and audience interaction. Discount tickets $49.

Female murder mystery

September 22 - Oct. 30, 2016

10.2 miles north

Miss Holmes (private investigator) and Miss Watson (doctor) are unconventional women solving a crime at Lifeline Theatre. Discount tickets $20.

Hamburger party

September 23, 2016 (6 to 9 p.m.)

0.5 miles south

Eat gourmet hamburgers with beer, wine, and spirits when top chefs compete at Hamburger Hop on the rooftop of Harris Theater. Also see 9 p.m. after party.

Museum party

September 23, 2016

1 mile south

Mix and mingle, visit the bar, eat appetizers, hear DJ music, and see a show at After Dark in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago for age 21+.

Chicago Gourmet

September 23 - 25, 2016

0.5 mile south

Chicago Gourmet is a premium food and wine event with 100 chefs, cooking demonstrations, beer and food pavilions, and wine tastings in Millennium Park.

Art exposition

September 23 - 25, 2016 (preview Sept. 22)

1 mile east

The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art (Expo Chgo) has museum-quality curated art and design by 120 exhibitors at Navy Pier.

St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest

September 23 - 25, 2016

6 miles NW

Enjoy beer, bratwurst, pretzels, live music, arts & crafts, and weekend-afternoon kids’ fest at Oktoberfest Chicago on N Lincoln Ave. at Southport. Beer tasting Fri. and Sat. evenings. (Also see the similar Oktoberfest Sept. 16 to 18.)

Craft expo

September 23 - 25, 2016 (party Sept. 22)

24 miles north

See 164 artisans exhibiting one-of-a-kind museum quality work at American Craft Exposition at Chicago Botanic Garden.

Morton Grove haunted house

September 23 - Nov. 5, 2016

14 miles NW

House of Torment has two themes at 8240 N. Austin Ave. in Morton Grove. Closed dates: Oct. 3, 4, 5, 10, 17 plus Nov. 1, 2, and 3.

Free museum day

September 24, 2016


Get a free ticket for two people to visit one of 29 Illinois museums on Museum Day Live.

Mexican tasting

September 24, 2016 (12 to 4 p.m.)

6.8 miles SW

Taste samples and vote for your favorite at La Feria Del Mole at Universidad Popular on Hamlin Ave.

Dutch festival

September 24, 2016

24 miles SW

The Elim Dutch Festival features Dutch food, dance, music, and vendors, plus a kids’ carnival, petting zoo, magic show, and face painting at Elim Christian Services in Palos Heights. Free entry.

Lisle Ale Fest

September 24, 2016

27 miles west

Lisle Ale Fest features 80 craft beers (Oktoberfest, seasonal, etc.), local food, and live music in Lisle.

Edgewater art fair

September 24 - 25, 2016

8 miles north

Edgewater Arts Festival (formerly Edgewater Fall Art Fair) features 120 local artists, 3 stages of live music, a beer garden, fashion show, kids’ corner, and pet parade on Granville Ave. at Broadway. Donation.

Hyde Park art fair

September 24 - 25, 2016

8 miles south

Meet friendly artists at the juried Hyde Park Arts & Crafts Adventure in the courtyard of University of Chicago’s Hyde Park Shopping Center. Free.

Hyde Park jazz

September 24 - 25, 2016

8 miles south

Hear 30 jazz performances by top artists indoors and outdoors at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. Donation.

Aurora haunted house

September 24 - Oct. 31, 2016

38 miles west

Basement of the Dead offers three horrifying attractions in one place. See schedule.

Half marathon & 5K

September 25, 2016

9 miles south

The Chicago Half Marathon begins at Jackson Park and goes along the scenic lakeshore. Free to watch.

Tour historic homes

September 25, 2016 (12 to 5 p.m.)

11.2 miles west

Walk, bike, or drive between houses on Historic Berwyn’s Bungalow Tour to hear about their history.

Run on the runway

September 25, 2016 (8 a.m.)

17 miles NW

Run 5K on a brand-new runway with views of airplanes around you at O’Hare 5K, followed by an after party.

Fall Dinner Crawl

September 27, 2016 (6 to 9 p.m.)

4 miles NW

Buy tickets for 1 of 3 routes, and then get samples from restaurants along the way during Fall Dinner Crawl in Wicker Park and Bucktown.

Young Frankenstein the musical

September 28 - Nov. 6, 2016

26 miles NW

Young Frankenstein is a live musical by Mel Brooks that spoofs the horror-film genre at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Discount tickets $19.

Joliet haunted house

September 29 - Oct. 31, 2016

38 miles SW

Take a 40-minute trip through 40 terrifying rooms and play Zombie Paintball at Statesville Haunted Prison & City of the Dead in Crest Hill. Open Thurs. to Sun. plus Oct. 31.

Oyster festival

September 30, 2016

0.1 miles north

Shaw’s Oyster Fest offers fresh oysters, seafood, and music in a downtown parking lot.

Baseball & fireworks

September 30, 2016 (7:10 p.m.)

5.5 miles south

Watch the White Sox play the Minnesota Twins followed by fireworks at U.S. Cellular Field. Discount tickets $10.

Art fair indoors

September 30 - Oct. 1, 2016

2.5 miles west

Enjoy visual art, music, and fashion in restaurants and shops during West Town Art Walk at Chicago Avenue & Ashland Avenue. Free.

Oktoberfest in Naperville

September 30 - Oct. 1, 2016

32 miles SW

Enjoy live music from classic German to classic rock, German beer and food, and family-friendly activities on Saturday at Oktoberfest.

Tasting event

September 30 - Oct. 2, 2016

7 miles NW

Sample signature dishes made by renowned chefs at 12 grilling stations during Taste Talks All-Star BBQ at Palmer Square Park.

Neighborhood Oktoberfest

September 30 - Oct. 2, 2016

8 miles NW

St. Benedict’s Oktoberfest features German food, beer, and party bands under tents in St. Benedict’s Courtyard, plus a kids’ carnival. Free entry.

Art, food, and music festival

September 30 - Oct. 2, 2016

13 miles north

Evanston Art & Big Fork Festival features restaurant food, live music, and an art festival, all beginning Friday at 4 p.m. Free.

Odd bike show

September 30 - Oct. 2, 2016

30.3 miles SW

See recumbent, folding, tandem, and even electric bicycles and test ride them (age 16+ with a helmet) at Chicago Unconventional Bicycle Expo, which also includes seminars at Tinley Park Convention Center.

Intense haunted house

September 30 - Oct. 31, 2016

45 miles NW

The Realm of Terror Horror Experience is halfway to Milwaukee in Round Lake Beach. See hours.

Haunted house at Rosemont

September 30 - Nov. 5, 2016

14 miles NW

Disturbia: Screams in the Park is a 35-room nightmare at MB Financial Park at Rosemont. See schedule.
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© September 2016 calendar of events in Chicago, IL. Best events, fairs, festivals, and things to do in Chicago, Illinois. ord-09