Fitness in the Park series.
Fitness in the Park series. Credit: Village of Rosemont

A host of low-to-no-pay events for kids, adults, and everyone in between are taking place throughout Chicagoland this summer. Begin by getting in shape at Rosemont’s Parkway Bank Park. Its Fitness in the Park series provides free Yoga, Zumba and PowHerhouse classes through Aug. 14. Click here to register.  

The Rogers Park Business Alliance has organized a Taco Crawl for July 20. Paying guests (21+) are treated to tequila tastings and tacos from Mexican restaurants along Clark Street. For tickets and more information, visit

Children can learn about the origins of food with Goodman Theatre’s free production of In My Granny’s Garden followed by an interactive workshop at Kilbourn Park (Aug. 3); Lindblom Park (Aug. 4); Kosciuszko Park (Aug. 5); Ken-Well Park (Aug.8); Moore Park (Aug. 9); Harrison Park (Aug. 10); Williams Park (Aug. 11); Valley Forge Park (Aug. 12); South Shore Cultural Center (Aug. 15); Austin Town Hall Park (Aug. 16); Gage Park (Aug. 17); Anderson Park (Aug. 18); and Abbott Park (Aug. 19).

“Pearl Cleage’s work speaks to the curious soul in all of us—and reminds us of our capacity to love, to fight and to dream,” explains Malkia Stampley, Goodman Theatre’s BOLD Artistic Producer and director of play. “The Goodman is excited to bring this delightful work into our Chicago communities in this unique partnership with Night Out in the Parks for a very special audience.”   

Another part of Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series is Porchlight Music Theatre’s Broadway in your Backyard. The hour-long shows include songs from Aladdin, Funny Girl, Grease, Guys and Dolls, Hairspray, Mary Poppins, and RENT. Free and suitable for all ages, audiences are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets to the outdoor concerts at Wicker Park (June 29); Portage Park (July 6); Seneca Playlot Park (July 11); Gill Park (July 13); South Shore Cultural Center/Fieldhouse (July 18); Riis Park (July 20); Washington Park (July 25); Munroe Park (July 27); Stout Park (Aug. 1); Schreiber Playground Park (Aug. 3); and Washington Square Park (Aug. 8).

BabyJake, Biig Piig, Built to Spill, Lido Pimienta, The Regrettes, and Say She She are among the acts to perform at Wicker Park Fest 2023 (July 28-30). The annual celebration also includes art installations, a family-friendly kid’s area, international dance performances, and a variety of shopping and food options. A $10 donation at the entry gate is encouraged. 

“For almost twenty years, Wicker Park Fest has been more music festival than street festival, bringing dozens of emerging and established music acts to the stage for thousands of Chicagoans and visitors to become fans of and watch grow,” notes Pamela Maass of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce. “Beyond our music lineup, festival goers will also notice that Wicker Park Fest is back to full size, the first time since the pandemic. This means visitors can expect a full selection of vendors, shops and artists to discover and enjoy.” 

Thanks to Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, Chicago Shakespeare Theater will perform the musical revue The Hero Within. The free shows combine popular songs with scenes, characters, and speeches from Shakespeare’s plays. Directed and choreographed by Tor Campbell, the performances are slated for Polk Bros Park on Navy Pier (July 25-26); Piotrowski Park in Little Village (July 27); Columbus Park in Austin (July 28); Blackhawk Park (July 29); West Pullman Park (Aug. 3); Ogden Park in Englewood (Aug. 4); and Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown (Aug. 5). “We are so thankful for our continued partnership with Chicago Shakespeare Theater,” says Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño. “Performances like these ensure that every Chicagoan has the opportunity to experience robust cultural events and celebrate local artists in their neighborhood parks.

A free performance of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline directed by Beth Wolf can be seen on July 7 at Outdoors at Chicago Women’s Park and Garden. Click here to learn more.

Locals can experience the sights and sounds of artistic endeavors via Hyde Park Art Center. “This summer we are excited to build upon our existing program partnerships for the season like the Hyde Park Farmer’s Market and Hyde Park Flea curated by our neighbor, Gilda’s Vintage and Thrift Boutique, and expand into new networks and audiences through our exhibitions and annual events,” says The Art Center’s Public Programs Manager Ciera McKissick.

These events include Center Day (July 22); Big Blender: Teen Arts Fest (Aug. 5); Hyde Park Flea (Aug. 27); Movies in the Lot: Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists (Aug. 31); and William Estrada: Multiples and Multitudes (July 22 – Nov. 19). 

“Our Edra Soto, William Estrada, and Teen exhibitions have offered space to invite dynamic performances like our upcoming Las BomPleneras concert during our July Center Days, engage other teen focused organizations across the city with our second annual Teen Arts Fest, and formalize partnerships with the National Museum of Mexican Art through programs occurring at both of our institutions,” McKissick concludes.

Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.